Golf Swing Basics: Fundamentals to a More Consistent Swing
Consistency – everyone wants more of it from their golf game.
Whether you’re shooting in the 70s or the 90s, most golfers want to stay there. No sane golfers want a huge blow up round that makes them question why they even showed up to the course.
To shoot more consistent scores, you need to master some golf swing basics.
Consistency on the course comes from mastering the fundamentals of golf. As Michael Jordan said, “Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.”
In this article, we’ll break down the most important aspects of the swing so you can find more consistently in your game.
Golf Swing Basics: How to Groove a Consistent Golf Swing
The key to improving your swing is to make it simple and focus on one thing at a time.
Too often, golfers try to change 2-4 movements at once, which is a surefire disaster in most cases. Instead, use this checklist to evaluate each part of your swing and make adjustments as needed.
Get a Hold of Your Grip
The first part of your swing to focus on is the grip itself. Since it’s the only connection that you have with the golf club, it plays a pivotal role in the swing.
When it comes to your grip, there are three possible hand positions: weak, strong, or neutral. A weak grip (which isn’t referring to weak grip pressure) is when your hand positions yield a cut or fade shot.
While a strong grip is the opposite and makes it easier to hit a draw and add some extra distance too. Finally, a neutral grip allows you to work the golf ball both ways as the hands are in a neutral position.
If there’s one thing you can do to set yourself up for success, it’s to strengthen your grip.
A slightly stronger grip will make it easier to shallow the club and compress the golf ball. This leads to more powerful shots with a better ball flight too.
One thing to note: If your grip is very weak now, don’t try to make it incredibly strong overnight.
Changing your grip is a lot of work so make subtle adjustments so you can still play golf as your hand positions change.
Want to improve your golf grip even more?
Make sure to read, “What is a strong grip & how it can impact your swing”
After you get your hands placed on the club properly, let’s not forget about grip pressure as well. You want to have enough pressure to not let the club twist unnecessarily on the backswing but you don’t want a death grip either.
For most shots, you want to maintain a grip pressure of about 7 on a scale of 1-10. Anything above a seven adds extra tension in your forearms and tightens other muscles too.
Once your grip is in the right position and firmly on the club, the next step is your setup position. This is one of the most critical aspects of golf that so many average golfers don’t spend nearly enough time on.
Why is the setup so important?
Because your setup affects your takeaway, which has a domino effect on the rest of your swing. If you can learn to set up square to the target more often than not, your game will be 10X better (even on your “bad” days).
One aspect of setup that is vital to grooving a consistent swing is alignment.
Yet, if you go to the driving range right now, you’ll see that most golfers don’t use any sort of alignment aid. Or, if they do, they don’t check it regularly to make sure that it hasn’t moved between shots.
Alignment is everything!
Here’s an example…
If you are aimed way left of the target but don’t realize it before you swing, it can make you incredibly confused based on the shot. Think about it, if the ball goes straight it will actually miss left and you might have thought you pulled it. If you hit it at the target, then you actually pushed it to make up for your alignment error.
Either way, you might try to adjust your swing and make matters worse.
That’s why I always suggest recording your swing on the range and using alignment aids to monitor your setup and aim. This way you don’t create new, bad habits because one simple move is incorrect at setup.
Monitor your setup every single time you’re on the range.
While alignment is incredibly important, you need a good stance as well.
Make sure your feet are about shoulder width apart (slightly wider for fairway woods and driver) at address. This will help you stay balanced and generate maximum power throughout the swing.
Aside from alignment and stance, don’t forget to check your weight distribution at setup as well.
It’s essential to have your weight 50/50 on each foot at address position (for most full shots). This will help get the majority of your weight to the right side on backswing and transfer it on the downswing properly.
The backswing is where you set yourself up for failure or success when the ball finally meets the club at impact.
As legendary ball striker Ben Hogan said, “If the golfer executes his backswing correctly, at the top of his backswing his legs, hips, shoulders, arms, and hands will be properly poised and interrelated to move with power and coordination into that climactic part of the golf swing – the downswing.”
Here are three things to evaluate in your backswing to make sure you’re set up for success on the downswing.
The first part of your swing determines a lot. What you do in the first foot when taking the club away from the ball plays a huge role in the rest of your swing.
