17. Swing thought, or no swing thought that’s the question

Many experts suggest that the actual golf swing and techniques are automatic when we are in the zone.

The star formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher did his driving automatically when doing well and his mind were more focused on collecting data to his driving than on the actual driving. 

The right focus, positive emotions, the right state of mind and the optimal level of excitement leads us to a situation where our swing is automatic and any movement in our golfing technique is automatic. This is true because when in the zone we know for sure that our technique is where it should be and if the stroke is not good then the next stroke will be good. Unfortunately, we are very good at getting in our own way and shooting ourselves in the foot. We can do that in numerous ways. We can decide to do negative self-talk, to mentally exhaust ourselves, with technical thoughts or many other things. 

Having a swing thought is used by many golfers. Please note that this is NOT two swing thoughts. This is only one single swing thought. You can try that on the driving range. Try with one swing thought, then two and then three. I personally end up with a shank when doing this. 

Many mental golf experts such as the authors of the books Inner Game of Golf, Zen Golf and Zen Putting advise golfers to have swing thoughts that leave out technical thought of any kind. This resonates with stories from the great golfer Tiger Woods and the phenomenal race driver Michael Schumacher.  They did not worry about techniques when doing their sports. In fact, they did not worry at all. They made sure they were in the right mental state where they were able to collect the necessary data to win. 

Data is crucial in both golf and racing. Michael Schumacher collected data about the car and gave it to the pit. They used that to optimise the car. Michael Schumacher stayed after hours and much longer than any other driver to work with the technical team and to optimise the car according to the collected data. 

Tiger Woods used data like wind, grass, slopes etc. to make sure his ball did exactly what he wanted it to do. Tiger also used his knowledge of golf courses to do specific training and drills before tournaments. He prepared specific strokes for specific golf courses and for specific holes.

None of the two would be world champions if they had been in the negative mental state where it is impossible to collect data.