If you’re new to the wonderfully challenging game of golf, you’re probably wondering how pro golfers like myself hit the golf ball the way we do. Learning how to swing a golf club is a process that takes practice and diligence, but the rewards are well worth it if you stay the course.
The first step in learning how to swing a golf club is learning how to setup to the golf ball properly. There are countless ways to setup to the golf ball incorrectly that will literally make it impossible for you to swing the golf club properly, so much so that I’ve dedicated an entire section of my website just learning how to setup correctly. While there are hours of content there, let’s start with some of the most common golf setup mistakes most golfers make.
RIGHT SIDE DOMINANCE AT SETUP
Hands down, this is the most common golf setup mistake I see golfers make and it stems from the fact that most golfers are right handed playing a left handed dominant sport. That’s right, there’s your first free golf tip to learning how to swing a golf club – if you’re playing with right handed golf clubs, training the left hand and side of your body is the most important part of your learning how to play golf.
To further explain this, I want to share with your one of our videos normally only reserved for RotarySwing University students (learn more) with you:
When were talking about being right side dominant at setup but we’re really saying is that you don’t have enough axis tilt. Axis tilt is one of the most important parts of the golf swing set up. in fact it is so important that setting up with a proper spine angle is what determines your golf swing plane. When a student comes to me for golf lessons that’s the first thing I check is their spine angle and axis tilt at set up. This is especially true if they are coming to me and saying that they are struggling with not swinging over the top and slicing.
THE GOLF TAKEAWAY
If you’re setup correctly then the rest of the golf swing comes much easier and it’s much easier to learn how to swing a golf club. The golf takeaway is actually a really simple movement. In fact, it’s only a 2” movement to move the club 6 feet. That’s golf swing efficiency at its finest. Most golfers struggle when learning how to swing a golf club because they’re so fixated on just moving the club and not their body.
What you should focus on is what your body is doing because that is what actually moves the golf club. By itself a golf club is completely and utterly useless. Your brain is the most important part of your golf swing. It must send an electrical signal to your muscles first that tells the muscle to contract in a specific sequence, which, in turn, moves bones at a joint, which in turn moves the golf club. At its simplest, that is the golf swing! So, when you’re learning how to swing a golf club you should be focusing on learning how to move your body correctly first and you’ll be amazed to see the golf club goes exactly where you want it to.
So, if you take a look at my takeaway video you’ll see that learning how to do this first move of the golf swing is super simple. Take a look at the video below:
That’s a pretty neat trick, huh? by simply learning how to move your body correctly you can make a perfect takeaway just like the pros. In fact, where most golf students make a mistake is they add a movement to the takeaway that isn’t necessary. The golf takeaway is truly no more complicated than what I just showed you. If you can move to inches you can make a perfect takeaway and look like a tour pro.
COMPLETING THE GOLF BACKSWING
If you perform the takeaway correctly using the RotarySwing golf swing fundamentals, then completing the golf backswing is going to be a piece of cake for you. It is simply learning how to continue the movement that you initiated during the golf takeaway all the way to the top of the golf backswing until you make a full 90 degree shoulder turn.
If the engine of the golf swing, the body, is moving correctly the way that I just showed you, then all we need to do is just learn how to get the arms to play nicely with the rotating body. We do this through a little sequence we call REF. This stands for rotation elevation flexion.
I recently just did an in-depth blog post on how to make the perfect golf backswing so take a look at that here.
THE GOLF SWING TRANSITION
Now for the hard stuff! Getting your setup, takeaway and backswing correct is not nearly as difficult as the secret moves that tour pros make that is called the golf swing transition.
I know golfers who have spent 50 years chasing how to do the proper golf swing transition and until they worked with the RotarySwing golf swing fundamentals, they never ever found the trick on learning how to make a proper transition. However, with RotarySwing we make it quite simple and we have numerous drills on the site that help you make this perfect transition move from the top of the backswing.
One of my favorite drills is quite simple. I call it the Frisbee Drill for Sequencing the Golf Downswing because I actually want you to use a Frisbee and throw it at the ground where the golf ball would be at setup. What makes this golf swing drill so special and so effective is that it ties into your natural instinct of how to sequence the body in a powerful and efficient way. With RotarySwing we always try and tie into existing movement patterns in your brain like that. Even the movement of throwing a baseball has ties to the same kinematic sequence as the golf swing.
