In Chapter 8 of his book Mistake Free Golf, Dr. Bob Winters talks about “Mind Clutter and/or Helmet Fire”. In other words, when our brain gets so wrapped up in swing thoughts; locked into mechanical thoughts; we lose our ability to merely swing the golf club at our desired target. We lose our “Present minded focus” and end up directing or forcing the club head at the ball. We “HIT AT” rather than “SWING THROUGH” the golf ball.
As a golf instructor, my job is to change; rework; redo golf swings. With that come changes in structure, mechanics, feel, and sensations. I try to introduce drills that change mechanics of the swing by still swinging the golf club. Easier said than done… especially if you’re the one taking the lesson. Change is HARD for sure. When we got locked into mechanics and positions, we create stress and tension. We create Anxiety. STA (Stress, Tension, Anxiety) is no good when trying to swing a golf club. We need to change while still feeling and sensing where the club head is in our SWING.
In essence, we get lost in our swing thoughts, rather than in swinging the club. We lose sight of “Swinging to the target” and focus more on “Hitting at the Ball”. I tell EVERY student: “It’s a golf swing; not a golf hit! We swing through the ball, rather than hit at it!”
Case in Point:
I’ve played two qualifiers this summer. Three weeks ago I tried to qualify for the US SR Open. I went into it with a mechanical process. Do this; then this; then this. I felt stiff and directed. I wasn’t swinging. I hit some thin ones which is the first sign that I’m hitting and not swinging. Shot 77 and didn’t advance.
In late June, I tried to qualify for the Florida Open. In this event, I changed my process from a mechanical to feel process. I wanted to SWING the club every shot. No mechanics. Go through my routine; get a good set up; and swing.
Here were my thoughts:
- Good Set Up
- Light pressure/smooth turn (light pressure was my emphasis)
- Rhythm and Balance
I also incorporated an old term I heard Nick Faldo use: See, Feel, Do.
- See the precise target
- Feel the swing (rehearsal swing)
- Let yourself DO what you know how
For an entire day I had no mechanical thoughts. If a mechanical thought tried to enter I just let it pass. NOT TODAY Mr. Mechanic! The ball flew off the clubface (airmailed 3 greens ) and I never felt any tension in my golf swing. One of my playing partners said: “Damn, Paul, every swing is just so smooth!” It was a great feeling!
Note: Two “mud balls” on the back 9 cost me two bogies (one hooked 30 yards left and one sliced 30 yards right ). I Shot 74 and missed a play off by a shot.
While I was disappointed in the score result; disappointed that mud balls cost me two important shots, I was very pleased that I managed to keep my tempo, balance, rhythm all day in a tournament setting. I never forced a shot, never let tension creep in and destroy my process. I didn’t make one swing where I felt I hit AT the ball.
Based on some 7000+ lessons I’ve given, I firmly believe that most of get our swings in trouble when we HIT AT the ball; when we use ARM THRUST to drive or pull into the golf ball. (That will be part two next month)
So my message this month? Stay away from MIND CLUTTER and HELMET FIRE! Don’t get caught up in your mechanics to a point where you can’t pull the trigger; to the point where your veins are popping out of your forehead and forearms! Find a pace of your swing that allows you to SWING THROUGH THE BALL AT YOUR DESIRED TARGET. Feel like your swinging 60-70 % max speed. That you are in BTR (balance, tempo, rhythm) and not STA!
Until Next Month,
PS: check me out on PROSWINGTIPS MOBILE GOLF INSTRUCTION APP for a lesson. You’ll get way more than your money’s worth!