Whether you choose to play golf as a way to relax on the weekend or take it with more of a competitive attitude, one thing is for sure - every golfer wants to achieve that perfect swing.
Regardless of how long you’ve been playing for, getting your swing to a level of perfection takes a lot of practice. With some patience and the right advice, you can hone your skills and get that killer golf swing that will make you King or Queen of the green.
We’ve put together this ultimate guide to perfecting your golf swing, which is packed full of hints and tips that will help you get your swing where you want it to be. We’ll also highlight any errors that might be getting in the way of your progress, helping you to save time and focus on getting it right the first time.
Keep reading for our detailed step by step guide to getting that perfect swing, and then prepare yourself for the amazed looks you’ll be getting from your competitors next time you step out onto the course to show off your new skills!
Addressing The Ball & Posture
Before you even take a swing at a golf ball, the first thing you need to do is make sure that your posture is correct, and that your ball is in the right position. By doing this, you’ll increase the chances of getting that perfect swing, and eliminating any posture issues that have been holding you back so far.
When lining up your shot, you want to aim to have the sole of your club’s head laying flush against the ground. Typically, the ball will be located directly in front of you, somewhere in between your feet, and the distance from the ball to your feet will gradually increase away from you as you move up club sizes.
For instance, when using a short iron, the ball will be much closer to you than it will be when you’re using a longer club.
If you’re positioning your ball on a tee, it should be placed so that the centre of the ball (it’s equator, if you will) is as high as the crown of the driver. If you’re going to be using a flat iron, the ball needs to be positioned on the tee just off of the ground, so it’s as flush with the club as possible.
Depending on what shot you’re taking, your feet need to be positioned in a way that allows for the club size you’ll be using. For example, if your shot requires a longer club, such as a driver, then your feet need to be spaced apart further than they would if you were using a shorter club.
The alignment of your feet will also need to change depending on what shot you’re taking. If you’re swinging for a straight shot, then your feet need to be parallel to the target line. For more precise shots that are located in the distance, your feet shouldn’t be pointed directly at the target itself, but instead should point slightly to the left of your target.
Both of these techniques require that your feet are at the correct distance from the ball, with the ball being further away from you when using a longer club and closer to you for shorter clubs such as short irons. Typically, this means that the ball will be at an arm’s length away.
Stance and Alignment
Getting your stance correct is imperative to getting that perfect swing. When addressing the ball, your weight needs to be evenly distributed between both of your feet, so make sure that you’re not leaning or placing too much weight on just one of your feet. A 50/50 weight split between the two feet is what you need to aim for.
Also, when distributing your weight between your feet, the majority of it needs to be held by the balls of your feet, and not placed on your heels or toes as this will cause you to either lean forwards or backwards, which will directly affect your swing and your impact on the ball.
The alignment of your club is something else that is very important. The face of your club needs to be aligned directly behind the ball so that the line formed by the clubface is perpendicular with the line of your target when you’re taking a normal, straight shot.
There are three main ways to grip your club, and finding the one that you’re most comfortable with will definitely help you perfect your swing.
The first of these techniques, and the most commonly used, is the overlap grip (also known as the Vardon grip, named after famous golfer Harry Vardon). This grip is achieved by placing your right hand’s pinky finger between the index and middle finger of your left hand, and the thumb of your left hand fitting into the ‘lifeline’ of your right hand.
Secondly, there is the interlocking grip. The nature of this grip involves looping your right hand’s pinky finger around your left hand’s index finger, which creates a very strong bond. This grip is a great alternative for anybody that finds the overlap grip a little difficult to master.
The last of these grips is the baseball grip. As the name suggests, it involves gripping your golf club in the same fashion as you would do with a baseball bat, pressing both of your hands together but not creating a link between the two.
Whichever grip you choose totally comes down to personal preference and will not have any impact over the force with which you hit the ball.
Another thing to consider when thinking about your grip, is the strength with which you grip your golf club. There are three variants to the strength of your grip that, unlike grip technique, will actually have some effect on the power of your swing and the direction in which the ball travels.
