Decades ago, when I was growing up and first learning the game of golf, every coach I spoke to wanted my swing to fit into the “mold” or “checklist” of a professional golfer’s swing.
As golf instruction and swing technology have gotten more advanced, we’ve learned that every golfer’s swing is unique in some form or another, and it’s virtually impossible to have a truly “identical swing” to your favorite PGA TOUR professional (as much as we’d like that to be a possibility).
Your golf swing is a lot like your fingerprint. It’s identifiable and personal to you. So much of our golf swing is based on our physical capabilities, like flexibility, strength, and speed, which will always vary from person to person.
Our breakdown will discuss and explain five of the most common types of golf swings so you can learn what category your swing naturally falls under. As a bonus, we highlight the Pros and Cons of each type of swing and point our readers toward professional golfers with these swing types to emulate and watch for your own review.
Regardless of the type of golf swing, all sequences of the golf swing remain the same. Make sure to familiarize yourself with that first before reading this article.
Table of Contents
1. “High Hands” Swing
Known in the golfing world as a “classic swing,” or one that has been around for many generations, the “High Hands Golf Swing” is an athletic swing that’s utilized by many of the greatest players of all time.
- The backswing starts with a lot of width between the hands and the chest. The front knee flexes to help the body turn to create a bigger backswing.
- At the middle of the backswing, the hands start to work upward well above the player’s head.
- From this “High Hands” position at the top of the backswing, the lower body begins to shift its weight forward while rotating the hips to face the target.
- The arms follow the lower body through impact, creating a powerful golf swing with a lot of speed.
Professional Golfers with “High Hands” Swing: Justin Thomas, Jack Nicklaus, Fred Couples, Dustin Johnson
- The club stays in the air for a longer duration and produces more club head speed.
- “High Hands” works well with taller golfers or those with more flexible shoulders.
- This swing tends to produce a higher ball flight with more spin (great out of the rough).
- “High Hands” creates a rhythmic-looking swing due to the increased time of the backswing.
- Higher Handicap/Less Skilled golfers struggle with “Slices” from this hand position.
- Harder on your back/spine from developing so much speed.
2. “Throw the Arms/Hands” Swing
The “Throw the Arms/Hands Golf Swing” is often used by senior golfers and those with limited mobility in their hips and backs. This swing type is also used by one of the best left-handed golfers of all time, Phil “The Thrill” Mickelson.
- The swing begins with a massive backswing where the arms and hands move as far away from their starting position as possible.
- During the backswing, your weight shifts to your rear side, helping to build more momentum.
- At the top of the backswing, shoulder rotation may stop, but the hands continue to move “past parallel” (think John Daly), creating a long backswing that leads to more power being generated.
- From the top of the backswing, the arms and hands collapse downward and are “thrown” towards the ball, ending with fully extended arms at impact to release all this built-up power and torque for immense distance.
Professional Golfers with “Throw the Arms/Hands” Swing: Phil Mickelson
- Great at avoiding injury from limited shoulder and hip rotation.
- Works great for golfers with longer arms.
- Generates a ton of power and speed.
- Great swing for seniors or those with limited hip rotational ability.
- “Throwing the Hands” at impact can lead to a 2-way miss if your timing isn’t spot-on.
- Requires a lot of practice to ensure your swing’s timing is perfect.
3. “One Plane” Swing
The “One Plane Golf Swing” is beautiful to look at but incredibly challenging to accomplish. Many swing instructors and leading golfers believe the “One Plane” swing is the most difficult to master due to its unnatural feeling to many players.
Every golfer using the “One Plane Swing” shares something in common. Their initial setup to the golf ball differs from other types of swings because they are trying to emulate their impact position from their starting setup position.
Let’s explain this further:
- Imagine a pane of glass resting on your golf shaft and cutting through your body. This is your “Single Plane” that the club will travel on during the backswing and back through impact.
- Your arms will both be extended at setup/address, with the angle of your arms matching the angle of your club shaft in a straight line (very different from traditional setups).
- Your leading arm remains straight during the entire swing from setup through the backswing and back through impact. The leading arm remaining straight helps keep the club working on your starting “Swing Plane” and makes it difficult to go “under” or “over” your intended plane.
- During the backswing, your club head is moving perfectly along the “Swing Plane” that you established with your shaft at your initial setup.
