In this article we’ll cover the basics of how to swing a golf club. As a golf pro I’ve had the pleasure of coaching many beginner players. Below are my top golf swing tips for learning how to swing a club.
Table of Contents
- 1 Golf grip & setup
- 2 Alignment
- 3 The backswing
- 4 The downswing
- 5 The follow through
- 6 How to swing a golf club – The magical tip
- 7 How to swing a golf club – Irons
- 8 How to swing a golf club – Driver
- 9 Additional tips for building a great golf swing
- 10 Summary
Golf grip & setup
The most important part of learning how to swing a golf club is actually your setup. The golf swing is a sequence of events – how you setup and hold the club dictates the rest of your golf swing.
Build a proper golf grip
Below is a quick step-by-step guide to help you create a great golf grip. If you want more info, check out this full article on mastering a proper golf grip. The way you hold the club affects where the club face points relative to your golf swing – so it is pretty important for deciding where your golf shots will end up!
When you first swing a golf club with this grip it will feel weird and uncomfortable, but trust me, it really will help you progress as a golfer.
There are subtle variations of the golf grip known as the over-lapping, interlocking and ten-fingered grip. These relate to how your right hand and left hand link. You can read more here, but in short, make sure your hands are close together and ideally overlapping.
This will feel strange but allows your hands to work as one unit during the swing, rather than fighting each one another.
The last golf grip tip is on pressure – how hard should you hold the golf club? Imagine your golf grip is a banana that you have to eat after your golf swing. You want to hold it tight enough so that it doesn’t fly off, but too much pressure will bruise it.
Once you have your hands in a good position it is time to move onto mastering your golf posture.
Refine your golf posture
The next stage in swinging a club is to master how to stand. Golfers often struggle to make good contact with the ball and have the occasional air-shot. This is generally due to poor posture.
Many golfers bend their knees, but setup with their upper body too upright, which leads to the club swinging above the golf ball. Whereas a great golf posture tilts your upper body towards the ground, meaning when you swing in a circle around your body, you’ll find it much easier to return the club to the centre of the ball.
The video below is a really simple way to create a great golf posture. For a more detailed guide on mastering your golf posture and stance check out this article.
New golfers tend to worry a lot about where they are aiming, surprisingly they often have great alignment just through natural instinct.
The image below shows the ideal alignment for hitting a golf shot with any iron or wood. The right-hand line shows the target line, you should use this guide to point your club face towards your target.
The left-hand line shows how your body should aim parallel to your target line. A great image is to picture these two lines as a railway track when you setup. Your ball and club fall on the right-hand rail and your body aims down the left-hand rail.
When I’m coaching a complete beginner, I often help them with their grip and posture, then say ‘right have a swing’. They often look at me confused, but I find this is one of the best ways to start swinging – get your grip and posture sorted, then have a big swing at the golf ball. As I said at the start of the article, your setup dictates the rest of your golf swing.
The following section gives you a little more info for the golf backswing and downswing, but the key gem for swinging a golf club is at the end of the article and it is a very simple swing thought.
The backswing requires a turn of your body and a hinge of your wrists. The images below show you from setup how this is achieved. If you have your setup correct you should find that as you turn your body, the wrist automatically want to hinge – as shown by the red lines below.
If we look down the target line (below) we see the club travels around our body on a tilted circle (sometimes called your arc or swing plane). Your backswing is going well if the grip of the club is pointing at the golf ball halfway back – we call this being ‘on plane’ (see the bottom left image below).
A little tip, keeping your right elbow close to your side during the first part of your backswing helps your arms rotate and stay close to your body. For a more detailed guide, check out this ultimate guide to the backswing.
By the time you reach the top of your backswing the club head should be pointing over your right shoulder. With your right elbow and hand sitting under the golf club, as shown in the bottom right hand image.
This position doesn’t guarantee you will hit a perfect golf shot every time. However, from here you’ll be in a great position to unwind through your downswing and return the club back to hit the ball.
Practicing these golf swing positions in a mirror or a window is a great way to build the feeling of a great backswing. Keep practicing them, and slowly link them together until they feel like a single, natural movement.
