How to Swing a Golf Club. Perfect Your Golf Swing.
/ / How to Swing a Golf Club: Perfect Your Golf Swing

How to Swing a Golf Club: Perfect Your Golf Swing

Introduction

Golf is a complex game and a cunning sport. A combination of art and instinct, of science and muscle memory, of highly tooled technology and the eye of an archer.

But one thing is clear.

You can have all the fanciest equipment in the world (within reason). You can have a golf bag filled with the most technological clubs ever designed.

You can do every single positive visualization you can lay your hungry hands on. In the words of the sages, it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.

The trouble with golf swings is the same trouble many other sportspeople have. You can know something intellectually. You can learn it, and practice it, and understand exactly what needs to happen with your stance, your backswing, your address and follow-through.

You still have to be able to bring it all together in a moment where knowing is not enough. Where instinct has to take over. Where doing the thing becomes as natural as breathing, when really, it’s as unnatural as a tank.

Don’t. Panic.

Whether your set-up is slanted, your takeaway terrible, or your downswing a disaster, we can help you get your swing doing what it should. Will reading a web page transform your golf game? Oh heck, no, not on its own.

But take our tips to your practice and let go of some of the tension you feel every time you try to swing, and before you know it, you’ll be swinging more freely, with better aim and control.

Grab your bag – it’s time to perfect your golf swing.

Set-Up

OK. Before you even try any kind of swing, let’s talk set-up.

At the risk of triteness, you can’t build success from a poor foundation. So what should the perfect set-up look like? What should it feel like? And what should you be able to do if it’s right?

Set-up encompasses a handful of issues. Let’s see what’s what.

Ball Placement

When you swing a golf club, there are two conditions. If you’re teed up and ready to drive, the ball should be forward of the low point of your swing. That will let you sweep the ball down the fairway, with the energy pushing up and forward into the follow-through.

For all other shots when you’re trying to compress the ball, play it behind the low point. That will give you a chance to strike a descending shot. Driving forward, descend behind. Make sense?

If you’re wondering, the low point of a golf swing will usually fall roughly under the lead chest, so you can use your own body position and a practice swing if allowed to let you hone in on where your ball should be positioned.

Elbow Shooting

Elbows sometimes feel like they evolved more or less exclusively to infuriate the golfer. But there is a way to use yours to correct your angle toward the ball.

Open out your trailing elbow so the bone aims towards the equivalent hip. Why would you do such a thing? It’s a good marker for the radius of your swing.

Match the hip-aiming trailing elbow with a leading elbow pointing more down the line of your intended shot and you get an ideal combination to swing and deliver a solid impact to the ball.

It’s almost equivalent to shooting an arrow. The trailing elbow aims as a sort of counterweight, while the leading one intends direction. Working in harmony, you get a sort of piston effect which gives power, impact, and fluidity to your shot.

Firm Footwork

The heavier the club, the more balancing it needs. So when using your driver, your stance should be wider. Try and keep your insteps under your shoulders.

Look at your feet. This is not an absolute necessity, but if you want to swing with better, less crunchy, less painful core rotation, try turning your toes on both feet out slightly.

It might not look like much of a change, but you should feel an improvement in the fluidity of the swing.

Weight For It

If you’re going to address the ball with strong, clear impact, you need to balance your weight, roughly 50-50 in both axes, left-right and front-back.

As with the footwork, you’re looking to wake yourself part of a great organic swinging machine, directing some forces and neutralizing others. If you push down with both feet, it should help you feel grounded, and get a better sense of any weight distribution unbalance.

Alignment and Posture

Alignment might seem like an odd idea when what you’re aiming to do is swing through a curve, but if you can get your feet, your hips and your shoulders in line, in a parallel line left of the line between the ball and the target, you’ll find you actually have a better, smoother swing through that curve, and that your ball will go more towards where you want it.

Don’t aim your body at the target – weirdly, that’ll leave you open to swerving right. Adopt the alignment position, and stop, and notice.

