When golfers scour the internet looking for the “perfect golf swing,” they’ll often find articles advocating for a swing fix that will lower their score substantially through longer drives and more precise iron shots.
What if I told you that these tips are empty promises? Sure, a tip could, every once in a while, provide a slight correction that will lead to marginally better swings and a better round. And, all but a few could work for the majority of swings. Furthermore, many articles generalize regardless of skill level.
In this post, we’ll have different sections suited for different players. However, don’t let it limit you! In fact, I encourage you to try out different ideas. See what works for you!
We’ll start with some foundations that are constantly worked on by even the best players in the world and then dive into tips for high handicappers (90+ shooters), mid handicappers (80-90 shooters), and low handicappers (70s shooters).
What Does a Golf Swing Consist of?
The golf swing involves three main components: the backswing, downswing, and impact.
In the backswing, you are loading up your swing to position the club in an effective position so you can hit the ball pure. In the downswing, you are transitioning the club towards impact. It culminates with impact, where you hopefully hit the ball far and straight.
To help you work on your swing, we’ll dive into the fundamentals of each component. Let’s start by talking a little bit about what happens before we swing: the grip and setup.
Bobby Jones, the greatest golfer of the early 1900s, once said, “good golf begins with a good grip.”
Whether you’re a scratch player or an 18 handicap, a great first way to diagnose your misses is by looking at how you hold the club. Make sure you hold the club within your palm, as this will provide better control and stability.
A key to a proper grip is to have a light grip. Intend to grip the club as if you were shaking a young child’s hand: light enough so that you don’t hurt them, but with the intention of a solid handshake.
When you set up to hit the golf ball, you want to ensure that we are aligned properly. If not, you could make a great swing– maybe even a perfect swing– only to watch the ball go to the wrong place.
In setting up correctly, you ensure that you limit your dispersion (how wide your misses are) to that target. A great way to practice your body setup is with an alignment stick like these.
When using an alignment stick, try to feel that your feet, hips, and shoulders are all aligned with the shaft, which should be parallel to where your club is aiming. In doing so, you’ll prime your body to aim in the same direction as your clubface and increase your chances of hitting straighter shots.
Ensure Proper Shoulder Rotation
The most important advice I can offer for a better backswing is to make a full rotation! Golfers of all levels make this critical swing error, and in making sure that your left shoulder passes under your chin (or as close to it) on the way back, you maximize how much power you can hit the ball with.
It also improves consistency, as your shoulders do more work instead of smaller body parts, like your arms. Combining proper shoulder rotation with connected arms will create a more efficient backswing.
Tips for High Handicappers
Make Solid Contact
At this stage, the most important thing is moving the ball forward consistently. The best way to do that is by ensuring solid contact. For this swing tip, we’ll explore two common swing errors and how you might go about fixing them:
With the duff, you are hitting the ground well before hitting the ball. You’re left with a ball that barely gets off the ground and usually with a very similar shot. The low point of your swing is before the ball, causing you to hit the big ball (Earth) before the little ball.
To fix the duff, focus on getting your weight on your left side in the downswing. On the range, you can place a golf towel a few inches behind your ball, focusing on hitting the ball without hitting the towel. If you can do this consistently, you’ll cure the duff in no time.
Many shanks are caused by swinging your golf club too far away from your body. Keep your hands close to your body on the downswing to cure this. Also, as I’ve mentioned above, be sure to maintain a light grip pressure, as this is another standard golf swing error that leads to the dreaded shanks.
If neither of these tips works for you, I suggest trying to hit the toe on every shot deliberately. If you try your hardest to stop hitting the hosel by hitting the other end of the club, this will teach your muscles how to promote a swing without the shanks.
Practice the Short Game
While this post is about golf swing basics, I can’t ignore the short game, especially for high handicappers. All you need is a toolbox of shots– knowing how to chip with a mid-iron, as well as learning how to improve control and contact with pitch shots, will go a long way.
