The subject of today’s blog is the swing thought. Why does it work, and why does it stop working. We have all been there. The only thing more seductive than a swing thought is a beautiful women in a low cut dress that stops at mid thigh. It causes the golfer to think, I’ve got it. This is the magic bullet. Swing thoughts are many. Slow down at the top, take it back low and slow, slide the hips, hold the finish, and I could go on and on. They can be pre swing thoughts like stand closer to the ball, grip to the right, weight on the heels, and again many more. They are brought about by desperation. The round is going horribly. You may have even tried to use various thoughts to turn around the round with no success. But then it happens. You come up with a thought, and you hit a gorgeous shot and the thought continues to work during the round. This thought may even work when you start the next round. It won’t be too long though, around the 4th or 5th hole, that the game will break down again and the thought will disappear into the vault of about 100 other swing thoughts that you were going to do the rest of your golfing life.
Swing thoughts are nothing new. Bobby Jones wrote about swing thoughts in the mid 1930’s. “Sometimes by remembering to start the downstroke by shifting and turning the hips, highly satisfactory results may be obtained. While this continues, we are enjoying one of the peaks of our chart. But soon, either because we begin to exaggerate this one thing, or forget entirely about something else, the whole thing goes wrong and we have to begin over again. Again we set out to find another thought that will set things right”. This was written in the 1930’s but if this same statement was in the latest issue of Golf Digest everyone would still be shaking their heads in agreement. Jones even has an explanation why they stop working. The point is this has always been accepted in golf practically forever. You find the “magic ” swing thought, it works for awhile, and then, just as suddenly it stops working. As much a I respect Bobby Jones as a golf writer and instructor, I have to disagree with him on why these swing thoughts stop working. Plus he gives no explanation why they start working. I believe that this is what ties in to why they stop working .
So why does a certain swing thought seems to work? It is a distraction as to what is going on, on the course. This could also explain why you don’t find THE swing thought on the first try. It is not enough of a distraction. Do you ever noticed that the “right” swing thought is often easier to find on the practice tee. The success of the swing thought has nothing to do with what the swing thought is but when you are thinking of the swing thought. Let’s move back out to the course. You start your round out and the ball striking is lousy and the score is going up and up and by the 4th hole, you are in desperation mode. The 5th hole is a difficult driving hole and you come up with your first new swing thought of the day. But pow, off the ball goes into the woods. Your second and third shots are not much better, and another bad score results. But now you come to the 6th hole and easy par 3 with little trouble and a big green and today the pin is in an easy spot. Now you go to a new thought, and you hit a very nice onto the green. The shot makes you feel good and the next hole the same thought gets you a drive right down the middle and you’ve got this game solved. The first swing thought would have been just as good, if you had decided to use it on the 6th hole for the first time. When you used it on the more difficult driving hole, the trouble and the type of shot still had your mind occupied. The sixth hole being much easier, your full attention was on the new swing thought and the result was great. Maybe the results were good to excellent even for the rest of the round, made a few birdies and salvaged the round with a mid 70 score. Through the week you made it to the driving range, a couple of times, and this thought continued to work great through both practice sessions. Next blog I will write about why practice is a waste of time but to proceed. Now you are at the course and you are brimming with confidence and ready to shoot a great round. By the middle of the front nine you are 4 over par and looking for it again. So what the hell happened. Well that thought became so ingrained in your brain that it stopped being a distraction and all those little nasty places that your ball could go came back to the fore front. So forget about swing thoughts and play free, at least from swing thoughts, you will probably have to pay. Next blog, practice, save your money and your time.