Where’s your forearm aligned? If it’s lower than your trail arm, you’re probably standing open. Higher, and you’re probably closed.

Posture, you’d think, was more the business of dancers and gymnasts than golfers. But remember, the action of a golf swing is gymnastic, and has a lot of the fluency of a dance move to it. Tilt forward to address the ball from the hips, rather than from your waist.

Lower that pivot-point and you’ll stop straining against your own muscle mass. Your hips are built to tilt, whereas tilting from the waist is a waste of energy.

Comfortably – which means naturally, extend your back, and relax your neck into a neutral mode. Not forward, not back, just neutral. Chill a little.

Yes, this is advanced physical maneuvering, but it’s not meant to be rocket science. You’re supposed to flow with it, and it’s supposed to be fun. Flex your leg if you like, so there’s a line from your knees to your laces, and another from your ankles to your hips.

The aim here is to be purposeful but relaxed. The more unnecessary tension you store in your limbs and muscles, the more that tension translates into your swing. Reeeee-lax.

Grip

Remember what we said about competing forces and too much tension. There’s a standard grip for straighter shots, which has both the glove badge and the trailing palm facing roughly towards the target.

That leaves the two V-shapes made by the thumbs and forefingers of both hands pointing towards the trailing ear. This is not set in absolute tablets of stone though.

Your hands should feel relaxed and responsive on the club, and only deliver light tension to the club to avoid shake or slice. Take a breath. Hold the club lightly but firmly…

Now, let’s look at some actual swinging action.

Takeaway Swing

The takeaway is in many ways that last breath you take before stepping on stage. The last step before the big one in the parachute jump or bungee jump. It’s the last considered moment before you have to let instinct do its work.

Unsurprisingly, the failure or deviation of many a swing is written in an imprecise takeaway.

There are any number of things that can impact the effectiveness of a swing through the action of the takeaway, but rather than listing them and letting you spot your issue, let’s skip ahead to the cheerful part where you can pick up some pointers on how to improve.

1.    When you start your takeaway, (assuming right-handedness), let your left shoulder turn naturally so it’s under your chin. Keep your hands neutral and keep your left arm straight till the club reaches the height of your hip.

2.    When the club is horizontal, the butt end should be pointed at your target. The clubhead should obscure your hands.

3.    Look down the line, If the sole of the club is running parallel to the angle of your spine, congratulations – you’ve got a good takeaway, and you should be able to translate that into a strong, straight, fluid, powerful swing.

The great thing about correcting your takeaway is that you can do it more or less anywhere you can swing a club – you don’t need to wait until you’re on the course to get it right.

That’s just as well, because what you’re aiming for is the development of muscle memory. That doesn’t come overnight or anything like it. You need lots of repetitions, over fairly intense periods, before the best takeaway just ‘happens.’

Try a week of intensive takeaway practice, off the course, following the steps here, and you should at least be close to getting it to feel like the natural thing to do when it comes to the takeaway portion of your swing.

Backswing Tips

If you’re a golfer whose swing goes comparatively to pieces during the backswing phase – take comfort from the fact that you’re by no means alone.

You’re equally by no means egregiously wrong. Much of the backswing is a fight between what’s actually the right course of action, and what feels like it should be the right course of action.

The backswing is a rapid part of the overall swing, and the amount of conscious thought that goes into it is likely to be minimal.

Unless you’re one of those golfers who’s able to think while your arm is rapidly moving, in which case the amount of conscious thought that goes into it is likely to be maximal, overwhelming, and extremely unhelpful.

Rock, meet hard place.

We’re going to slow the motion down for you so you can think about it before you get to the moment of truth, and even practice it before you get there. Again, the name of our game is the development of muscle memory off the course.

That should mean that when you get on the course, your brain can shut the heck up and let your body do the things you’ve taught it to do.

OK – a couple of golden rules, or at least golden guiding principles.

