As golfers, we can get very obsessed with distance and power. Finding ways to squeeze a yard or three out of our swings can become something of an quest. Distance is good, don’t get me wrong and all things being equal, finding yourself a few yards further on off the tee leads to better scores and certainly a better ego! However, I feel like the real grail for most of us should be finding an easy golf swing. Why do I think this is key and just how do you go about finding it?
Why an Easy Golf Swing?
Maybe the best place to start is by saying what it isn’t. I am not talking about trying to swing more slowly or gently. Or at least not just for its own sake. An easy golf swing can and should be something that generates consistent power. The key is consistent I think. Maybe I look at things differently in my forties than I did in my twenties, but I want a swing that is going to work day in, day out for another 40 years or more. It should be repeatable, efficient and keep me injury-free for as long as I care to golf.
I certainly don’t want to give up distance, although this is both a sadly inevitable part of ageing and something that I am happy to sacrifice at least a bit in order to stay healthy and keep playing. What I really want is something that is going to require the absolute minimum in terms of practice while letting me getting the most out of my game on the course. Maybe now you can see why I think this is the holy grail of golf!
A Shorter Golf Swing
The first key for me is a swing with as few moving pieces as possible. The more ducks I have to line up, the less likely it is to all fall in to place every time I am on the course. I think a shorter swing is a good first step here. I don’t think that it needs to be too short though. There is no point sacrificing distance for fun and having at least a three quarter back swing is going to help generate some club head speed. I am thinking club slightly beyond vertical rather than a John Daly past horizontal.
This is actually something which is more and more visible even at the professional level. Jon Rahm is famous for his short swing as is Tony Finau. Both of these guys generate tremendous power, showing that short isn’t the same a soft! I actually find that I tend to make a more aggressive move in to the ball when I shorten my backswing. I think it is probably because I feel like I am going to make good contact therefore I am less worried about that and more concentrated on accelerating the club into the ball. I also find that I am more in sync with a shorter swing. I tend to move with my body rather than throwing my arms and hands at the ball.
Hitting or Swinging?
You might notice that I talk a lot about hitting the ball. Other people will insist on the idea of swinging through the ball. In my opinion, both are valid swing thoughts and golfers play great golf (and terrible golf!) with both methods. If we are talking about an easy golf swing, in my opinion it doesn’t matter. However, simple is key and that goes for what happens between the ears too.
Personally, I like the idea of hitting the back of the ball. One of my playing patterns loves the feel of swing through the ball as if it isn’t there. Although this might seem like a completely different way of playing the game, there is one very important thing in common: we are both only thinking about one thing. Neither of us (when playing well) worries too much about exact positions during the swing. We have have one idea and that is it. What could be easier than that?
An Injury-Free Golf Swing
So whilst my short, hitting swing works for me and a long, swinging swing works for someone else, it really all becomes meaningless if they don’t do one key thing: help us to play without getting hurt. I don’t care if it is the easiest swing to learn in the world, if it is going to damage my back, I’m just not interested. Likewise, I would love to see all my drives flying 300 yards into the fairway, but not if it means spending the next six months on the physio’s table!
So the real easy golf swing is one that lets you play good (not necessarily great, but good) golf for as long as possible. Actually, this discussion should really include equipment choices as well because using something like graphite shafts or overlength clubs could be the biggest game changer in terms of keeping you healthy but that is something that will need a whole article or two.
So if your golf swing is already repeatable, doesn’t hurt and isn’t causing any long-term health problems, congratulations, you have already found the grail. Really, it doesn’t matter what it looks like-just ask Jim Furyk! However, if you are struggling to find something that works every time or even worse, playing golf is causing pain, now is the time to change. The first thing you need to do is try a shorter swing. If you are struggling with a sore lower back, go and get some professional help and then try perhaps a swing that has a little less rotation. There are some solid methods that encourage a more vertical swing and that can certainly help.
One last word of warning. The reason that I haven’t given any specific methods is this: I don’t believe that there is such a thing as a one size fits all easy swing. As soon as I see the ads online for a simple golf swing that will ad 50 yards to your drives, be completely pain-free and can be learned in just 30 minutes, my eyes tend to just mist over and I stop listening. I don’t mean to say that all these methods are bad, in fact I know there are some fantastic ones out there, simply that they aren’t all good for every golfer.
Keep things simple, go for a shorter swing with adapted clubs, stop if anything hurts and you are already on the right path.