Golf swing tips that will actually work

You, the golfer, now have access to more golf swing tips than ever before. This is both good and bad news. In this article I want to give you the best ‘golf swing tips’ I can from my 13 years as a golf coach – It is actually a 3-step process for building your golf swing and fault fixing. I also want to help you understand what to avoid with online golf tips. 

Golf swing tips – The good, the bad, the ugly

There are two ways golf tips can be delivered to the golfer:

1 – Here is exactly what you need to do and feel in your golf swing.

There is a problem here. All golfers want this first type of golf tips, because on the face of it, the golf tip will seem simple and useful.

However, no online golf tipster (myself included) can see your ball flight, see how you swing the golf club, understand how you learn and empathise with your golfing desires. These generic golf swing tips might work for in the short-term, but they probably will not. They are superficial and rarely develop you as a player.

The second form of golf swing tip is as follows:

2- Here is some information, and how to make sense of it. Now consider how it is of use to you. 

The second type of golf tips are deeper. They don’t give you an exact answer, but rather a way to test, build and develop your golf swing. These golf tips do take more work from you to understand. But they deliver value and long-term development for you as a player.  

The golf swing tips, or 3-step process, I’m going to cover in this article is not a quick fix, but a sequence of golf tips that will help you for the rest of your golfing career.

It will give you a way to make sense of all the golf swing tips you can gather from on and off the web and decide if and how they apply to your golf swing.  

The golf swing tip sequence is how we, as PGA professional are taught to coach you. So enjoy.

Golf swing tip #1 – Start with your performance (ball flight)

Golf swing tips question 1: What is the change you are trying to make in performance?

The difference between a great coach and that highly annoying club player that likes to give everyone an unwanted, running commentary of their golf swing faults is this: 

The annoying club player starts with the golf swing itself. They can see lots of things that don’t look right in your golf swing. They will tell you each and every one of the faults and explain, at length, why this factor terrible for your golf swing.

The golf coach will start at the other end of the problem – your performance. They then work back with three simple steps that I will describe in this article. This is the first big golf swing tip – know the difference between your swing characteristics and faults

Swing characteristics are things that may not look textbook, but they don’t negatively affect your golfing performance. Think of Jim Furyk’s backswing plane or Dustin Johnson’s left wrist position. 

Swing faults can be directly linked to your performance and impact. We will cover how to do this in steps two and three.

For now remember the follow:

Great golf coaching is about maximising performance gains with the smallest possible swing change. 

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So what is the difference in ball flight between your ideal and poor golf shots?

It sounds odd,  but every shot you hit can be described by a difference between actual and desired ball flight. A drive that ends up in the left-hand woods versus a drive down the middle of the fairway. Even a shank versus a well-struck shot shot can be described by a profound difference in ball flight.

The first step to improve your golf swing is to assess the difference in ball flight between your desired ball flight and current poor golf shots.

Golf Insider tip: Many golfers wish to be more inconsistent. General inconsistency occurs in every player we coach from beginners to tour pros. The key to this issue is still to break the inconsistency down into strike, direction and distance factors. You then need to address one at a time, you’ll see why in the next step.

Shows 9 main golf ball flights
This shows all 9 common ball flights in golf

Your first golf swing tip is to build up a pattern of what is the difference in ball flight between your good and bad golf shots. The images above show the nine common ball flights, but duffs, thin shots along the ground all count as a form of ball flight.

Golf swing tip #2 – Understanding impact factors

Golf swing tips question 2: What is the key impact factor you need to change?

Once you have settled on one (or two) troublesome ball flights you need to improve, work backwards and figure out what has caused this to occur at impact.

Golf Insider tip: Most golfers will suffer from two bad ball flights – a fade and a pull. A hook and a push, a fat and a thin. These may seem like opposing shots, but they generally have one common root cause. 

The golf ball only cares about impact. I know we love to pick apart golf swing positions, but in reality you can do a dance at the top of your back swing. Impact is what truly counts. Every golf shot is caused by a unique blend of the five factors at impact that are listed below.

Golf swing tips – Impact factors

There are only five things that alter your ball flight:

  1. Centredness of strike
  2. Club face angle at impact
  3. Swing path through impact
  4. Angle of attack at impact
  5. Club head velocity at impact

In this second step you need to link your bad ball flight to one or more of these impact factors. 