1.    Throughout the whole of the backswing, your left arm should be straight. Do not let your left elbow bend. Yes, absolutely, we know it wants to.

It wants to bend, so you can bring the club even further back, to squeeze extra clubhead speed into your downswing. Yes, it absolutely feels like it should work. No, it absolutely won’t.

As we said, the backswing is a battle between what your natural instincts tell you and what your learned instincts should know.

2.    Don’t lift your left heel as you bring the club up on its backswing. You’re not about to either do a pirouette or take off, superhero style.

Again, we know the urge is great to lift that heel. Something deep in the brain connects lifting the heel with being able to force more clubhead speed into the downswing. No, that doesn’t work either. Cut it out. Watch for it, feel for it, understand it – and then cut it out.

3.    You may well feel the urge to straighten the right leg as you wind up to the top of the swing. That’s a perfectly reasonable urge, and it feels like it flows naturally with the motion you’re describing.

Unfortunately, what it actually does is completely changes the angle of the hips. Change the angle of the hips and you change the angle of the swing path. If that happens, you might as well pick up the ball and throw it.

So – don’t straighten the right leg. Keep a degree of flex in that knee throughout the whole course of the backswing. Without the flex, we say again, you end up with a locked knee error which will force your swing out right.

That will change the hip angle and turn your club path inside out. Not good. Best avoided. Keep the flex in the knee.

4.    Think we were bossy about the right knee? Welcome to Rules For Captain Lefty. Here’s the thing: during the backswing, most of your body weight shifts towards your right foot. Therefore, don’t let your left knee move too much laterally.

What possible difference could that make? Well, if you let it do what it probably feels like you should do, your left knee will more or less collapse towards your right foot. And what does a left knee collapse mean?

Means a reverse pivot swing error. You’re glad you asked, aren’t you?

If, instead of letting the left knee do as it pleases and ruin your day, you move it so it points either towards the ball or to a point in the middle of your stance, you’ll avoid the reverse pivot swing error which could be messing up your entire backswing and helping you towards a career as a gallant loser.

5.    If Latina superstar Shakira taught us anything, it’s that hips don’t lie. Your backswing is the moment when your hips need to speak truth through power.

They should rotate, from the moment your backswing begins (when the club is parallel to the ground), and they should stop when you reach peak backswing. Side-note – if they don’t stop rotating at that point, there’s every likelihood you’ll fall over backwards.

Your hips should rotate gradually. With the hip-rotation, you move like a fine piece of advanced clockwork. Without the hip-rotation, you move like a scarecrow in a Kansas twister, in what’s called an ‘all-arms’ swing.

Impact the ball with the energy coiled in an all-arms swing and you waste a lot of the energy that should be transmitted to the ball, because your body’s in no way properly prepared for the impact.

6.    Remember we said your weight should mostly transfer to your right foot during the backswing? We were right, but there’s weight transfer and weight transfer. Weight transfer through the hip-rotation? Good.

Weight-transfer through backsliding of the hips? Baaaad. Why bad? It’s the first move you need to make if you’re going to fall victim to what we in the ‘What-the-heck-was-that?’ trade call the swaying golf swing error.

So remember – hip rotation, yes please. Hip slide – oh heck, no.

7.    Remember our advice to keep the spine angle intact? Repeat for the head. In fact, it’s best all round if your head doesn’t move at all during the backswing.

That’s only a problem because your natural instinct may well be to move your head down during the backswing, in counterbalance to all the arm action. The problem then becomes a change in your spine angle. Which we just told you not to do.

Again. That’s what happens if you move your head vertically. If you move it horizontally, we’re back into hip-sliding anti-Shakira territory. You just made Shakira sad.

What’s more, you ruined the angle of your spine and/or hips and turned your golf shot to gibbering nonsense. Don’t do that, do as we told you and keep your head still through the backswing. Result? Good times!