The most commonly used grip strength is the ‘neutral grip’. When using this grip, the thumbs of both your hands will be resting around the middle of the club’s grip, with the V shaped creases between the thumb and index fingers pointed towards the right side of your head. This type of grip doesn’t tend to favor a particular type of shot, so is a great choice for a ‘go-to’ strength.
For a shot that requires a stronger grip, your setup will be to rotate both of your thumbs away from the target and forming V creases that point towards your right shoulder.
Finally, for a softer grip when you’re favoring a fade in your shot, rotate both thumbs towards the target so that your V creases are aimed at your left shoulder.
When considering the strength of your grip, and whichever technique you’re using, it’s really important that you don’t grip too tightly or too loosely. A super tight grip will result in a stunted impact on the ball, and can cause your wrist to cup or bow rather than be hinged, which is what you need for a perfect swing.
If you grip too loosely, you may find that the power behind your swing will make you lose the club altogether upon impact, which can be quite an embarrassing mistake to make!
Your knees need to be bent comfortably as to support the weight of your torso and help evenly distribute your weight between your feet. Keep the knee flex soft, and be careful to not lock them in place.
The perfect knee placement should let you rotate your hips and shoulders while keeping you firmly on the ground.
By getting your knee position right, you’ll be able to stand firmly and stably on the ground, and retain perfect balance while you take your swing. It’s also a comfortable and easy position to get into, and is a really important factor on your quest for that perfect swing.
Your torso needs to be pointed towards the ball when you address it, and the angle of your spine needs to be positioned to create enough space between your hands and your hips to allow your hands to move freely.
There should be absolutely no tension in your lower back, nor should your back be positioned so that your body weight is leaning towards your toes. Typically somewhere between a 35 degree angle and a 45 degree angle is what you should aim for.
Take care as well to ensure that your spine is kept straight, and that you’re not hunched over or creating an upwards or downwards curve within the spine. Some variation in the shoulders is totally fine, and is actually necessary for the perfect stance as you’ll read below, but holding your spine in an awkward or bent position could lead to back problems further down the line.
As we’ve touched on above, because of the way your hands are positioned on the club, your shoulders will be at an angle where the right shoulder is lower than the left. Shifting your shoulders into this position is created by arm placement, and therefore is still achievable when keeping a straight spine.
The position of your chin when you're stepping up to the ball isn’t really something that gets a lot of thought. However, it is a really important part of getting your posture correct and, ultimately, getting that perfect swing.
Be sure to position your chin so that it is facing away from your body, and that your head is not tucked into your chest, running with the straightness of your spine in that 45 degree angle. Not continuing that line will result in a hunched-in chin, which will restrict the movement of both your arms and shoulders.
Once you’ve got your stance, posture and ball set up correctly, you’ll be moving into the takeaway. Every golf swing starts with a takeaway, and the setup of your takeaway can totally impact how the rest of the swing is performed. So to line up that perfect shot, you need to make sure you’ve nailed your takeaway technique.
There are three different paths you can take when you’re perfecting your takeaway. The first of these is the ‘inside takeaway’, which is the best technique for a draw or a hook.
To perform an inside takeaway, bring the clubhead towards your body as you carry out your swing. This will make the shaft of the club point to the right of your target once it is parallel to the ground, creating an inside-out swing path.
If you’re going for a fade or a slice, then an outside takeaway is the best path to take. This involves moving the clubhead away from your body as you begin to execute the move, and will make the shaft of the club point towards the left of your target when it is parallel to the ground, creating an outside-in swing path.
Finally, there is the square takeaway, which is best for straight shots that require minimal ball spin. Bringing the clubhead in line with the target as you begin your swing will make the shaft point directly at your target when it is parallel to the ground, creating a square-inside-square path with almost no side spin.
Like the position of the club, the actual position of the clubface is also a very important factor to consider. There are three clubface positions, but only one of these will give you the takeaway you need to line up the perfect shot.
