How to Stop Using Strength in My Golf Swing

By Mike Southern
Ernie Els became known as "The Big Easy" because his swing looks so relaxed and effortless.
Ernie Els became known as "The Big Easy" because his swing looks so relaxed and effortless.

Golf teachers often talk about "classic" swings and "modern" swings, and sometimes contrast them as "swinging" versus "hitting." It's true that classic swings often require less strength to gain the same results. The key to using less strength is relaxed body movement and smooth rhythm. Teachers such as Bob Toski, Jim Flick and Manuel de la Torre have taught these "swinging" techniques for a long time, and you can easily learn to use them in your own swing.

Find an ideal golfer whose swing has a smooth rhythm and balance. Watch some footage of him and imagine how he feels when he swings. Since swinging is a mindset as much as a technique, a clear mental image is essential. Sam Snead is a good example, as are players such as Ernie Els and Martin Kaymer.

Take some relaxed practice swings. Most players make very rhythmic, balanced swings when they aren't thinking about hitting a ball. Focus on making long, smooth, flowing swings. Imagine you are the "ideal" golfer from the first step. Take several easy, making each faster than the last without tensing up.

Address the ball as you usually do, but stay relaxed. You can help eliminate tension in several ways. Open your mouth as wide as possible, then close it and let your jaw go slack. Tighten your grip on the club as firmly as you can, hold it for two or three seconds, then relax your forearms. Tense your entire body – straighten your knees and elbows – then relax back into your address position.

Start your backswing by turning your shoulders. Many players just bend their right elbows and lift their hands. If you can't keep both elbows straight and relaxed until your hands are waist high, you aren't turning your shoulders enough. Your left hand and arm should feel as if they're controlling your swing, taking the club back as if you were going to throw a child's plastic flying disk. You're just making another practice swing.

Bend your right elbow as you reach the top of your backswing. This will cause your wrists to cock if your forearms are relaxed. Just let the swing happen as it did in your practice swing. Your hips may turn a bit more than usual and your left heel may leave the ground slightly; that's OK.

Start your downswing with your left side. You've probably been told how to move your legs, hips and shoulders as you start down, but you probably didn't think about any of those things during your practice swing. Don't think about them now. Just start your downswing as if it were your practice swing. If you must think of something, think about throwing that plastic flying disk.

Hit the ball and continue into your follow-through. Again, this happened naturally during your practice swing; it should happen naturally now. Your wrists will uncock naturally, without any extra help from you. Just think about hitting the ball. You'll be surprised how far you hit the ball, and it won't feel as if you used much strength at all.

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

  • David Cannon/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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