The Best Kept Secrets About 19 Swing Tips That Are Guaranteed To Reduce Your Handicap
It is hard to control the urge to behave like a toddler, and roll on the grass and bawl loudly when your shots repeatedly miss the hole on the greens. The most common mistake beginners make is to immediately invest in an expensive club and assume that magically their game will improve.
Sadly, or should we say fortunately your game is not dependent on expensive clubs and balls but something simpler like your swing.
It is frustrating to realize that your swing has a mind of its own and its temperamental nature is evident from the tee box itself. You are not alone in this disheartening journey; the rolling greens interspersed with the sandy roughs and the shimmering water hazards have seen the biggest names in the game undergo agony and distress when jinxed with a poor swing.
In fact, several promising golfers gave up the game because they never took the effort to eliminate their mistakes, some very fundamental errors which cause a ripple effect and the net result is mishits and scores that read more like your weight.
If you want your game to improve dramatically, it is time you paid heed to your swing and learned to overcome the common mistakes associated with it.
We have curated expert advice and in-depth analysis and consolidated 19 tips which will help you improve your scores while not taking away the fun of playing golf.
1. Master The Perfect Grip
A bad grip can determine your success and failure on the golf course. Just a minor adjustment to your grip can improve your game significantly. But before we proceed further and understand the different types of grips and their advantages and disadvantages, here are some of the faults that must be avoided. (Source)
Faults To Avoid
There Are Three Main Types Of Grips
A. Baseball Grip
It is also called the ten-finger grip and most often Beginners use it because it gives greater leverage. This grip is easy to learn and duplicate and is ideal for Beginners, children, Seniors and people with small hands
B. Overlapping Grip
The great Vardon, one of the finest players of the game popularized this much-used grip where the little finger of the trailing hand (the dominant hand which will be the right hand for the right handed player) is kept between the index and middle finger of the lead hand. Remember the lead hand for right-handed golfers is the left hand and vice versa for the left-handed.
C. Interlocking Grip
In this case, the pinky finger of the dominant hand intertwines around the forefinger of the other hand; for example, in the case of a right-handed player the pinky of the right-hand interlocks with the index finger of the left hand while the thumb aligns itself along the lifeline of the right hand.
The first step towards betterment is updating to the correct grip.
2. Relax Into A Comfortable Stance
Do you come back from a golf practice or game with sore back and tired shoulders? The posture is another aspect most overlooked by zealous newbies to the game. For a good solid shot, you must be stable and that is possible only when you have a comfortable stance.
Rory McIlroy has said that a comfortable stance is a key to a great swing. He further goes on to say that one must stop rotating the shoulder once it is in line with the chin.
According to Jason Day, for the longer distance, you must bend from the hips and not around your back. If your hips sway, then you will automatically lose distance.
A stance that is too narrow or too broad will render your swing powerless. The ideal stance is to keep your feet shoulder width apart while driving or using a long club and a little closer for shorter clubs.
3. Balance Is Everything
If you lose balance while striking you will lose tempo and rhythm, but when you have a good balance, you can consistently achieve speed and distance.
Beginners in their quest for distance often mess up here and end up gaining neither distance nor a good swing.
Only when there is balance can your lower body stabilize, which will lead to synchronized movement of the limbs leading to the perfect swing and hitting the ball squarely.
How To Find The Correct Balance
First identify where your weight should be during swinging at three spots.
- Address: The weight should be balanced over the insteps of both feet and not towards the heel or toe. This is a dynamic position from which you can move any side. You can check your balance at this position by jumping up in the air. If you land on your feet without falling forwards or backward, the weight is balanced.
- Top of Swing: Invariably many newbies to the game tighten their knees during the backswing which leads to a reverse pivot and the right knee straightening. To avoid that always make sure that your balance point is over the middle of the right foot. This frees your left foot and it can be lifted completely off the ground and held in position for three counts without swaying.
- Finish: It's important that you finish in balance too for asatisfying swing. When you finish, make sure that all the weight is on the left leg and the shoulders are perpendicular to the left leg. This will happen only when you are completely in balance and not falling backward.
