Golf Swing Basics for Beginners: Everything You Need To Know
Are you new to the game of golf? Are you looking to build some solid fundamentals for your swing? Whether you’re a professional golfer or just getting started playing, mastering the game of golf takes much practice and focus. In this article, we’ll cover the golf swing basics for beginners that help’s the beginner golf get better at golf.
Beginners Guide to the Swing Basics
Lets break the swing down into two different parts: Your pre shot routine. Gripping the golf club correctly, aiming your shot and creating a solid posture.
Pre Shot Routine
Start with a Good Grip
First we need to start with our grip. Our grip is what dictates what kind of connection we have with the club. Make sure your hands are comfortable on the club. It doesn’t matter whether you are interlocked grip, overlapped, or even baseball grip. As long as it feels comfortable to you and you can make a good swing with that grip, you’re good to go.
- Open your lead hand and have your palm facing the sky (left hand for a right handed golfer)
- Place the grip across your fingers with the end of the grip near the base of your pink and the other end of the grip at the tip of your pointer finger.
- Wrap your hand around the grip making sure majority of the grip in secured in your fingers
- Lift the club up and down as if you’re trying to hammer a nail into a board. I also like to think of picking up a 60 pound bag, you dont lift the bag in your palms, you lift with the majority of grip pressure in your fingers. That’s what you want.
- Take your opposite hand and connect your pinkie finger and thumb together. Just like in the lead hand we want the grip in our fingers with the opposite hand as well. You want your lead hand to have the thumb long and pointing straight down the grip.
- Finally, we want to position your hands correctly on the golf club. Your thumbs and base of hands should creait a “V”. We want to make sure that “V’s” are pointing paralell to one another. Make sure the “V’s” are pointing towards your trail shoulder. (Right shoulder for a right handed golfer)
Lastly, lets discuss the grip pressure. You definitely don’t want to be squeezing the club with too much pressure. I like to think about the grip pressure as if I’m holding a baby bird that I don’t want to fly away. You’re grip pressure will always increase as you begin to swing the club. In most cases, your brain wont let the club go flying out of your hands if it’s trying to make solid contact with the golf ball.
Want to know more? Check out a more in-depth article on the golf grip.
Aiming Your Golf Shot
It’s easy to make a mistake with alignment, which is a key element of golf. If you aim to the left, you can slice the ball or pull the shot. Aiming right can result in a push or a hook depending on the way your club face works through the ball. Aiming is important in short game shots, iron shots, hybrid/fairway woods shots, driver and putting.
- Before you’re ready to hit a shot, you need to know where to aim. Stand behind the ball 5-6 feet so that you have some space between you, the ball and your target.
- In your mind, draw a straight line from your target back to your ball. Then, choose a spot on this line a foot or so in front of your ball to begin again. You can use a divot in front of the ball or anything your eye picks up on the ground in front of the ball.
- Now that you have defined a spot to aim at in front of your golf ball, go ahead and aim your club face at the spot. From here, we can set our body up parallel to those lines.
- To get your body in a good position, start with your feet alignment. Draw a imaginary line going across your toes in either direction. We want to make sure this line is parallel to the target line, do the same thing with your shoulders, hips and elbows.
Check out more information here on how to properly aim your golf shots.
Proper Golf Stance & Posture
Once we have established our grip and aiming, the stance is what you need to focus on next. When you set up to the golf ball, the first thing we need to take care of is getting our feet shoulder width apart with slight knee flexion. We need to understand what a open stance looks like versus a closed stance. To begin, you should try to be as square as possible. (Feet, shoulders, hips and forearm lines all square)
When you think of a athletic set up, you might think about a short stop in baseball or a lineman getting ready for the ball to be snapped in football, but this position with lots of knee bend is not what we want in golf. To reach the golf ball, we want to bend from the waist, not from the knees.
Lets start with the correct golf posture. When you bend at the waist, you want to keep your back mostly straight. You can place a club or alignment stick down your back and try to make sure your spine is pressed against the shaft. The club should be making contact with your back in three different spots, your head, right around the shoulder blades and the bottom of your spin or tailbone.
Next part to tackle with your stance is the arms. Because, we are bent from the waist, your arms should be hanging freely striaght down to the ground. This is a good arm position, we dont want to reach our arms out or lift them to be able to grab the club. Let the arms hang naturally. Creating the correct distance from the golf ball will solve most of these issues.
Some players will natually have more shoulder tilt in their set up or as it’s called in the golfing world, the “Reverse K Stance”.
Now that we have covered feet position, posture and arm angles lets talk about ball positioning. Most amatuers over look ball position and this can be detrimental to your golf swing and can create loads of kinks in your swing. Another highly overlooked part of the swing is what eye do you look at the golf ball with? Also, what part of the golf ball do you stare at with your eyes as your making a swing? Focusing on the wrong part of the ball can lead to poor contact and bad shots as well.
Finally, take a deep breathe or two, make a waggle with the club to ensure the tension is our of your arms and you’re nice and relaxing to make a nice smooth swing.