To deliver a good backswing, you need some rhythm in your swing. All of these steps have been described minutely and separately. When you actually practice them, you’re going to need fluidity, natural hip-rotation and smoothness of motion.

Practice, practice, practice off the course, so that when you get on the course, you’re not having to mechanically think through each step, or wonder which foot should be where.

By the time you get to the golf course, your hips should be loose enough for fluid rotation, and your instincts should have been retrained.

A good backswing should be a fast and fluid motion. But importantly, it should still take slightly more time than the downswing.

If it isn’t, you have yourself a deceleration error – you’ve essentially shot your energy bolt too soon. Think of it like pulling back the hammer on a gun, then firing it on the downswing.

Top of the Swing

The top of the swing is the crisis point. The moment when your roller-coaster of force, technique, and punching power is at the top of the first big crest.

If you’ve got it this far with all its potential intact, aiming in the right direction, and with your position looking right, you’ve already done a lot of good work.

But there’s also still a lot of opportunity to wobble that thing right off the rails and plummet to your death, killing cartloads of people.

Yyyyeah, OK, that’s when a metaphor goes too far. You could still ruin a potentially perfect golf swing is what we mean. No screaming civilians were harmed in the making of this paragraph.

Let’s imagine we had a video of your backswing.

Back, back, back annnnnd pause it there. Right at the top of the swing.

Let’s take a look all around that moment, to see where there might be room for improvement.

1.    By The Left

Adopt your position at the top of the swing. Where is your club shaft pointing? If you’re aiming left and to the stars, we’re going to need you to bring it in. While it feels natural, it could be an indicator of something rather nastily called ‘Lazy Wrists.’

When getting into the fully hinged position, they never quite made it, so your club’s aimed up and to the left. When you swing and hit the ball, that’s likely to give you mistiming issues, and could well send your ball screaming off to the left.

Sound like a familiar problem? Lazy Wrists and a troublesome club shaft direction.

2.    By The Right

We’re not just here to give you a hard time, we promise. But if your club is aimed right of target, or across the line towards it, it’s known as being…erm…across the line.

The consequences of this could well include an open clubface that sends your ball off to the right of where you want it. If you have this issue, it might well be down to your position at the top of the swing.

How to correct it? Well, you end up in this position by over-rotation of the upper body – hips and shoulders – or by bending the arm at the elbow. So to cut out this issue, practice rotating the upper body slightly less, and watch your elbow position.

3.    The Right Direction

So what should your shaft be doing at the top of the swing? Ideally, it should be horizontal and pointing directly at the target. There’s a certain fundamental logic to that.

Sure, there’s wind and terrain and what-have-you, but as a general rule, aim at where you want the ball to go. That should deliver you a square clubface when you swing, and a smoother, straighter shot.

4.    Ups And Downs

Check how your club shaft looks in the vertical axis. If it’s aimed at the ground, you’re going to have issues with an extended traveling distance.

It’s going to throw off your timing, and might well give you deceleration issues. What are you doing to get it to this point? Could be another issue of over-rotation of the upper body, could be another elbow bending issue.

Or alternatively, it could be that your left heel has crept up off the ground. If you’re frequently having deceleration or mistiming issues, check out these three points of possible stress at the top of the swing.

If on the other hand, your club shaft is aimed at the sky, you might well end up with an underpowered swing. Why? It’s going to lack swing distance, and it’s probably also going to lack whip.

If your launch is limp, it could be down to an underdevelopment in your wrist hinging. Or alternatively, you might look at the rotation of your upper body.

If you find yourself in this position, it’s not that you’ve over-rotated, but you may well have under-rotated for the swing.

5.    Word Up

The right way to position your shaft in the vertical axis? You want to get it parallel to the ground. Not up, not down – parallel.

That will give you the freedom to push enough shoulder and hip turn into the swing, and like an organic machine, the swing will use that turning action and transfer their power to the shot at impact.

The position also encourages the right degree of wrist hinge so your shot connects strongly.

Downswing Tips

“There is a tide in the affairs of golfers, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.”

