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Golf Swing Tips: the Top Ten

Anyone interested in the game of golf is on a permanent search for golf swing tips. How to hit it more consistently, further, straighter or whatever. Finding that golden nugget among the million and one golf swing tips that are touted as game-changing isn’t easy. How do you know what is going to work and what will just make your already iffy game just fall off a cliff? Before you send me all your money and I appear on the next edition of Golf Monthly, I should say that I don’t have the definitive answer (who does?) however, I have spent quite a bit of time trying various things over the years so here is my list of the top ten golf swing tips that are worth trying.

golf swing tips

1) Swing on One Leg

This is certainly more of a training drill than a swing thought as such, but it is something that I have found to be useful in certain situations. There isn’t anything complicated here, just do exactly as it says on the tin: do your swing while balancing on one leg!

A couple of thing to bear in mind. The leg should be your front one, so the left leg for a right-handed golfer and vice versa. Secondly, you will really only take a half swing and it is going to be more gentle than usual unless you want to finish up on the floor! So what is the point? Well, for me this works well for people who tend to sway a long way off the ball and then struggle to get their weight forward again leading to fats and thins. If you are only on your front leg, there is no way to move off the ball and you have to keep your weight forward. This is a useful way in ingrain that feeling of staying on top of the ball and improving ball first contact.

2) Keep it Short

I have written about this before, but I think it bears repeating. A short swing is often a good swing. Many golfers are worried about distance and think that the best way to hit it longer is by swinging longer. This isn’t the case at all and many of the longest hitters in the game have swings that stop well before parallel. Someone like Tony Finau hits the ball a mile with what many would consider a half swing as you can see on this video.

YouTube video

A shorter swing tends to have fewer moving parts and fewer things that can potentially go wrong. This is absolute gold for playing good, consistent golf. Although this is obvious enough, what people don’t realise is that it can also be a great way to hit powerful golf shots.

Personally, I feel like I can really try and accelerate into the ball from a shorter swing and find it much easier to make a descending blow. As an added bonus, it tends to be far more difficult to sway too far off the ball when swinging short and this in itself makes for much better ball striking.

3) Swing Your Swing

Although I believe shorter is generally better, it isn’t the case for everyone and this is the next key point. There isn’t one way to swing a club. Unfortunately, a lot of golf instruction, while well-intentioned, ignores this. Perhaps because of injury or physical limitations, some of us are never going to swing like McIlroy.

There are golfers who naturally swing flat or upright, long and short and have all manner of funky moves and yet many of them play great golf. Don’t get lost in developing a perfect swing for youtube. If what you do produces regular contact, consistent shot shape and isn’t getting you hurt, change nothing!

4)Take More Club

This is a very common tip but many people don’t think about what it actually means. One of the big problems that many golfers have and that is responsible for too many shots on-course is the notion of distance. We, as golfers, tend to overestimate our distances hugely. This is generally easily rectified by anyone who takes the time to go through a proper gapping session with the clubs, but how many golfers really do this?

Even for those golfers who have got an accurate measure on their shot distances, the problems are really just beginning. When we measure a shot, especially in “dry ball” conditions (for example, using a launch monitor in a studio) we quickly become obsessed with the number. This isn’t just true for drivers where everyone is trying to squeeze out as much distance as possible, but also for the rest off the bag. Suddenly, getting that 7 iron to 150 (or 180 or….you get the picture) becomes  matter of pride. And often we do manage it.

The problem here is that we are now no longer swinging like we do on the course. Very few good players hit 100% shots most of the time. For irons, it might actually be 80%. So when we can see the distance on the screen, we often have a little bit of wiggle room to bump that distance up.

But what happens when we get back out on the course? We are now 180 yards out and we know that we hit a seven iron this distance not just once, but maybe 10 or 15 times the day before on a monitor. We hit the shot with our on-course swing and it ends up twenty yards short of the green!

We are trying to make the simulator numbers into our real playing numbers. Even worse, we might now try to start hitting at 90 or 100 percent and suddenly dispersion that we didn’t really pay attention to on screen becomes a big issue.

Taking more club means (to me) choosing the right club for the distance/shot/swing you actually hit in a game situation, not playing the virtual numbers.

5)Forget the Trouble

This is something I struggle with quite a bit. The opening hole on my course is a long (450 yard) par 4. It is quite wide open, but does have out of bounds both sides. I can’t count the amount of times that I have been hitting it great on the range in my warm up only to hit a snap hook left over the fence when I tee off. Why is this?

