Golf can often be more of a mental than a physical game. As Arnold Palmer famously said, “Golf is a game of inches. The most important being the six inches between your ears”.
Swing thoughts can be the key to unlocking your game. One simple idea could improve your golf downswing.
An expensive private session may not be necessary –improving your golf downswing could be as easy as a different mental approach.
We have some things we’d like you to try. Your best golf is in front of you. Let’s get started.
What Is your Golf Downswing?
Each golf swing is made up of a sequence of movements. Each one is important, but today we’re focusing on the golf downswing.
The golf downswing starts at the top, right after you finish your transition. It ends when you make impact with the golf ball.
Jim Furyk is in the golf hall of fame and you would never teach his golf swing. Scottie Scheffler is the #1 ranked player in the world and his swing is bizarre.
But, here is the interesting thing. If you freeze the swings of scratch golfers and professionals at impact, they all look the same.
At full speed, their swings look very different, but at impact, they are the same. What comes directly before your impact position?
You guessed it. Your golf downswing.
We can improve your impact position by focusing on your golf downswing. Get the club in the correct place right before you hit the golf ball.
6 Simple Swing Thoughts To Improve Your Golf Downswing
The thing about swing thoughts is you don’t want too many in your head. It can be hard to make a confident and relaxed swing if your mind is spinning.
We would recommend you find one swing thought that works for you and stick with it.
Different swing thoughts work for different players. We provide 6 options below – but don’t try them all at once.
Test them the next time you practice at the driving range. Try them one at a time and find the perfect one for you.
Doing this will help you find the swing thought that improves your golf downswing and leads to more consistent ball striking.
Related Article: Can A Shorter Backswing Improve Your Game?
#1: Speed At The Bottom
All golfers could use more distance – and this means you need speed in your golf swing.
Here is a critical question. Where is your speed? A common mistake made by high handicappers is swinging hard from the top.
This means that their club is moving the fastest at the beginning of their golf downswing instead of when it makes an impact with the golf ball.
This swing thought is simple. It reminds you that you want your maximum speed at the bottom of your golf downswing.
There is a quick way to test if this is the right swing thought for you. Get a golf alignment stick and grip it like a club.
Make your normal golf swing and listen for the “whoosh” sound. Where do you hear the “whoosh”?
If you hear it in front of where the golf ball would be, you have speed at the bottom. If you hear it behind the golf ball position your max speed is happening too early.
You can perform this golf alignment stick drill until you hear the “whoosh” in the correct place.
#2: Exaggerate The Pause In Transition
Improving your golf downswing could require work on your transition. The transition from your backswing is the beginning of your golf downswing.
A quick transition can ruin your golf downswing right from the start, making it impossible to recover before impact.
To avoid a quick transition you can exaggerate the pause at the top of your swing. Would it help you to see an example?
Take a look at 2021 Masters Champion Hideki Matsuyama’s swing. He actually stops the club during his transition before he starts his golf downswing.
This is a rare move and it is hard to duplicate, but simply trying to exaggerate the pause in your transition should smooth out your swing.
Get your golf downswing off to a great start with a pause during your transition.
#3: Drop The Club
We know. This one sounds a little crazy. Let’s be clear, we don’t want you to actually let go of the club and drop it on the ground.
Instead, “drop the club” is a feeling. A common golfer mistake is to pull the club with your arms and hands during your golf downswing.
This can cause you to come over the top or delay you from clearing your hips. We would recommend that you start your downswing with your lower body.
Here is how this swing thought works. When you reach the top of your backswing, your first move is to fire your hips and let the club come along for the ride.
It can feel like you are dropping the club into “the slot” and it is moved to your impact position because of your lower body.
This may feel like a strange rule at first, but another way to think about it is that your arms don’t do anything during your golf downswing.
You definitely want to test this on the driving range before breaking it out on the course, but rest assured that this swing thought has helped golfers all around the world.
#4: Avoid Re-Routing The Club
You may not know this is called “re-routing” the club, but if you have visited a public driving range you know what it looks like.
What is “re-routing the club?” During the swing transition, right at the beginning of a golf downswing, the club is moved oddly.
You are changing your swing plane and opening or closing the clubface. It is nearly impossible to fix these issues during your golf downswing.
The best way to check for a “re-route” is to have a buddy film you swing in slow motion. Pay close attention to your clubhead when it changes direction at the beginning of your golf downswing.
Ideally, it will return to the ball on the same path you used on the way back. If you see an odd motion, you are probably re-routing the club.
The key to fixing this? Simply practice. Hit 10 shots with this swing thought in your mind and re-film your swing.
Did it improve? Can you still see a “re-route”? Eliminating or reducing this odd movement will quickly improve the consistency of your ball striking.
#5: Count To Two (1 & 2)
Smooth rhythm in your golf swing is critical. Poor tempo in your backswing or transition can impact your golf downswing. It is all connected.
It is simple. During your swing, you count to 2. In your mind, say “1 and 2”. If you say it out loud people might think you are crazy.
Your backswing should happen during the “1”, your transition is the “and”, and your golf downswing is the “2”.
Do you want to see an example of a perfect tempo? Ernie Els has the rhythm all golfers should strive to achieve. There is a reason he is nicknamed “The Big Easy”.
If you can count to 2, you can improve your golf downswing.
#6: Balance, Balance, Balance
Our final swing thought to improve your golf downswing is the simplest. It is one word: Balance.
Show me a balanced golf swing and I will show you a great golfer. Make a full swing, hold the pose, and watch your ball fly towards your target.
The next time you visit the driving range, try to hit some shots where the only thing you think about is your balance. You might be surprised by the results.
Many bad golf shots are simply caused by poor balance. Thinking about your balance can correct other areas as well.
For example, to stay on balance your tempo/rhythm has to be good. You must have control of the golf club.
Sometimes the simplest answer is the best one. Stay balanced throughout your swing. During your backswing, your transition, and your golf downswing.
Good luck. Play well. Fairways and greens.
What About The Rest Of Your Golf Swing?
Now you know all about your downswing – but do you know the other sections of your swing?