Drills To Attain Balance
4. Check Alignment For Better Aim
Your brain functions in a very specific pattern. Hence, when your eyes look at the target, but your body and your club are not aligned in that direction, your brain will get confused and won’t be able to guide your swing in the right direction. And that is the reason that despite your balance been okay, your grip perfect and your stance blemishless and you are not able to deliver those winner tees.
The fault lies with your alignment. As is common among many golfers, after the first few shots people stop to pay attention to the alignment but just fire away resulting in mishits and deplorable scores.
How To Align Yourself?
- Stand 4-5 feet away from the ball. Close your non-dominant eye and draw an imaginary line from the target to the ball.
- Pick a spot closer to the ball along the same line. This will help in easier alignment.
- Align the clubface and draw an imaginary line parallel to the target line
- Get into your position and make sure you align the shoulders, hips, and feet into position.
With regular practice, you will learn to align your shoulders, hips, and feet
5. Focus on a One-Piece Takeaway
Wish takeaway was as simple in golf as it is at pizza hut or subway! It can be a treat if you master the swing. Anyway, coming back to golf, a takeaway is the first part of your swing and it is imperative you get it right.
A takeaway determines the tempo and the path of your swing. For an effective swing, it is pivotal that the club is placed properly on the plane facilitating the full rotation of the shoulders and the hips.
The takeaway should be a one-piece action where the shoulders, arms, hands and the club move as one unit.
How To Get The Perfect Takeaway?
The perfect takeaway starts from the right shoulder and ends with it for the right-handed player.
- To begin with, make sure that the forearms and the upper body make a triangle and you maintain it.
- Rotate your right shoulder as far back as possible but within your comfort zone. Do not rotate your hips and lower body. This action brings the left shoulder under your chin and your back will face the target.
- Your club will become almost parallel to the ground; just ensure that it is not behind your body. The butt of the club head should face the target.
- Ensure that the toe of the club is not fully closed but slightly up to minimize the rotation.
6. Find Your Natural Backswing
Every golfer worth his salt will agree that you don’t choose your swing, but your swing chooses you. All players have their unique swing style based on their body structure, the length of arms and legs and other subtle differences. The successful tour players and professionals refine their swings to make them effective.
Thus a swing typically consists of takeaway (we have already seen that ), backswing and downswing before the impact. Backswing is not about power but precision; it is about positioning the club before downswing and laying the path for the perfect contact or impact with the ball.
It is important for you to discover your natural backswing because it is here that you build the power that will later be released on impact with the ball.
How To Find Your Natural Backswing?
One basic thing you must understand in a game as tough as golf is that as long as all the movements are smooth and effortless you will do well, but often times repetitive swing action can become mechanical and will lose the natural spring leading to several errors and mishits.
Following this simple drill will ensure that you rediscover your original backswing.
- Start off with taking your club back while flexing your right arm and wrist naturally. Remove the left hand from the club.
- When done correctly you will feel almost weightless in this position.
- You will know if your club head is offline if you are unable to hold the club when you remove the bottom two fingers of the club without changing the angle of the shaft. It will be heavy and cannot be held with just two fingers.
- For an effective swing path, your left arm and wrist must fold naturally.
7. A Smooth, Fluid Downswing Is The Heart Of Your Stroke
The transition from a backswing to the downswing should be smooth and effortless for a gorgeous shot. If you are beginner follows these basics techniques to get it right because once you are set in a certain downswing, it gets ingrained in your muscle memory and will require aherculean effort to undo.
When you look at the professionals play the transition is split second, and it is hard to differentiate when the backswing has seamlessly transformed into a downswing. In fact, at the top of the backswing, your lower body starts to unwind and moves in the opposite direction of the arms.
Ways To Improve Downswing
- Return the heel to its position during address
- Rotate your hips so that the front of the body faces the target and not your side.
- Bring your arms down smoothly and swiftly not in jerky movement
- Flex your left knee as your body is turning before straightening it for the impact.
Drills For Smoother Transition
- Bag drill: Keep a bag next to your left hip at address. When you swing if your weight shifts to the right as it rightfully should, a gap will appear between the hip and bag. During the downswing, the left thigh will nudge the bag, but if your transition is wrong, the bag will get knocked off.
