124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

Pick ONE swing thought

Golfers are 'terrible' at it. A tour player explains how to avoid the mistake


Dean Mouhtaropoulos

PGA Tour player Michael S. Kim is quickly rising the ranks as one of the best pro golfer follows on Twitter. He's not just funny and opinionated, but he also sprinkles in some really useful stuff for the rest of us.

When the rest of us think about tour players and their beautiful golf swings, one word often comes to mind: Effortless. How can they generate so much power, so easily?

There's an element of truth to that notion, of course, but ultimately too simplistic. Pros do think about their swings, and they certainly work on improving them. The difference, as Kim says below, is that pros don't eliminate swing thoughts entirely. But they do limit the thoughts they do have.

Despite what some think, most tour pros do think about their swings while hitting the ball. I think one swing thought can def be beneficial but more than one you are prob not doing either well as humans are terrible multi-taskers. You can go with zero thoughts but I personally have never done well with JUST visualization. Also, you have enough mental capacity to have multiple thoughts on the range but can’t afford that much brain power on the course especially if you have any consequences for the shot.

Kim makes a few really good points here that the rest can learn from.

'Humans are terrible multitaskers'

  • First, that the absence of thoughts entirely can often let the doubts creep in. It's why it's often helpful to give yourself something to focus on. It keeps your mind proactive, actively thinking about things you want to do, rather than the don’t-think-about-shanking-it stuff.
  • Kim mentions that humans, generally speaking, are "terrible" multi-taskers. It's why he suggests limiting things to just one swing thought, because playing golf requires thinking of lots of different things that quickly consumes your "brain power." When that happens and you’re thinking of too many things already, it never ends well.
  • Along those lines, it's why Kim doesn't suggest trying to transfer your range thoughts directly onto the golf course. On the course you're thinking about the wind; the lie; your club selection; your last shot; your next shot; the slopes; your score. When you're working on your technique on the range, you have the luxury of switching those off, and focusing fully on your golf swing. There's a time and a place for that kind of practice, but it's important to recognize the golf course is not that time or place.

It's why the rest of us should follow Kim's advice: Pick one thought you can transfer, and leave the rest on the practice tee.