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Playing Golf Without a (Swing) Thought

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135 members have voted

  1. 1. How often do you play a competitive round of golf WITHOUT a swing thought or a focal point? Please read first post before answering.

    • Never - I always have something in mind
      45
    • Rarely
      47
    • Often
      23
    • Always - I just hit the ball and don't think about anything like that
      8


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44 minutes ago, Puttin4Dough said:

   The answer is no, you don't...no one does.  It's ingrained. 

Yeah you’re wrong. You don’t consciously think of it. But it’s still an action following a command by you and traveling a somatic neuro pathway. It’s not ‘engrained.’ This is why, as @iacas stated, people who have suffered injuries may have to learn to walk again. 

33 minutes ago, iacas said:

You're comparing a golf swing to walking down stairs or bringing a fork to your mouth?

@Puttin4Dough ...yeah, this.

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31 minutes ago, iacas said:

You're comparing a golf swing to walking down stairs or bringing a fork to your mouth?

And, for those who suffer an injury, who have to learn how to walk again, they do have to think about what they're doing.

The poll supports the opposite of what you said in your prior post.

During the swing. It's not all three during every swing, but for example one of the PGA Tour guys we work with has a few swing thoughts for different shots.

For green side bunker shots he feels like the club is ascending at impact. For tee shots it feels like he's dropping his head back a foot. Irons he feels like he's holding off the club face (the ball starts a bit right and tightly draws). For fairway woods /his hybrid he pushes his right pocket forward.

These are the feels he has during those shots. And yeah, he rehearses them before hand, but he feels them during the swing, too.

Erik, I think the players you know are pulling your leg if they tell you they think about swing thoughts over the ball, and especially during their swing, or they aren't top-end Tour players.  There's no way they're inviting a terribly inefficient and negative thought-process to hitting a ball that is in direct contrast to fluidly of movement. 

Couples talks about feeling "oily" during the swing..  That means loose...no tension. I played with Couples on numerous occasions.  He let us know PDQ to stop saying "great shot" after his shots.  He said "I hit them all like that".  There wasn't a moment where he wasn't swinging the club as effortlessly (from our view) like he was walking down stairs. 

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6 minutes ago, Vinsk said:

Yeah you’re wrong. You don’t consciously think of it. But it’s still an action following a command by you and traveling a somatic neuro pathway. It’s not ‘engrained.’ This is why, as @iacas stated, people who have suffered injuries may have to learn to walk again. 

@Puttin4Dough ...yeah, this.

Vinsk, believe what you want...that's fine.  But when you get into "somatic neuro pathway's", you lose everyone.  I never thought of a "somatic neuro pathway" when walking down stairs, eating with a fork, or turning the wheel to avoid hitting another car.  It happens via repetition, or a millionth of a second reaction.  The problem is a vast majority of golfers think they can control movement.  They can't.  It must become  a rudimentary, innately involuntary movement...much like "I have a club in my hands...I do this...now".    

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2 minutes ago, Puttin4Dough said:

The problem is a vast majority of golfers think they can control movement.  They can't. 

It’s amazing how wrong you are. Of course they control movement. Are you really reading what you’re writing? @iacas can take any grip you suggest, strong, very strong, weak or very weak, and still hit the ball well. How can he do that? He knows by his feels what is necessary to bring the clubface to the ball. He is controlling it. John Daly and many other pros can hit a golf ball off a Coke can, hell..off a tee in someone’s mouth. You really just don’t understand what a swing thought is and how we can control our movements in a golf swing. If there was no conscious control then we’d all be great ball strikers. It’s voluntary. You’re still comparing waking and using a fork to a golf swing...apples to oranges..come on man...that’s just ridiculous. 

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1 hour ago, iacas said:

You're comparing a golf swing to walking down stairs or bringing a fork to your mouth?

And, for those who suffer an injury, who have to learn how to walk again, they do have to think about what they're doing.

The poll supports the opposite of what you said in your prior post.

During the swing. It's not all three during every swing, but for example one of the PGA Tour guys we work with has a few swing thoughts for different shots.

For green side bunker shots he feels like the club is ascending at impact. For tee shots it feels like he's dropping his head back a foot. Irons he feels like he's holding off the club face (the ball starts a bit right and tightly draws). For fairway woods /his hybrid he pushes his right pocket forward.

