Develop a ‘Proper’ Golf Swing!

Golf Swing

Exactly what is a ‘proper’ swing in golf? All swings basically have 3 parts – the backswing, downswing and the follow through. Sounds pretty easy, but developing these three components into a ‘proper’ swing takes a lot of practice and training.  You’ll also need some basic understandings of the fundamentals, and throw in a LOT of patience just in case.

While all swings are based on certain established principles, you’ll rarely find two individuals with the exact same swing.  One person’s swing may not work for the next guy. (Furyk anyone?) Every golfer has to find the right style that fits them personally to to end up with good results. Focusing on the basics and fundamentals of golf will help develop a solid foundation which can then be tweaked here and there to ultimately give you the ability to consistently strike the ball well.

One of the most important attributes that will affect all your golf swing is the grip. Many golfers simply think a proper grip is having correct hand alignment and fail to address grip pressure. Too tight a grip can result in an overall stiff swing and cause more problems than you can shake a golf club at. Too loose of a grip and you might find the club traveling further than the ball after your swing.  Generally speaking, gripping the club too tight is a much more common problem than a too relaxed hold. As the great Jack once said, grip the club like you were holding a baby bird. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all swings and clubs, but it is a good thought to keep in your head.

The first thing you can do to help develop a good swing is to relax. Take a nice deep breath, slowly exhale, and visualize the result of what you want. Visualize where the flight path will be and where you want the ball to end up. This sounds kind of cheesy, but it can make a tremendous difference in the end result.

Take a nice firm grip (but not tight!). Step behind the ball and visualize your target line.  Step up to the ball and place your club head behind the ball, keeping your target line in tact. THEN adjust your feet to the proper position. It is very important to do this in this sequence. Never align your feet first, and then your club.

When you start your backswing, slowly draw your club back in a smooth arc. Remember, the golf swing is a circular motion. While not set in stone, you are generally going to take the club back on a circular plane and return the club to impact the ball on the same circular plane.  As you as you bring the club back, your upper torso will rotate until the back of your left shoulder (for a right handed golfer) is basically facing your target. This proper body rotation is very important for maintaining a proper swing path and generating power.

When you start your downswing, try to feel as though you are letting your body ‘unwind’ from the rotation on your backswing as opposed to starting the downswing with your arms. Exactly how you begin the downswing will vary from player to player, but its extremely important that you don’t simply try to throw your arms at the ball. Many players will start the downswing with a slight forward motion of the hips towards the target, then let the body naturally unwind a bit.  The arms will drop a bit, then naturally swing the entire club to the target. Don’t try to ‘throw’ the just the clubhead at the ball. And most importantly, maintain the swing to the TARGET, not simply at the ball. Many golfers make the mistake of thinking the swing is ‘done’ once you make contact with the ball. If you swing in this manner, you won’t end up maintaining the proper path. The most common result of swinging at the ball instead of swinging to the target is cutting across the ball, resulting in the dreaded slice. Why is this? As mentioned earlier, the golf swing is a circular motion. You take the club back on a circular arc, and you swing forward on a circular arc. If your mind thinks the swing is ‘complete’ after you make impact with the ball, you’ll end up starting the arc on your downswing too quickly. By the time the clubhead impacts the ball, your swing is already starting the forward arc to the left (again, for rightys). Try to exaggerate that you want to swing your entire club all the way to your target, not just at the ball. This will help ensure that you make impact with the ball with your club still going straight, not cutting from out to in.

If you follow the advice about swinging to the target and not just at the ball, you’ll naturally end up with a proper follow thru. Don’t just wrap the club over your shoulder. Even after impact, the club should continue to push outwards towards the target. Let the momentum of  the club and proper swing path naturally complete your body rotation, ending in a proper follow through.

Some other general points to keep in mind during your swing:

- Keep your left elbow fairly straight during the back swing as the club back and eventually up. Try to keep the club away from your body and make a wide swing going back.

- Your wrists should be at about 90-degree angle when your left arm is parallel to the ground.

- Start your downswing with your body, not your arms.

- As you bring the club down, rotate your body towards the target.

- At the bottom of the swing arc, your wrists will break a bit and ‘release’ the clubhead.

- Your right arm will swing across your body and end up near your left shoulder.

- Your upper body will end up facing the target at the end of your swing.


It all sounds pretty simple, right? While the basics of a golf swing actually are simple, its much harder to pull off in the real world.  While these simple instructions are just general guidelines and don’t cover even half of what it takes to actually strike the ball well, it should be a good guide to get you on your way to those 300 yard drives. Ok, maybe more like 250, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

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