OK, Shakespeare didn’t quite say that. But he would have if he’d been a golfer. What it means is “OK, you’ve done as much preparation as you can, but eventually, you’re just going to have to swing and hit that thing.”

The downswing is more or less the money shot.

It’s where, in the world where all golf is perfect, your body unwinds all the force it’s gathered, almost as though you’re made of CGI, and you go from the top of the swing to the point of the impact in a seamless unfolding of pendulum power.

If you already do this time after time, congratulations. If you have what might be called a disappointing downswing, don’t panic. It’ll be down to one of a handful of things.

1.    Maintain The Hinge

During the backswing, you should have progressively hinged your wrists. The temptation in the downswing is to treat it like the first great down-rush of a roller-coaster and let all the forces do their thing.

Do that and you’ll probably unhinge your wrists too early in the downswing. There’s a name for that, so you’re by no means the first to do it. It’s called the casting swing error.

There is a moment in the downswing when you want your wrists to unhinge, but it’s late in the action, at the point of release.

Prematurely unhinge your wrists, and you’re going to be no use to anyone. So while it’s tempting to get swept away with the downswing, remember your unhinge-timing.

2.    Progressive CGI Clockwork

As we said, the perfect downswing is a thing of elegance and beauty. It’s like perfect CGI clockwork – first this thing happens, then that thing happens, all the way down the swing.

What should happen first when it comes to uncoiling the accumulated force of the backswing is that your hips should uncoil. Hips first, then the shoulders and arms. It’s the elegant reverse of the backswing, where the hips were last to reach their top position.

You ideally want a perfect reverse of that when you downswing. Uncoil that power through your hips.

You’ll know if you’re doing it right – not only will you more accurately deliver power to the moment of impact, but there’s a weird, visceral thrill to the motion of doing it right.

When you’re getting it right, the uncoiling of the hips won’t entail a great deal of actual movement. If you find your hips are sliding forward, you’re misdirecting the force, and that’s going to give you a different swaying swing error.

Rolllll with it, uncoil with it, rather than jabbing or sliding forward with it. That’s how you get that beautiful, controlled, CGI clockwork look and feel, rather than anything that sways your swing and turns your point of impact into a crapshoot.

3.    Inside and Outside

When you swing a golf club, it’s your body that’s the axis around which it swings. On the downswing, the clubhead should come in towards the impact point from inside the target line.

That will give you your ideal club path – the fabled ‘inside-square-inside’ path which leads to triumph and slightly undignified victory dances.

That said, you can have too much of a good thing. If your inside swing becomes an outside swing once it passes the point of impact, it’s known as being “inside-out.”

Just for balance, you can also have an outside swing that goes inside after impact. Whether you’re inside-out or outside-in, if you’re aiming for normal straight shots, you’re going to want to correct them.

4.    Coils and Counterweights

As you begin your downswing, you should feel the movement rolling – first from the rotation of the hips, then bringing in the shoulders. That should naturally push your weight onto your front foot.

But again, it should do so with a flow, like a dance move, rather than with a stamp, like a toddler in a puddle.

If you don’t feel the roll, you might find that your weight is on the front foot at the top of the backswing and you transfer to the back foot during the downswing.

That right there is a reverse pivot swing error, and it will ruin your day more than somewhat. Remember the direction of the weight-transfer – back to front, not front to back.

5.    The Need For Speed

As we mentioned during the backswing section, you want the backswing to be quite fast. You will always want the downswing to be faster though.

If it isn’t, some of the force you worked to wind into the shot will have dissipated somewhere and you’ll get mistiming errors and deceleration errors on your downswing.

So – backswing to prime your shot, then release that energy through the hip-rolling downswing to power the stroke that gets your ball flying away from you.

Impact Tips

Deep impact. Hard impact. World-shattering impact…

There’s something about the point of impact that carries all our expectations with it. It’s the moment that all the effort has been building towards, the crisis point.