These are the feels he has during those shots. And yeah, he rehearses them before hand, but he feels them during the swing, too.

Erik...if a golf swing requires much more thought than walking down a flight of stairs, it's a variable swing based on shaky ground.  It's all about preparation, ingrained thought.  Anyone who remains focused upon anything near rudimentary swing mechanics at any significant level isn't on Tour.  That's beginning golf stuff.

4 minutes ago, Vinsk said:

It’s amazing how wrong you are. Of course they control movement. Are you really reading what you’re writing? @iacas can take any grip you suggest, strong, very strong, weak or very weak, and still hit the ball well. How can he do that? He knows by his feels what is necessary to bring the clubface to the ball. He is controlling it. John Daly and many other pros can hit a golf ball off a Coke can, hell..off a tee in someone’s mouth. You really just don’t understand what a swing thought is and how we can control our movements in a golf swing. If there was no conscious control then we’d all be great ball strikers. It’s voluntary. You’re still comparing waking and using a fork to a golf swing...apples to oranges..come on man...that’s just ridiculous. 

So the grip doesn't matter?  It doesn't so much for him because he's "at home' with any club. I would say he has an innate sense of control of the club face over many years of practice.  I bet he can bounce a ball 100 times off a SW. 

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10 minutes ago, Puttin4Dough said:

Anyone who remains focused upon anything near rudimentary swing mechanics at any significant level isn't on Tour. 

You mean like the pros who have alignment rods on the ground when practicing? Like the pros who wear/use training devices when on the range? Sorry, you’re just wrong. 

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19 minutes ago, Puttin4Dough said:

Anyone who remains focused upon anything near rudimentary swing mechanics at any significant level isn't on Tour.  That's beginning golf stuff

You mean Mike Weir who won The Masters while having a backswing feel practice on every practice swing before he hit the ball? 

You mean the PGA tour players who work on feels during the round? High level PGA Tour players do this. 

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22 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

You mean Mike Weir who won The Masters while having a backswing feel practice on every practice swing before he hit the ball? 

You mean the PGA tour players who work on feels during the round? High level PGA Tour players do this. 

I think @Puttin4Dough is only referring to players while they actually swing? Maybe? However that’s still incorrect imo. I’m really contesting his incorrect assumption that players can’t control their movements in a swing. That is obviously flawed.

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I do all my "thinking" prior to the shot. Once I am set and confident that I have my swing oriented to send the momentum of my swing in a certain direction, which is very rarely at the flag and is always at a tangent angle to the flag, I then click off mentally and let my natural swing just happen.  The only thing I never lose focus on is where I am sending that momentum. I see it in my mind even while I am looking down at the ball. I am FEELING for the target in my mind and this prepares my body for what to expect during the shot, because I've likely hit a similar shot before. After the shot I ALWAYS note where the shot was struck on the face, my perceived level of effort, and how balanced I was during the shot.  The actual ball flight tells me what my face to path was and I can make any adjustments to either if the ball didn't fly exactly as I was predicting.  I never try to fire anything or restrict anything because I feel like it will detract from the goal which is to send momentum towards a target and strike a golf ball along the way.  

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5 hours ago, Puttin4Dough said:

Erik, I think the players you know are pulling your leg if they tell you they think about swing thoughts over the ball, and especially during their swing, or they aren't top-end Tour players.

A guy who has won a PGA Tour event within the pretty recent past has, let me quote him from a text, "not played a full shot without a swing thought since [he] broke 90 as a kid."

My players aren't lying to me. There's absolutely no incentive for them to be lying to me. None whatsoever.

I have other knowledge that I'm simply not going to share, because it'd be violating some trusts, or "the code," but no, they're not lying to me, and I've talked with, worked with, or otherwise know some of the top players and/or instructors in the game.

5 hours ago, Puttin4Dough said:

There's no way they're inviting a terribly inefficient and negative thought-process to hitting a ball that is in direct contrast to fluidly of movement.

You don't understand.

It's not "inefficient." It sure as f*** isn't "negative."

It's the opposite of both of those.

5 hours ago, Puttin4Dough said:

That means loose...no tension.

That has nothing to do with this.

