Few sports are as frustrating or as difficult to master as golf. But it’s exactly these challenges that make golf so rewarding.
A good golf swing can make or break a successful day on the course. Yet even professionals struggle with their golf swing from time to time.
Luckily, there are literally millions of adjustments you can make and drills you can use to improve your swing. Here are 19 of the best.
Incorporate these expert tips next time you hit the driving range or the course to create your best golf swing possible.
1. Master the Perfect Grip
Your golf swing starts with the grip you have on your club. It’s the only point of contact between you and the club, so it more than pays to spend some time perfecting it.
Experienced golfers probably already have a preferred grip. Beginners, on the other hand, should experiment with several to find the one that’s most comfortable. The three most common golf grips are the overlapping grip, interlocking grip, and ten-finger grip.
Most beginners, and most golfers in general, end up using the overlapping grip. Also known as the Vardon grip, it’s characterized by the pinky finger of the bottom hand overlapping between the index finger and middle finger of the top hand.
Perfecting the Vardon grip, or your other grip of choice, allows for straighter more solid shots. Improved consistency is immediately noticeable since the grip helps you more finely control the position of the club face upon impact with the ball.Master your golf grip first before trying to improve other aspects of your golf swing.
2. Relax into a Comfortable Stance
Your golf stance is almost as important as your golf grip. A poor stance negatively influences the rest of your swing mechanics.
The best golf stance is one that is comfortable and relaxed. Don’t stand too stiff or straight. Keep your feet placement wide, solid, and stable.
If the stance you’re using feels awkward, you need to make some adjustments. Most importantly, you need to feel comfortable. Not only does a comfortable stance improve swing mechanics on its own, it also puts your mind at ease.
A key tip echoed by all golf experts is to bend from the hip joints. Don’t bend from the waist. Bending from the hips creates the proper angle and allows you to consistently address the ball.
Master a comfortable and properly angled stance to put your swing on a consistent up-and-down track.
3. Balance is Everything
Balance is an important aspect of your golf stance you don’t want to overlook.
Your hands and body attempt to compensate if you’re improperly balanced during your golf swing. For example, moving back on your heels during the swing means your arms have to stretch out to connect the club head with the ball.
Even something as small as moving back on your heels, or forward on your toes, can throw off your entire swing. Fixing this issue creates a more stabilized and synchronized swinging movement.
One drill that can help you improve your balance is the crossed-feet swing. Right-handed golfers should cross their right foot over the front of their left foot. Hit a couple shots in this stance to emphasis proper balance and form. Switch back to your normal stance and you’ll immediately notice a big difference.
Making balance drills a regular part of your normal warmup routine makes focusing in on other aspects of your swing that much easier.
4. Check Alignment for Better Aim
Poor alignment is related to an improper golf stance. Yet it’s a separate issue that needs to be fixed independently.
Many golfers actually blame errant shots on their golf swing when they’re actually caused by bad alignment. The way that you set up your feet, knees, shoulders, and hips before a shot directly correlates to better aim and improved accuracy.
The key to improving your alignment (and your aim) is to start by checking out the shot with your eyes. Stand well behind the ball and draw a path with your eyes directly from the ball to the target. That’s the path you want the ball to follow.
Look for a point a few feet in front of the ball that’s part of this path. This point is your new target. It’s far easier to aim at a point a few feet in front of you rather than a point 100+ yards away.
The next step is to place the club face perpendicular to the planned ball path. Use the club face to adjust aim rather than the top of the club. Ensure your feet are parallel to the intended ball path.
Something to note is that proper feet alignment will likely make your shoulders feel off kilter. For example, a right-handed golfer will feel as if their shoulders are aimed slightly to the left of the ball path. This sensation means that your club, feet, and swing are actually in proper alignment.
Proper alignment drastically influences stance, club path, and ball bath, resulting in a far better golf swing.
5. Focus on a One-Piece Takeaway
The takeaway is the first movement your club makes in your swing. It’s defined as the first 12 to 18 inches the club head moves away from the ball.