You know what nobody ever remembers? Weak Impact. Inconsequential Impact. Bizarre Impact Where The Ball Scudded Away About 6 Feet And We Stood There Looking Foolish.

If you’re going to play golf at all, you need to conquer the moment of impact. If you’re going to perfect your swing, you need to be able to deliver the moment of impact with intention and direction, time and time again.

1.    Keep The Lag

Keeping the lag is a good thing at impact. It’s an expression which means keeping your hands ahead of the clubhead. The club follows the pace set by your hands (and so “lags” behind them. Keep the lag. We love the lag.

Keeping it though goes all the way back to the set-up of the shot, where you lean the shaft forward. That means your hands will lead all the way through the downswing, and you’ll have lag to spare.

Don’t let your wrists unhinge too early or you’ll lose the lag due to what’s known as ‘flipping the club swing error.’ Catchy, no? Keep those wrists hinged till the moment of release, and avoid it all the same.

2.    Flex The Knees

Even at the point of impact, you should keep some flex in the knees. If nothing else, the flex will help defer the impact on you.

But more to the point, if you lock your knees, there’s a chance you’ll end up with thinner shots because locking the legs will mean you have to raise the upper body and hands at the point of impact.

With those raises, you have less impact – hence the thin shots. So unlock those knees and prepare to put every ounce of swing into the moment of impact.

3.    Hip And Groovy

We’ve been all about uncoiling the hips in such a way as they help you get the most rolling swing and power into your shot. Be aware, at the point of impact, you want your hips pointing at least mostly towards the target.

Uncoil the hips too lazily and you’ll end up open, aimed at Canada, rather than at the target. Be nice to Canada – control your hip uncoil.

Remember, your hands should be aiming the clubhead at the target too, so what you’re looking for at the point of impact is a summit, an agreement between your hips and your clubhead that yes, after due consideration, the target point is where they’d like to go.

4.    Commitment Issues

That spine angle that we set up during the address? That we didn’t change all the way through the backswing? Mm-hmm – don’t sweat it, we’re not about to change it during the downswing either.

This is called staying committed to the ball. Have commitment issues and you could end up with that standing up swing error, where you go up on the downswing, and end up looking like a golfing pretzel.

5.    Keep Your Head Down

On the downswing, every instinct in every muscle in your body will be screaming “Let me see! Let me see!” The urge to lift your head just before the point of impact, so you see the whole moment of the ball’s departure, is intense.

No. No. No. Bad golfer!

This is cause and effect at its finest. To get the effect you want, of the ball screaming away from you on a trajectory you choose, you need not to see it happen.

If you raise your head before the moment of impact, you change the angles of the strike, and the effect you’re looking for…probably won’t happen.

Which means you’ll get a great view of your failed shot. Keep your head down through the moment of impact, avoid the swing error, catch up with where your ball is heading during the follow-through instead.

6.    Down With Irons, Up With Woods

There’s something so inherently logical about the best way to strike a golf ball with irons and woods that it seems almost insulting to reiterate this. But a lot of golfers see their swings unravel because they aim to hit the ball in the wrong way with the right club.

With woods, you want height, you want air, you want soaring arcs of golf ball, flying high. So with woods, aim to hit the ball when the clubhead is coming up from its lowest point, so you get the loft you need.

Likewise with irons, you’re aiming for powerful spring, the clubhead going through the ball before it reaches its lowest point – its lowest point being somewhere in the inevitable divot you make.

So remember, strike down with irons, and up with woods, to get the best results from each type of shot.

Follow Through Tips

Technically, you’d think that after the moment of impact, the ball would be on its way and we’d stop giving you pointers on what to do. After all, that’s the extent of the golf swing, isn’t it? Ball leaves clubhead – job done?

Yes, and no.

The follow through is less about continuing to mystically affect the ball, and more about making sure that having acted as the axis for a phenomenally unlikely sequence of physical movements, you, the golfer, are OK.

