September 26, 2009

My Usual Game: Amino Vital - It Works, And Works Very Well

Here in the so-called "sultry south" summer weather is best described as "sweltering and suffocating." I often say that if Hell is truly a hot place, the Devil started working on the design down here and got the climate part of it right somewhere in Louisiana or Mississippi.

Even though it is barely autumn, the weather has yet to realize it in North Carolina - the high temperatures are still pushing 90F (32C) most afternoons, with the relative humidity roughly equivalent to the deep end of a hot tub. In short, it's hot, it can be miserable to be outside all afternoon and even a round of golf can leave one dripping sweat by the gallon and feeling as thought they're completely exhausted and moping after a few short hours. Obviously, that's not a good thing for a sport where concentration and fine motor control is essential for success.

Tired of feeling tired after 12-15 holes, over the years I have tried everything. Plenty of water, limited caffeine, no alcohol, vitamins, diet, Gatorade, you name it. Obviously, staying well hydrated helps, but even that is no match for weather that better resembles the last thing a lobster feels on his way into a pot of boiling water. So when my doctor (also a dedicated golfer) suggested I try Focus Zone by Amino Vital, I thought it worth a shot, but to be honest, I really had my doubts. Nothing else really worked all that well, and I thought that Focus Zone was just another Johnny-Come-Lately. Well, I was wrong. Completely wrong.

Manufactured here in Raleigh by Ajinomoto, the Japanese firm that has over 100 years experience in research, development and usage of amino acids, Focus Zone is a mix of electrolytes, Vitamin C, and amino acids, all elements that are lost or consumed by one's body when they exercise strenuously, or in a golfer's case, when they are active in the heat. Basically, the product replaces or enhances some of the materials that are necessary to maintain a good mental state and a high level of concentration, which are the first thing to go when heat stress hits.

Using Focus Zone is easy enough, you pour a packet into a bottle of water, shake it and drink it down. The taste is pleasant and not "medicine-y" and it doesn't leave an unpleasant aftertaste. In that regard, Focus Zone is unlike many other products I have tried - Gatorade included - that can make your tongue hate the hand that's holding your glass.

Does Focus Zone actually work? Yes.

I tried it for the first time this past week, on a day that was sunny and warm after a night of heavy rains. The course was literally steamy in the morning, and we teed off around 11:30am - the beginning of the hot part of a summer's day here in North Carolina. My home course, Eagle Ridge, is a hilly track with plenty of hills and low areas, and walking 18 holes is a good bit of exercise for anyone, much less a middle aged man closer to 50 than 40. Usually by 10th or 11th hole, both of which have a good bit of elevation changes, one can feel it in terms of diminished strength and with that concentration. That can lead to sloppy shots, and even more sloppy marks on the scorecard. That's not what you want when you're trying to win a Nassau or lower your handicap to single digits, both of which I was intent on doing that day.

With Focus Zone, I felt just fine all day, even when we started out second round of the day - a full 11 miles of walking when finished. In fact, to finish that second round, I needed to hit our 18th green after a 200 yard forced carry over water and then two putt at worst, all of which I was able to do. My concentration and strength levels were all still high, and instead of a tired jerky get-this-thing-over shot that can lead to a ball that sleeps with the fishes, I hit a high arching draw after a smooth swing that had solid contact. Normally, after that much walking in that level of heat and humidity, my shot would not be as crisp and my interest would be more on the beckoning clubhouse with its air conditioning and the cool drinks that await inside. I am certain that using Focus Zone saved the day that day.

Science bears out my perception. Amino acids are a building block of proteins and living cells need them carry out normal functions. Electrolytes are essential for normal nerve function, and sweating and stress can diminish those in the body. Without an ample supply of both, physical and mental performance are diminished, and diminished function lead to large numbers on the scorecard.

PGA Tour players like Zach Johnson and Stewart Cink swear by Amino Vital products, and now I can see why. I've used the Focus Zone and the Endurance products, and both worked exactly as advertised, which is quite frankly an extremely pleasant change in the supplement market. Neither of the products rely on tricks like stimulants to fool one into thinking they are feeling good, and neither are loaded with sugars that lead to an inevitable crash. They are priced reasonably, and are a good value. If you play golf in high heat or high stress situations like your club's championship, or a Golf Channel Tour event where every shot counts, I cannot recommend give Focus Zone any higher of a recommendation.

Give it a try, it might help your game too.

Important Note: I am neither compensated nor solicited by Ajinomoto or any other vendor to evaluate or review their products. My opinions are my own, and use should use your own judgment before choosing or using any nutritional supplement.


  1. Grape or lemon? Also, is there anywhere to buy in a store, or only on website?

  2. Hmmm - I've been seeing the Touring pros drinking this stuff for few years, but never tried it - but now that CB has endorsed it - I'm going to give it a try !! (really !) :-)

    (oh - the first amino acids were discovered by two French physicians in the early 1800's)

  3. Court is right about the discovery of amino acids being made by French scientists. My apology for the error. Ajinomoto's founders made the link between amino acids and pleasing flavor, according to their web site.

    To answer Heather's question, I purchased mine at the Vitamin Shoppe, which I believe is a national chain. I bought the lemon flavor and mixed it with orange juice and that tasted fine. You can eat it dry or mix with water. The flavor is somewhat pleasant but not candy, if you know what I mean.

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  5. I love hot, humid weather... and I only ever hydrate with beer. That probably helps explain my lack of focus. Now that I'm planning to set some goals for my golf game I think I'll be needing a product like Focus Zone.


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