The first of these is an open clubface. This occurs when the face of the club is pointed upwards towards the sky when the shaft is parallel to the ground. Caused by the wrists becoming too active early on in the swing, an open clubface is best avoided during takeaway as it leads to cutting the ball on impact, and makes the ball curve to the right of the target.
The second is a closed clubface, where the face of the club is pointed downwards when parallel to the ground. Similar to the open clubface, this is caused by the wrists being too active in the early stages of your swing, but instead creates a counterclockwise rotation of the club, and will cause the ball to veer off to the left of your target.
To get the perfect takeaway, you should perform a square clubface takeaway. To do this, you’ll need to make sure that the leading edge of your club is perpendicular to the ground, and that the shaft is parallel to the ground. Keep your hands and your wrists still during the early phase of your takeaway, and maintain their position until they begin to hinge slightly during your backswing.
You’ve got your perfect stance, and you’ve got that takeaway down. So, now it’s time to move onto perfecting your backswing. This is the sequence that takes place straight after your takeaway, and brings your club up to the top of your swing. Below, we’ll break it down step by step for you, so you can get your backswing to an expert level.
Throughout the entire process, from addressing the ball right through to reaching the top of your backswing, your left arm needs to remain perfectly straight and steady. When you’re bringing your club upwards as you execute your backswing, be sure to keep your elbow locked so that your left arm remains straight all the way up.
As you bring your club upwards to perform your backswing, it is imperative that your left heel remains firmly on the ground. By keeping your heel firmly planted, you will reduce any movement that could affect your swing.
Turning the body while your swinging makes it harder to get good acceleration with your club, so although it may feel a bit unnatural, and the temptation to lift your heel will be great, by not moving your left heel you will be restricting your upper body and will be able to get better, consistent shots.
When you’re executing your backswing, your right knee needs to have some flexibility in it and, if possible, should continue to be positioned at the same angle as you have had it since your address position.
Locking or straightening your right knee on your way to the top of your swing will change the angle of your hips, and will have a dramatic impact on your swing path.
Keeping your left heel firmly planted on the ground, your left knee should bend towards the ball as you begin to raise your club into the backswing. This will help you to shift your weight towards your right leg, and give you a good strike at the ball.
During your backswing, your hips should gradually rotate in line with the raising of your arms, moving upwards as you start raising your club, and pausing once you’ve reached the top of your swing.
Ensuring that your hips are being used as part of your swing will help you to transition from one move into another seamlessly, without causing any rigidity in the body. Allowing your hips to move will also help to naturally shift your weight towards your right foot during your backswing.
Be wary, though, to move your hips without overly swaying them, allowing them to turn with the natural flow of the shot’s movement in an upward-downward style.
In line with making sure that your spine is kept aligned at a 45 degree angle, and your chin isn’t tucked into your body, the overall position of your head should not move during your backswing.
Moving your head upwards or downwards as you draw your club back will change the angle of your spine. Moving your head horizontally from side to side involves sliding the hips, which will result in your weight not being properly distributed to where it needs to go.
Finally, during your backswing your weight should move from an even distribution to the back of your right foot. This will result in shots that are hit more precisely and will help to send the ball as far as it possibly can.
As you move from your backswing down towards your downswing, bear in mind that your club needs to travel at a much faster pace. This is why setting up your backswing perfectly is hugely important, and will ultimately affect how the rest of your swing goes.
Top of the Swing
Now it’s time to focus on the top of the swing. This comes directly after your backswing, and is the point where you need to stop moving your shoulders and hips upwards. The top of the swing is going to directly impact the next phase, which is the downswing, so it’s important to get it right.
Again, we’ll go through this step by step and explain what each part of the body should be doing at this crucial moment.
As you reach the top of your swing, you need to make sure that your wrist is fully hinged at a 20 degree angle, and not bowed or cupped. Bowed wrists will make it look as though the club is too heavy to hold, and cupped wrists will have your hands arching up towards the sky.
If you get to the top of your swing with cupped wrists, your club will be rotated backwards during the downswing and will hit the ball with an open clubface, resulting in a sliced shot. If your wrists are bowed, your club will hit the ball with a closed clubface, resulting in a hook. Neither of these are ever a good thing when you’re aiming for the green!
