It’s New Year’s resolution season, so we’re all on our way to losing 20 pounds and having single-digit handicaps. While most resolutions have rather limited staying power, we have one instruction-based resolution that we truly hope everyone sticks to for eternity.
Erika Larkin, one of Golf Digest’s Best Young Teachers, says the best resolution you can make for yourself is to stick to one swing thought during a round, two thoughts as an absolute max. This may not sound like a difficult resolution, but take a second and think about how many swing thoughts you had during your last swing, let alone your last round. Pause at the top, keep your head down, shift your weight, don’t bend your left arm, turn all the way through, swing to your finish. That’s six thoughts right there.
Having multiple swing thoughts is destructive to your game for several reasons. First, having a bunch of different swing thoughts going on at the same time is confusing. You’re going to get caught up in thinking too much and it’s going to make it hard for your body to make a nice, natural move at the ball. Second, if you’re having multiple swing thoughts, it probably means you’ve quit on a good swing thought.
If you take a lesson, a lot of teachers will try to leave you with one good swing thought to take into your next round. You’re a reasonable person, so you commit to that swing thought for a few holes, until you start hitting it poorly. The natural reaction is to switch to a different swing thought, because the original one clearly doesn’t work anymore, right? Wrong. When you’re given a swing thought to work on or find one that works in practice, Larkin says you’ve got to stick with it through the good and the bad shots.
“Abandoning your thought mid-round and grasping for new ones doesn’t help,” says Larkin. “Have faith in what worked for you in practice, relax as much as possible, and lord help you if you start searching YouTube at the turn for that magic pill for the back nine.”