Anatomy of a Golf Swing

by David Green
    An even tempo is key to a good golf swing.

    An even tempo is key to a good golf swing.

    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

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    The golf swing features many parts that must work together to execute a well-struck shot. A golfer must consider the stance, grip, swing and tempo when making a golf swing. Understanding the different aspects of the swing and practicing them on a driving range can be the key to consistently hitting accurate shots and, therefore, posting lower scores.

    Grip

    The golf grip is the way the club is held in the golfer’s hand. For right-handed golfers, the left hand is at the top of the club with the right hand immediately below it. The positioning is reversed for left-handed players. There are three common kinds of grips: the baseball grip, in which both hands grip the club like a baseball bat; the interlocking grip, in which the pinky finger on the bottom hand and the pointer finger on the top hand interlock; and the Vardon grip, an overlapping grip in which the pinky finger of the bottom hand rests in the gap between the pointer finger and middle finger of the top hand. It was popularized by legendary golfer Harry Vardon in the early 1900s. The grip, regardless of style, should not be too tight, as this will cause tension in the shoulders and make it more difficult to complete the swing.

    Ball Position

    For most shots, the golfer's feet should be about shoulder length apart. The ball position depends on the club being used. For a driver and fairway wood, the ball should be played just off the heel of the front foot. For long irons, the ball should be played about an inch or two farther back than a driver/fairway wood. For short irons and wedges, the ball should be played in the middle of the stance. Playing the ball forward, as for fairway woods and long irons, helps players get the ball in the air.

    Tempo

    Novice golfers sometimes make the mistake of swinging too hard in an attempt to hit the ball farther. The key to adding distance is solid contact, and keeping an even tempo throughout the swing. At the top of the backswing, don’t force the club downward but instead allow it to change direction in a natural motion. The backswing and the downswing should be done with approximately the same rhythm.

    Swing

    The golf swing should be a controlled arc around the golfer’s body. During the take back, the golfer’s weight should shift to the back side of the body as the chest rotates and the club goes backward. The club changes direction at the top of the swing, and on the way down the golfer’s weight shifts back to the front side. At the contact point, the front arm should form a straight line with the club. The follow-through should be a natural continuation of the momentum generated by the downswing as the ball takes flight.

    Misconceptions

    Some golfers believe they need to swing harder to hit the ball a greater distance or to help lift the ball to get it higher in the air. In fact, it is making solid contact with the ball that creates distance and loft. When swinging the club, focus on an even tempo to improve contact, which will result in greater distance. When swinging an iron, let the loft of the club get the ball into the air. Trying to help the ball get airborne by adjusting the body during the swing only leads to poor shots.

    About the Author

    A former sports and lifestyle reporter at the "Daily Nebraskan," David Green is a writer who has covered a variety of topics for daily newspapers. He was selected by the "Los Angeles Times" to participate in the Jim Murray Sports Writing Workshop. Green holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska.

    Photo Credits

    • Streeter Lecka/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images