The golf swing consists of rather complicated sets of movements. If you are new to golf, don’t be overwhelmed if your swing just doesn’t look like everyone else’s. Chances are, they’ve been practicing for years or started playing at a young age.
The truth is, you too can learn a great golf swing! After several years of playing golf, we realized that often the worst golf swings are those with the wrong foundation and swing concepts. To set you on the right track, we’ve combined our experiences and took what worked for us to give you an in-depth walkthrough of the golf swing.
By the end of this post, you’ll have all the foundations and concepts to execute the perfect golf swing. We’ll go through your grip, golf set-up, swing mechanics, ball positioning, takeaway, backswing, downswing, impact, follow-through, and so on. You’ll also have a list of practice golf swing drills by the end of this post, so stick to the end!
The Best Way To Grip A Golf Club
You’ll never be able to learn a good golf swing without the right golf grip. Though there are many ways to grip the golf club, the worst way to start is with a baseball grip.
For most beginners, it’s almost instinctive to start with a baseball grip due to its resemblance to holding a baseball bat. Though the baseball grip is a legitimate way to hold the golf club, the lack of wrist mobility it provides makes it rarely used by more veteran golfers.
From our experience, you’ll find the most success with either an overlapping or interlocking grip while in a neutral grip position. To do this all you have to do is to follow these steps for a right-handed golfer:
- Place the butt of the grip from the first point being the padded portion of your palm below your little finger all the way to the second point, which is the middle joint of your index finger.
- Close your left-hand while leaving an inch of the butt of the grip ungripped.
- For your left thumb, rest it on the grip while pointing down at the clubhead.
- Now with your right-hand, take the fleshy part of your palm below your right thumb and rest it directly above your left thumb.
- At this point, your right thumb should be almost aligned with your left thumb. The only difference is to rest just the right half of your right thumb on the grip.
- Close your right hand and from there, pick between the overlapping or interlocking grip:
- Overlapping Grip: Your right pinky rests on the notch of the index finger and middle finger of your left hand.
- Interlocking Grip: Your right pinky rests in-between the index finger and middle finger of your left hand.
- Baseball Grip: There is no overlapping here with your fingers. All fingers on your right hand will sit below the left hand (not recommended).
If you’re a lefty, simply swap hands for each of the steps we mentioned above.
You’ve probably heard many times to not grip your club too tightly. An overly tight golf grip stiffens your forearms and upper body, something you don’t want during your golf swing.
If you’ve been following our blog, you’d know our favorite way to help golfers ‘feel’ the right amount of grip pressure is with a ‘wet towel’. Yes, a wet towel.
In fact, go grab a kitchen rag and soak it in some water. With the wet towel now in both your hands, twist it to the point where the water is just about to drip out. That’s it! That same amount of pressure you have on the towel right now is the exact amount of grip pressure you want on your golf grips!
Stance and Posture
Your golf set-up determines the speed, rotation, and quality of your golf swing. Golfers should know how wide to stand for each club they use and the right posture throughout their golf swing.
THE PROPER STANCE
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, hip-width for shorter golf clubs.
- Avoid standing parallel with your feet. Allow them to flare ou by roughly 25 to 30 degrees from parallel.
- From there, slightly bend/ flex your knees.
- At this point, a 50/50 weight distribution between both your feet is ideal. You can also try having a 60% on your lead foot and 40% on your back foot but you should never have more weight on your back foot before your takeaway.
THE RIGHT POSTURE
- While remaining relaxed, make your back straight but avoid overarching it.
- Tilt your upper body forward from your by roughly 40 to 45 degrees.
- Drop your hands and grip your golf club.
Though ball positioning isn’t part of your golf swing, it’s quite obvious why it’s so important in determining the quality of your golf shots.
Often, you’ll see golfers confused as to why they’re hitting the ground too early or topping the golf ball when the answer lies right in front of them! Their ball positioning is completely wrong!
Here’s a handy image showing the best way to position your golf ball for each club:
For shorter clubs like your wedges and chippers, get into your normal golf stance and place a club at the center between your feet while it is perpendicular to your target line.