And as I pointed out in other topics, sometimes feeling the appropriate "tension" at the appropriate time helps a player perform better. But this topic isn't about "tension," so…

5 hours ago, Puttin4Dough said:

There wasn't a moment where he wasn't swinging the club as effortlessly (from our view) like he was walking down stairs. 

That doesn't say anything. And he wasn't swinging "effortlessly." I don't care what your frame of reference is… he was expending quite a bit of effort. You have to to swing as fast as he was capable of swinging.

Again, not the topic.

5 hours ago, Puttin4Dough said:

Vinsk, believe what you want...that's fine.

He doesn't have to "believe" anything. As a medical doctor, he is telling you what he knows.

And he didn't lose me.

5 hours ago, Puttin4Dough said:

The problem is a vast majority of golfers think they can control movement. They can't.

They can and do. Golfers don't just swing randomly. They set things in motion, and they have some amount of control over that action as it's going on. I can make a conscious decision to swing a bit slower, or a bit shorter, or a bit flatter, or to arch my wrist in transition. Or to feel like I'm hitting up on a bunker shot because that causes me (or a 25-year Tour player) to throw the trail wrist just a little sooner, resulting in a better bunker shot.

5 hours ago, Puttin4Dough said:

It happens via repetition, or a millionth of a second reaction.

And it can be changed - improved, even - by having a beneficial swing thought.

5 hours ago, Puttin4Dough said:

The problem is a vast majority of golfers think they can control movement.  They can't.  It must become  a rudimentary, innately involuntary movement...much like "I have a club in my hands...I do this...now".

So long as it doesn't happen randomly, they're controlling it to some extent. They control when it starts. They control a bit of it. The golf swing is too fast for them to control ALL of it EVERY time, but they can control and change little bits - often to improve their results - even at (especially at) the game's highest levels.

4 hours ago, Puttin4Dough said:

Erik...if a golf swing requires much more thought than walking down a flight of stairs

When did I say that? I'll save you the time: I didn't. The key words there are "requires" and "thought."

4 hours ago, Puttin4Dough said:

Erik...if a golf swing requires much more thought than walking down a flight of stairs, it's a variable swing based on shaky ground.

Again, man, PGA Tour players average about three swing thoughts. Not per swing, but players have on average 3.x swing thoughts they're actively using to improve their play at any given time.

The game's best players, in your words, have "variable swings based on shaky ground."

4 hours ago, Puttin4Dough said:

Anyone who remains focused upon anything near rudimentary swing mechanics at any significant level isn't on Tour.

You've been proven so wrong here so many times, it's not worth saying more than that.

4 hours ago, Puttin4Dough said:

So the grip doesn't matter?

Talking about me? Of course it matters. I don't just randomly grip the club while playing golf.

The point @Vinsk was making - I think, as he's welcome to correct me if I get it wrong - is that I can hit a good golf shot while actively thinking and feeling things throughout the swing. When I take a stronger grip than anyone who has ever broken 80 and hit an 8-iron 150 with a little draw, I'm thinking and "feeling" where the face is throughout that motion, and actively thinking and feeling about what I have to feel and do to hit a good golf shot given that sensation.

When my daughter has a ball above her feet she actively thinks and feels like she "stays taller" so that she doesn't catch it heavy.

When another recent Tour winner actively feels like he's taking the putter back "shut" so he doesn't roll it as open as he does when he putts "naturally" or "thought free" his performance improves.

38 minutes ago, Righty to Lefty said:

The only thing I never lose focus on is where I am sending that momentum.

Hate to break it to you, but you've got a swing thought. You're actively feeling "send my momentum that way." It's no different than someone thinking "all I have to do here is twist the grip a little in transition."

 

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17 hours ago, iacas said:

A guy who has won a PGA Tour event within the pretty recent past has, let me quote him from a text, "not played a full shot without a swing thought since [he] broke 90 as a kid."

My players aren't lying to me. There's absolutely no incentive for them to be lying to me. None whatsoever.

I have other knowledge that I'm simply not going to share, because it'd be violating some trusts, or "the code," but no, they're not lying to me, and I've talked with, worked with, or otherwise know some of the top players and/or instructors in the game.

You don't understand.

It's not "inefficient." It sure as f*** isn't "negative."

It's the opposite of both of those.

That has nothing to do with this.

