The Proper Way to Hit a Golf Ball

By Mike Southern
Rory McIlroy has one of the best address positions on any pro tour.
Rory McIlroy has one of the best address positions on any pro tour.

If you are like most golfers, you make hitting a golf ball much harder than it really is. People think nothing of hitting a baseball when the ball is moving, or a tennis ball when both the ball and the player are moving. In golf, the ball sits still and you have plenty of time to get set and make your swing. And, fortunately, the proper way to hit a golf ball is also the simplest way.

Establish your target line. You have to know where you want the ball to go before you can hit a good shot.

Take your address position. For a standard shot, align your body – feet, hips and shoulders – parallel to the target line. Flex your knees slightly and bend forward from the hips; your weight should be centered over the balls of your feet. Your triceps should rest lightly against your chest. Grip the club with your normal grip and let your arms hang straight down; your hands will be positioned roughly under your chin. This is an athletic posture, relaxed and ready for action.

Start your backswing by turning your shoulders. You should be able to turn until your hands are about waist high without bending or lifting your arms. Your forward tilt causes your hands to move upward as you turn your shoulders. This is called a one-piece takeaway and it puts your hands and arms on the correct plane.

Allow your right elbow to bend as you continue your backswing. You should be able to keep your left arm reasonably straight without a lot of tension. This "straight left/bending right" motion causes your wrists to cock without any extra effort from you. Don't twist your forearms in an attempt to "swing on plane." The bending of your elbow will cause the club to angle onto the correct plane naturally.

Stop turning your shoulders when you reach the top of your backswing. This should feel natural, not an attempt to force extra shoulder turn. Your hands will automatically start to drop or "set" slightly in reaction to your shoulders stopping; again, just allow this to happen.

Begin your downswing. You may have been told to start it with your lower body, but this is the natural way to start down if you have turned your shoulders as described in the previous steps. A good image for the downswing is swinging a baseball bat or throwing a child's flying disc. The key to making this movement correctly is to keep your forearms relaxed and your left elbow pointing down toward the ground. That way, you can "backhand" the ball and square up the clubface.

Hit the ball and swing into your finish position. If you have done the other steps correctly, it's easier to hit the ball than to stop swinging. Think about where you want the ball to go as you swing the club through impact, then just hold on as you finish the swing.

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

  • Stuart Franklin/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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