But you might be surprised – in the nanoseconds after impact, what you do can still have an effect on the ball’s trajectory.

1.    All Hands, Release!

During the follow through, let your hands release naturally. Let them naturally turn over the club.

Do this both for the sake of your hands and the tension in your arms and wrists, and because if you don’t, you run the risk of a blocked shot, which will send your ball off, seemingly without reason, to the right.

On the other…erm…hand, release with too much snap and aggression, and the force will translate down the club to the ball, giving you random counter-clockwise spin, and leading into the devil’s briar patch of hook and draw.

2.    The Journey And The Destination

We’ve talked about the right inside path for the club swing. You’re aiming to end your follow through with your club circling round your body and finishing its inside-square-inside club path.

3.    Square Hips

By the time your follow through ends, your hips should be square on to the target. We love hip-rotation, we really do, but overdo it here and you could find yourself with twinges, creaks or muscle spasms that will make your next shot a nightmare.

4.    Finish The Job

Sure, the follow through is by necessity beyond the remit of a perfect golf ‘swing’ as such, but it’s the perfect finish to an elegant action. Why not get it right, rather than just stopping suddenly at the moment of impact?

That sudden stop not only looks untidy or curt, it could well indicate you’ve had deceleration issues on your downswing. Finish the job like a golfer – with elegance and good technique.

Improve Your Swing

There are several ways to improve your swing – we’ve outlined some things to do at each point of the process. The way to improve consistently though is through the application of two main techniques.

Tweaks

When you analyze your golf swing and compare it against perfect technique, there will undoubtedly be points of difference.

Note those points, and consciously tweak your swing to give you a better, sweeter, more fully realized swing.

Whether it be keeping your arm straight, your knees bent, or your head down, these are points which you can learn and work into your swing.

The more you swing with these tweaks applied, a) the better your swing will be, and b) the more natural the ‘right’ way will become to you, reinforced by results.

Golf Drills

Part of the point of a golf swing is that it’s dynamic.

It’s a fluid motion. That means not all of it can be changed by simply remembering things.

Some things you have to train your muscles to do, and to remember.

That’s why we use golf drills – repetitions of techniques – to unlearn what might feel like the ‘natural’ way to do things, and force our muscles to build new instincts, new familiar ways of moving, to improve and perfect our golf swing.

This is by definition not easy – it’s learning, and learning always starts off hard and gets easier as you go along. But golf drills and tweaks together are the best way of perfecting a golf swing that lets you down.

10 Golf Swing Killers

Just as an experiment, let’s run through some of the most common killer errors that can leave your golf swing less than it should be. How many do you make?

“Sitting” at Setup

You know the old rule. When you’re at set-up, adopt the “barstool” position, right? Yyyyeah, don’t do that.

Because you end up with a lot of mass behind your heels, that’s why.

Try and move with any athleticism or grace or even flow in that position, we dare you.

You look like a wall-plug, and move like one too. You’ll end up rocking on your heels, and that’s relatively unstable as swing postures go.

Instead of the barstool, try addressing the ball with your hips over your ankles. No rocking back and forth, no shifting bodyweight, more swing, more grace, more balance.

Overly Shut Clubface  

If we’ve learned nothing else in our assessment of the perfect golf swing, it’s that often, courses of action that sound highly logical are the last thing you want to do.

If you want a square face at impact, it would seem to make sense not to let the face rotate open in the takeaway, right?

Seeming gets you nowhere in golf. Absolutely doesn’t work, more or less guaranteed to give you headaches trying to square the face at the point of impact.

Let the club open a little on the backswing. That will develop a backswing motion that gives you simpler, more consistent, and therefore more plannable downswing results.

Fishing For Depth

Depth, like compliments, is something we’d all enjoy. But depth, also like compliments, is something we should never go fishing for.

If you try to pull your lead arm deep behind you early in the backswing, your rotation will suffer and you’ll spend your downswing compensating for both the lead arm and the crunchy rotation.