You should gradually begin hinging your wrists at the end of your backswing, as the club begins to become parallel with the ground. By correctly hinging your wrists, the ball will fly in a straight line towards your target and will not exert any side spin on the ball.
As you reach the top of the swing, there are several terms that you need to associate yourself with in order to make sure that you’re getting it right.
The first of these terms is ‘laid off’. This is where a club is pointed towards the left of your target at the top of the swing, and in most cases the shaft will also be pointed upwards towards the sky. This tends to occur when the wrists haven’t reached a fully hinged position, or when an outside-in path has been adopted.
Hitting the ball after a ‘laid off’ position at the top of the swing should be avoided, as this will cause mistiming issues at impact, and will send the ball off to the left.
The complete opposite to the laid off position is the ‘across the line’ stance. This occurs when the club is aiming towards the right of the target, or when a player has swung their hips or torso too much. Positioning your club in this stance will result in an open clubface upon impact and send the ball veering off to the right.
The correct position for the shaft at the top of the swing is for it to be pointing directly at the target, on a line that is parallel to your feet and the line between the ball and the target. This shaft position puts you in the perfect stance to let the club impact the ball with a square-inside-square path.
Your downswing is the next important movement to get right in order to get that perfect golf swing. Involving bringing the club down from the top of the swing, a downswing will directly affect the impact force on the ball, so it’s crucial to make sure that you’re doing it correctly.
As you know, your wrists need to be fully hinged at the top of your swing, but they also need to stay fully hinged as you bring the club back down to meet the ball, and should only start to unhinge as you come into contact with the golf ball.
Unhinging your wrists too early in a downswing will result in a casting swing error, which will prevent the maximum amount of energy transferring from your swing to the ball.
Reverse Your Movements
The position that you’ve placed your body in to get your backswing perfect now needs to be reversed on the downswing so that you can hit the ball with the momentum you’ve built up. Not only do your hips, shoulders and arms need to go in the opposite direction, but the sequence needs to be reversed too.
Think of it a bit like loading a bow and arrow, where everything that has been pulled back in order to give force and momentum now needs to be released for the arrow to be propelled forward.
So, first, your hips need to uncoil and start to move to the other side of your body as you come into your downswing. They should still, however, still not sway and should stay aligned with the rest of the upper body, moving as one unit.
As you swing your club down towards the ball, your shoulders will also go in the opposite direction. When this happens, the clubhead should come in for its strike from inside the target line, so that it hits the ball squarely upon impact.
Finally, as your club begins its descent during the downswing, your weight needs to transfer back to your left foot. This needs to be done as gradually as possible, through the rotation of your hips and shoulders.
By not transferring the weight back to your left foot, your right foot will retain the weight during the downswing which can result in a reverse pivot, and lead to an inadequate transfer of force onto the ball.
You’re all perfectly lined up, and now the time has come to get that ball soaring through the air. The impact of your swing will determine how far the ball will go, and whether or not it goes in the correct direction! Since each stroke counts, you need to make sure you get it right the first time.
As you make impact with the ball, make sure that your hands are ahead of the clubhead in a technique known as ‘keeping the lag’. This involves keeping your wrists fully hinged, as they should be at the top of the swing, and only unhinging just as you’re about to make contact with the ball.
By holding this position, you will reduce any impact of hitting the ball downwards, making sure that you get a clean shot and sending the ball as far as possible in both distance and height.
Your knees still need to retain some level of flexibility as you make impact with the ball, as they have been up until now.
It’s very easy to lock the left knee in place as you hit the ball, but doing this will result in a thinned shot where you hit the ball below it’s equator, causing it to at great height, but at less of a distance. So try and keep it as flexible as possible, retaining that slight bend that helps to support your weight.
Point at the Target
By the time you’ve made contact with the ball, your hips should have rotated far enough to the other side of your body that you’re now facing your target. Your hands also need to have reached a square position, so that both the palm and backs of the hands are pointed at your target too.