The frisbee drill will teach you how to make a natural weight transfer, hip rotation and post up move that is critical to golf swing success when you’re learning how to swing a golf club.
As I mentioned earlier, the golf swing is a left-side dominant movement and that is what makes golf so hard. In fact, I’d say it’s harder than probably any other sport in the world. There’s so much precision required to hit a golf ball straight and accurate and far that it’s truly mind-boggling that we ever do it even once. We’re talking millimeter level precision and even being off one or two degrees can cause the golf ball to go out of bounds.
I have taught countless pro athletes in my golf teaching career, but one golf lesson in particular sticks out more than any other. It was probably back in 2006 or so. The NFL great running back Neil Anderson came to my golf academy in Windermere, FL from Gainesville where he lives and played his college football. Even though this was many years after his NFL career was over, he was still absolutely ripped and looked like he could step on the field and play for the Chicago Bears tomorrow.
And while Neil’s physique was impressive nothing was more impressive than me watching him swing at the golf ball with what I could only, in my professional opinion, say was god awful golf swing. However, this very unattractive move was hitting range balls with a 7-iron 195 yards down the range. It was shocking to say the least. Not only was he hitting it far but he was actually hitting it quite straight for an amateur golfer; especially given the distance that he was hitting it – nearly 200 yards with range balls. On average the typical golf club range ball goes about 10 to 20% shorter than than a premium golf ball.
As I began the golf lesson and began videoing his golf swing I became even more shocked. As I walked through his golf swing frame by frame he had some of the most horrendous swing flaws that you see in golfers who can’t hit a 7-iron a hundred yards, much less 200. His left arm during the downswing was bent at nearly 90°. As he neared impact he began to aggressively flip the golf club and yet somehow, with his incredible forearm strength and athleticism, still managed time it relatively consistently.
From a golf swing fundamentals standpoint Neil didn’t give me much to work with but what he did have was an unbelievable amount of hand-eye coordination and talent that the average golfer simply doesn’t have. As I began to introduce proper fundamentals to Neil’s golf swing he was able to process them much quicker than the average Joe and implement changes almost instantly. Because of this we were able to accomplish a great deal in an extremely short period of time. He was able to maintain that prodigious distance with all his clubs and introduce much more consistency into his golf shots.
If you have the talent of a Hall of Fame NFL running back then you might be able to get away with not learning proper fundamentals and a sound golf swing transition. However if you’re like me and 99% of the rest of the world out there it’s going to bode you well when you’re learning how to swing a golf club to focus exclusively on the fundamentals in your golf swing.
So, while you’re working on these new golf swing movements, be patient with yourself because it takes the brain many many many hundreds and even thousands of repetitions to learn how to master a new movement pattern. We have many great videos to help you further understand this concept of how the brain learns how to swing a golf club.
THE GOLF DOWNSWING
Once we move past the golf transition we can focus on the rest of the downswing. The most critical points of a proper golf downswing are the weight shift back to the left, hip rotation, and the posting up move the creates a powerful golf swing release. In reality, your entire job in the golf swing is to simply create, maintain and release lag. Lag is where two thirds of your golf club head speed comes from in the swing. So when you’re learning how to swing a golf club you want to learn how to do it powerfully and with plenty of club head speed because most golfers never learn how to maintain lag in there golf downswing.
This is due to the fact that most golfers are again right-handed and being right side dominant makes you want to throw the club from the top of your backswing with your right arm. Your right arm is in a cocked position as is your right wrist and it makes it very easy to throw the club away from the top of the backswing and lose all of your lag before you ever hit the ball.
So if you don’t have ample club head speed, the first thing for you to check is on video if you’re losing lag in the downswing. The key to maintaining lag is all in the golf swing transition. Maintaining golf swing lag is all about the weight shift back to the left and keeping your arms shoulders and wrists very relaxed during the transition. One of the keys that I use all of the time with my students is actually removing the right hand from the club as there making practice swings or even hitting balls. This drill is so incredibly effective inhelping you maintain lag that I’ve literally helped thousands and thousands of golfers create more lag in there downswings in 30 seconds then they have had in their entire career.
In fact just by removing the right hand from the golf club you’ll be completely blown away at how much more lag you have than what you’ve ever seen in the past. The right arm is in a position to only be able to cause you to lose lag at the top of the backswing so it’s critical that you relax that right arm and let the weight shift and the lead arm do the work in the downswing.
Click the “Killer Lag Drill” image you see to check out a video on a great golf swing drill to maintain lag.