It’s really not worth reaching for extra depth on the backswing.

Keep as much width as possible going back – it will let your turn deliver the depth you need, and your downswing will be all about the transfer of force.

Swinging the Club Inside

If you whip the club “inside” the target line at the takeoff, your club will be late arriving at the top of the backswing, which means you’re likely to slice your shot when it reaches the point of impact.

An easy fix for this one is to put an alignment stick on the ground in front of your toes.

Collapsing Your Trail Arm

If you collapse your trail arm, you’ll lose a lot of power in the downswing.

Keep your trail arm straighter, and you’ll pick up significant extra shoulder rotation.

That translates to more downswing power.

Making a “Level” Turn

If you’re going to make a powerful point of impact, you need maximum leverage in your swing.

Want to make sure you’re getting the most leverage for your swing, check something.

If you wear a belt while golfing, make sure that at the top of the backswing, it’s tilted, not level – that’s a great indicator that your downswing will have the leverage you need.

Thrusting Your Hips

A well-timed and well-aimed hip thrust is the solution to so many of life’s little problems.

In a golf swing though – potentially a swing-killer.

It’s all down to the way you move your hips during your backswing.

If you’re a Tom Jones backswing thruster, you’re almost bound to rotate around your trailing hip. So what? So you’re forced to thrust towards the ball on the downswing, which will throw the swing right out.

For a happier life, rotate around the pelvic center. Rotate, don’t thrust, for a happier swing.

Late-Loading Backswing

Loading your backswing is good for distance.

Late-loading, baaad.

If you shift your lower body to the right when the club is parallel to the ground in your backswing, that’s loading into the right – Good thing.

If you then keep moving off the ball into the top of the swing, what you do is give yourself way too much ground to cover on the downswing. It’s almost literally like throwing a wrench into clockwork.

Everything stalls, everything judders, panic and tension enter the equation, and the result is likely to be a juddering mis-hit.

To get more distance, load early, recenter yourself by the time you reach the top of your backswing and maintain the smoothness all the way through the downswing for a powerful impact.

Chasing Lag

Lag. In data communications, it’s a pain. In golf swings, you want some lag.

But lag can be achieved naturally, without having to chase it.

In fact, if you chase it, many other things will go awry and spoil your swing.

Lag (the angle between the club shaft and your left arm) means the clubface follows the pace set by your hands on the shaft. Plenty of golfers cup their wrist to boost the inherent lag in their swing.

It’s another of those ‘seems to make sense at the time’ moves that can kill the efficiency of your swing.

Try flattening your left wrist (rather than cupping it). That will let you begin squaring your clubface early in the downswing – which allows for a kind of sledgehammer force, and delivers the benefits of lag you were hoping for in the first place.

Passive Arms

Do you keep your arms passive at the start of your downswing?

Hear somewhere that it helps, or that it’s correct form?

You’re gonna want to cut that out.

If you keep your hands passive when the downswing begins, it’s going to mess up the direction in which your hands travel from the top of the swing. You’ll end up with a hand path that starts moving out towards the ball, then curves down.

Result? Trouble in the rotation, much less clubface control, and a swing killer that needn’t be part of your life.

Correct it by starting your hand path coming sharply down on the downswing, then begin to curve slightly outward as your body starts its turn.

Conclusion

Did we mention golf was a complex game? There are things all the way through it that feel like they make instinctive sense. Always beware of assuming that things that make instinctive sense are necessarily right or helpful.

It makes instinctive sense that we all live on a flat plane, because we stand upright and rarely if ever, fall over the curve. But we live on an oblate spheroid, which investigation and error-correction have proved for us.

Likewise in our golf swings, be sure to check what you do against perfect form if you want to push yourself toward consistent swinging excellence.

And always remember to relax – firstly, it’s supposed to be fun, and secondly, any undue tension in your body when you swing will probably blow the effect you’re going for anyway.

Happy swinging!

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