Instructions for Proper Swing Mechanics in Golf

By M.L. Rose
If your swing mechanics are correct you'll hit the ball squarely at the moment of impact.
If your swing mechanics are correct you'll hit the ball squarely at the moment of impact.

Watch a pro golf tournament on TV carefully and you’ll likely notice numerous variations in the players’ swings. Take some lessons from different golf teachers and you may receive a variety of advice. The bottom line is that there are different ways to swing a golf club and each player must find the swing that suits his body and his game. But it’s always a good idea to begin with the fundamentals before making any adjustments.

Begin the swing by moving the club steadily backward along the target line, while lifting it only slightly -- “low and slow” is the oft-repeated advice of numerous golf instructors. PGA Tour pro Chris DiMarco says to imagine that your left hand (for a right-handed player) “is pushing the club away from the target” as you begin your backswing.

Raise the club while rotating your hips so your back is to the target. Jack Nicklaus suggests that right-handed players focus on turning the right hip far enough so the left hip and left shoulder are even with, or behind, the ball at the top of your backswing. As you reach the peak of your backswing, the club shaft should be parallel to your left arm and your right elbow should be close to your side, according to PGA Tour pro Steve Stricker. All-time golf great Ben Hogan subscribed to the axiom that a player’s left arm should remain straight throughout the backswing.

Pause briefly at the top of your backswing. Golf writer Steve Newell says a split-second pause prepares your body and club “to surge down toward the ball in one combined movement.”

Build your speed gradually during the downswing. The idea is too achieve maximum club head speed at the moment of impact. Tiger Woods notes that if you push too hard when you start your downswing you’ll reach maximum speed before the impact zone. Woods begins his downswing by shifting weight to his left side while permitting his arms to drop naturally in front of his chest.

Nicklaus again advises golfers to focus on the right hip during the downswing. Picture the right hip rotating toward the ball, while making sure not to slide your body laterally toward the target.

Strike the ball on your club face’s sweet spot, with your club face square to the target. The best way to achieve this goal is to make sure your previous swing mechanics are in order. Legendary golfer Bobby Jones explained that the reason golfers work to hone their swing mechanics “is to find the best way of consistently bringing about the proper conditions at impact.” Swing coach Hank Haney says the back of your left hand should face the target, and your left wrist should be flat, at the moment of impact.

Follow through completely; don’t stop your swing after you’ve hit the ball. Your follow-through position may reveal any defects in your swing mechanics. For example, Newell says that when your club is parallel with the ground on your follow through your right hand should be pointed at the target.

About the Author

M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.

Photo Credits

  • S. Levin/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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