For clubs longer than your wedges, so starting from your 9-iron, you should move the ball by roughly half an inch upwards and towards your left foot per club.
Finally, for the driver, place the ball on the instep of your left foot and ensure the ball doesn’t pass your right toe.
Positioning the ball correctly during your golf swing is crucial for a consistent and solid impact. Essentially, the ball positions you see in our illustration above are the points where that particular golf club should begin its ‘bottom out’ right before impact. This is what creates a divot during your golf swing which helps generate the optimal ball flight.
Jumping back to your golf swing, we’re going to start by checking your weight distribution.
Weight distribution during your golf swing goes beyond just improving your swing speed, but more importantly, the consistency of a solid impact. In fact, it’s the combination of a good weight distribution during your golf swing and ball positioning to produce great and consistent ball striking.
The tricky part with weight distribution is incorporating it with the body rotation of a golf swing. The most common mistake we see is a ‘shift’ in a golfer’s hips and upper body rightwards during his backswing and leftwards during their downswing (for right-handed golfers). This happens because golfers focus too much on hitting hard on the ball instead of focusing on swinging on tempo and on their swing rotation.
On that note, here’s our step-by-step guide to weight distribution during each phase of your golf swing:
- 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
That’s how much weight should have on each foot as your swing your golf club, but we need to make sure you’re incorporating this with your golf swing rotation. So, here’s a drill to help your register both (remember, no shifting sideways with your body):
Weight Distribution + Body Rotation Drill
- Get in your golf stance with your hands on your opposite shoulders.
- Rotate to the end of your takeaway with 60% of your weight on your back leg.
- Make a backswing until your back faces your target (make sure not to tilt your hips sideways, rotate them instead) and a 20 F/ 80 B weight distribution.
- Begin transferring your weight into your lead foot.
- While transferring, and this is important, simultaneously start to uncoil your hips and let your shoulders and arm follow.
- When your chest is pointing at the ball, have an 80 F/ 20 B.
- Rotate until your chest faces the target. At this point, most if not all of your weight should be on your lead/ front foot.
The takeaway is a section of the backswing from setup to where the club is parallel to the floor. Starting your takeaway right sets the entire tone of the rest of your golf swing.
Our goal for the takeaway is to stay connected with our club and start within our 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. 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
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:
- Place two balls roughly a ball’s length apart from each other and align them so that they are parallel to your feet during your set-up.
- Place a driver headcover one club length away from the second ball (right ball if you’re right-handed) and align it so that the balls are perpendicular to the center of the side of the headcover.
- 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.
- Start your takeaway and roll the second ball backward while aligned with your target line. If done correctly the ball should touch the center of the headcover
- 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.
- Once you’ve practiced a few times, feel free to hit some shots while doing this drill.
Backswing & Transition
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.
Focus On Your Body Rotation
The challenge most amateur golfers face during their backswing is in 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:
- 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.
- Set-up at a golf mat with a ball at the ready.
- From there, rotate with your hips followed by your shoulders as you would in your backswing while transferring your weight into your back foot.
- 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.
Stay Parallel on Top
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 the 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 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.
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 rotating your body and manage your weight distribution for the pivot (we cover this in your downswing).
Most tour golfers have a slower backswing than we do, but their clubhead speed is much faster on impact. The fact is, having a fast backswing ruins your tempo and your balance, which are key components to a consistent but fast golf swing.
Instead of rushing your backswing and takeaway, slow it down and focus instead on how you should transfer your weight to your back leg and the rest of your body rotation. This will allow you to stay in control and set-up for a good downswing.
Earlier, we brought up the pivot without telling you what it is. 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, which 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. The weight distribution drill we mentioned earlier is a great way to start:
- Get in your golf stance with your hands on your opposite shoulders;
- Make a backswing until your back faces your target (make sure not to tilt your hips sideways, rotate them instead);
- Step into your leading foot;
- Start uncoiling your hips;
- Let your shoulders and arm follow your hips;
- 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.
Inside-Square-Inside 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 golfer’s 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.
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.
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!
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!
As always, feel free to contact us if you’ve got any questions!