For hitting more solid shots around the green, set about 70% of your weight on your forward foot, and rotate your torso back and through. By thinking about how you rotate your torso instead of using too much arms, you’ll deliver the club in a better position every time.
Tips for Mid Handicappers
Keep Your Left Arm Connected
At this stage, you’ve begun to hit the ball more solidly. One of the most common flaws in most golf swings is people folding their arms up, losing their connection, and harming their sequencing.
This leads to more inconsistent shots, adding loft and decreasing distance. A great way to work on this is to use the towel drill, where you pinch a towel under your armpits and make half-swings, ensuring that the towel remains pinched throughout your swing.
While this drill isn’t feasible to do on the course, a great adjustment will serve the same purpose. By pinching your shirt under your left arm, you’ll make sure that your left arm stays connected to your chest throughout your swing, increasing clubface control and consistency.
And don’t just take this from me– the best players in the world tend to be very compact at impact. For example, Tiger Woods’ swing has always remained connected at the top throughout his career. By keeping your left arm connected, you’ll hit more shots straighter and more solid, helping you shoot lower scores.
Get The Ball Out of the Bunker
If you’re losing lots of shots from the bunker, here are my best bunker tips:
- Open your stance and open the clubface, so the leading edge points at your target
- Place most of your weight on your front leg
- Swing the club head back and through with a big swing to make sure you get speed under the ball
Try practicing these tips by hitting multiple shots out of bunkers every time you’re in one on course. The best practice for this is simple repetition. And remember, the main goal is to get it on the green, followed by hitting it close.
Tips for Low Handicappers
Get Good at One Shot
This tip is geared more for those looking to get your handicap into the single digits or even below 5. In the modern game, most professional golfers have strayed away from being very good at hitting multiple types of shots.
In the past, “working the ball” was heralded as a crucial skill– elite players needed to know how to hit every shot with every club, from a low fade to a high draw and everything in between.
While some modern maestros like Bubba Watson are exceptional at doing that, he is an outlier, not the norm. Trying to hit both draws and fades– especially with the driver– leads to double-crosses, causing you to lose countless shots as you hit balls into the trees, penalty areas, or worse.
Instead of working the driver, stick to what you’re good at it. If you feel more comfortable hitting a draw, then definitely practice the draw and hit it. There is a caveat to the rule: working the ball with the irons (particularly with shorter irons) is not as costly as working the ball with your driver.
Double crosses with irons are rarely as penalizing as a double-cross with the driver, but you have to be sure that you can shape the ball in both directions consistently before you try it out on the course.
Increase Your Speed!
One look on Youtube on how to swing a golf club faster, and you’ll find countless results. Hitting it further has become ever more important today– by hitting longer drives, you present yourself with two opportunities: shorter clubs in on par 3’s and par 4’s, and more chances to reach the green in two on par 5’s.
It’s a no-brainer to train speed– it simply makes golf easier. And who doesn’t enjoy smashing a drive like Bryson DeChambeau?
The four components of training for speed are strength/power, flexibility, muscular endurance, and technique. At your level, most of the technique is already there. Exercises like squats, trap bar deadlifts, plyometrics, and general core exercises will help with strength/power and muscular endurance.
Flexibility will develop in tandem with these exercises, with as little as 10 minutes of stretching every day. However, understanding that everyone has time constraints, another feasible option: Overspeed training.
While this method is supposed to complement the four components aforementioned, Overspeed training itself will maximize your swing speed given what you currently possess in these four areas.
I highly suggest the SuperSpeed system: it is easy to use and has varying levels to help you progress. For highly skilled players looking for ways to improve, this may be the best advice I can give, as more club head speed will shorten the entire course.
Recap: Golf Swing Tips
A great way to improve your game is by dedicating time to work on your swing. From high handicapper to scratch golfer, I hope you can take these golf swing tips not so much to build a perfect golf swing but rather to get the most out of what you have.
I also highly suggest taking a lesson with your local PGA-certified teaching professional. By working with them, you will be better equipped to diagnose your golf swing errors and work towards getting the most out of your game.