- Football drill: If you have observed the pros action you would have noticed how the left knee moves away from the right once downswing starts.A common drill to improve the transition is the movement of the left knee away from the right. You can practice this movement by keeping a soccer ball between your knees. Hold the ball there during the backswing but once you start downswing focus on moving the left knee towards the target. This will create a gap between the knees, and the ball will fall. This, in turn, will create power as the club will be placed on the correct swing plane.
For consistency and greater distance, you must master smooth transition between the backswing and the downswing.
8. Everything Leads Up To Impact
How you start pales in significance to how you finish a shot. The final impact is the decider of your fate on the golf course. The picture begins with the grip, the stance, the takeaway, the backswing and the downswing before culminating in the most important part of a golf swing – the impact. Only when you get all the above right will the club head be in the right position and the club face hit the ball square on impact.
Misconceptions about impact: It is very common for many golfers to misunderstand impact. They think that the club must scoop the ball on impact. They fail to understand that at impact other than your head every other part of the body must move left and forward. It is important that the club strikes the ball before the ground for proper impact.
9. Don’t Forget The Follow Through
After impact, the position of your club, torso and your feet have no impact on the ball and where it lands, but that does not mean that you must neglect the follow through. Planning the follow through is as important as planning the beginning of a shot. This will ensure that when your club comes in contact with the ball, it produces a powerful and speedy shot that will be closer to the target.
A balanced and smooth follow through is possible only when the beginning is smooth and consistent.
How To Get A Balanced Follow Through
You know you have a balanced follow through when
- Your belt buckle is facing the target and your chest is facing left of the target.
- Almost 95% of your weight should be on the left foot which incidentally doesn’t move from where it was since the start of the swing.
- Only the toes of the right foot should be in contact with the ground and not the entire foot.
- You should be able to hold this position comfortably until the ball lands.
10. Put It All Together Into A Full Swing
With these fundamentals of a swing in your kitty, you can practice your way to lower scores and Mid Handicap level. Will the swing change if the club changes? Well, each club has a different face, shaft length, weight and other biomechanics that most certainly will effect your swing.
Just keep some basic rules like the one inch above the knee method and maintaining the distance before trusting yourswing to take your through.
You must no doubt practice sufficiently to understand how the ball reacts to various clubs before putting your act together.
11. Increased Power Comes From The Body
A powerful stroke will send the ball hurtling through the sky to land far on the greens or the fairway. Another advantage of power is that it will make your opponent insecure and force him or her to swing hard leading to errors and mis-hits.
Thus, we see that if you don’t know to harness your power in the right fashion it will do you more harm than good. A common misconception that many of the new players have is that power comes from the arms. Wrong; it is generated when the whole body moves as one entity.
How To Generate Power?
- Use drills to increase club head speed
- Align your feet to generate more power
- At address flex the right knee and press it to the ground during thebackswing. The resistance thus created is released in downswing leading to thegeneration of a powerful shot.
- Create a wider swing arc: By following the one piece takeaway you can attempt to extend the club fully on the backswingwithout moving the head and also you must attempt to extend fully in the follow through also.
- The positioning of the feet during the downswing is the key to speed. You must first replant the left foot followed by rolling the left and right ankles towards the target. This will lead to a powerful hip rotation creating the much-needed leverage for the clubhead to move at maximum speed.
- By not unhinging the wrists until the impact point you develop a stronger and power filled release.
12. Solid Plane To Stop Your Slice
You are not the only one embarrassed by a shot from the tee which ended in someone’s backyard.
Almost everyone struggles with slices on the golf course, and with the latest technology, the severity and regularity have increased.
A slice is when the ball travels away from the intended target either to the left or the right.
A slice is a result of hitting the ball with an open faced club or taking the wrong path during impact.
Drill To Stop The Slice
- Swing with one arm: Instead of using both your hands, hold the club with your dominant hand, the right hand for right handers and swing the club parallel to the ground in the back swing. The weight and the momentum generated will force the right arm to turn inward.