It’s almost unanimously agreed upon that the takeaway is the single most important aspect of your golf swing. Even Jack Nicklaus states that a good takeaway sets you up for a better overall shot.
Takeaway affects your swing in a similar way to your balance and stance. Your hands and body must compensate if your takeaway is poor, thus messing with your entire swing. These hand and body compensations often lead to extra movement which itself results in poor ball contact.
The key here is to focus on a one-piece takeaway. Ensure that the hands and body work in sync rather than separately. The takeaway should start with the shoulders and chest. If your swing starts with your hands or arms, you’re doing something wrong.
Practice a one-piece takeaway by slowing things down. Move the club slowly and deliberately away from the ball during the first 12 to 18 inches of your swing. Keep the club head (and your hands) low through the entirety of your takeaway.
A useful drill is to place a tee about 20 inches behind your ball. Work on a slow, smooth takeaway that ends by hitting the tee into the ground. Not only does practicing this motion ensure a low takeaway, it also ensures your club moves directly backwards during the first part of your swing.
Focus on a smooth, one-piece takeaway to set up the rest of your golf swing.
6. Find Your Natural Backswing
Perfecting your takeaway sets you up for a better overall swing, but it’s not a be-all-end-all by any means.
The rest of your backswing plays a huge role in the contact you’ll eventually make with the ball. The halfway back to top of the backswing positions are where your hands and wrists start to come into the picture.
Like the initial takeaway, it’s of utmost importance to keep your golf club on plane during the entirety of the backswing. Smooth, deliberate rhythm is equally important. You should never roll or rotate the wrists during the backswing as this causes the club face to go flat.
The top of the backswing is perhaps the most important single position in your overall backswing. It’s where all of your power comes from. Yet improper top-of-backswing club positioning can easily translate into an inaccurate and uncontrolled downswing.
Rotate your shoulders to around 90 degrees, minimize knee and leg movement, and keep your head steady. At the top of your backswing, slightly more than half of your weight should be on your rear foot to maximize power when you start your downswing.
A slow, deliberate backswing teaches you how to properly position your club at the top, so the rest of your shot is powerful, controlled, and consistent.
7. A Smooth, Fluid Downswing is the Heart of Your Stroke
The goal of proper stance, alignment, takeaway, and backswing is to set yourself up for the perfect downswing.
In this sense, the downswing is the heart of your stroke. It’s the first movement that includes actually coming into contact with the ball.
Beginners should keep their downswing as simple as possible. You want a fluid movement that’s easy to repeat every swing without overthinking.
A smooth transition is essential. Don’t rush from backswing to downswing in your overeagerness to hit the ball. Take your time and start the downswing at the same speed you started your backswing.
One of the most common downswing mistakes that golfers make is rotating the hips without moving laterally. The lateral movement of the hips translates into more power and also sends the ball on a straighter path.
Once again, fluidity is beyond important. Trying to make any adjustments during the downswing will result in quick disaster. In particular, adjusting the speed of your swing mid-downswing will result in a very poor shot.
Move the hips laterally, keep your head back, and keep the movement of the club steady for an improved downswing.
8. Everything Leads up to Impact
Your entire golf swing, from the takeaway to the backswing to the downswing, leads up to the impact. And that’s exactly why proper impact position is so important.
Proper impact position means that the club face hits the ball directly. Yet impact position isn’t a standalone movement like the other components of your swing.
Impact position is solely based upon the rest of your swing. If you did everything else right, the impact should be smooth and solid. Proper takeaway, backswing, and downswing result in proper club face direction and club head height upon impact with the ball.
Something to note about impact position is that it can’t be fixed in itself. It always results from a problem with another aspect of the swing. Attempting to change the impact position in midswing is just going to mess up your shot even further.
Tinker around with the other components of your swing until your impact position is consistent.
9. Don’t Forget the Follow Through
A lot of beginning golfers seem to think their swing is finished after they make contact with the ball.
The truth is that the follow through is almost as important as the other aspects of your golf swing. In fact, the position that your body and club ends up in tells you a lot about your swing as a whole.
