What Makes A Good Golf Swing
Article by Scott Cole
Copyright (c) 2011 Scott Cole
Golf is one of those activities where the participants are often trying to find the best way to achieve their goal. It is similar to trading in the stock market, where individual traders with little experience are constantly trying to find the Holy Grail to riches. Golfers are often trying to find the Holy Grail golf tip or golf swing that will help them lower their scores significantly.
An observation of the golf swings of some of the game’s most successful players over the years suggests that there is no one way to play the game best. Probably the three greatest players of all time are Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods. However, none of their swings looks very much alike. Consider the swings of other top players over time. Bruce Lietzke had a successful career on the PGA Tour, with 13 victories, yet he practiced very little. He has a classic over the top slice move, and that is the shot he favored. On the other hand Kenny Perry has the opposite swing from Lietzke and favors a draw shot. He has won 14 times on the PGA Tour.
There have been many other players over time with what would be regarded as unconventional swings. The 2010 PGA Player of the Year Jim Furyk is probably the most visible example. He has a very unorthodox swing, but is also one of the most consistent players of the last 15 years. Lee Trevino is another such player who was very consistent in his days on tour, but clearly had an unorthodox swing. On the other hand, Adam Scott has one of the nicest looking swings on tour, yet displays very little consistency.
So what makes a good golf swing? What most amateur golfers should strive to achieve is a swing they can repeat consistently. They should strive for a swing that they can repeat consistently, and one that results in consistently solid ball striking and consistent ball flight. This means it really doesn’t matter whether the player consistently slices the ball or hooks the ball. If the golfer has a good idea that will be the case, and they have a good idea how much the ball will curve in that direction, then they have achieved a consistent golf swing.
The first and most important key to a good golf swing is balance. Most golfers who struggle do not have good balance during the swing. Poor balance leads to inconsistent ball striking. Poor balance can mean too much of a sway back and forth from side to side during the swing, or from heel to toe, or toe to heel. No matter what the balance issue, the golfer will struggle.
The second key to a good golf swing is a consistent spine angle from set up to just past impact. A changing spine angle will lead to very inconsistent ball striking. One example of a changing spine angle is one where the golfer’s body rises during the back swing. When this occurs, the player must then find a way to drop back down in the swing, or otherwise they will miss the ball entirely. What often happens is that the club attacks the ball from an angle that is too steep, and this can result in a variety of ball flight issues.
The third key to a solid golf swing is a weight transfer that moves forward in the downswing through impact. The conventional swing requires a modest weight shift to the rear foot during the back swing, and then back to the front foot in the down swing and follow through. Some newer swing models, such as the Stack and Tilt swing do not require as much transfer of weight to the back foot. Instead, more weight is kept on the front foot, but in the downswing, this weight still goes forward with a hip thrust. Many golfers often finish their swing with their weight on their back foot, and this results in poor ball striking.
The fourth key to a good golf swing is proper connection between the upper and lower body and proper sequencing. There must be consistent connection between the upper and lower body throughout the golf swing. If there is any disconnect, such as the arms moving without any move in the lower body, or keeping the head down too long in the follow through, there will be inconsistent ball striking. Furthermore, the body must move in the proper sequence in order to achieve good ball striking. For instance, if the upper body starts the down swing once the back swing is completed, there will be a loss of power. A release of the hands too early in the down swing will also result in a lack of power and consistency.
The fifth key to a good golf swing is tempo and rhythm. Each golfer must find the right tempo and rhythm for their own swing. Some golfers do well with a fast tempo, while others do well with a slow tempo. However, this tempo MUST be faster in the down swing than in the back swing. Too often, in an attempt to hit the ball hard, a golfer will start their swing too quickly, and the end result is a deceleration in the down swing into impact. Furthermore, there must be good rhythm in the swing. There should be no choppiness in rhythm during the swing…it must be one continuous motion with no herky jerky type action in the swing.
What is noticeably absent from this list is the normal list of fundamentals such as the grip, stance and posture, alignment, takeaway, weight shift, swing plane, etc. While it may be ideal to work toward certain goals with these particular fundamentals, it is certainly not required that all be perfected in order to achieve a consistently performing golf swing.
About the Author
Scott Cole is a Hank Haney Pro Associate golf instructor in Olney, Maryland. For more information, visit www.howtogolfyourbest.com
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