- Go for a full swing with one arm: Go one step further and complete the swing by finishing over the left shoulder. Though hard initially, this will become easy with practice and you will develop a steady tempo.
- Two handed practice: Now practice with both hands but ensure that in your follow through the club is almost touching your back.
- Full two handed swing: Now when you practice a full swing you will feel the right wrist rotate.
To know more about how to overcome slice click here.
13. Tempo Is Everything
For consistent and smooth flight and shots a good and even tempo are mandatory. It is one of the fundamentals of a good swing. Though tempo is everything, it is not the same for everyone, and there is no right or wrong tempo. Just like there are individual swing styles, the tempo is a personal thing. Your focus should only be on maintaining a steady tempo in all your shots.
Your tempo can get disturbed due to emotions, nervousness, pressure and stress. Hence, a golf player has to learn to cope with pressure to maintain a steady tempo right from tee to putting. Actually, a person’s temperament is the best judge to the tempo most suited for them. For example, an individual who does things fast and briskly will have a quick tempo.
How To Determine Your Natural Tempo
- On a driving range arrange four balls on the tee side by side six inches’ apart from each other.
- Hit the balls continuously one after the other.
- Do not rush but hit at your own pace.
- Try this drill till you find your tempo.
14. Chipping Is Beneficial
Don’t make the mistake of comparing chipping with slicing; the former will reduce your scores while the latter will increase it. Basically, chipping is short shots that will land the ball as quickly as possible on the green.
Actually, it is far easier to improve your chipping than your full swing and this will also lead to lower scores.
How To Improve Chipping
- Use Your Hands: Chipping is not like putting; you must use your hands for effective chipping. You must hinge your wrists to lift the club above the grass an then strike the ball with a descending motion. Chipping requires a very small movement of the right wrist to hinge the club.
- Use only one club for chipping: Only professionals use several clubs working on their game. Amateurs, beginners and high handicappers can practice with one club and become proficient in it before venturing to other clubs. The best bet would be a sand wedge. With practice, you can hit a wide range of shots with it.
- Be present on the green at all costs: Some chip shots are hit from the green to the hole, while others are hit from rough or from a downhill lie. So, depending on the situation choose a chip shot most suitable for the spot you are in. But one key point to remember is that no matter where you are your aim must be to putt after the chip and for that the ball must land on the green.
15. Adopt A Conscious Pre-Shot Routine
To be a successful golfer, you must adopt a pre-shot routine. What is a pre-shot routine? It simply is the time you take before your shot to plan your game, your shots, your choice of clubs, the distance of the target and identify the external factors like wind direction and force that will affect your shots.
Like Annika Sorenstam who has a pre-shot routine of 24 seconds exactly you too must develop a routine to improve your game.
Advantages Of A Pre - Shot Routine
- A regular pre-shot routine becomes a muscle memory and when your focus falters your muscle memory will automatically take over and deliver the required shot.
- It helps deal with the stress and pressure typical of a high profile game of golf.
- It improves shot consistency
- It detaches you from emotions like anxiety and stress.
How To Adopt a Pre - Shot Routine
- Think about your shots based on the lie of the ball, the target distance, and the weather conditions.
- Practice several times the swing and the chip and putt till it becomes second nature.
- Visualize your shot right from start to the finish complete with the clubs you will use.
- Once you are comfortable it is time to actualize your shots.
16. Consider Adding Visualization To Your Pre-Shot Routine
The human mind is an amazing super computer which can do wonders when trained properly. And that is the reason all famous athletes visualize their performance before any major competition.
Why is Visualization Important
- It whets your muscles to get ready for the impending action, as a result, your reaction time and reflexes are sharpened.
- It builds confidence when you know that you are prepared to handle any game or situation.
- Confidence leads to a relaxed body and mind which in turn aid in minimizing errors that result from stress and anxiety.
- It is not easy to visualize; it requires regular practice to finally reach a stage where you get a vivid picture of anything you want to visualize. The result is it improves concentration
- It is an effective aid in countering negative outcomes and results with reaffirming positive results
- It plays an important role in modifying your swing. To change a swing you need to create new neural pathways. Hence, when you visualize a swing change, you are actually sending your brain a message on how to react and what signals to send to your body.
