You’ve heard it all before - golf is a great game to unwind; the most relaxing activity is golf; there’s not much better than being alone out there on the green.
You wish you could relate to the golfers in your life that are always trying to get you down the club, but you don’t know the first thing about golf.
Well, we don’t have time to take you through the entire history of golf or the complete handbook.
However, we are going to take you through everything you need to know about the golf swing basics.
A common theme of golf beginners is that they try to tackle too much too quickly. There are a lot of techniques and rules to remember when it comes to golf, and if you overwhelm yourself too quickly you might give up altogether.
We don’t want that, and we’d bet that you don’t want to be a quitter either. So, let’s get right into the basics, shall we? We’ll be taking you through the prep work needed, your correct stance, and the swing itself.
Remember - practice makes progress!
The Golf Swing Basics
Here we’re going to be looking at the basics when it comes to swinging your golf club. Use this method for tee shots as well as passing the ball around the course.
A little later in our article we’ll be looking at different types of swings to use, such as chipping and putting the ball, but for now let’s just get the ball rolling.
Preparing for the Swing
Golf is not as simple as standing up to the tee and whacking the ball as hard as you can.
You need to put the effort in before you can even think about hitting the ball. So, grab your club (a driver is almost always considered the best option for tee shots) and let’s get preparing!
Your arms are the main driving force of your club and therefore your hands are also very important. A bad grip will almost certainly ruin your swing, so don’t overlook setting your grip up properly.
There are many different methods of getting your grip right, and as you improve you’ll find your own way of setting up your grip.
Most professional golfers don’t even think about their grip as they step up to take their shot. But to get to that point, let’s look at a simple method of gripping the club.
First of all, you should know which hand is your front and back. If you’re right handed your front hand will be your left, and vice versa. So, take your front hand and open it so that the palm is facing up. Your fingers will be pointed down.
Place the grip on the golf club diagonally on your palm so that it is touching both the tip of your index finger and the bottom of your pinky finger. Close your hand around the grip in this position.
Take a few test swings to see if you’re happy with how much control you have over the club. If not, reposition the club nearer your fingers rather than your palm.
Now take your back hand and cup it around the front hand. This is the basic premise of gripping your club. To ensure that your fingers are correctly positioned, see whether the thumb and the bottom of your index finger on both hands is creating a ‘V’ shape.
Both of these shapes should be pointed towards your back shoulder.
Remember that the back shoulder will be right for a right-handed person and vice versa for a left-handed player. Finding the correct grip might sound difficult as you’re reading it now, but get your club and practice it first-hand. You’ll find that it’s much easier than it sounds.
Now that the grip is sorted and ready to go, you need to know how to stand in front of your ball. Your posture is incredibly important when it comes to golf, so let’s sort it out now. Instead of bending your knees too much, you’ll bend at the waist to reach the club to the ball.
Your back will need to be as straight as possible, but make sure that you don’t overarch it as this could result in injury.
Your head and neck should also be aligned with your spine. You’ll turn your head to make sure that you’re aiming on target, but your gaze should be straight down towards the ball before you swing.
The arms should be straight and pointed down. Keep your elbows from locking to avoid injuring them.
So, your hands are gripped firmly on the club and you’re in the correct stance. All that’s left to do is position yourself in the correct way to aim your ball.
As you’re standing over the ball in the correct stance, carve a line with your eyesight from the ball to the target. Find something in line with both the ball and target and remember it.
It could be a rock or stone on the ground, or even a particularly long blade of grass. This will act as your secondary target.
Point the golf club towards the secondary target and set your body parallel to the club, remaining in the stance we mentioned earlier. Aiming towards this target rather than the far away one will make it much easier to get your shot on target.
The Golf Swing
Once you’re happy with your grip, stance, and positioning, you can take your first shot. ‘But how?’ we hear you cry - don’t worry. We’ve broken it down into five easy steps that will work seamlessly together after a few practices.
Don’t get overwhelmed by worrying about fitting all of the steps together without a hitch. Take it easy and practice slowly. Once you’ve practiced them individually you can begin stitching them together. Before you know it, you’ll have the perfect swing!
