Imagine how nice it would be to go to the golf course and hit that perfect draw with every shot. The reality is quite the opposite for a majority of golfers. Perfecting the golf swing sequence is a lifetime pursuit and something that golfers have to continue to develop.
Instead of perfection, golfers should focus on attainable improvement. Within the golf swing sequence, we have broken the sequence down into six steps to help golfers understand each phase and look for ways to improve their swing.
1. Stance & Addressing the Ball
Your approach to addressing the ball sets the stage for everything else in your swing from your takeaway to your follow-through. Without a proper stance and alignment with the ball, you will struggle to hit the ball consistently with the clubs in your bag.
First of all, let’s talk about the position of your ball in relation to your stance. It’s important to know where to position your ball based on the club you are hitting with. A basic rule of thumb to keep in mind is the lower the loft of your club, the further up in your stance the ball should be. Here’s an easy breakdown of ball position and the club you are using:
- Short-Irons (8, 9, wedges): position the ball in the center of your stance when hitting with these clubs
- Mid-Length Irons (5, 6, 7 irons): position the ball an inch or two forward in your stance
- Long-irons (3, 4, and long fairway woods): position the ball another inch or two forward in your stance
- Driver: the forward-most position of the ball for all clubs. Position your ball one or two inches from your front foot
Why does it matter where the ball is positioned for each golf club? Each club in your bag has a different degree of loft. On your downswing, it is important that you maximize the impact of your club to the ball so that you can get optimal loft and distance for the club you are hitting with.
Now, let’s talk about stance. Your stance when addressing the ball should complement the path of your club swing sequence. To accomplish this, make sure your posture is sound. Make sure that you have a straight spine in your stance. Don’t allow your spine to bend inward or outward excessively. A straight spine will allow optimal use of your core muscles to generate more power in your swing and make more sound impact with the ball.
In addition to your stance, you may be wondering where to place your feet. If you watch any professional golfer address the ball, you will notice that they are not standing too close or to far from the ball. If you are wondering if you are standing too close or too far from the ball, try this:
- Grab a golf club and square your club face up to the ball
- Let the golf club rest on your leg with the club face squared up to the ball so you can grab it later
- Get your stance by placing your feet shoulder-width apart
- Align your ball in the center of your stance
- Get a proper posture with a straight alignment of your spine as you bend your upper torso
- Let your arms hang loose as you have your upper torso bent
- You should be able to grip your golf club in the position you are in to tell you the proper position of your feet.
[image of feet position drill]
For step two of the golf swing sequence, let’s not complicate things. Your takeaway is the beginning of the movement of your club. Think about the first few feet of the club moving backward. On your takeaway, focus three things:
- Don’t overgrip the club. Try to let the larger muscles in your body guide your club upward
- Keep your club face square to the ball for a few feet
- Slow down! Allow yourself to guide the club upward so that you don’t chart a path that will lead to a poor swing path to the ball
When thinking about the backswing, think about rotation and stability. To get your club to the top of the backswing, equally rotate your shoulders and rotate your hips around. As you are rotating, be mindful of your legs and feet. Your feet should be firmly planted and your legs not be moving excessively from side to side. In other words, don’t allow your body to sway in your backswing.
Our arms in relation to our upper body should be close together. This allows us to keep our swing path compact on the downswing. Here’s a great drill that many golfers like to use to practice this:
- Grab a small towel from your golf bag
- Place the towel under both of your arms across your chest
- Take your golf club and try to do some practice swings without the towel falling from either arm
- Try to take some practice shots by hitting the golf ball without the towel falling
Not only will this help you develop a proper backswing, it can also help in avoiding hitting slices. At the top of your backswing, you should the shaft of your club should be parallel with the ground.
[image of the backswing with shaft parallel to the ground]
The transition phase of the golf swing sequence is a very brief moment in the overall sequence, but as we go from swinging upward to downward, there are a few moving parts to keep in mind.
As you begin your transition downward, continue to keep your feet planted, and don’t allow any unnecessary shifts in your lower body.
We’ve talked about keeping the speed of your takeaway and backswing slow. As you begin your downswing, the speed of your club should start to pick up. The rotations that you made on your backswing should now feel like a coil unwinding.
Your wrists also play an important role in the downswing. As your hips and shoulders move forward into your downswing, try to avoid the tendency of “casting” the club. Casting the golf club commonly means opening your wrists prematurely in your swing. This leads to hitting the ball “thin” or “fat”.
As you continue your downswing, try to visualize your hands passing the ball before your club head hits the ball. This allows your club to do what it was designed to do: put the ball in the air.
One last thing: don’t look up too early! Keep your head down and focus on the ball. It is natural for golfers to want to look up at the target to see if their ball is going that direction. More often than not, you will find that looking up too early will lead to topping the ball. Looking up will likely lead to our body following and lifting the club too high off the ground.
6. Follow Through
The first thing to visualize with your follow-through is the final trajectory of your club. Visualize your club and arms swinging up with your chest facing the target.
A proper follow-through also takes into account the weight distribution of your body. As you follow through with the swing, you should feel most of the weight of your body transfer to your front foot. If you feel unbalanced on the follow-through, it is likely that you are focussed on one aspect of the golf swing sequence rather than the full sequence.
What we have covered here is only a fraction of many other variables that contribute to the golf swing sequence. Making improvements to your swing can be more attainable when you focus on different aspects of the sequence. One way to better see your opportunities for improvement is to try and record your golf swing.
Take a look at our other tips and guides to keep improving your game on the links!