- Visualizing yourself hale and hearty helps you recover faster from injury
How To Visualize A Golf Shot
- Visualize as vivid a picture as you can of the trajectory of the ball and the path it will take.
- Next, visualize yourself actually hitting the shot and the flight the ball takes.
- There is a lot of time between shots giving you ample time to think and plan your next shot. Visualization at such times is immensely helpful. If you are having a rough time or under serious duress, you can utilize this time to visualize a positive outcome. Many players like Jack Nicklaus rely on visualization during their game to beat the odds and maintain their high scores.
- Visualize a swing that sends your ball far into the greens and closer to the target.
Thus, you can see that adding visualization to your pre-shot routine will be immensely beneficial to your overall game and especially to areas of challenge. And if you are having trouble visualizing do not bother, Tiger can't visualize either!
The bottom line is that you must at least imagine or pretend your future shots on the course to be prepared and play a decent game.
17. Practice With Purpose
If you have been diligently practicing your swing but still see no progress, then you must know that there is something called deliberate practice which was a term coined by the renowned psychologist K Anders Ericsson.
It is no use hitting shot after shot with no progress to show. The practice has to be meaningful to achieve results. Basically, find areas that challenge you and focus on improving them with deliberate practice.
How To Practice With Purpose?
Take time and do the mindful practice of the swing. Take a moment and pay attention to each shot, the feel and the technique you used. The aim of the practice must be to reinforce the new skills you acquired while maintaining the focus on the entirety of the swing and not just the troubled spot. There are three methods of effective practice:
- Block practice: This is the usual practice that we all do. It is the method of repeating a certain action continuously till it becomes ingrained in your brain. It is highly effective in correcting a wrong swing action.
- Skill building: Now this kind of practice is very rare and not many amateur golfers practice. In this exercise, you diligently build a skill and then apply it to a golf course kind of exercise. Here your visualization skills come handy wherein you can visualize the golf course and imagine yourself playing all the 18 holes and using all the right clubs. The basic rule of this kind of practice is to never hit the same shot with the same club from the same place more than once.
- Competition: In an actual game you undergo stress, nervousness, and pressure to perform. As a result, you might not play your best. But when you indulge in keeping a score or competing against yourself you are alert and constantly thinking. You can set a benchmark or a certain percentage of successful shots to keep you motivated and push you to go beyond your comfort zone.
Strategies For Purposeful Practice
Every time you practice you must have a goal that you wish to achieve; your practice must see you progress however minuscule it is. Only then you are on the right path. Follow these strategies to keep you on track because it is easy to slip into old habits.
- Make a practice list before going to the driving range: Identify the clubs you want to hit with and what is the goalof hitting with them.
- Do not overlook warm up. It is important to lubricate your joints and loosen stiff muscles to get into the groove and swing with a steady tempo.
- As a practice or you can also call it a pre-shot routine check that the grip, aim alignment, posture is correct. If any of these is off, then your practice just becomes a waste of time.
- You can use training aids for better and more fruitful practice sessions
- Whatever change you want in yourswingwill result only when you focus on the process of swinging right. Only when you focus on the takeaway, backswing, and downswing individually will you see any significant change in your swing. Hence breakdown your practice into smaller segments.
- Finally, practice deliberate practice and change targets and clubs after every few shots.
18. Choose The Right Equipment
There is a mind-boggling array of clubs in this sport. What is even more daunting is the innumerable combinations of clubs that can be used to play the game. It is no mean feat to choose the right equipment once you are bitten by the golf bug.Ideally, beginners should have a half set of clubs comprising of:
- Five irons: four, six and eight
- Pitching wedge
- Sand iron
- Woods: Three and Five.
These are basic clubs you will need, to begin with. With practice and as you gain the confidence you can add more clubs better suited to your skill.
How To Know Which Club To Use Where?
The key deciding points are the distance of the target and how far do you hit each club. The best place to find out your yardage is to go to a driving range where specific distances are marked like 150, 200. 225 and so on.
