Mental Game Thing: Mechanical Swing Thoughts on the Course

@Soly just said on the most recent podcast (the goals one) that he’d like to play a lot more golf without a swing thought. He said that he just wanted to think “target” and nothing else.

As an instructor, it’s something I hear pretty often, from a lot of people. And, while as an instructor we’re always working toward “grooving” swings or making better swings more “automatic,” it’s puzzling to me that this idea that to play your best golf you have to have no swing thoughts - especially a mechanical swing thought - continues to exist.

The guys just interviewed Cameron and Corey, and they threw out the stat that something like 2.5% of the rounds their players play are without a swing thought. Jordan Spieth said that he played well in 2015 or 2017 with about three different swing thoughts he’d cycle in and out. A Golf Digest (I think) article last year put the average number of swing thoughts per round by a PGA Tour player north of 2 or 3. Personally (this should carry almost no weight), I (a +1) can’t think of the last round that I played without a swing thought, my daughter (1.0) can’t, my teaching partner Dave can’t (he was on the Nationwide Tour when it was called that) either.

This isn’t “anti-mental game” because the mental game people will tell you to focus on the process, not the results. The target is more results-oriented than thinking (to make up something) “Okay, keep the right palm facing down a bit more to start the backswing”. That’s a process. That’s something you can control and do better, and something that can take your mind off the rest of what the shot is putting in front of you.

And, I’d assume it’s a swing thought^ because it helps you.

So let’s shed the idea that to play your best golf you should strive and try to go out there and play without a swing thought. Occasionally it’ll happen (see the post-script) but listen to what the Tour guys are telling you. Listen to what your own practice sessions tell you. And, yeah, listen to what I’m telling you a bit, too, because even if you ultimately disagree at least you’ll have given it some thought, and being charged with making people think isn’t the worst thing in the world.

And to be clear, I’m not telling you to go out there with five swing thoughts. One or two might work, for different types of shots especially. Keep it simple, keep it to something you can do that makes you hit it a bit better, and focus on the “process” a bit more.

^ No swing thought is really a “sentence of words.” It’s a feeling, generally. That’s why you’ll see guys on the PGA Tour rehearsing something, to get a feeling, to rehearse their swing thought. Someone who takes their backswing back to waist high is rehearsing the feeling of, maybe, keeping their right palm facing down longer, and then they repeat that feeling during their swing.

P.S. Yes, occasionally, everyone will get into a bit of a groove and have a round where they are just kind of present and in the zone and playing well, and without a swing thought. Those rounds are incredibly rare, though, and can’t really be a goal.

P.P.S. I have a lot more thoughts on this but just wanted to get something out there. I hope not to have misspoken much. And @3wiggle, I searched. There are some loosely related topics but I didn’t find one quite like this one. If anyone finds one, I’d just ask @McSchvantz to merge it.


The “partial practice swing” being analogous to a “swing thought” is a fantastic angle. Have only ever loosely thought of that before. Making it deliberate (and having a goal)… Hogan talks about that with the “waggle”, no? Often overlooked.

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The Rose squat being along the same lines I guess? I agree too with the thought needing to be more than words. My instructor tells me often that I need to go “up” midway in the backswing, as I stay too shallow, but I think the struggle for me replicating that outside on the course is I don’t have the manipulation that accompanied the instruction totally nailed and repeatable. That’s definitely something I want to work on, so “up” becomes a bit of a trigger, rather than simply being an empty mantra.

I’m trying to groove the 7-4-7 method from ClubProGuy, but it seems you’re saying 18 separate swing thoughts may be too much.



I go to this in particular with full wedge approaches. I want to feel the bounce brush the turf on quarter swings to (in my peanut brain) confirm the ball is in the correct part of my stance, as it tends to sneak a little forward of middle. Related: @alexshreff is not happy until two practice pelts are sent down the fairway.


love this topic.

i’ll jump in when I have a bit of time to organize my words.

Until about the past 6 months I have not had a consistent swing thought mainly because in addition to quick but albeit useless swing thoughts my mind would drift to what I shouldnt do. As we all know once we get that negative thought in, it’s hard to get out. Hell I hit our buddies cart and broke 3 clips off his bag when I told my self on the tee “don’t clip his cart”

But in the past 6 months I’ve started to take 30 minute lessons about once a week and the coach has been able to give me small stuff to work on. The summation of all of these tiny thoughts has been enough to block out the bad.

Without any positive thoughts in the swing it’s much safer to have no thoughts.

Interested to follow this topic as I try to tackle the mental aspect of the game.

Love the topic as well.

Seperatly what does everyone generally do? Take a full actual swing and move earth or work on tempo and clip the grass? I’ve also been too quick and typically don’t take an actual divot in my practice swing.

@alexshreff takes two full beaver pelts no joke

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Whatever works

My best rounds ever (4 or 5 ever) have been played without a swing thought.

Some of my best rounds have been played with one swing thought.

Most of my rounds I have 2.

When I’m lost I have 3-4.


I’m getting better at this guise. I’ve never had a “swing feel” or technical “swing thought” before. Now that I do, that’s become my pre-shot routine.

2020 is all about growth bby

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“my swing thought is take an entire swing with a full divot”

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Is there a swing thought to get the hosel out of your head? I haven’t taken a swing since 2004 without fearing a shank. I’ll take my answer offline.

Holy cow, Rest In Peace in peace


Thank you Nandy. Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated



I’ve played some ok golf since then. Maybe I’m motivated by fear? I don’t know, still researching.

@iacas and @imsocrabby what’s your opinion on “swing thoughts” vs setup/grip? Are they one in the same? I think Nicklaus has some saying that 90% of golfers are fucked before they even start their swing (paraphrasing)

Personally, never taken a lesson and my bible to the golf swing is is Ben Hogan’s 5 lessons (mainly revisit the first chapter for grip) plus just taking tidbits from guys on TV (Chamblee, Kostis, etc). A few here can tell you how ugly my swing is but I’m a single digit cap (extremely short but get it in the right position at impact and generally keep it bw the mustard and the mayo). I think I’ve avoided lessons bc I don’t want “swing thoughts” in my head. What I would love is setup/posture advice.

I’m not asking for help (although Ill take it) but just curious how you go about that with students and how much is swing mechanics vs setup

No. Swing thoughts (feels) are something you “feel” during your swing.

The main point of my first post is to point out that while many people say they want to play without swing thoughts, this almost never happens among the game’s best players. They all play almost all of their rounds with swing thoughts, and the average is north of two or three.

Unrelated: you should find a coach you trust if you’d like to get better.

I fix or adjust setup in virtually every lesson. Lots of the longer-term students don’t need setup help. I think you’re over-rating the setup, too. I’d say more, but the topic isn’t the setup position or grip.