- This swing can use limited or heavy bodily rotation during the backswing to influence the amount of power each shot receives, but the “crux” of the “Single Plane” swing is your leading arm matching the shaft angle from setup through the backswing and back to impact.
Professional Golfers with a “One Plane” Swing: Bryson DeChambeau, Moe Norman
- Easily repeated with consistency once mastered.
- “Single Plane” Swings follow a system of rules from “The Golfing Machine” book with 24 checkable components.
- This system can eliminate many “unknown” variables and give players a “checklist” to play more confident golf.
- These “checklists” allow golfers to evaluate and fix their problems faster.
- Timing is incredibly important to proper results. Incorrect timing of the arms or body can result in a “two-way miss” of hooks and pushes.
- “Single Plane” swinging can feel unnatural to most recreational golfers, meaning it requires a ton of work to accomplish if not started at an early age.
4. “Professional Over the Top” Swing
The majority of recreational golfers struggle with pulling the club head too far inside during the backswing and having nowhere left to go but “over the top” of their starting swing plane through impact, resulting in pulled shots or slices.
Viktor Hovland and Abraham Ancer have developed ways to counteract this natural movement in their golf swings to not only make it playable at the highest levels but also to use this move to their advantage for increased accuracy.
- They start the backswing by pulling the club inside (closer to their backsides) and “shutting the face” (the feeling of pointing the club face left of your target as a right-handed golfer).
- From this “inside” starting position, the hands work upwards to the top of the backswing, creating a lot of power. (This position is similar to the “High Hands” swing we discussed earlier)
- From the top of the backswing, players feel the butt-end of the grip moving towards the golf ball.
- As the downswing happens, the club is moving above the original “inside” backswing plane line. (Referred to as “Over the Top” in amateur golfers)
- Strong bodily rotation during the downswing through impact counteracts the “slice” nature of this swing.
- This move results in slices and pushes to the right of the target for amateurs, but professionals counteract that tendency further by aiming left of their target and using the “Over the Top” move to reliably produce fades that start left and work right toward their target.
Professional Golfers with “Professional Over the Top” Swing: Viktor Hovland, Abraham Ancer, John Daly
- Consistently produces a fade or straight shot.
- Hard to miss left (eliminating one side of the golf course).
- Uses natural athleticism to produce power.
- Difficult to break the “inside takeaway” habit once built into muscle memory.
- Requires a lot of flexibility.
5. “Rotational/Dynamic Style” Swing
Every golfer has ogled over Tiger Woods’s golf swing at some point in their life. He’s created a dynamic, powerful swing that looks just as aesthetic as it is violent to the golf ball.
This style of golf swing requires the most athleticism and is likely the hardest on your body as a player. This means taking proper care of yourself through exercise and repetition during practice is required for this swing to not damage your body.
This swing type also uses the best parts of the four swings we mentioned previously in a great combination for explosive power.
- The backswing begins with a massive amount of width, with the hands moving wide and away from the chest.
- From the middle of the backswing, the chest and shoulders begin to rotate strongly until they are fully facing away from the target. This move creates an insane amount of torque and force in the club head and naturally brings the club to the top of the backswing.
- Once at the top of the backswing, the hands fall while your shoulders and hips are rotating sharply towards the target. You’ll commonly see a slight “crouch” in posture during the beginning of the downswing.
- Adding more emphasis to this downswing move, players pop up onto their toes in their rear leg to generate even more power through impact.
- This combination of moves results in the maximum amount of power being put into the golf ball.
Professional Golfers with “Rotational/Dynamic Style” Swing: Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy
- This swing type results in the most power.
- This swing type uses every bit of your athleticism and rewards the more athletic golfer.
- When working efficiently, this golf swing is powerful and accurate (Hence Tiger winning so many times).
- Improper balance at any point during the swing will dramatically affect your results.
- This swing type is hard on your lower back, knees, hips, ankles, and tendons.
Picking the right golf swing is the wrong question. It’s which golf swing are you? To be honest, most recreational golfers have neither of the swing styles mentioned on this list. To put it lightly, professional golf swings are composed of a set of swing sequences that are much more technical than the swing from an average golfer. However, with a lot of practice and coaching from a professional, you can still get there.