What do the world’s best golfers think about during their swing?


A couple of years ago, a survey of 25 PGA Tour players revealed that 18 of them don’t think about anything at all during their golf swing. 

But can that really be true? 

You’re playing on the world’s biggest stage, with millions watching and huge amounts of money on the line, and we’re meant to believe that your mind isn’t racing with a million and one things that you need to do in order to make the perfect swing?

Apparently so.

Graeme McDowell

“You turn off your mind. You feel your golf swing without really thinking about it. It’s almost like you you don’t think at all. Maybe you have one little thought, and everything else becomes automatic.”

Raymond Floyd

“I forgot everything I ever learned and went out and played the game.”

Rory McIlroy

“If I have a tough shot or a moment where I really need to hit a good shot, I just think about trying to make good contact, and that’s really it. It’s as simple as that. Take everything else and try to de-clutter your mind. Just concentrate on making good contact and more often than not it works out okay.”


Bubba Watson

“The key is that you have to think about the shot, and when I say that, I mean you have to think about your target, not your swing. You don’t want your mind to create the bad shot. You want to think about your target, and that’s all you want to think about. You have to think about the target and not focus on anything else. 

Rickie Fowler

“I rarely think about mechanics. For me, golf is about feel and swinging free, like you couldn’t care less about your results. I know that might be hard to accept, especially if you’ve been struggling to hit the ball straight or have contact issues, but when you’re able to build trust in what you’re doing and simply let it go, power creeps into your swing as if by magic.”

Lydia Ko

“David, my coach, always tells me one word: kiss. That means, ‘keep it simple, stupid’. Sometimes when I am in a pressure position and I need to do well, I sometimes get a little over-complicated or overthink it. Rather than actually think about something, I try to not think about anything. Sometimes it is hard to not think about not thinking!”

Ian Poulter

“What’s my swing thought? Absolutely nothing. That sounds completely corny and rubbish to the outside world, but when your focus point is literally a pin head, and that’s where your level of concentration is, you don’t need swing thoughts. You just need to be clear on what it is you need to do. You don’t have to make a perfect swing; you just need to execute a shot.”

Ian Poulter

Luke Donald

“I might have one swing thought during my practice swing, but once I get over the ball, I’m focusing on my target and the shot I’m trying to hit. You’d hope to have very little swing thoughts. You’re just kind of going on instinct – and that’s when you’re playing the best. 

Padraig Harrington

“In 1997 I read Golf is Not a Game of Perfect by Bob Rotella and I’ve never had a swing thought since then. When I get on the golf course, I think about the target and try to focus on the target, and that’s it. No physical or technical thought whatsoever.”

So the world’s best players have little or nothing in the way of swing thoughts while they’re out on the course. Why, then, do we amateurs have our heads filled with technical ‘must do’ moves on every shot?

Next time you play, focus solely on your target and clear your mind of all technical swing thoughts. Let us know how you get on.

NEXT: Can a goat predict tournament winners? 

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