Thinking About Absolutely Nothing During My Golf Swing

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Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , , | Posted on Saturday, October 23, 2010

After reading this post by Mike Southern and this post by David MacKenzie, the game plan for practice today was absolutely nothing. Absolutely Nothing meaning, I didn't think about anything during my swing. It ended up being one of my best practice sessions to date.

I was actually supposed to play at Normandy Shores Golf Club but my buddies back out at the last minute. I had to get out there so I made use of the nice day and worked on my game. I played at Crandon Golf Club on Wednesday and I found myself thinking about my swing too much. Even after promising myself not to get too technical, I still had a million thoughts swirling around in my head.

The negative thoughts began as soon as I got up that morning because I knew that I was going to have to swing driver because a few of the holes have long carries over water just to get to the fairway. I haven't hit driver in about a month at the suggestion of Mike while I work on my swing change.

When I got on the driving range I started with my 6-iron which is what I have been working on. After that I went to my wedges and then hit hybrid. I pulled out the driver and it felt foreign to me. I hit a few balls wildly and I thought for sure I was going to have a horrible round.

I finished my warm-up with a few wedges to try and build my confidence up. As I drove the cart to the first tee with Kevin(that's Kevin in the picture with Iggy The Iguana) and Kyle, who I met at my laboratory, I didn't know what to expect off the first tee which is a par 5 that starts with a tee shot over water.

Kevin teed off first. I was hoping he would hit a good one to give me a good visual, but he duck hooked it into the water. We let him re-tee since it was going to be a slow round anyway and he hit his second one about 20 feet in front of him. In his defense, he has been running his business and hasn't played since July. Anyway, I heard that if you own a business and you are shooting in the 80's, then you need to worry about your business. After witnessing these shots, I'm confident that his business is doing very well:-)

I stepped up next and by that time, there were two foursomes waiting behind us so I had a nice little audience. Great. Now I have people watching as I hit a club I have no confidence in. The pressure.

I stepped up to the tee and I could feel the eyes on me. I took my backswing and ripped one down the right side of the fairway and it just trickled into the rough. Safe and with good lie for my next shot. Phew! I could feel my hands shaking as I picked up the tee.

I put away my driver and 3-wood after the 5th hole as I couldn't hit either one for the life of me. Mike is going to show us how to swing the driver properly down the road, and had advised me to hit hybrid for now. I actually hit it beautifully. It made the course a lot longer, but I was happy to be in the fairway.

The only time I got into trouble was when I was thinking too much, and about the wrong thing. I literally talked myself into a slice into the woods on one shot. I was telling Kevin that every time I played this hole, I ended up in these woods. I told myself, "don't put it into the woods...don't put it in the woods." And what did I do? You guessed it. Lost ball in the woods.

I always liked the quotes, "Focus on what you want instead of what you don't want," because "what you think about most becomes reality." Basically I was thinking about what I didn't want to happen and that is exactly what happened. I was so focused on a negative outcome, there was no chance of me hitting a good shot.

Instead of saying, "don't put it in the woods", I should have visualized myself making a good swing and making a good shot. Basically I'm asking for the same thing. A good result. But my focus and the feelings behind my thoughts are different.

In the first my focus is on the woods. I can't even imagine hitting it on the green because I have convinced myself that I always put it in the woods. The thoughts are negative. The feelings are negative, thus, the result is negative.

I have found that when I visualize a good shot, it usually happens. In my mind I have convinced myself that I can make the shot so that is what happens. The thoughts are positive. The feelings are positive, thus, the result is positive.

Which brings us back to practice today. Before every swing I visualized myself hitting good shots and left it at that. I didn't think about positions, tempo, or anything else. I have been practicing all of this for the past few month and the new swing is becoming more and more natural everyday.

The only time the loop sneaks back in is when I say to myself, "no loop". Bad focus and bad thoughts. By thinking about absolutely nothing during my swing, the last thought I have in my mind is a positive one, with the ball landing softly on the green.

I'm not going to lie. I did lose it a couple of times, but it is a work in progress. As I went along I remembered some words that Mike told me in one of his comments...

Here's a little "mind game" you might try playing with yourself when you get upset over a bad shot. Remind yourself that Ben Hogan allowed himself seven per round, so you're not even allowed to get upset until you've hit seven bad shots... and then, when you start to get upset over the eighth (or the ninth or...) ask yourself, "Since when did you get better than Ben Hogan? If he expected to hit seven bad ones -- and he's Ben Hogan, for Pete's sake -- how many do you think you should expect to hit?" If that doesn't make you bust out laughing -- and thus avoid getting upset -- then you just aren't paying attention. ;-)


If Ben Hogan didn't allow himself to get mad until he hit his 8th bad shot, who am I to get mad over my 1st bad shot. By the time I was done reading Mike's comment I was laughing at myself. Just who do I think I am? Have a great round and always hit your target.

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Comments (4)

  1. October 23, 2010 at 10:21 PM

    Ok, a quick mental lesson to help you with those bad holes...

    You're entirely correct that thinking "don't hit it there" is a great way to hit it there. ;-) What you need to do is pick where you want to hit it... but "hit it in the fairway" probably won't help you either. Why?

    Believe it or not, the target's too big.

    That's right. For some reason an impossibly small target is the best aiming point. Make it really small -- the trunk of a tree 300 yards away, the flag on the green, a squirrel sitting in the fairway. I think what happens is that you become so focused on the small target that you ignore the larger problems around it.

    Anyway, give that a try and see if it doesn't help you.

    BTW, I think you'll be ok to use the 3-wood. It has a lot more loft than the driver, so it'll be easier to get it up in the air, and you've gotten used to your swing change enough that you can probably hit it decently off the tee. Choke down a bit on the grip if you need to, but I suspect you'll be able to hit it pretty well.

    And congrats on just "hitting the ball." Remember how I told you I wanted you to swing by feel, to just take the club back to THERE (where THERE is the way the top of your swing feels) then just think about hitting the ball? That's what you're calling "visualization."

    See? This game really isn't that hard -- we just tend to make it that way.

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  3. March 3, 2011 at 10:17 PM

    golfer wants to know the best golf driver tip. I hate to disappoint you but there are many great golf driver tips that could be the key to unlocking monster drives for you. Every month the golf magazines have dozens of tips in them, but none of them get to the root of the problem.

  4. March 4, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    I agree. That's why I find that the best teachers are the people that get to know their students personality as well as their swings. Each person requires a different kind of coaching, and a good instructor knows how to act accordingly.