The takeaway is the start of a good swing and it sets the rest of the steps up for either success or failure. Your hands, shoulders, and back should move altogether to get the most out of the swing.
Pull the club back until it’s parallel to the ground and make sure that your club is in line with your hands.
If your club was not in line with your hands you could risk hurting your wrists with the pressure from the swing. Your shoulders should be pointed downward to ensure that the maximum power is going to be given to your swing.
Now that your club is parallel to the ground, you’re going to need to bring it up even higher to generate more power. Keeping the club parallel will not offer you much distance, although it’s a good starting point if you wanted to practice hitting the ball without the backswing.
However, if you wanted to move onto the backswing portion of the swing, continue moving the club from its parallel position while remaining in the posture created from your takeaway. As you swing the club over your shoulders and back the club should point towards your target.
The downswing is the movement of pulling the club back down towards the ball. This will take seconds to do, so make sure that you keep your form perfect to avoid a bad swing. Keep your right elbow (for right-handed players) close to your torso as you bring the club down.
Keep the angle between the left arm and the club the same during the downswing. This will generate the most speed for the club and therefore you’ll have more luck achieving an impressive distance.
As the club comes into contact with the ball, you need to ensure that the ball compression is impressive. To do this, your weight will need to be shifted from your back foot to your front one. The shift in weight will put more pressure on the ball thanks to the driving force.
The right arm will be extending as the club gets closer to the ball. Make sure not to hyperextend your elbow as this could cause injury and affect your game.
Now that your club has hit the ball and you’re watching it flying away from you, you don’t really need to do anything else. However, a good finish will impress anyone you’re on the course with, so make it count!
Once the ball is hit, the club will continue moving up towards your face. Your arms will both be extended now, so don’t overextend your elbows. Your weight should all be supported by your front leg and the back leg will be almost off of the ground.
Your body will continue to move after impact, so make sure that you slow it down before your back gets hurt from overtwisting.
Different Types of Swing
That’s it! We’ve just gone through how to hit your ball with a simple golf swing. You can use this swing with any club you want, but we envision that it will be best on the tee shot with a driver. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use it for other shots.
Irons and woods can be used with the technique above - just lower the power if you don’t want the ball to travel as far. Don’t use the backswing, or at least use it with less power, to travel shorter distances.
Below we’ve included some more swings that you will need to learn as a beginner. The grip, stance, and positioning will all be the same for these below swings, and the technique will be more or less the same.
Once you’ve mastered the above swing, you can move onto these new ones. There are a few factors to consider when using them is all. So, let’s take a look at the other swings that you’ll need to use.
A chip shot will be used if you need to hit your ball over an obstacle or out of a tight corner. There’s not much more to learn with a chip swing, the main difference is that you’ll be using a wedge rather than a driver or iron.
Keep your wrists sturdy and follow the club with your upper body. Once you’ve chipped the ball your chest should be facing the way of the target. You won’t need to move the club much higher than parallel to the floor. Don’t decelerate before you get to the club as this might affect the height of your chip shot.
No one wants to be left in the bunker, but beginners are more than likely going to find themselves in a bunker more than once. Sand is softer than grass and therefore you’ll need to dig your feet into the bunker to ensure that you’re stabilized.
You want to give a bunker swing as much power as you have, so make sure you use the backswing step here. You need to hit the sand behind the ball with as much force as you can to make the ball jump out and back onto the grass.
Sinking the ball is difficult because you need to understand the feel on the green. To feel ‘good’, you need to position yourself correctly and have your arms hanging straight down underneath your shoulders. This will ensure that no tension is trapped to alter your swing.
You don't need much backwing or following through on a putter shot. Simply draw the club back for power and forward for the impact. Keeping this movement as straight as possible will help your shot to remain on target.
We hope that you’ve learned some valuable information about the basics of golf swing. Once you’ve got the hang of setting up the shot and using all of the five steps together in seamless transition, you’ll be ready to hit the course!
Once you’ve got the tee shots down, you can move onto the slightly more difficult task of learning how to swing for chip shots, bunker shots, and putting shots. Congratulations - you now know the golf swing basics!