Rory McIlroy has super simple advice for becoming a consistent ball striker

rory mcilroy hits an iron during the final round of the 2024 cognizant classic

Rory McIlroy's advice for becoming a consistent ball striker is super simple.

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Welcome to Play Smart, a regular game-improvement column that will help you play smarter, better golf.

There are few ball strikers in the modern game that can match up with Rory McIlroy. Since he burst onto the scene as a teenager, the Northern Irishman has been one of the best in golf.

Over his eight full seasons on the PGA Tour (prior to 2015 he split time with the European Tour), McIlroy has never ranked outside the top 10 in SG: Tee-to-Green. He led the Tour in the category in 2018-19 and finished second three other times. When it comes to ball-striking consistency, there are few (if any) pros who can match McIlroy’s track record.

As anyone who’s played golf competitively knows, consistency is not easy to maintain. As Brooks Koepka famously said in Netflix’s Full Swing, “When you have it, you feel like you’re never gonna lose it. When you don’t have it, you feel like you’ll never get it.” The difficulty of maintaining success only makes what McIlroy has done in his professional career all the more impressive.

Recently, at the latest iteration of The Match, McIlroy shared his secret for ball-striking consistency with golf nut DJ Khaled, which you can watch below.

Rory’s secret to ball-striking consistency

With a little time to pick McIlroy’s brain, Khaled posed a simple question: “What makes you have consistency?” The answer in turn was also quite simple.

“It’s consistent swing thoughts,” McIlroy said. “Having the same simple swing thoughts over and over again without changing too much. If I have the same thoughts and can create the same feelings, then that creates that consistency.”

This advice might seem obvious, but golfers — especially at the recreational level — have a tendency to overcomplicate things. The key to success, however, is to keep things simple.

Next time you’re hitting the ball well, take a moment to stop and take note of the swing thought you’re using. Write it down if you have to. Just make sure you take stock of the thought that’s helping you play well.

Lean on that thought for as long as you can. When you begin to struggle, go back to that thought that made things work before.

It might seem obvious to go back to what works, but we often can’t regain those feels we used previously for success. You can correct that flaw by heeding McIlroy’s advice — keep the swing thoughts consistent and simple. If it works for one of the best ball strikers in the world, it’s sure to work for you.

Zephyr Melton Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at