Permit me to introduce myself. My name is Richard Zokol and I am a retired professional golfer from Canada.
Throughout my 21 years (1982-2003) as a PGA Tour professional I became fascinated with the mental side of golf performance. It all began in my rookie year when I slapped on my Sony Walkman headphones and tuned in the Eagles—their famous song Hotel California—in the first round of the 1982 Greater Milwaukee Open. It worked. Music calmed my anxious, hyperactive mind. I grabbed the lead, shooting 65 in the first round and held the lead well into the back nine on Sunday. I was also bestowed with the moniker “Disco Dick.”
In my various stages as a journeyman on the PGA Tour I was always determined to develop the proper mindset to optimize my golf performance. It was the only way I’d have a chance to win on the PGA Tour. I worked with many sports psychologists in the 80s and 90s and it became clear to me that the quest for the proper mindset pivoted on accessing the “present moment.”
It took me 10 years and over 250 PGA Tour events before I felt comfortable enough to win. I then won twice in 1992. Winning on the PGA Tour gave me the deepest sense of gratification, accomplishment and purpose. But my good play on Tour stopped a couple years later.
In 1999, after years of trying to will myself into the present moment in PGA Tour competition, I came to realize it simply doesn’t work that way. My problem only escalated the more my attention revolved around the results, the score or the outcome of my golf shots. My problem wasn’t going away. My anxiety was only getting worse. My attentional bias shifted to either the results in the future or trauma from the past. Without having any awareness, I entered the common mindset affliction. That I call Golf Insanity.
Golfers can easily become fixated on score because the score determines if we win or lose; this is true for all golfers, whatever their abilities. But what most people don’t realize being fixated on score or the outcome will have huge detrimental effects on an undisciplined mind.
Having come to realize this, I started working in 1999 on a new scoring metrics by simply reverse engineering a golf shot. I asked myself, “What must happen for me to make a great golf shot?” The simple answer was, “I need to make an excellent execution.” So I placed all my attention on the execution of each shot. Soon after, as I stood posing on a perfectly executed 5-iron, as my ball was seeking the flagstick, I thought to myself, “This shot may go in.” But my ball didn’t cover the distance over the water hazard. It fell a few feet short, splashing into the water. I didn’t have the right club. My next discovery—the assessment of the shot as well as execution are key for effective performance.
Conditioning my mindset to focus on each shot’s KPMs was a critically important breakthrough. Golfers’ KPMs are the core of the “one-shot-at-a-time” principle. After every round from that point forward I captured the KPM data of every shot I made; the club I used and one of the three valuations (Excellent—Satisfactory—Unsatisfactory) for each of my two KPMs of every shot. More importantly, I also wanted to know which KPMs produced my Lost Shot events and which KPMs were responsible for my Gained Shot events in competition.
My method began a reconditioning process of detaching my emotions from results and onto my KPMs. It was empowering and had the side effect I was seeking. The by-product of this method allowed me to access the present moment—the Now. By midway through my 1999 season I was on my way to focus solely on my KPM Data—my Assessment and Execution (KPMs) of each shot in competition. I did this for every single shot I made in competition from 1999 to 2003.
It happened in the final round of the 2000 US Open at Pebble Beach. The very same day the golf world was captivated by Tiger Woods’ most compelling major championship victory—winning the US Open by a record-setting 15 shots on Sunday June 18, 2000. That day I had an early tee-time, which meant I wasn’t in contention. Nonetheless, it was a remarkable day for me. I was paired with my former BYU teammate Keith Clearwater. My round started with pars on the first two holes, then I went on a run, birdieing holes 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 and then dropping a 25’ bomb for par on the 9th green to shoot 30 on the front nine (I kicked Tiger’s butt that nine—I won’t mention the seven other nines). The score tied a 9-hole record for US Opens held at Pebble Beach. Walking off the ninth green Scotty Bowman, the legendary NHL coach, dressed in a USGA blazer, was standing just off the green pumping his fist at me saying, “Give ‘em hell Richard.”
The “aha” moment happened as I was walking down Pebble’s 10th fairway with my caddy (my best friend Russ Jordan). Russ casually asked me, “Do you know what you shot on the front nine?” I said, “No.” In that moment I was more interested in seeing Scotty Bowman. Russ said, “you shot 30!” The only thing I said was, “Cool!” The first thing I felt was, “I was not encumbered emotionally by my score.”
In that moment I felt calm and powerful—score wasn’t on my mind—the only thing that mattered was performing and nailing my KPMs. I detached emotionally from the result. It was a very powerful feeling for me. After years of being emotionally attached and engaged in anxiety, I felt free. Freedom from thought expectations or letting go from the past traumatic experiences is our mind’s holy grail for all golfers.
If it works for me it will work for you. I would therefore like to introduce you to the MindTRAK Golf App and protocol, a method and platform we created to improve your mindset and optimize all golfers performance.
If you follow the MindTRAK Golf protocol you will condition your mind to focus solely on your two KPMs on the course, you will detach emotionally from results and you will gain your Freedom back, you will optimize your performance.