In many ways, golf is a confusing game. Want to make the ball curve to the right? Swing to the left. Want to make the ball fly high up into the air? Swing down through the shot. You get the idea. Nothing is straightforward in golf – it seems that everything is the opposite of what you would expect.
The same can be said for power and distance. Want to hit the ball impressive distances with each club in your bag?
Learn how to swing ‘slower.’
That’s right – if you want to hit the ball farther, you are going to need to learn how to swing slow and easy while maximizing your swing speed at the moment that matters most. Don’t worry if that doesn’t make a lot of sense right away – this is a concept that many golfers never manage to grasp.
The Only Moment That Matters
For all of the work that is put into your golf swing, your club is only touching the ball for just a fraction of a second during each swing. Impact lasts for just the blink of an eye, as the club face slams into the back of the ball and sends it rocketing off into the distance.
Despite this fact, most golfers try to make their entire swing fast, not just the moment of impact. Unfortunately, this is a mistake. There can only be one fastest point in your swing, and if you are trying to swing quickly, that moment is not going to be at impact.
The entire goal of your golf swing should be to maximize your swing speed at the exact moment when the club contacts the ball. You aren’t going to be rewarded in any way for having a fast swing speed at the top, for example, so what’s the point of swinging fast before you need to? Everything you do with your technique should be designed to allow you to accumulate speed all the way up until the moment of truth at the bottom of the swing.
An excellent way to make sure you’re maximizing your swing speed at the moment of impact (and no sooner) is to practice what is called the “whoosh drill” as demonstrated here:
The Pros Do It Right
If there is one specific thing that is frustrating about watching golf on TV it’s the ability of touring professional golfers to hit the ball incredible distances with seemingly very little effort. You have certainly seen it for yourself – a pro golfer makes a swing that looks totally effortless, and yet the ball explodes into the sky and doesn’t come down for more than 300 yards.
How do they do it? Is it the equipment? What’s their secret?
The ‘secret,’ if there is on’, is that pro golfers don’t waste swing speed like amateurs do. The average amateur player hits their maximum swing speed well before the club ever reaches the ball, meaning that the club head is actually in the process of slowing down when impact occurs. On the other hand, the typical pro is a master of reaching top swing speed at the perfect moment.
They key to this is largely how the pros swing in the proper ‘sequence,’ that being how they start their downswing with the bottom (legs) and then move that motion up toward the top (shoulders and arms). When many beginner golfers try to swing ‘fast’ the result is an attempt to move the hands and arms too quickly which causes the upper body to get ahead of the lower body – this is often referred to as ‘getting quick at the top.’ While this motion feels intuitively as though more swing speed is being generated the opposite is actually true.
There’s No Need to Rush
When you stand over the golf ball preparing to hit a shot, you need to understand that there is no rush to complete the swing. Sure, you don’t want to take so long preparing for a shot that you hold up the pace of play, but the actually swinging motion itself can take its time to develop. The ball isn’t going to roll away – so start slow and build up to a powerful strike.
There are two key points in the golf swing where amateur golfers are prone to rushing. The first is the takeaway. Many players snatch the club away from the ball when they start the swing, setting the stage for a swing that will be rushed from start to finish. A quick takeaway means that your body will not have time to get into the right position to support a powerful downswing move.
The other danger point in the golf swing is the transition. This is likely the number one culprit when it comes to amateur players rushing through the golf swing.
As soon as the backswing finishes, many players decide that they need to take the club down to the ball as fast as humanly possible. Rather than getting their legs involved to develop real power, these players simply throw their hands down toward the ball and slap at it with an arms-only swing. Not surprisingly, the results are consistently disappointing.
Rushing the swing, whether in the takeaway or at the top, is always going to lead to weak contact and below average shots.
Even Tempo and Lower Body Power
No one part of your swing should look rushed or hurried when compared to the rest.
This is why the professionals are able to make swings that look so effortless – they don’t hurry at any point.
The best swings are the ones that build gradually from start to finish, with a steady acceleration of the club occurring from the top down into impact.
To maximize your power by accelerating the club all the way through impact, you need to use your lower body correctly from the top of the swing. As soon as the backswing is finished, your legs should take over the job of turning your entire body toward the target.
It is essential that your legs are the first thing to fire from the top – if your hands and arms win this race, you will be destined to create a weak downswing. Use an even tempo and hold your arms and hands back while your legs initiate the action. If you can do this correctly, the effortless power seen in the swings of professional golfers may soon start to appear in your own game.
Pro golfers are actually trying very hard to create power, despite the appearance that their swings are slow and effortless. However, since they understand the correct techniques and mechanics involved in developing power, their swings have a beautiful appearance which the envy of amateur golfers everywhere.
You can’t hit the ball 300 yards without swinging fast, and you can be sure that the pros are actually swinging very fast – only they are swinging fast at the perfect moment in the swing, not all the way through the swing.
Master your tempo and timing to max out swing speed at the bottom if you want to follow the lead of your favorite tour professional – your swing may ‘look’ slower to the casual observer but you’ll know that your only applying your max speed at the only moment that really matters…IMPACT!
Check out this video by Paul Wilson Golf Instruction for more excellent drills you can do to create that effortless, slow, and easy golf swing you’ve been looking for.
Recommended Further Reading
Here are a few staff favorite books on the subject of creating an effortless golf swing that we recommend checking out:
Cover Photo by sergeant.bacon on Flickr