The Ultimate Golf Swing Guide – Drills, Tips, & Illustrations Included

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golf swing

It looks so simple, but a textbook golf swing is actually extremely difficult to pull off. Just step into the driving range and you’ll see the amount of golfers testing all sorts of techniques or swing trainers to improve their golf swing.

In truth, getting the golf swing right starts with understanding the golf swing sequence. Here’s what a proper golf swing sequence looks like:

  1. Set-up
  2. Takeaway
  3. Backswing
  4. Top of the Backswing
  5. Transition
  6. Downswing
  7. Impact
  8. Follow Through
  9. Hold Your Finish

With that in mind, use the illustrations and drills we mention below to learn the golf swing. Later, we’ll also dive deeper into other golf swing topics such as how best to learn the golf swing (lessons or self-taught), and other golf swing 101s such as weight distribution during your golf swing.

How to Execute the Perfect Golf Swing

1. The Setup & Club Address

Setting up properly in golf establishes the quality of your entire golf swing. You must nail the setup before anything else, it’s the foundation that builds the power, consistency, and fluidity of the swing.

For the setup, we want to focus on our stance, posture, grip, and golf ball alignment.

The stance is simple. Stand shoulder-width apart, flare out your feet by 10-15 degrees and you’re all set!

For your posture, stand up straight, shoulders back, bend your knees just a little, and evenly distribute your weight between your feet (don’t put too much weight on your toes or heel). From there, tilt forward while dropping your hands to hold the golf club.

golf swing posture and stance

Now focus on your grip. I highly recommend an overlapping or interlocking grip which is the go-to for almost every experienced golfer (Learn the best ways to hold your golf club in our guide then pick between a strong vs weak golf grip).

Picking the right type of golf gripping style to make the golf swing more consistent

Finally, ball positioning. Here’s a handy image showing the best way to position your golf ball for each club:

  • Shorter clubs (like wedges and chippers): Stand in the normal golf stance and place a club at the center between your feet while it is perpendicular to your target line
  • Clubs longer than wedges: Start from your 9-iron, move the ball by roughly half an inch upwards and towards your left foot per club
  • Driver: Place the ball on the instep of your left foot and ensure the ball doesn’t pass your right toe
ball poisitioning for golf swing

2. The Takeaway

The takeaway is a section of the backswing from set up to where the club is parallel to the floor.

Don’t lift the club with your arms but think of it as drawing a circle while keeping your arms straight. Once the shaft of the club reaches parallel to the floor, check that the clubface is facing slightly towards the floor, but the tip of the clubhead remains pointing towards the sky.

Our goal for the takeaway is to stay connected with our club and stay within our golf swing plane. Staying connected is key to the takeaway as it’s the first step to starting your golf swing with the rotation of your body rather than hitting with your arms.

golf swing takeaway illustration

Following the right swing plane also ensures that your downswing will follow the same path taken by the takeaway, which results in a square and well-arced golf swing.

Roll The Egg Drill

roll the egg drill for takeaway

Here’s a handy drill for you to practice your takeaway. If you struggling with an overly outside or inside takeaway or you’re cocking your wrist too early, this drill will likely fix them:

  1. Place two balls roughly a ball’s length apart from each other while parallel to your feet during your set-up.
  2. Place a headcover one club length away from the second ball and align the balls perpendicularly to the center of the headcover.
  3. Set-up to the two balls and place a 7-iron in between the two balls with the back of the club touching the second ball.
  4. Start your takeaway by rolling the second ball backward with the back of your clubface while aligned with your target line. If done correctly the ball should touch the center of the headcover
  5. If your ball is traveling to the back of the headcover, your takeaway is too inside. If it travels to the top of the headcover, your takeaway is too outside.
  6. Once you’ve practiced this a few times, feel free to hit some shots while doing this drill.
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3. Backswing & Transition

backswing frame by frame

After your takeaway, we need to make sure you’re still on plane for the rest of your backswing. To do this, we’ll be focusing on your body rotation, your top position, and your tempo.

Pro Tip: Swing In Tempo

Most golfers think a fast backswing leads to a faster golf swing, but that’s far from the truth. What creates clubhead speed is how well you rotate your body and manage your weight distribution for the pivot (the action you take when starting your downswing).