Your follow through should end with your hips, chest, and head facing directly at your target. You should be completely balanced with the weight at the front of your body. A follow through that doesn’t look like this is a good indication something went wrong during another part of your swing.
A consistent follow through also helps make your overall swing more consistent. Ending each swing in the same position helps you link the entire swing together. In other words, if your follow through is the same each time, chances are the rest of your swing is the same too.
A consistent follow through is also a sign that you didn’t put on the brakes too early. A lot of beginners stop their swing immediately after contact with the ball.
Focus on a consistent follow through to increase the overall power and consistency of your golf swing.
10. Put It All Together into a Full Swing
Too many golfers drive themselves crazy breaking down their swing mechanics frame by frame.
While it’s naturally good to look at the individual components of your swing, there’s also a point in time where it all has to come together.
Remember that even professional golfers make mistakes. There’s really no such thing as a perfect golf swing. The key is to put the different pieces together into a full swing that is smooth, natural, and deliberate.
Your goal should be a consistent swing that translates from club to club. You shouldn’t have to adjust your swing much depending on the club you’re using. Small adjustments are okay, but trust your swing no matter the club.
Set the goal of perfecting a golf swing that allows you to take the fewest number of strokes. Too many players focus on power over accuracy. A consistent golf swing is far more beneficial if it means your ball goes where you want it to more often than not.
11. Increased Power Comes from the Body
One of the most basic tenants of golfing is that power comes from the body – not the arms.
After you perfect the movements and mechanics of your golf swing, it’s time to think about how to add more power to your shot.
Power the club through the downswing motion by transferring the weight through your body. Don’t attempt to control the amount of power with your hands.Learn to move the club with your body by practicing a simple drill. Place the club behind the ball and attempt to hit it into the air without taking a backswing.
Those that tend to use their arms to generate power will have a lot of difficulty getting the ball to move any distance. Those that use their body, on the other hand, should be able to consistently move the ball into the air.
Practice this drill over and over to learn the movements needed to generate power with your body. Take it to your normal swing and you’ll likely notice a world of difference.
12. Solid Plane to Stop Your Slice
The slice is one of the most common mishits in the game of golf. Roughly 90% of golfers struggle with slicing at some point.
Those that slice often and don’t address the problem early will never become better golfers. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to improve your overall game without fixing this basic problem.
Most golfers hit slices because of improper club face position. Their club contacts the ball with an open face. Another issue that causes a slice is an improper swing path.
Start by checking whether one of these two issues is the problem. Practice hitting the ball with a square club face. Then make sure that your swing isn’t coming over the top or the outside.
It’s important to remember to work on improving your overall swing rather than adjusting your aim. Changing your alignment isn’t going to actually fix the problem. The ball might fall closer to your target, but the slice is still there.
Looking at your divot after a shot can also help you figure out whether your slicing problems are coming from the plane of your club head upon impact. A divot that points to the left (for a right-handed golfer) tells you that your downswing is coming across the ball.
Go back to your swing fundamentals to figure out why you’re coming across the ball during your downswing. Simple adjustments to your grip, stance, backswing, and downswing can make all the difference.
Remember that slicing always comes down to swing mechanics. It’s tempting to invest in every “fix your slice” gimmick on the market, but none of these will work nearly as well as putting in the work to figure out what’s causing you to slice in the first place.
13. Tempo is Everything
We’ve mentioned it several times already but it deserves another mention – tempo is everything when it comes to your golf swing. Finding, and then maintaining, your ideal golf swing tempo will do wonders to improve your game as a whole.
The difficult part about teaching golf tempo is that the ideal tempo is different for every golfer. It’s a very personal thing that helps you find your perfect rhythm.
Naturally, consistent practice, especially at the driving range, is an effective way to dial in your tempo. Out on the actual course, you likely have too much else on your mind to really give your golf tempo adequate thought.
The best way to put it is that good tempo feels natural. If it feels like you’re faking it or trying too hard, then the tempo isn’t right. As long as your entire swing feels natural, your tempo is likely where it needs to be.
