Sometimes better driving comes down to what swing thoughts you are focusing on at the moment, and how relaxed or tense they make you feel.
The importance of swing thoughts
Are you overloading yourself with too many swing thoughts at a time? Many golf instructors will recommend no more than one or two swing thoughts at once. And once you’re playing on a high level, no swing thoughts at all.
Are you failing to mix up your swing thoughts based on your mood, how your body is feeling, your play so far that day, and most especially, which club you’re working on? Golf legend, Rory McIlroy has said, “It’s important to have swing thoughts on the tee. They help take your mind off all the bad things that can happen and put your focus on what you need to do to put one in the fairway.”
Expert-recommended swing thoughts
We collected 12 of these top, expert-recommended swing thoughts for when you’re practicing on the range with your driver. Learn each of these swing thoughts on the range, then find one that works for you and focus on it:
1. If you need to work on tempo, David MacKenzie for Golf State of Mind says, “Try making the takeaway (the first 12 inches) as smooth as possible and say ‘1-2’ in your head. ‘1’ to the top of the backswing, and ‘2’ down through the ball.”
2. PGA-pro Dan Polites writing for PGA.com recommends telling yourself, “Swing through the ball not at the ball,” as a recipe for better driving.
3. Butch Harmon told Golf Digest that if you’re feeling the pressure, “the best thought, even if you don’t have the flexibility to do it, is to turn your lead shoulder behind the ball.”
4. PGA-pro Brady Riggs writing for Golf Tips says a swing thought like “through, not to” can help with the problem common with many beginners where they imagine simply hitting up to the ball, and don’t achieve good follow-through.
5. Riggs also endorses “body leading arms” for working on smooth transitions.
6. Adam Scott told Golf.com that he advocates thinking of getting your “shoulders, hips, arms, hands and clubhead” to reach the top all at the same time.
7. To hit more solid shots, Golf Samurai advises picturing “a nail stuck in the back of the ball” and wing you swing down, imagining using your driver to smack the nail right through the ball.
8. Ernie Ells is known to ere on the side of the very simple when he formulates his swing thought. He likes to stick with “low and slow,” and clearly this mantra has worked for him.
9. Keegan Bradley says, “I focus on my facial muscles. When you can get your mouth to relax, your whole body relaxes.” You can also close your eyes for a moment to focus on this relaxing feeling.
10. Graeme McDowell has been quoted as saying, “To avoid a hook, my takeaway thought is to make sure during those first three feet the clubhead works away wide and outside my hands, with a nice bit of loft on the club.” You could try saying “wide and high” for an easy mantra.
11. Hunter Mahan says golfers should, “Pretend there’s a pressure gauge under your left foot and push down as hard as you can as you bring the club down,” when practicing with the driver. This can help with good follow-through.
12. And lastly, Paula Creamer says she likes to use the swing thought “keep your height.” “Feel tall,” she says, “like your chest stays nice and high when you hit shots. This will help you maintain the width of your arms and prevent you from getting scoopy.” Not to mention, when you let yourself feel tall, you’ll get that added mental boost of also picturing yourself as powerful.
— C. Pedroja