Instead of rushing your backswing and takeaway, slow it down and focus on swinging in tempo. This gives you more control and speed on your good downswing and ensures you hit more consistently on the face.

Focus On Your Body Rotation For Your Backswing

Most beginners struggle with their body rotation. Most of the time, golfers use their arms for the backswing, leading to a ‘sway-like’ golf swing rather than one that follows the circular rotation around their hips. 

With this ‘sway-like’ golf swing, your golf swing is already ruined as you’ve broken your spine angle.

The spine angle is the angle your spine creates with the ground during your golf swing. In essence, this angle is the ‘V’ shape created by your hips during your golf set-up and is also the angle you should maintain throughout your golf swing. 

A good feel for the backswing, while maintaining that spine angle, is to follow this drill:

  1. Take a club of your choice and hold it across your chest with the butt of the grip facing the target while staying parallel to your shoulders. 
  2. Set-up at a golf mat with a ball at the ready.
  3. From there, rotate with your hips followed by your shoulders as you would in your backswing while transferring your weight into your back foot. 
  4. At the top of the backswing, the butt of your club should be pointing towards or inside the ball while your head should be in the same position as during your set-up. If the butt is pointing above the ball, your backswing plane is too flat. If your head moved sideways, you’re most likely not rotating along your spine angle. In this case, make sure the right side of your hip (left if you are left-handed) does not bend as you transfer your weight to your back foot.

4. Staying Parallel on Top

Golf swing on top illustration

The top of your backswing ends when the golf club reaches parallel to the floor. At that point, your front shoulder should be in contact with your chin, your wrist should be hinged, and your lead arm remaining straight. 

From down the line, your shaft should not be visible and the top of your wrist should be flat with your forearms while aligned towards the golf ball. 

If you’re not flexible enough to get to this position, it’s not uncommon. In this case, it’s fine to start with the maximum amount of rotation you can get while still maintaining a straight lead arm. Eventually, however, you should work your way up with some golf swing exercises to improve your flexibility. 

When loading your weight into your back foot beware of your leading knee as you want to make sure it doesn’t collapse inward. Instead, your lead knee should move in such a way that it points towards the ball. If it doesn’t that is okay, but don’t go beyond that point. For your back knee, don’t straighten it completely, there should still be some flex when you’re on top.

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5. The Downswing

the golf downswing

Earlier, we brought up the pivot without telling you what it is so let’s clarify it here. The pivot is the simultaneous action of initiating your downswing by rotating your torso around your spine while transferring your weight to your lead foot through impact. Doing so allows you to turn with your shoulders more naturally and generate lag. Lag is when the club follows the pace set by your hands during your downswing, a big component to a faster clubhead speed.

Since the downswing is fast, and as a result, harder to think about each step along the way, it’s better to understand the downswing by how it should feel like:

  1. Get in your golf stance with your hands on your opposite shoulders
  2. Make a backswing until your back faces your target (make sure not to tilt your hips sideways, rotate them instead)
  3. Step into your leading foot
  4. Start uncoiling your hips
  5. Let your shoulders and arm follow your hips
  6. Rotate until your chest faces the target

Things you should look out for when uncoiling your hips during your downswing is to not tilt/ bend your hips towards your target. This happens when the golfer is focused too much on ‘hitting hard’ rather than rotating and letting the torque and inertia generated from their hips create the clubhead speed for them. 

Pro Tip: Inside-Square-Inside Downswing Swing Path

The inside-square-inside swing path is the optimal downswing path where the club comes from the inside of the target line, makes a square contact with the ball, and exits just slightly inward from the target line. 

What you’d want to avoid is an outside-in or inside-out swing path. Most golfers struggle with an outside-in swing path leading to the notorious golf slice. The best way to check your current swing path is to have a friend record your swing from behind the target line.

6. Impact

Everything we’ve covered for your golf swing thus far is set up for a great impact. On impact, you’ll want the clubface to be square and the majority of your weight on your lead foot. 

Generally speaking, the longer the club, the more weight you’ll want to pivot into for impact. This is not just to generate more power but to properly differentiate, and rightfully so, between the type of swing arcs for each club.

  • For the drivers and the woods category, we recommend an 80 F/ 20 B
  • Clubs shorter than your 6-iron we recommend a 70 – 60 F/ 30 – 40 B

The clubhead must also strike right at the bottom of the golf ball for your irons, allowing the clubhead to bottom out afterward. 