GOLF IMPACT POSITION
If we’ve done our jobs correctly in the downswing the golf impact position is going to be quite simple. However, most golfers make a mistake because they’re too right side dominant and they flip the club at impact. If you use the left hand to help pull the club into impact and help deloft it, you will achieve a flat left wrist at impact with ample shaft lean.
This concept of pushing versus pulling is so critically fundamental to learning the golf swing that it actually forms the entire underlying thesis statement for it. RotarySwing University is even built around the concept of pushing versus pulling. This video is so important that I want to share it with you even though I normally only reserved it for my premium members.
If you struggled with flipping the golf club and getting into a very weak impact position the first place you should look is at your right hand. In fact, take it off the club and try and hit some really short shots with it off the club, even chip shots at first, and video yourself and see if your left hand doesn’t end up in a nice beautiful flat perfect impact position without you having to do a thing.
If you find that you’re still severely flipping the club at impact without your right hand on the golf club then take your left thumb off the club as well. While this may seem odd, think about the position that your left thumb is in. It’s in a position to be able to push against the shaft and break your wrist down and cause the golf club to flip and over take your hands. Instead, what you should be focusing on is pulling the club slightly during the downswing with the last three fingers of the left hand.
More specifically you should focus on the pinky of the left hand. The pinky is extremely important to being able to control the golf club into impact and creating a powerful release. That’s right, the smallest finger on your hand is actually the most important in the golf swing, particularly at impact.
This is the best part of the entire golf swing. It’s the most fun and is where all the club head speed is really produced and unleashed when you’re learning how to swing the golf club. The release is simply the unhinging and uncocking of the wrist during the last phase of the downswing into impact. The release continues until the club has reached parallel to the ground on the other side of the golf ball. During this time the clubface rotates a full hundred 180 degrees from its relative position when the club shaft is parallel to the ground in the downswing.
Most golfers believe that they should try and hold the clubface square through impact in order to hit a straight golf shot. In fact, you actually must have the clubface rotating throughout the entire downswing, including during impact, when the ball is technically still on the club face. This rotation not only helps square the face but it also helps deloft it to create a more penetrating and powerful ball flight with your irons.
RotarySwing.com has more than a dozen videos that deal with every aspect of the release so if this is something you struggle with click here to check out some of these videos that will help you release the golf club like a tour pro. Having a proper release is critical to your learning process of how to swing a golf club.
THE FOLLOW THROUGH
The follow-through is the least important part of the golf swing even though some instructors try and teach the golf swing backwards from the follow through back down into impact and so on. The intent of this as well and good enough but it doesn’t really help the golfer. What this golf instructor is attempting to do is teach them what it feels like to fully transfer their weight onto their lead foot in the downswing.
However, having a pretty follow through is really nothing more than a result of doing other things properly in the downswing. You can use it as a diagnostic tool to see if you shifted your weight and did other things correctly and that’s what we primarily use it for at our RotarySwing Golf Academy at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando Florida.
However, unless you just want to look pretty in pictures you shouldn’t put too much focus on your golf follow-through. The main things that you want to check are that 90% of your weight is on your left foot and you are perfectly balanced up on your right toe. Your belt buckle should be facing the target, as should be your chest and the golf club should be fully released into a relaxed position at the finish.
The entire purpose of the follow-through is really nothing more than to safely decelerate the golf club. While about 40% of the clubhead speed is lost in the ball/club face collision and resultant energy transfer, the golf club is still moving quite quickly and this is a great place for you to injure yourself when learning how to swing a golf club.
Your focus and your goal is that at the end of your follow through when the golf swing is completely done, you should feel completely relaxed, balanced and poised and able to stay in that position long enough for someone to take your picture.
Learning how to swing a golf club is a tremendously rewarding experience but it won’t come easy for most golfers at first. It’s critical that you learn the proper fundamentals of the golf swing before you worry about any of the fancy stuff. If you learn how to move your body correctly you will produce plenty of club head speed just by following the pointers I’ve given you on this page. However, when you’re ready to take your golf game to the next level consider enrolling at RotarySwing University.
RotarySwing University is the world’s first higher institute of learning for learning a proper, safe, powerful and efficient golf swing. Our program has helped over 300,000 golfers learn how to swing like a tour pro and enjoy the game more now than ever. At the end of the day that’s what it’s really all about, right? We all want to go out there and hit the ball a long ways and having a proper golf swing is the key to doing that.