For example, most amateurs take the club far too inside on the way back. Which leads to the club being on an incorrect plane, which leads to a more steep downswing. Then it leads to a pull shot or a pull cut (or slice).
This all happens because of a takeaway that is too inside.
Needless to say, if there’s one part of your swing to spend a lot of time on, it’s the setup and takeaway.
The more you can make this move fluid and simple, the easier it will be to hit more consistent, high-quality golf shots. If you get out of position here, it’s nearly impossible to salvage it on the downswing.
Club at Parallel Position
Another part of the backswing to observe is the top of your swing. Golf instructors love to pause recordings at the top when giving lessons because so much can be observed from this position.
As Tiger Woods said in How I Play Golf, “The position you establish at the top serves as a preview of where you’ll be at impact. One of my goals is to achieve a square clubface at the top of the backswing.”
From this angle, you want to look at how your club is matched with your left wrist (assuming you’re right-handed) and length of backswing. If the face is open or closed too much, it’s because something happened in the backswing that you need to adjust.
Additionally, it’s important to not swing the club too long (past parallel) or too short of parallel either. This allows a proper shoulder turn and maximum power without swinging like you’re John Daly.
Finally, don’t forget there needs to be a brief moment of calm at the top of your backswing.
Before the downswing happens, there needs to be a moment at the top of the swing for everything to catch up. This is known as the transition and it clearly separates the backswing from the downswing.
The transition is where you begin to reroute the club so that it comes down on the correct plane when you strike the golf ball. Some players have a very quick transition, while others are much more deliberate.
Perhaps the best example of someone pausing at the top of their swing is Hideki Matysuama. It seems like he’ll never start his downswing sometimes! But clearly, it works for him and it’s a good visual representation of pausing at the top to unwind with power on the downswing.
Let the Downswing Happen
The final part of the swing is the move down, where the club finally meets the ball.
Honestly, you don’t need to do much at this point as your backswing sets up the downswing. All you do is start turning the hips while momentum takes care of the rest.
Ben Hogan said it best in his book, “The turning of the hips inaugurates the downswing… After you have initiated the downswing with the hips, you want to think of only one thing: hitting the ball.”
Plus, the downswing happens so fast that there is no time to think about anything else. Finally, don’t forget to hold the follow through too.
Another part about the swing I can’t forget to mention is tempo. While you can do all the previous steps correctly, if your tempo is off, it can ruin a great swing.
Tempo is the secret sauce and one of the few things that all great golfers share. While not everyone will swing the same speed, nearly all have the same tempo.
Jon Novosel, founder of Tour Tempo, made this discovery in 2000.
After analyzing some of the best golf swings (Tiger Woods, Jack Nicakuas, Gary Player, etc), he learned they all had a 3:1 tempo. Meaning, the backswing is three times as long (in terms of length) as their downswing.
But since the golf swing only takes seconds, it’s hard to monitor your own speed. Luckily, Jon wrote a book and started an app called Tour Tempo. Let me tell you from experience, this app is worth every penny!
Using auditory tones, it will help you groove a perfect 3:1 tempo on the range. It’s a really useful tool that can make a tremendous difference in your ball striking.
Bonus: Keep Improving Your Short Game
While I’m confident that all the tips above will help your golf swing, never forget to keep refining your short game. Even the best players in the world suffer from days when their swing is off. This is why you need a solid short game to come in and save the day like a superhero.
While a bad ball striking day is frustrating, that doesn’t mean that a day of bad swings means a bad score… as long as your short game is there to back you up.
A great short game will not only save you during the bad days but also make the good ones better too. You can never practice your chipping, pitching, and putting enough!
Wrapping Up Basics of the Golf Swing
As you probably already know, the golf swing is a complicated athletic motion that has a ton of moving parts. This is one of the many reasons why golf is such a difficult sport to master and why so many golfers keep coming back – trying to craft the perfect swing.
While I know these tips will help you refine a more consistent swing, don’t think you need a perfect swing to shoot low scores. You can still shoot in the 70s even as you continue to perfect your swing.
Once you master the fundamentals, everything gets easier. Trusting your golf swing on the course from putting in the reps on the driving range.
As Dr. Bob Rotella said, “A golfer has to train his swing on the practice tee, then trust it on the course.” Wise words from one of the most popular mental coaches on the planet.
What’s the number one fundamental that you focus on in your swing?
Let us know in the comments below.