For example, a sliced drive is the result of an out to in swing path and an open club face. A fat wedge shot is caused by not hitting the centre of the club face, and an in-correct angle of attack

This area does take some time to develop a deep understanding of. The great news is that Trackman provide hours of free online training open to any golfer, just follow this link.

If you don’t have time for this I have some quick golf tips for impact that may go above what you can commonly find online.

Firstly, if you are wildly inconsistent and/or can hit 3 or more of the nine ball flights pictured above you need to work on centredness of strike. Not hitting the middle of the golf club leaves all other impact factors useless and can result in almost any ball flight. So your key take away from step two will be to improve centredness of strike.

Golf swing tips for hooks and slices

Golf swing tip articles for hooks and slices frequently bang on about swing path. This is not completely false. However, the key reason a golf ball curves through the air is the spin imparted on it when the club face is not aligned squarely to the swing path through impact.

The video below gives you an interesting insight, but the take away message is that squaring your club face up to your swing path at impact is the most important golf swing tip for reducing hooks and slices. 

Golf swing tip #3 – Building your golf swing

Golf swing tips question 3: What swing principle do you need to alter to maximise the improvement in your ball flight and performance?

Here we get to the fun bit. You now have a list of options that you can choose from to improve your golf swing and performance.

This shows the golf swing principles that affect each golf impact factor
This shows the principles that affect each impact factor

Above are the 14 swing principles that we as golf coaches use to improve your performance. Each one is listed under the impact factor they affect.

For an explanation of each principle check out this short guide to swing principles.

You can see some principles, such as aim, grip and set up are listed in multiple columns, this shows their wide-reaching affect on impact. 

Your task in step three is to choose the one or two swing principles that you wish to alter to affect your impact and performance. In reality you can choose any from the correct column.

However, I have some further tips for you below.

Golf swing tips – being a great coach

A key factor that separates great coaches from good ones is what swing principle they choose for each player that visits them. There is no perfect guide, this is where golf coaching becomes an art.

Here are my two tips at stage three from my 13-years of golf coaching.

Golf swing tips – Start by checking pre-swing principles

The golf swing is a sequence of events. Your aim, posture (included in the ‘set up’) and grip will affect everything that comes thereafter. Start by resolving the issues with these pre-swing principles where possible. 

Great aim, posture and grip are never a bad move. After two to three practice sessions with a better set the whole golf swing tends to re-adjust and become more textbook.

Golf swing tips – How sensitive is each principle?

Another key question to ask yourself – what is the one principle from the list that will move the needle the most?  

To improve a slicer’s Diving I would start by improving their club face at impact. To do this I could alter their left wrist position (list above), but it takes a lot of work to alter their left wrist position by five degrees at the top of my swing and maintain it by this magnitude through impact. Five degrees extra wrist flexion is a big change!

Where as a small grip change will alter their club face by 5-degree throughout their entire golf swing with no further thought required.  

This is one reason why we, as golf coaches, make so many set up and grip tweaks. This holds true even with elite players. 

Golf swing tip – Test, practice and re-test

Once you have outlined the swing principle you wish to work on begin by videoing your golf swing. Take a snap shot and some notes of where the swing principle is to start off with. 

Once this is complete you can head off to the golf range. Check out these two links on how to practice effectively at the golf range.

Don’t expect an immediate visual change in your golf swing. Your key aim is to hit balls and use your ball flight as feedback. A great way to start is to exaggerate the swing principle you have chosen so much that you can hit the opposing shot (if you’re a slicer, trying hitting hooks just by changing your grip). Once you can hit the other extreme work your way back to a middle point.

It is a real simple process, but this repetition of exploring and tweaking swing principles is what learning is about.

After three or four practice sessions re-video your golf swing and assess how your swing principle has altered. What surprises people is how similar their golf swing will still look. A 3-5 degree swing path or club face change at impact is massive for ball flight and performance, but it will barely register on a video camera.

This isn’t a problem, it is a good thing. Your key feedback mechanism is ball flight. Always remember that improved ball flight and performance is the name of the game.

Golf swing tips – Conclusion

There we have the most in depth article on golf swing tips. Hopefully it gives you a framework to think about your golf swing. When you are considering how to improve your golf swing, just go through the three questions below.

Golf swing tips question 1: What is the change you are trying to make in performance?

Golf swing tips question 2: What is the key impact factor you need to change?

Golf swing tips question 3: What swing principle do you need to alter to maximise the improvement in your ball flight and performance?

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Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider