@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.