All golf swings are different... but are there core elements that all swings should have?
12 Professionals Contributed
Core Components of Solid Ball Striking
The golf ball does not care about anything but the moment of impact. It has no opinion on the grip or any movement in the swing prior to impact.
Great ball strikers all have core elements in common: they consistently achieve five factors at impact in relation to the intended target line.
There are 5 performance factors at impact that affect distance and direction:
1) Position of Clubface at Impact to the Intended Target Line:
The initial path, the curve of the ball during its flight, and where the ball will finish are all greatly influenced by the clubhead position at impact.
2) Path of the Clubhead at Impact to the Intended Target Line:
The initial direction of the ball is slightly influenced by the clubhead path at impact. Path and clubface position at impact influence the amount of tilt of the spin axis imparted on the golf ball.
3) Angle of Approach:
The angle of approach of the clubface at impact influences ball flight, the initial launch angle, spin rate, and true loft of the clubface.
4) Centeredness of Contact:
Shots not struck on the center of the clubface will result in reduced distance. An off-center hit also imparts curvature (tilt of the spin axis) to the ball via the gear-effect.
5) Clubhead Speed:
The factors that influence clubhead speed at impact:
a. physical strength
c. swing technique
e. neuro-muscular coordination
A ball struck on the sweet spot will always leave the clubface very near to the direction the clubface was facing at impact. The ball will curve relative to the differential between the clubface and path of the clubhead at impact.
The average PGA Tour player’s golf swing is less than one second from the move away to impact. In that one second, .75 of the second is the backswing. This leaves .25 second to get the club to the impact position. The only position the golf ball cares about!
Good golfers are better at getting the club prepared to deliver to impact. They do it consistently and they do it quickly. The more messy the club is in transition, the harder it will be to achieve successfully the 5 Performance Factors at impact. Poor mechanics and fundamentals can certainly (and likely) lead to a poor impact position. A good instructor can help pinpoint swing inefficiencies to help a golfer achieve the core elements to successful impact and golf.
“The clubface sends it, and the swing path bends it.”
© 2022 Thomas T Wartelle & TTW Golf
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Thomas T Wartelle
PGA / WGTF Professional / Instructor
TTW Golf, Washington, LA
Fundamentals and Swing Keys
Not just YES but absolutely YES!
First being solid fundamentals–the grip is first as it’s the only connection to the club and controls the club face. I like the V’s in both hands for a right hand player to point to the middle of their right collar bone. Next is posture–you won’t see ANY tour player with sloppy posture. Look at and try to copy Tiger or Nelly Korda’s posture both face on and down the line. Next is ball position–you need to adjust it to strike the ball 3 different ways depending on the club being swung. Descending for irons. sweeping for fairways and hybrids off the ground and ascending for woods off a tee.
As for the swing–it’s very important to get the trail side loaded on the backswing over a stable lower body. By turning the trail side shoulder and hip away from the target line you’ll achieve this and stay centered rather than swaying off the ball. The sequence reverses itself as you start down. The lower body initiates with a shift of the weight back to the lead leg followed by a turning of the lead side hip out of the way. Get the arms to work with this motion and not overuse them and you’ll start to build a decent golf swing.
A great drill I give just about all my students is to get set up in a good athletic posture and feel like you’ve got a 2-3 lb. medicine ball in your hands. Now start tossing the “medicine” ball with a golf swing motion. At first just toss it a short distance and feel the body turn, the arms move and load into the trail side, then feel the weight shift and rotation of the hips as you “toss” the ball. Gradually start making the toss longer.
Georgia Golf Center, Roswell, GA
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The Foundations of a Golf Swing
Whenever I meet a student for the first time, I put them through a swing assessment test. This test includes a handful of swings made with a 9-iron, 7-iron and 5 iron/hybrid. This allows me to get a better understanding of how the player swings the club throughout the bag. Some players have the same numbers with each club, other have some differences. No one way is right or wrong, but some tendencies do make the golf swing easier to repeat than others. Once the swing assessment is complete, I move into the coaching phase. It does not matter if the player is a scratch or high handicap golfer, I am always going to address three main foundations of the golf swing. These foundations are Grip, Set-Up and Rotation. Now, depending on the level of player, I may dive deep into each area and make small adjustments that have big implications if it is a better player: or I may make what is considered a big adjustment for a high handicap or beginner player. Each of these foundations has a layer that may need to be addressed.