Start with the shortest club and aim at the nearest target. Make note of the distance from the target. Use all clubs in this fashion and average them out to know the yardage for each club. Now, you can decide which equipment is the best to use. Remember with practice you will become better and hits with clubs that didn’t travel far will surprise you.
How To Buy Golf Equipment?
Always make it a point to try your set of clubs before buying; hit a few shots on the driving ranges now available in all golf shops. You can get the clubs fitted to suit your physical frame and style of swing.
- That are more forgiving in nature; clubs with perimeter-weighted heads will suit the bill as the sweet spot will be bigger.
- That have graphite shafts as they are lighter and are easier to swing.
- That have a good grip.
19. Remember To Have Fun!
Only and only when you love something and enjoy doing it will you excel – remember when you take the fun away the learning process become a drudgery. As long as you feel the stress to perform you are bound to make mistakes and go back to old habits of swinging.
Whoever said golf is easy was joking or was not having fun! Yes, you have to overcome the sand and the water but what is the thrill if you are able to putt straightaway without some challenge?
Five Ways To Have Fun On The Golf Course
1. Get the Right Equipment
There is a host of clubs out there that are designed exclusively for the novices and the high handicappers to improve a game. You obviously won’t have fun when you know you can’t hit far and long like the pros on TV. Hence, invest in a good golf club that suits your style, and that will give you the leverage you need to play well.
After all, who doesn’t like to boast the distance they achieve on the golf course. With the right club, you can overcome your defects and also be motivated to keep on playing. Many a promising player quit because they didn’t know golf can be fun too.
2. BE Minimalistic
Don’t let decision making take the fun away. If all the time you are confused on which iron or fairway wood to use, you will never enjoy playing. Keep the bare minimum and then innovate your shots to keep the game exciting and unpredictable.
3. Have You Heard Of Speed Golf
This is a simplified and quicker version of the game where you use a maximum of five clubs only. Here, after hitting the shot, you have to run for the next shot. The winner is calculated based on the number of shots and the total time taken to complete the course. (Source)
4. Make New Targets
A golf course is fundamentally the same in most of the places with 18 holes. But when you at the same course each time it gets repetitive and dull. Hence either check out new courses or create imaginary newer holes and challenging target to spice up your game.
5. Use Two Balls
Use a driver for one ball and a hybrid for the second and then choose one of them and try the same again. You will be amazed at the variety of shots you can play and you will never find the game boring again. Just keep innovating to make the game more interesting.
Golf is not for the faint-hearted; it's a hard game of precision, patience, and skill. It is one game where the beginning has to be correct if you want to be successful – you must be able to tee far and high or your scores will drop dangerously. And, that is what every golfer aims for- to reach far into the greens and makes the first mistake with the swing. Remember, your swing is one of the fundamentals of golf that determine your fate on the driving range.
A good solid swing comprises of several elements like grip, stance, follow through, backswing, etc. Though your swing doesn’t change with each club, you do have to make minor adjustments to your stance, swing plane and the placing of your ball.
The sheer variety of clubs and the way they impact your swing means that only when you practice and we mean deliberate and purposeful practice can your swing improve. Again, it is only out of practice will you develop the acumen to predict which club produces which shot and how to keep the club face and other finer details.
Therefore, don’t let a defective swing dishearten you and stop you from having fun on the golf course. With patience, perseverance and muscle memory(which comes with practice) you can discover the correct technique of swinging the golf club. But it is paramount to get your basics right before you proceed further.
We hope the tips provided here will help you overcome the challenge that an improper swing poses and your game changes significantly. If you have any queries, do not forget to post in the comments box and we will be happy to hear from you.
Resources and Further Reading
5 Common Problems Golfers Have With The Grip
- 7 Ways To Make Golf Fun
- Six Drills To Help You Master the Art of Deliberate Practice
- The Power of Visualisation For Golf
- Creating More Power In Your Golf Swing
- Understanding Your Natural Golf Swing
- Golf Stance? What is Correct. Beginner’s Tips
- The One-piece takeaway and right arm takeaway
- Step-by-step to a Great Golf Stance