Elements of a Golf Swing

By J.D. Chi
A golf swing is comprised of four elements.
A golf swing is comprised of four elements.

A golf swing is comprised of four independent elements, each of which may be learned or practiced individually, but must flow together to make a good swing. While each person has a unique swing, the mechanics of a good swing are universal and must be mastered in order to hit a good shot. An error on any of the four elements may result in a mishit.


Right-handed golfers will hold the grip of the club in the right hand, with the fingers curling around the club and the thumb resting on top and parallel to the shaft. In a standard overlap grip, place the left hand underneath the right to the point where the right pinky rests on top and between the left index and second fingers. The left thumb should lie next to the fleshy area above the right thumb, also parallel to the shaft. When gripping the club, the right thumb should be closest to the bottom of the grip and the left pinkie should be closest to the top. The club should be gripped lightly.


Some players set up before gripping the club while others grip before setting up. In either case, the setup is when you align your body to the target and place the ball in your stance. In general, the ball should be placed midway between your front and back feet when using woods and long irons. When using shorter irons, move the ball back in your stance to compensate for the steeper downswing. If the ball is too close to your front foot or if you are too far away from the ball at impact, you may hook (creating a right to left trajectory). Conversely, if the ball is too close to your back foot or you are standing too close to the ball at impact, you may slice (creating a left to right trajectory).

Takeaway and Backswing

The takeaway and backswing are the elements of the swing that create power. The club should be drawn backward with arms parallel to the ground, your shoulders back and your wrists cocked, so that the club is at a 90-degree angle to the ground, according to Livestrong. A golfer's legs should remain still during the takeaway. Use the core muscles in your torso and your hips to turn your body and draw the club back. Weight should be on your back foot and your left knee should be slightly bent, according to How to Break 80.

Follow Through

The follow through is the element of the swing during which club-head speed is developed. But speed is not as important as form, and beginning golfers should both take the club away and follow through slowly to get a feel for the positions. Once the club is in the proper takeaway position, the golfer should rotate his shoulders and hips while bringing the elbows in closer to the body. This motion will draw the club down and across the body. While bringing the club down, the golfer should uncock his wrists just before impact and roll them closed through impact. The follow through should end with the shoulders and hips facing the target, the arms up and parallel to the ground and the wrists cocked. During the follow through, your weight will shift from the back foot to the front and the left knee will straighten, according to Golf Tips and Instruction.

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