Golf Swing Path Tips

By Mike Southern
A good swing path will consistently help your shot hit the target.
A good swing path will consistently help your shot hit the target.

Although many weekend players complicate the golf swing, the movement itself is very simple. It is not much different than swinging a baseball bat, a tennis racket or even an axe. If you can get the key actions in your swing correct, you will swing the club on a correct path more times than not.

Setup and Alignment

Starting from a good position is the basis for a good swing. Proper posture and alignment not only will ensure your aim is true, but they also will start the club on the swing path you chose and keep it there with a minimum of manipulation. A good grip, not too strong or too weak, lets your wrists flex along the desired swing path and not twist the club off line. Proper balance also will keep you from leaning too much and changing your shoulder level, which can quickly wreck your swing path.

The Takeaway

A proper takeaway establishes a good swing path right from the start. When many players hear the term “one-piece takeaway” they immediately think that means keeping their arms straight. However, that introduces too much tension into the swing. In a one-piece takeaway, your arms stay relatively straight until they are waist high. This is because you turn your shoulders very early in the swing, minimizing the need to move your arms too early and destroy your swing path. A one-piece takeaway puts your arms on the correct swing path and provides the momentum to carry them to the top of the backswing.

Change of Direction

When your hands reach the top of your backswing and start down, trying to achieve clubhead speed too quickly causes problems. The result is a violent, jerking motion that throws them off the proper swing path. To start the downswing, let the club “fall” a short way before you add power. Here is a quick drill to help you feel the start of the downswing: Take the club to the top of your backswing and inhale as you reach the top. Then simply exhale and let your shoulders “slump” a little--almost as if they collapse into a sigh--before you start applying power. This will cause your arms to drop slightly, only a few inches, but it will prevent you from jerking the club off its path.

At Impact

When you reach the impact area, most of your work is done. There is little you can do to change the club path now, unless you jerk your hands in an effort to get a little “extra” from the shot. Your key thought at contact is simply to square up the clubface and hit the ball on its intended line, which you’ve already created with your swing path. By focusing on swinging through to your target, you minimize any chance of ruining your swing path--and you will hit more solid shots.

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.

Photo Credits

  • Donald Miralle/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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