Swinging The Club
You’re now ready to make the golf swing. The takeaway is the first part of your swing. Start your swing by using your large muscles and not your smaller muscles. You should use your big muscles, which are your shoulders, core and arms. Not your wrists. Take the club head slowly back and lower to the ground. Understanding the correct hand path in the golf swing will go a long way. You will be able to keep your club plane if you do this.
It’s not necessary to rush your backswing. Many amateur golfers think that a quick backswing will give them more power. This is not true. The only thing you want to do in the backswing, is get into a position where you are ready to begin your downswing. Your swing speed will be affected if you rush the backswing and ultimately mess up your tempo.
Consider the rotation of the club head and the wrist action during the swing. . The toe of your club should be pointed straight up into the air when you have both hands and club head at about waist height. To do this you will need to rotate your hand. Imagine that you’re shaking the hand of someone with your right hand. Make sure the back of the hand points in the opposite direction to your body. When you are at the top of the list, be sure to know the difference between a flat-lead wrist, a bowed hand, and a cupped one.
Try to rotate your torso as you reach the top of the swing. This part of the backswing is the pivot. Many amateur golfers overlook this part; they swing their arms too much when they should make a shoulder-turn.
Once our club position is waist-high or past our right thigh for a right handed player, youre going to start to lift the club head vertically over your head. Ultimately you hands at the top of the backswing will be in-line with your right shoulder.
Top of Backswing, Transition & The Downswing
Once we have reached the top of the backswing with some success, the next piece to the puzzle is to start the downswing. The first part we want to feel when starting our downswing is to feel our hips begin to turn towards the target before our arms lower towards the ground. Once the hips begin to rotate our torso and arms will follow in a chain reaction.
Many time I notice novice golfers struggle with the flying elbow (right elbow sticking too far out). When the right elbow gets too high and lifts up and off of our body, lots of swing errors can occur. What we want to do instead is keep our elbow as close to our body throughout the swing and through impact. This will keep our arms connected to the big muscles we used in the backswing, this will provide more power and the ability to hit the ball from the inside rather than coming over the top. Coming over the top 9/10 times will result in hitting a slice. Understand the mechanics in how the right arms is supposed to work in the golf swing and keeping the left arm straight can drastically improve your contact with the ball.
The most important part of the downswing is impact, this is the moment where the club comes into contact with the golf ball. When you make solid contact with your irons, you want your club face nice and square. We want the club descending into the ball or moving down into the ball. (this helps create shaft lean at impact) The same rule applies for hitting your long irons, hitting a hybrid or hitting a fairway wood. The only time we don’t want the club moving down into the ground or on a descending angle is when we are swinging the driver. We want to hit the driver on the upswing in order to get the ball higher in the air. To allow this happen, you’ll want to make sure you are teeing up the driver with the correct height.
Many novice golfers try to help the ball in the air by trying to lift up as their hitting the ball. This is not going to help the ball get in the air, it actually hurts you by causing the club to get flippy. Most of the time there has to be some serious break in the wrist so that you can increase the loft on your irons. Great ball strikers know they need to maintain on top of the golf ball for as long as possible, also called “covering the ball”. Covering the ball with proper lag in the swing will allow the club to bottom out in front of the golf ball. This will lead to hitting the sweet spot on the golf club time and time again. When we make contact with the ground first, we hit the shot “fat” and it does not travel nearly as far as it should. If we hit the ball only and don’t make contact with the ground, in most cases, this will result in hitting it “thin” with a low ball flight. Hitting the ball and then the ground will give the good contact your looking for and will result in straighter shots on the course and range.
Lastly, in the downswing transition, you need to make sure you are transferring your weight to the lead side. Many times amateur golfers will stay on their back foot and their weight will transfer in the opposite direction. If we focus on how our head is moving in the golf swing, either still or subtle movement towards the target. Through out the downswing make sure you are maintaining stable balance through the swing.
The Finish & Follow Through
Many players will over look the finish in their swings. There is more room for error by not focusing on your finish position after you made contact with the ball. This may not seem like an important part of the swing to you but I can assure you it is. By focusing on a proper finish position, you will do other parts of the swing correctly resulting in more consistency.
We discussed weight transfer in the prior section, this is a major key to a good finish. We you think of a baseball player throwing a ball, they always land on their lead leg and then throw, this creates power from the ground. They always have their weight finishing on their front side. This same concept applies to the golf swing. If you want to hit great shots time and time again, make sure you are finishing with your weight on your front foot.
Once you release the club properly, your finish position will look like you are resting the club on your lead shoulder, with most of your weight on your lead foot. Also, your belt buckle or belly button will be facing the target with hips and shoulders in the same direction.
There’s a common misconception with keeping your head down while swinging the club. This isn’t necessarily the case. You want to keep your head down/in the same position to maintain a proper spine angle during your swing. You want to be looking at the ball through impact, but from there your head needs to move towards the target along with the ball and the rest of your body.
If you can put these basic swing fundamentals together, you will have the ability to play some decent golf. We have definitely coved a lot of information and don’t forget….Rome wasn’t build in a day! Work on one part of the swing at a time. Once you accomplished one part, move on to the next. Try not to let too many swing thoughts creep into your head as you’re practicing. Keep it simple.