The swing thought Sam Burns has been working at the U.S. Open

In a special edition of Play Smart, GOLF & ADP have partnered to uncover how the best players in the world prepare for the biggest events and how it can help you play smarter, better golf.

When golf fans think about how to prepare for a tricky, difficult major championship, they often fall into a common misconception: That players should never think about their golf swing. If they do, the thinking goes, they’re done. Worry about your course, not your golf swing. Avoid technical swing thoughts at all costs.

The problem is that’s not actually what happens. Just ask Sam Burns.

Sam’s swing thought: Club in line with hands

As we explore in our recent Play Smart video, which you can watch above, the key to preparing your golf swing for the course isn’t avoiding your golf swing altogether. Instead, it’s thinking about one specific swing thought. For Sam Burns, that means nailing his takeaway. Before every swing, he checks to make sure his club lines up perfect with his hands. His tendency is to get the club too inside. When that happens, the club gets stuck behind him, and he’ll tend to hit pushes and over-draws.

But thinking about one specific thought — which, in this case, means keeping the club in-line with his hands on the takeaway — allows him to stay focused. He has one thought, and if he does that, he knows his golf swing will be in the spot he wants it. That was the case on Friday at the U.S. Open en-route to his three-under 67.

“I drove it a little bit better. Hit my irons a little better. Really, I think I did everything a little better,” he says.

It’s a good lesson for the rest of us. Be wary of too many thoughts. Instead, find one prepared, specific swing thought that you can keep referring back to. It may well help you onto some Sam Burns-style golf.

Luke Kerr-Dineen Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and In his role he oversees the brand’s game improvement content spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University. His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.