Finally, right at impact, you’re hips and shoulders should be at an open position with your head looking back towards the back of the golf ball. As for your hands, they should stay behind or at least level the with golf ball. 

Most beginners who practice too much on a hitting mat tend to not notice when their shots are hit too ‘fat’ as compared to a solidly struck golf ball. At a hitting mat, mistakes are often hidden due to the forgiveness a hitting mat allows. 

As a result, the best way to test if you’ve been hitting the ball correctly is at a golf course. If you’re ‘chunking’ the golf balls in most of your shots while playing off the grass, you’re most likely hitting it fat during your practice sessions too.

Drivers vs Irons on Impact

A solid strike with your iron includes hitting down on the ball before proceeding to bottom out your club head. This is different from hitting it thin, where you’re hitting the ball at the lowest point of your downswing. 

When using clubs belonging to the woods category, you’ll want to hit up on the ball. More specifically, the club makes contact with the ball when the clubhead is on the rise from its lowest swing point. This applies to both tee’d balls and ground balls. Learn more on how to hit a driver in our guide.

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7. Following Through & Holding Your Finish

After impact, follow through with your golf club and let the club’s momentum carry the rest of your upper body and your head to their finishing position.

For your finishing position, finish with all of your weight on your lead foot and support your back foot with the tips of your toe. Keep your hips and chest square/ facing the target while your upper body remains tall and upright. 

Finally, let the shaft fall somewhere down your back and maintain this position until the ball lands. If you’re more flexible, you can also finish with the clubhead pointing towards your target. Regardless, you should be able to stay perfectly balanced as you hold your finish. 

It’s important not to underestimate your finishing position. If you focus on a good golf position, you will do specific things during your golf swing that’ll help create good golf shots!

Golf Swing 101: Bonus Tips

Take Lessons Over Learning Yourself

Whoever tells you that the golf swing is easy to execute, is lying. I hate to break it to you, but it’s very hard to teach yourself the proper golf swing without multiple sessions with a professional golf coach.

The downside with a coach, of course, is it’s expensive, so make sure you’re fully committed to golf if you want to consider taking lessons.

I learned golf myself first before having a coach refine my golf swing. However, I’d much prefer if I had a coach show me to ropes right from the start. If you’re learning yourself, I’d recommend buying a golf swing trainer and looking for drills on Youtube to use these swing trainers to give you a good start to learning the golf swing.

Weight Distribution Between Your Feet

Managing the weight distribution between your feet during your golf swing is critical for effective body rotation.

Simply put, if you don’t do this right, you won’t generate power and you’re almost guaranteed to be rotating your body wrong at the same time.

Here’s a quick glimpse of how weight distribution during each phase of your golf swing should look like:

  • Setup: have an even weight distribution between both your feet.
  • Takeaway: start to shift your weight to your back foot. By the end of the takeaway, roughly 60% of your weight should be on your back foot.
  • Backswing: when you reach the top of your backswing, the majority of your weight should be on the inside of your back foot. A good amount is 20 Front/ 80 Back but it can be even more.
  • On impact: here’s where it’s most important to make sure you have more weight on your front foot. How much? This depends on the club you’re hitting with:
    • Drivers and fairway woods an 80 F/ 20 B
    • Clubs shorter than your 6-iron a 70 F to 60 F/ 30 B to 40 B

Final Thoughts and What Next?

A good golf swing consists of many small things done correctly. It may seem complicated at first, but the best golf swings are ironically the ones that are most simply executed. As a final example, check out the legendary golfer, Ernie Els, who’s also known by his nickname, “The Big Easy” for his fluid, effortless, and powerful golf swing. You’ll see how he generates some of the best golf shots by focusing on the fundamentals!

With that said, you should take everything you’ve learned from this post to your nearest golf range and start practicing now! Focus on your rotation and the fundamentals like your takeaway, grip, and set-up, and make sure to have a proper warm-up! 

Like what you read? Excel other parts of your game here:

As always, feel free to contact us if you’ve got any questions!

Photo of author
Mark has been an avid golfer for more than 15 years and has reviewed golf clubs since 2015. He is also the founder of the Golf Leap Blog site.

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