An example would be in the grip. If the player has never used the overlap or interlocking grip before, my first layer would be to get the player comfortable holding the club in one of those two ways however they feel comfortable. The grip is an unnatural position, by allowing them to get comfortable with it their way first, it makes the next change a little smoother. This next change would be adjusting the hands to be in the best position for them to square the club face at impact. Most common adjustments are moving into a neutral or strong grip. Rarely do I ever move the grip into a weaker position. Not saying it doesn’t happen, but it is rare.
Having these strong foundations can help a players game immensely, no matter what the skill level. Once these areas are developed and habitualized in a players swing, then we can take a look at some smaller details that will fine tune the players swing into their own!
PGA Professional and Player Development Coordinator
Glen Oak Golf Course, East Amherst, NY
Common core elements of good golf swings
I always tell students “the golf ball doesn’t care what your swing looks like.” This is why you see SO many different looking backswings on the professional level. If you slow the video down, and watch from when the club is about hip high in the downswing, all the way through impact, you’re going to see some massive similarities in all of those swings! It’s important that you build a backswing that helps YOU get into better positions and be more efficient coming into impact.
Learn the tendencies of the greats:
1) The clubhead is almost always coming from inside of the hands into impact
2) The best of the best are rotating their body so that their chest and hips are OPEN at impact
3) The best of the best are good at controlling the depth and location of their low point at the bottom.
If you control those 3 keys, you’ll be striking the ball better than ever in no time!
Colonial Heritage Club, Williamsburg, VA
Core elements of a golf swing, especially for a beginner
There are three basic movement patterns that must happen to be able to hit a full swing shot in the air.
1) ”Shoulder tilt” (spine angle)
2) ”Reaching “L”” (extension)
3) “Show Some Shoe” (rotation/at. transfer)
Using certain word phrases instills a great picture in a persons mind to be able to make their body attain these important body movement patterns.
2017 New England PGA Teacher of the Year
Stonebridge Golf Club, Monroe, NC
Posture, Grip, Alignment!
There are 3 core elements of all golf swings should have. Those are, Posture, Grip, Alignment! Very simple to remember PGA!
Briar Leaf Golf Club, La Porte, IN
Rhythm and Balance
With so many great players having a wide variety of style and technique, the one thing I find among all these players is great rhythm and balance. This leads to consistency, which makes it much easier to find your golf ball. For example, Jim Furyk has a unique swing, but he is a tremendous ball striker and has won his fair share of events with that unique swing. But, he has the most consistent rhythm (pace or tempo) of the top tier players; therefore he is very reliable in ball striking. So, always be working on your rhythm and balance!
James (Jim) Hackenberg
Jimmy Hack Golf, LLC, Easley, SC
They call me idiosyncrasies champion because because I love players who come in front of me with unusual styles that are are very efficient and keep working despite going against the norm I see 2000 people a day on our range no two swings look the same, similar but not the same. I love people like Jim Furek, Mat Wolfe, John Daly De Chambeau, Moe Norman and the millions of others who swing their own way “outside of the box” Individuality is what makes golf great, their own interpretation of the fundamentals like Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, same thing inside the box. The only thing that’s changed After 100 years , “The packaging”.
Fundamentals have been the same for hundreds of years too, the packaging has changed. feel free to discover and embellish put your own signature on them. Have a decent grip and alignment make sure the angles of approach to the ball are correct on the downswing and the clubface is facing where you want the ball to go at impact, pretty simple, the ball does not care what you look like before that. There’s no such thing as fundamentals because they are ever evolving.
LPGA International, Daytona Beach, FL
Commonalities and Windows
There are a lot of differences in the swings of the best players and few commonalities. By considering ranges, however, the commonalities will increase in number. By considering these ranges, in addition to the commonalities that exist within patterns, you can start to consider the whole.
Golf Evolution, Erie, PA
Controlling the Face, knowing where the golf ball is going. Swing Direction most golfers swing over the top. Lastly, Impact Most golfers hit a couple inches behind the golf ball.
Golf Galaxy, East Hanover, NJ
It’s debatable what the fundamentals are but I believe that there are four: alignment, posture, balance and rhythm. The other variables for any particular player then must match up to form a swing that strikes the ball well and consistently.
2015 Iowa PGA Professional of the Year. 2004 Iowa Golf Association Professional of the Year
Golf Galaxy, Davenport, Iowa
The club moves through the ball...Not at the ball...
We see all different swings…They have one thing in common=they swing through the ball not at the ball…
Eagle Ridge Golf Course, Gilroy, CA