How to Simplify Your Swing Thoughts (And Mental Clutter)

By: Tina Mickelson - Aug 14, 2023

Last month I talked about our newest addition to the FORE Her newsletter; a series on how to simplify different aspects of your golf game (and some of this may be applicable to your life as well!). I want to kick this baby off with one of the hottest topics out there right now; clutter. More specifically, mental clutter.

The mental side of this game is very important and the more clutter roving around “upstairs,” the less clarity you will have when it comes time to execute your shots. So, it seems natural that if we can clear our mental clutter, it will have a positive impact on not only our golf game, but our mental state altogether.

When working with Dr. Deepak Chopra a few years back, taking his life lessons and applying them to the game of golf, he used an example I will never forget. He explained that if you are in the middle of a very calm ocean, you can hear the dolphins trying to communicate. When the ocean is stormy and turbulent, the dolphins still try to communicate, but you won’t hear them over the noise from the blustery conditions. The same holds true for our mental approach to not only golf, but life in general. If we have turbulence and chaos in our minds, we can’t hear that inner voice that is trying to steer us in the right direction.

Since the game of golf and the game of life are so similar, I like to apply this when I’m on the course. And I find that by starting off my round with a calm mind, free of expectations and random thoughts, I’m able to better tap into my natural golf swing and game in general. I silence all that mess and focus solely on starting my round off in a state that is as “decluttered” as possible. Tall order? Maybe not.

Start by bringing only one swing thought with you to the first tee. Since golf is loosely divided into three parts (full swing, chipping and putting), allow yourself one swing thought for each category. Improving on that one swing thought is your only goal for the day. Sure, keep score. But if you double bogey a hole and can honestly say you successfully implemented the desired swing change, circle that hole on the scorecard and count it as a “win.” Tally up your “wins” at the end of the round and put the same amount of emphasis on them as you do your score.

By taking the focus off your end result (score), you are freeing up your mind to focus more on what you are trying to achieve (your one swing thought….aka improvement). This will not only help make strides with your mechanics, but it will make you more relaxed as well. And we all know that it’s important to have good mechanics, but rhythm and timing are the secret sauce for those mechanics to be truly effective and noticeable. And what do we need for good timing in our golf swing? All together now…..we need to be relaxed! And you can’t be relaxed if your head is filled with chaos. It sure does come full circle pretty naturally, doesn’t it?

But just think…..this holds true in everyday life, too. At the end of the day, count your “wins.” And be generous with what constitutes a win. Did you feign genuine interest when your child took what felt like three days to tell a story that could have been summed up in two sentences? Win! Did you hold it together when the word “burn” flashed across the screen of your “fool proof” Instant Pot? Win! My personal research has shown that this exercise is easier and more effective when done with a glass of wine in hand, but whatever. To each their own.

The game of golf is merely an extension of the game of life. Each can learn from the other. So if we walk away with one thought today, let it be to leave out all the extra minutae that does not pertain to the moment at hand and focus on the one specific goal in front of us. We are not expected to be perfect. Just strive to be better and that is enough. And “better” is relative. Some days our “better” will be more noticeable than others. Fine. But don’t get hung up on that. Merely focus on your “better,” appreciate any improvement you are able to achieve, and the rest will come. I believe in you.

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