And as I pointed out in other topics, sometimes feeling the appropriate "tension" at the appropriate time helps a player perform better. But this topic isn't about "tension," so…

That doesn't say anything. And he wasn't swinging "effortlessly." I don't care what your frame of reference is… he was expending quite a bit of effort. You have to to swing as fast as he was capable of swinging.

Again, not the topic.

He doesn't have to "believe" anything. As a medical doctor, he is telling you what he knows.

And he didn't lose me.

They can and do. Golfers don't just swing randomly. They set things in motion, and they have some amount of control over that action as it's going on. I can make a conscious decision to swing a bit slower, or a bit shorter, or a bit flatter, or to arch my wrist in transition. Or to feel like I'm hitting up on a bunker shot because that causes me (or a 25-year Tour player) to throw the trail wrist just a little sooner, resulting in a better bunker shot.

And it can be changed - improved, even - by having a beneficial swing thought.

So long as it doesn't happen randomly, they're controlling it to some extent. They control when it starts. They control a bit of it. The golf swing is too fast for them to control ALL of it EVERY time, but they can control and change little bits - often to improve their results - even at (especially at) the game's highest levels.

When did I say that? I'll save you the time: I didn't. The key words there are "requires" and "thought."

Again, man, PGA Tour players average about three swing thoughts. Not per swing, but players have on average 3.x swing thoughts they're actively using to improve their play at any given time.

The game's best players, in your words, have "variable swings based on shaky ground."

You've been proven so wrong here so many times, it's not worth saying more than that.

Talking about me? Of course it matters. I don't just randomly grip the club while playing golf.

The point @Vinsk was making - I think, as he's welcome to correct me if I get it wrong - is that I can hit a good golf shot while actively thinking and feeling things throughout the swing. When I take a stronger grip than anyone who has ever broken 80 and hit an 8-iron 150 with a little draw, I'm thinking and "feeling" where the face is throughout that motion, and actively thinking and feeling about what I have to feel and do to hit a good golf shot given that sensation.

When my daughter has a ball above her feet she actively thinks and feels like she "stays taller" so that she doesn't catch it heavy.

When another recent Tour winner actively feels like he's taking the putter back "shut" so he doesn't roll it as open as he does when he putts "naturally" or "thought free" his performance improves.

Hate to break it to you, but you've got a swing thought. You're actively feeling "send my momentum that way." It's no different than someone thinking "all I have to do here is twist the grip a little in transition."

 

Golf is not without thought...I never said that.  My overall point is there's a barrier between thinking and swinging.  A Tour pro can have 20 thoughts, but of the one's I've played with, when they get over the ball they zone-out.  That's why some pro's advise to have a think-box and hit-box.  It has to be separate.  The second anyone thinks "Oh, remember to do this" over the ball it's not good.  It's called not prepared.  

The stairs analogy is perfect for this topic.  You don't think about walking down stairs, you do it.  Sure, you can think "don't trip", but that's before the steps, not during.  If during the process, one will tense-up. 

My old high school golf coach did a fun demonstration regarding the mindset in golf using stairs.  He got us into a room with a chalkboard and had us diagram each movement to walk down stairs.  Left leg does this, right that, arm does this, other arm does that, weight here, now weight there.  After the intense discussion about "how to walk down stairs", he had each of us go to the top of a long flight of stairs and he said "OK, walk down the stairs, don't fall".  

Guess what?  Every single person grabbed the railing after a several steps.  He said if your swing is not as comfortable as walking down stairs, if you have to think about it, you'll have a hard time ever reaching top-level golf play.  

So when you approach some stairs next time, of course you'll think "Ok, here's some stairs, don't trip" but it's a fleeting thought, not "DON'T TRIP...LEFT LEG HERE, RIGHT LEG HERE", etc.  Point is a majority of the golf swing must be 2nd nature IMO.  

21 hours ago, Vinsk said:

I think @Puttin4Dough is only referring to players while they actually swing? Maybe? However that’s still incorrect imo. I’m really contesting his incorrect assumption that players can’t control their movements in a swing. That is obviously flawed.

Yes I am talking about "over the ball".  But I think you're into a different discussion.  Yes, I can easily sabotage my swing with forced movements.  So sure, it's possible to control movements during a swing.  But when a bad habit collides with the brain in 1.5 seconds, forget about it.

