Any followers of golf psychology will know that swing thoughts are the last thing you should be focusing on in the midst of a competitive round. It was therefore surprising to hear Rory McIlroy, a seemingly modern golfer, speak yesterday of his failure to succeed with the proven method of eliminating such thoughts.
When questioned at his post round press conference following a disappointing opening round of 74 at The Irish Open, McIlroy insisted he required no assistance from golf psychologists.
He stated, “I worked with Dr Bob Rotella back in 2010 and felt I got all I needed and went from there.” He went on to say, “Last year I’d been working on a few things and I just said to myself in Akron, ‘right let’s stop the swing thoughts and just go out and play golf’, I tried that a little bit this year but it just hasn’t worked.”
When he went on to explain how little fun he’s having on the golf course, alarm bells started to ring. Anyone who has ever wielded a club will understand the importance of enjoying your time on course, regardless of the quality of your play. Without that enjoyment, it’s generally a downhill slide into psychological turmoil. The swing you’ve got on the day is the one you’ve got to use, so just get on with it.
Any golfer knows that the most effective on-course strategy is find it, hit it, find it again and hit it again. When you start saying to yourself “don’t go in that bunker”, or “don’t go in that lake”, then inevitably that’s exactly where it’s going. Think too hard about what you’re doing, and you’re in big trouble.
How can you play to your best if you’re standing over the ball with a head full of swing thoughts? You can’t, end of story.
Listening to McIlroy yesterday, that’s exactly where he is right now – he’s thinking too hard and he’s trying too hard. Despite his insistence to the contrary, Dr. Bob is the only man for the job.