What Is a Correct Golf Swing?

By Mike Southern
The contact zone is the moment of truth.
The contact zone is the moment of truth.

Sometimes it seems as if there are as many ways to swing a golf club as there are golfers. You will see upright swings, flat swings, wide swings, narrow swings, and even entire golf systems such as “Stack and Tilt” or “Natural Golf.” Players with physical limitations can play the game, and their swings might look even more unusual. But all good swings share a few common characteristics, no matter how traditional or unusual they might at first appear.

Grip

Teachers such as Harvey Penick believe that grip is the most important fundamental of the game. Your hands are your only contact with the club, so that connection needs to be a good one. No matter what type of grip you use, it should allow you to hold and swing the club without tightening your muscles too much; tight muscles will interfere with both clubhead speed and accuracy.

Setup

Your setup has several aspects. One of these is posture; it is difficult to make a good swing when your posture is poor. You want to assume an athletic posture, with your knees flexed and your weight on the balls of your feet.

Ball position is part of setup. Although this will vary from shot to shot, you will generally want to position the ball between your front heel and the middle of your stance.

And then there is alignment. Imaginary lines drawn through your ankles, knees, hips and shoulders should all point in the same direction as your intended line of flight.

Takeaway

Your takeaway--swinging the club from its address position to waist high in the backswing--is critical to swinging on the best plane for you. A good “one-piece” takeaway allows both of your arms to remain fairly straight until they are waist high because you turn your shoulders early in the swing. This coiling action not only puts you in a good position but also makes it possible to create more speed during your downswing.

Balance and Relaxation

A good golf swing does not throw your body off balance, nor are the movements tense and jerky. A relaxed and balanced swing allows you to develop a lot of clubhead speed and deliver it squarely to the back of the ball. It also allows you to move freely without hurting yourself. And when you make a relaxed, balanced swing, you will find that your mind is clearer and your attitude is better as well.

The Contact Zone

One thing almost all teachers and players agree on is this: The moment of truth is when the clubhead meets the ball. In a correct swing, you make solid contact--which means you hit the ball in the center of the clubface, and that clubface is square to your intended line of flight. Although you can often get away with mistakes in other areas, the contact zone is unforgiving.

About the Author

North Carolina native Mike Southern has been writing since 1979. He is the author of the instructional golf book "Ruthless Putting" and edited a collection of swashbuckling novels. Southern was trained in electronics at Forsyth Technical Community College and is also an occasional woodworker.

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