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People who are new to the game of golf often need a bit of direction to put them on the right path.
It is important to understand that every person has their own unique golf swing — their own natural way of swinging a golf club.
In my opinion, people see the best results when they work with their natural swing and make the proper adjustments they need to make to hit the ball solidly.
Trying to emulate or copy the swing of someone else usually never works out well because of differences in body shape, muscle makeup, and general movement tendencies among other things. It is not easy to change any of these things, nor is it worth doing so.
The goal should be to simplify as much as possible and find the things that work best for you.
With that said, there are certain fundamentals that golfers should grasp in order to stand the best chance of improving the consistency of their golf swing and hence their golf game.
The tips that follow below touch on many of these fundamentals. They are intended to help you get organized, focused and consistent.
Consistency is key; if you can develop a consistent swing, most of the battle is already won.
1. Grip the club properly.
Arguably the most important component of the golf swing, everything starts with the grip. Often times, issues experienced by golfers can be eliminated by simply changing their grip.
In general, there are three grip styles: the weak grip, the neutral grip and the strong grip.
Each style has its own advantages and disadvantages, but the best and easiest grip to get started with as a beginner is the neutral grip.
How To Adopt The Neutral Grip
For a right-handed golfer (the reverse for lefties), the neutral grip is achieved as follows: start by holding the club with the clubhead resting on the ground and pointing directly ahead of you.
Grip the club underhand with your left hand just above the halfway point of the grip such that:
- your thumb is resting on top of the shaft.
- you can see two knuckles from the address position.
- the crease between your left thumb and your left index finger is pointing roughly at your right shoulder.
Then, grip the club with your right hand such that:
- the crease between your right thumb and right index finger is also pointing roughly at your right shoulder.
- the left thumb rests up against the meaty part of your right palm.
- your right thumb rests farther down the shaft over the top of it as well, and all fingers on your right hand except the pinky are touching the grip.
With your right pinky touching your left hand, you can either overlap it into the crease between your left index finger and left middle finger in an overlap grip, or you can interlock your left index finger and right pinky in an interlocking grip.
Which grip to use mostly comes down to personal preference and is up to the the individual.
With that, you have achieved a neutral grip. Here, PGA instructors Piers Ward & Andy Proudman demonstrate the neutral grip:
2. Address the golf ball properly.
This consists of two parts, posture and alignment, which are very important to master.
When your posture is sound, you have the foundation for a consistent swing with a good coil.
You should always feel like you are in an athletic position. When you bend over the ball, bend with your hip joints and not your waist. Check out this sample posture:
A hallmark of bad posture is a rounded back; keep your back straight but don’t arch it. Also bend your knees slightly.
Making a couple of practice backswings at address might help you to find the correct position that will maximize your mobility for the swing.
You will never get the results you want if you aren’t aligned properly. It happens often that golfers believe they are correctly aligned when they actually aren’t.
Your shoulder line and your foot line should be parallel to the intended target line.
A nice little trick to help you find the right position is to pick a point a few feet in front of you that is on the target line and set up square to that point; it’s easier to gauge whether or not you’re square when you’re referencing a spot close to you.
A simple adjustment for alignment can go a long way towards improving your game.
3. Make a good controlled backswing.
Once you have your grip and your address figured out, it’s time to start the backswing.
Making a good backswing is not nearly as complicated as many people make it out to be; you just need to find something that works and do it consistently.
All that matters is a solid strike that flies down the target line, and whatever backswing helps you achieve that consistently (and doesn’t put excessive stress on your body) is one that you should run with.
Now, the basic idea of the backswing is to rotate away from the target. When making a full swing, try to rotate your shoulders until your left shoulder (for a right-handed golfer) is just about under your chin.
Beginners should focus on keeping their head level and moving it as little as possible.
For more power, hinge your wrists as you take the club back so that, at the top, the club is nearly parallel to the ground. For less power, use the same principles just mentioned but with less wrist hinge and a shorter swing.
Keep your eye on the ball or on a point near the ball all throughout the turn. Make the backswing in a comfortable fashion and at a reasonable pace.
Here is PGA instructor Lawrie Montague discussing the “ideal” backswing and the imaginary swing plane, for those who want to learn more:
4. Make a controlled downswing through the ball.
From the top of the backswing, the task is now swinging back through the ball to complete the downswing.
Continue to keep your eye on the ball, your feet planted, and your head as level as possible to avoid hitting it fat or thin.
Rotate your shoulders back towards the target and let your wrists naturally unhinge as the clubhead approaches the ball.
Killing The Ball
Accelerate through the ball at a solid speed, but avoid trying to “kill” the ball starting out. Trying to swing too hard usually tenses up the muscles involved in the swing and compromises form.
As you get more experienced and consistent in golf, you can gradually start to swing faster.
5. Adjust based on the issues you’re facing.
There is no such thing as a perfect golf swing, and you will no doubt have a predominant miss.
Whether it’s a slice, a hook, a ball that’s too low, a ball that’s too high, a tendency to top it, hit it fat, or hit it near the toe or the heel, there will always be something that you need to work to improve.
After following the advice above to develop your own natural and unique swing, you should now think about making some adjustments and tweaks.
Beyond reading my articles in the how-to section of Golfstead, here is a very brief summary of common problems golfers face and some common solutions (some or all of which may not work for you):
Problem 1: Slicing
You tend to slice with the driver and/or fade with irons.
- check that your grip is neutral
- check that your address position is correct
- focus on turning your hands over through impact
For much more information, see my article on slices.
Problem 2: Topping & Thinning
You tend to top the ball or hit it thin.
Maintain your height throughout the swing and don’t “stand up” through impact.
Problem 3: Fatting
You tend to hit the ball fat (too much turf).
Keep your height throughout your swing and avoid any “squatting” through impact. See my article on fat shots.
Problem 4: Shanking
You tend to hit it near the toe or heel.
- keep your eye on the ball at all times during the swing
- avoid any unnecessary movements
Although these fixes don’t apply to everyone, you’d be surprised at how effective they can be.
Keep an eye out for more articles that will be rolled out on Golfstead over the coming months that discuss solutions to swing problems in more detail.
This content is meant to provide a good starting point for those who have just gotten into golf, who have never swung a club before, or who just don’t really know how to make a solid swing.
However, even more experienced golfers can benefit from the guidance in this article. And if you’re really serious about becoming a good golfer with an effective swing, you should check this out:
If you have any questions or comments about these beginner tips, feel free to drop a comment below!