More importantly, your hands should have positioned the clubhead to allow it to squarely hit the ball as well. Failure to do any of the above will result in the ball shooting off to the right, instead of heading straight towards your target.
Spine Angle & Head Position
The 45 degree spine angle that you adopted at the very beginning of preparing for your swing, and have retained throughout, still needs to be held as you make impact with the ball. Keeping this committed position will result in a powerful strike, and will reduce the chances of your club hitting the ball either below or above it’s equator.
Hitting the ball below the equator will result in the ball flying off high into the sky, but not covering any great distance. If you hit it above the equator, you’ll be hitting down on it, so will get a stunted shot that also won’t go very far. So make sure you’ve got that spinal angle correct as you go for impact.
Your head position also needs to stay at the same angle as it has been for the duration of your swing. Although it can be tempting to look up so you can see how far the ball is likely to travel one you’ve hit it, as most golfers do, it’s imperative to actually look at the ball as you make impact with it.
Failing to keep your head down as you make impact will result in you losing sight of where the ball is located on the ground, meaning you could miss the shot altogether, or lose focus of where you’re sending it.
After making impact with the ball, it’s easy to think that the rest of your swing is totally irrelevant. Afterall, you’ve got the ball where it needs to go, so why should you worry about what happens once you’ve hit it?
But a good, balanced follow through plays an important role in linking your start and finish positions together, so that it’s easy to assume the correct stance and follow the best sequence each time you step up to address the ball.
Basically, it’s all about keeping consistency. Think about it this way - if you start at position A and finish in position C each and every time, then position B (which in this case would be the actual impact shot on the ball) is going to be as powerful and consistent as possible each time.
Hips Facing the Target
At the end of your follow through, your hips need to be facing towards your target area square on. Positioning your hips towards the target at the end of your follow through will allow for a full weight transfer and will allow your body to rest entirely on the left foot.
As well as this, forcing your swing to gather enough energy to get into this end position will give extra acceleration to the ball upon impact. By finishing with your hips facing your target, you’ll also eliminate any swaying issues you may have.
Don’t Quit at Impact
It’s too easy to think that the rest of your swing doesn't matter once you’ve made impact with the ball. Obviously, the ultimate impact force comes from this position, however following all the way through with your club is a very important thing to do.
Following the ball through after impact will ensure that you’re properly lifting the ball from the ground or the tee, and giving it a good amount of momentum to cover both distance and height.
Quitting your swing at impact will reduce swing acceleration, and reduce the full amount of energy from your swing transferring to the ball. Stopping your swing upon impact will also reduce the amount of distance the ball travels, cause mistiming issues, and produce shot inconsistency.
As you know, your body weight needs to be evenly distributed between both of your feet as you address the ball. As you follow the sequence of movements, up into your backswing and down into your downswing, the weight of your feet that was once evenly distributed will gradually shift into your left foot.
The perfect follow through position will leave you with all of your weight resting on your left foot. Failure to transfer your weight effectively throughout your swing will result in a reverse pivot, which will cause an inadequate energy transfer into the ball, and reducing its travelling distance.
By following this step by step guide, we’re certain that you’ll be able to get that perfect golf swing and iron out any issues that you’re currently having, meaning you can hit the golf course and get swinging like a pro.
In reality, it’s a fairly simple formula of movements that, almost like learning dance steps, will be forever ingrained into your muscle memory. Wiith consistency, you’ll adopt this sequence of moves each time without even thinking about it.
Remember though, practice makes perfect, and it may take a little bit of time to get your technique down and get that muscle memory working for the perfect stance. But with a little time and patience, you’ll be playing like a pro and hitting that ball as far as the eye can see.Another important factor to bear in mind when striving for that perfect swing is to make sure that the equipment you’re using is correct, and that it is the right size for you. We’re all different after all, and you’ll need your clubs to work with you if you’re to get your swing to the standard you want it at. At Birdies, we review products in great detail which, if chosen well, will help you on your way to that perfect swing.