It is for the same reason that most golfers might do this. when I step up to the tee, I am thinking about the areas to avoid rather than where I should go. The fix here is very simple in practice but does take time to really ingrain. On any shot, before taking up your stance, pick a point that you want to hit. This seems obvious when hitting into a green, but it is just as important off the tee. This point shouldn’t be too vague either, even with driver. choose a precise point and aim to hit it there.

Of course, you might (read, “will”) almost certainly miss but the chances are that it will be playable rather than reloading for three off the tee as is the case when you think about the trouble.

6)Hit Down to Hit High

This is something that most beginners and even some pretty solid golfers find difficult to accept. It is also one of the things that can transform a golfer’s game once it becomes part of his or her swing.  When we see pros hitting towering high shots, it is tempting to think that we should help the ball into the air to try to achieve the same sorts of shots. This is the complete opposite of the truth.

It is beyond the scope of this article to go through exactly how to get that fabled ball/turf downwards blow, but even just having the idea of hitting down on the ball generally makes things better. Suddenly, contact is cleaner and crisper, the ball fizzes off the clubface rather than floating and the percentage of mishits, especially fats, will decrease dramatically. As an added bonus, those low ball flights that roll off the back off the green or into bunkers will start to become the high, hit-and-stop shots from the TV.

7)Play for the Miss

This might seem to go against the logic mentioned above where I suggested we should all forget about the trouble and pick a safe spot to aim at. I am not saying that we need to go back to thinking about what to avoid, but when you get to your ball, or while you are waiting on the tee, one of the first things to consider is what exactly the smart shot might be. For example, it could take distance off a dogleg if you flirt with trouble, but is it really going to pay off long term? it might, but you need to know your miss.

Look at the shot you are going to play and think about your miss. If you struggle with a slice, the fact that you pick a point on the extreme right of the fairway and attempt to forget about the trouble isn’t going to help. For sure, get a lesson and deal with the slice, but what about picking a point on the left side of the fairway? If the ball goes straight, you are fine, but if it does slice, you now have a lot of room to play with and you could find yourself in position A1 after all on the right side.

8) Think of a Pendulum

This is a putting-specific tip and it is one that has helped me quite a bit. It will probably help any nervous putters out there, especially if you tend to get a bit “handsy” in your stroke. It is actually a very simple tip that works to improve both direction and distance.

Once you have picked a line and set up to the ball, think of the putter head as a pendulum, moving back and then through the ball at a steady, fairly slow, pace. The key thought is an absence of acceleration at any point. Now, reality dictates that the putter is moving from stationary, so there is obviously acceleration taking place, but I have found that the essential thing is to feel that this isn’t the case. I actually have a mental image of a big pendulum from a grandfather clock in my mind.

This (again, for me) removes a lot of the potentially horrific flips, jerks and other movements that can either take the put off line, leave it halfway there or send it miles past the hole. It doesn’t help me pick a better line, but it does help me to send it on the chosen line at the pace I believe is right.

To get the best out of this, you might want to use it in a couple of practice strokes before hitting the putt too.

9) Hands Ahead of the Ball

This is really essential to good ball striking and goes with the idea of hitting down on the ball. I would guess a vaste majority of golfers flip at the ball to some degree or another. I consider myself a reasonable ball striker, at least with irons, but when I look at my swing through impact in slow motion, there is a definite flip there, certainly compared to top players.

If there is something that is worth working on long-term, it is keeping the hands ahead of the ball at impact. I will venture to say that this might be the most significant different between a truly good golfer and the rest of us.

There are quite a few drills that are useful to work on this, but it really isn’t a quick fix. It needs patience and can lead to some pretty poor ball-striking (at least for me) before it starts paying off, but as something to work on at the range or over the winter months, it might be one of the sartest ways to invest in your practice time.

10)Golf Swing Tips? Enjoy the Process!

Golf is the most frustrating of games. Professionals can hit it out of bounds, four putt or top it. What hope do the rest of us have? Accepting this as a fact is a huge step forward. Most of us will never have that perfect swing and honestly, who needs it? Enjoy working on the game. Aiming to be better or even for perfection is fine, but accept the fact that it might never happen and don’t forget to enjoy the journey.

2 Comment on this post

  1. I have done some of this for years but do see some new tips. I am sending this to a good friend who needs some help with his swing. thanks

    1. Hi Tom,
      Thanks for the comment. Hopefully there is something in there that will help. I am thinking about doing another article with a few more unusual tips at some point too.

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