Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy shares five key secrets to his game
Rory McIlroy 5 Secrets To My Game
You need constance in your golf swing. For me it’s set up, it’s grip, it’s posture, and it’s the fundamentals. Because if you can keep those things the same and start from a really good position, then it just makes everything else just that little bit more simple. I mean biomechanically we’re talking about K Vest and all that sort of stuff. The first time I was tested by it mechanically, I realised that my maximum velocity of my golf swing was about 18 inches before I’d even hit the ball. So I was actually slowing down and that was because of a few things. Physically, I wasn’t strong enough on my left side. My left quad wasn’t supporting the speed that was going into the ball. So, I needed to strengthen that in order to hold that speed that I could produce all the way through impact. It’s just stuff like that that maybe helped me hit the ball a little bit longer and even a little bit straighter as well just because of the stability I have. But I just learnt. Learn what’s best for you. If people look at me they may think ‘oh he sets it a little too steep or my right elbow isn’t tucked in enough at the top of the backswing. You know there are loads of things that I do differently to some other people, but I’ve told people that I have found out what works for me. I think everyone in golf, when they practise and when they work on things they have to realise what works for them. What moves I make in my swing or the little swing thoughts that I have, they trigger something in me to enable me to hit the ball where I want it to go. But those swing thoughts or feelings that I have might not necessarily work for someone else. It works for me and I’ve created good feelings from it and I’ve had good results with it. Golf is such an individual game, you look at two swings and no two swings are the same. Be as individual as you possibly can. Don’t try and copy anyone else, just learn what works for you and go from there.
There definitely has to be a blend. There has to be technical parts of your practice where you’re working on your swing and working on getting into different positions that will allow you to hit the ball better, hit then ball more consistent but then you have to get away from that part of it and play games and put yourself under pressure in practice. The more you simulate what it’s going to be like on the golf course on the range, the better you’re going to perform out there. Yes of course there has to be times where you might be working on your drills and you’re working on your set-up with alignment, you’re practising taking the club half way back, whatever it may be. But you have to get out of that and do enough reps of that so it beds in itself without much thought. Then you have to just need to hit shots. Hit shots that you’ll need on the golf course. Whether you pretend there’s a pin in the middle of the range, ‘okay this is a back right pin and I can’t miss it right’, you know all that sort of stuff. Just put yourself under pressure and I really enjoy playing games like that on the range because that’s what makes you better. That’s what makes you when you’re under pressure hitting a shot with a one shot lead heading into the last hole, those sessions on the range are what will make you produce those shots which will hopefully make you win a golf tournament.
I think if you’ve got a good finish position, it means that everything that’s comes before it has been in sync and in balance and it’s worked pretty well. But yeah, that was always a thing I got from my Dad actually. He always said to me ‘Hold your finish’, so that’s why I always have. With my finish and my balance from a very early age my Dad has just drilled that into me saying ‘hold your finish, hold your finish’. But yeah I think if you’re in a nice balanced position on your follow through, it means everything – well at least from halfway back starting down through impact has gone well. From a couple of feet before the ball and a couple of feet after the ball that’s where you need to be good!
For me, the closest I’ve felt to that, the closest I’ve felt to feeling not invincible but ‘nothing can get to me, I’m on a mission here this is my goal and I’m not going to stop until I get to that goal’ was on the back nine at Valhalla in 2014 when I won the USPGA. I got into a zone where every flag that I looked at, every shot, every putt that I hit, I just kept hitting great shot after great shot. I guess there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to hit a bad shot. I just saw the pin, I selected the club I was going to hit and I knew the swing I needed to put on it. I feel like I’ve been in the zone a few times but that was one time where I really needed to be in it. You know it happens in the first round of a tournament and you shoot a really great score but there’s still three rounds left where as this was nine holes to go in one of the the biggest tournament in the world. You obviously try to stay in it as long as you can. You learn I think how important the mental side of the game is and what having the proper mindset can do for you. I say if people went out there with the right mindset and thought about the right things and have confidence in themselves, didn’t have any doubt about what shot they were going to hit ‘oh I don’t want to hit left into these trees or hit it right into the water’ and if they blocked all that out, it’s amazing the difference that can make. Of course it’s hard, I know it’s hard, I have doubts, everyone has doubts, the best players in the world still doubt themselves when over a golf shot. But if you free will and let it go as much you can, that’s when the results will start to show.
Nowadays I’m a little more aggressive when I need to be but I’m conservative and experienced enough to know four days of golf is a long time, a lot can happen in 72 holes. But I’m probably a little more conservative nowadays than a used to be. I mean I’m still more aggressive than the majority of players so I’d give myself probably a seven and a half or eight out of ten! I am aggressive and take on some shots that I probably shouldn’t. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s a nice message to put out to young people ‘believe in yourself, be positive and to back yourself.