Edited by Puttin4Dough

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22 hours ago, Puttin4Dough said:

The problem is a vast majority of golfers think they can control movement.  They can't. 

You said this.

 

11 minutes ago, Puttin4Dough said:

So sure, it's possible to control movements during a swing.  

And then this. So....yeah ok. Players can certainly enter a zone where they’re making shots without a thought. But pros often will work on something or try to continue a movement/position they’ve been working on. You said ‘think box’ and ‘hit box.’ Well, if you’re off the ball and thinking, ‘ I need to keep my trail arm closer to my body’ it doesn’t make much sense to say once you’re over the ball that thought is gone. Pros change parts of their swing often. In order to carry out a new feeling it doesn’t really work to just think about it then blank out when you’re over the ball. Something is making this new move. You have to willfully make the movement through whatever feel you’ve developed to execute it. I can stand behind the ball all day and have thoughts about what I want my trail elbow, my lead knee, lead arm to do. I can’t just get over the ball and think, ‘well here goes...inside hope those positions/movement happen naturally.’ It just doesn’t work that way.

 

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1 minute ago, Vinsk said:

You said this.

 

And then this. So....yeah ok. Players can certainly enter a zone where they’re making shots without a thought. But pros often will work on something or try to continue a movement/position they’ve been working on. You said ‘think box’ and ‘hit box.’ Well, if you’re off the ball and thinking, ‘ I need to keep my trail arm closer to my body’ it doesn’t make much sense to say once you’re over the ball that thought is gone. Pros change parts of their swing often. In order to carry out a new feeling it doesn’t really work to just think about it then blank out when you’re over the ball. Something is making this new move. You have to willfully make the movement through whatever feel you’ve developed to execute it. I can stand behind the ball all day and have thoughts about what I want my trail elbow, my lead knee, lead arm to do. I can’t just get over the ball and think, ‘well here goes...inside hope those positions/movement happen naturally.’ It just doesn’t work that way.

 

You bypassed my stairs analogy.  Why? Do you really think about walking down stairs, like "foot here, arm here, weight here"?  You don't.  Any pro who's thinking about their swing over the ball, other than the most fleeting thought, is not on TV.  Thinking adds tension...it's well documented.  

The problem is we are using the term "thinking" because each person defines that differently.  But there's "thinking" as in "I'm about to hit a ball to there", and thinking "Ok, don't forget X, Y, and Z".  

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6 minutes ago, Puttin4Dough said:

Any pro who's thinking about their swing over the ball, other than the most fleeting thought, is not on TV.  Thinking adds tension...it's well documented.  

Back this claim up. There is 190+ golfers on the PGA tour, get everyone of them to say they don't have a swing thought standing over the ball. 

Also, you glossed over the fact that Mike Weir won The Masters with a swing thought and routine he had in his backswing. Clearly, having swing thoughts can win a golfer the most prestigious major. 

7 minutes ago, Puttin4Dough said:

The problem is we are using the term "thinking" because each person defines that differently.  But there's "thinking" as in "I'm about to hit a ball to there", and thinking "Ok, don't forget X, Y, and Z".  

Thinking is thinking. 

Swing thoughts are not, "Don't forget this, that, and that."

Swing thoughts are focused feels that help a golfer produce the swing they want. They are very specific and easy to remember. They have been practiced so that they start to become habit. Most of the time swing thoughts are things golfers work on to get the type of consistent ball flight they want. This isn't a checkbox list like you are going to the grocery store.

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38 minutes ago, Puttin4Dough said:

You bypassed my stairs analogy.  Why?

For f**** sake ....it’s an asinine analogy. Walking down stairs has nothing to do with executing a golf swing. There aren’t millions of books or professional instructors teaching the art of walking down stairs. You’re being ridiculous.

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7 hours ago, Vinsk said:

For f**** sake ....it’s an asinine analogy. Walking down stairs has nothing to do with executing a golf swing. There aren’t millions of books or professional instructors teaching the art of walking down stairs. You’re being ridiculous.

Waking down stairs can be poetry!

Walking down stairs.jpg

I watch a lot of golf and see almost every player on the PGA rehearse some movement before swinging. 

Current #1 in the world Justin Rose is a perfect example. I always assumed he had a swing thought and used his rehearsal to reinforce it.

I agree that too much is bad, but I usually have one to focus on to start the backswing.

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