Swing Thoughts That Really Work

Think your way to a better golf swing now

Swing ThoughtsOld-school golf instruction is full of imagery that was originally created to help players make what were perceived as the the proper moves in the swing. In those days, many of the technical aspects of the golf swing weren’t completely understood, largely due to the lack of video technology that exists today. Instead, players mostly relied on feel, natural talent and repetition to hone their technique and overall game. Not surprisingly, the average scores of recreational golfers barely ever improved significantly, other than what was delivered by technological advances in equipment and golf course conditioning.

Today, good golf instruction should combine an understanding of the proper mechanics of the swing with an emphasis on creating an athletic, natural motion. To help accomplish this task, I’ve come up with some simple but effective thoughts that can help your swing become more natural, athletic and repetitive. Give them a try both during Bird Grippractice and when you’re on the course. After a while, whatever mechanical swing thoughts you might have developed over the years should be replaced with these simpler, more effective ones. Once your mind is free from distraction, you’ll be surprised how much easier it is to make good swings.

Old School
Grip Like You Are Holding A Bird
Like most golfers, I’ve never held a small bird in my hands, so this advice doesn’t do much for me. I prefer thinking of the tension you’d apply when throwing a ball—it’s more athletic, and makes more sense. Think about it—when you throw a ball, you hold it tightly enough so it doesn’t fly out of your hand when you cock your arm, but loosely enough to create speed.

Hold The Tray Hold The Tray 
The “waiter position” is one to forget—you don’t want your palm facing directly skyward at the top of the backswing. Instead, your palm should be on a 45-degree angle to the ground, which puts the clubface in a square position and maintains the width of the backswing for maximum swing arc.

To create a more athletic setup, imagine your shoulders, hips and knees in a level position with your weight spread between your feet evenly.
The importance of a solid setup position cannot be denied—if you start out poorly you’ll have little chance of making a solid swing. Some key thoughts for a good setup are “stay level” and “be athletic.”

Square Shoulders Many golfers handicap themselves at the outset by making mistakes like kicking in the right knee, dropping the right shoulder or flaring only one of their feet. In the photo at right, notice how my shoulders remain nearly level, with the right only slightly lower than the left. My knees are bowed a bit outward and both feet are flared. This is a key for creating an athletic swing—one that’s rotational rather than a lateral, sliding motion that stresses the back and leads to an ineffective impact position. Equally important is the feeling of being “bouncy” in the legs, with flexed knees and relaxed muscles. 

Comparison At The Top
The golf swing is an athletic motion that must be made with a dynamic base. Rigid legs can’t provide the same athletic platform as those that are flexed.

The obvious differences in the pictures to the left are powerful evidence of what can happen if the wrong swing thought occupies the mind during the backswing. At the left, I’ve lost all the angles I set at address and any chance to create a leveraged, dynamic attack into impact. Notice how much more athletic I look in the picture on the right. Both knees are flexed, my core has dropped slightly lower and my body is poised to spring into action. This position creates a direct route for my arms and club to the ball from the inside, encouraging a more rotational move with my body all the way to the finish. The thought of squatting is key for creating this type of move.

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