This is where one of golf’s biggest contradictions comes into the picture. Trying too hard to find the perfect tempo often has a negative effect. When you just give it up, swing when and how feels comfortable without a second thought, that’s often when your swing tempo is at its ideal level.
So relax, swing naturally, and practice often to find your ideal golf tempo and increase the consistency of your shots.
14. And Now a Look at Chipping
Master a consistent normal golf swing first before taking many (but certainly not all) of the same ideas to chipping.
Long drives and accurate iron shots only get you so far in golf. Taking your chipping golf swing to the next level can really help you lower your score.
The biggest difference between chipping and your normal swing is in the hands. Unlike your normal swing, much of the chipping motion is actually in the hands.
Hinge the wrists to get underneath the ball and increase loft. Shorten your backswing, increase wrist hinge, and then release this hinged power into the ball. The key is a short, powerful motion that results in a lot of pop.
Your chipping swing should be a lot different than your normal swing but it pays off to practice it.
15. Adopt a Conscious Pre-Shot Routine
Watch the best golfers in the world and you’ll notice that they all have a pre-shot routine. Before each shot, they perform the same movements and motions.
Even if you don’t think you have a pre-shot routine, you probably do. Most golfers subconsciously do a lot of the same things before they even take a swing. The goal here is to make your subconscious pre-shot routine a conscious effort.
The goal of a pre-shot routine is to help you get in the zone. Though every golfer’s routine is slightly different, there are a few characteristics that make up most.
An example of an effective pre-shot routine is as follows. Find your ball-to-target path and then take two practice swings with your stance parallel to the path. Use these swings to set your tempo, instead of trying to work on any adjustments.
Do your pre-shot routine every time you step up for a shot, even when you’re practicing on the driving range.
16. Consider Adding Visualization to Your Pre-Shot Routine
Visualize exactly what you want to do and it’s that much more likely to happen.
Many golfers, notably PGA pro Jason Day, make visualization a part of their pre-shot routine. They visualize exactly what they want their body, the club, and the ball to do when they step up and swing.
The scientific benefits of visualization are numerous. The technique is proven to stimulate your muscles, increase confidence, reduce stress, relax the body, and improve concentration.
Just like the rest of your pre-shot routine, you should make visualization a key part of every shot. Don’t only use it on the course – use it for each practice shot at the driving range as well.
17. Practice with Purpose
The only real way to improve your golf swing is to practice. But practicing the wrong way is almost just as bad as not practicing at all.
Unlike a professional golfer, you probably can’t golf for hours every day. That’s why it’s so important to make the most of each session. Practice with purpose by knowing what you need to work on, and how to work on it, before you start.
Perfect your golf swing at the driving range. Go through your entire pre-shot routine for every ball. Once your mechanics are down and you have a natural tempo, take your swing out on the course.
For beginner golfers, it’s also a smart idea to start with shorter clubs. Not only are impacts cleaner, the balls go higher. This minimizes the risk of you developing a scooping motion in your swing to get the ball to loft with a driver.
A good way to practice with your shorter clubs is to practice at a par 3 course to hone your swing without being tempted to use your driver.
18. Choose the Right Equipment
Though the right golf clubs can make a big impact on your golf swing, they’re not as important for beginners as practicing the right technique.
Even the best clubs won’t help you out if you don’t have the mechanics of your golf swing down. So choose an affordable set, that’s sized correctly, and learn where and when to use each club.
As your skills improve, a smart idea is to replace a handful of clubs with better models at a time. Golfsmith has excellent resources on choosing the correct golf clubs.
19. Remember to Have Fun!
It’s easy to let perfecting your golf swing and lowering your score consume you. But it’s essential to remember why we all golf in the first place – it’s a lot of fun!
Relax, focus on fun, and play a few rounds without keeping score. Loosen up, play with good friends, and don’t worry about your swing for a while.
Doing so will help remember why you started playing golf. There’s also a good chance that simply relaxing will improve your golf swing in and of itself!