Golf Swing Fundamentals

By Brian Hill
Your position and posture at address can affect how good your swing will be.
Your position and posture at address can affect how good your swing will be.

For beginning golfers, the first step in learning the game is to master the fundamentals -- the elements that all good golf swings have in common. One fundamental that must be emphasized from a golfer's very first swing is to keep your head steady and level throughout the swing. Looking up or bobbing the head up and down makes it extremely difficult to make solid contact with the ball.


The placement of your hands on the club is referred to as the grip. The grip should be comfortable and should enable your hands to work together. In his book "My Golden Lessons," legendary player Jack Nicklaus advises that you keep the fingers of both hands and the hands themselves as close together as you can. The most popular method of holding the club is the Vardon Grip, also known as an overlapping grip. The little finger of the right hand is placed on top of the space between the index and middle fingers of the left hand. Another method is to interlock the left index finger with the little finger of the right hand. This grip, known as the interlocking grip, is used by both Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

Posture and Stance

The correct posture at address contributes to keeping the clubface square and making solid contact with the ball. You bend forward from the hips at roughly 35 degrees, flex your knees and let your arms hang naturally. The spine is angled approximately 10 degrees away from the target. The golfer should feel comfortable at address, neither standing so tall that he feels too close to the ball, or slouched and reaching for the ball. Your shoulders should feel relaxed. Tension at address causes your swing arc to be restricted, reducing power. The longer the club, the wider the stance you take. With a driver, stand with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders. As you move down to the pitching wedge, the stance progressively narrows. With all shots, make sure your stance is wide enough to maintain good balance throughout the swing.


The first few feet of the backswing are critical to hitting solid shots. The takeaway should be low and smooth. Never jerk the club back. The hands and shoulders should move back as one unit, with the shaft of the club remaining in a line with your left arm – the classic one-piece takeaway. As you take the club back, your weight shifts from your left foot to the instep of your right foot. During the backswing, your left shoulder turns under your chin. The turning action coils the large muscles of the upper body against the resistance of the lower body. This energy is released on the downswing to generate clubhead speed. Be careful to not sway going back. Keep your right knee braced. Don't strain at the top of the backswing and take the club back too far. This reduces the control you have over the club.


Start the downswing smoothly, as you did taking the club back. As the club comes down, your weight shifts forward from the right foot to the left foot. Finish your swing with a smooth, balanced follow-through. One way to think of the golf swing is that you hit through the ball, not down on it or at it.

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