When you see a golfer maintain good balance throughout his swing, it looks solid, as though all the moving parts -- legs, hands, arms and torso -- are working in harmony. The swing also looks graceful as though hitting the shot is not hard work. The opposite of this is a swing that looks loose or as though the golfer is straining.
The Benefits of Balance
Golfers strive for distance and accuracy on longer shots and for pinpoint control on approach shots to the green. Without good balance, you cannot achieve any of these objectives on a consistent basis. A balanced swing allows you to have better control of the club and deliver it squarely to the ball, ensuring accuracy. Generating the clubhead speed necessary to maximize power also requires good balance.
Balance on Tee Shots
To create the foundation for a powerful swing with your driver, it all starts with your stance. Your heels should be slightly wider than your shoulders. Narrow stances with woods result in a loss of balance during the swing and shots that are off target. On the backswing, shift your weight from the left side to the right side, but the key is not letting your weight slide outside your right foot. Swaying outside the right foot is a major cause of shots that are sprayed off to the right, because on the downswing the club lags behind the body and the clubface is open at impact.
The Danger of Overswinging
In the quest for hitting the ball farther, you might have a tendency to overswing -- taking the club back so far that you are unable to maintain control. One indication of this is the left arm bending at the top of the swing. The arms and shoulders should work as a team during the swing. Golfers who keep swinging their arms after their shoulders have gone back as far as they physically can might end up tilting their torso forward, pulling themselves off balance. This reduces the chance of making solid contact with the ball. Even professional golfers can have this problem and some -- including Sergio Garcia and Davis Love III -- have changed to more compact swings in order to improve accuracy without a major sacrifice of distance.
Consistent, Repeating Swing
You might intentionally lift your left heel off the ground as you near the top of the backswing in the hopes of lengthening your swing and generating additional power. In his book, "Golf My Way," legendary Jack Nicklaus warns against raising it too high, because it might be difficult to replace the foot to the position where it started at address, causing a loss of balance and a lesser chance of having the clubface square at impact. In a balanced swing, the heel should come off the ground only as a result of the shoulder turn on the backswing. Consistent footwork helps build a dependable, repeating swing.
Balanced From the Start
Before starting the swing, Jack Nicklaus inclines his right knee slightly toward the target, which helps him keep his weight on the inside of his right foot as he makes a powerful turn on his backswing. He keeps the knee slightly flexed, allowing him to maintain his balance throughout the swing.