If you have made a nice backswing, the downswing is all about unwinding into a balanced finish. From the top of your golf swing you should feel your weight shifts a little towards your front foot, before you unwind to face your target.
You can see from the images of Tiger’s golf swing below, the hands and arms begin to fall down, before the hips and chest rotate to towards his target.
This sequence of shifting your weight, and moving the arms and body is something many golfers struggle with during their golf swing.
If the arms are too active and the body does very little, you’ll run out of steam and chop across the ball – this is a common move slicers struggle with. In contrasts, if you only unwind your body, the club will swing down too close to your body and requires a lot of work to them extend out towards the ball.
What is the solution to this tricky problem when hitting the ball? Think less about mechanics and relate it to a movement you are already great at.
Imagine throwing a ball, you don’t stop when you release the ball, you continue to unwind after the ball has left your hand into a full finish.
The same is true for the golf swing. Unwind into a balanced finish and let the ball get in the way. This may sound too simple, but you’ll be amazed at how this simple thought creates a downswing that keeps getting better and better with every attempt.
If you are after more detail, here is a link to mastering your downswing sequence – it goes deep into the downswing sequence.
The follow through
The golf ball has long gone by this point in your golf swing, and yet, if you look at any good golfer you’ll see they display a great follow-through position.
Well, if you can finish in a balance follow through you were likely balanced when hitting the ball. Which greatly increases your chances of hitting the centre of the club face.
A great follow-through is one where the golfer has fully turned their body through towards the target. You should feel balanced with 90% of your weight on your front foot. This is a good sign of the correct weight transfer during your golf swing.
A great tip is to challenge yourself to hold your finish until your golf ball lands. I don’t care if your shot travels 10-feet of 300-yards, see if you can hold a balanced finish until your ball stops rolling.
10 swings in a row holding your finish until the ball stops rolling – give it a go next time you hit the golf range.
How to swing a golf club – The magical tip
As I mentioned previously, when coaching beginner golfers, I like to teach them the setup, then let them swing with one simple thought. Over the past 15 years I’ve found this is the best way to learn the golf swing.
Many golfers try to help the golf ball up into the air, however golf clubs have loft on them and are actually designed to hit down on golf ball (see Tiger above). For this reason, your key thought should be to brush the grass (or mat) under the golf ball as you swing through.
As long as you brush the grass under the golf ball, the ball will go up in the air – I promise. Getting this image in your head as you learn how to swing a golf club will really help you hit some great golf shots.
How to swing a golf club – Quick drill
Grab a 7-iron and golf tee. Head to your garden or the practice ground. Push the tee into the ground, leaving 1/2″ sticking out of the ground. Make a golf swing trying hit the tee out of the ground. Every time your club travels too high above the tee reflects a topped or thinned golf shot.
Once you can hit the tee out of the ground five times in a row, push the tee further down. Keep practicing until you can make contact with the tee and produce a nice divot just after the tee. This represents a really well-struck iron shot.
How to swing a golf club – Irons
The advice detailed above is perfect for all iron shots you will hit. As the clubs increase in loft (you move from a 6-iron to a 9-iron) the clubs become shorter meaning you’ll need to stand a little closer to the golf ball. However, you should always feel balanced, with the weight in the centre of your feet throughout your golf swing.
Even very experienced golfers struggle to hit the ball well with their longer irons (5,4 & 3-iron). Don’t worry if you find these a challenge, many players opt for a fairway wood or hybrid instead of long irons.
Focus on building a great golf swing and striking your mid-irons and short-irons well. Your long-irons will become more consistent over time; with practice.
How to swing a golf club – Driver
Drivers are normally hit off a tee and are the only club where you need to swing level or hit slightly up on the golf ball, rather than striking down. This is very simple to do. At setup, move the golf ball so that it is positioned inside your front foot (see below).
This simple change means the club will automatically be swinging up as it approaches the golf ball. It is also useful to feel like you sweep the ball off the tee when hitting driver.
For more, check out this detailed guide on how to hit a driver straight and long.
Additional tips for building a great golf swing
Golf can get very technical, try to split up your practice time into ‘technical practice’ and ‘skill practice’.
During technical practice, you can focus on golf swing positions and refining how you move. Each week try to also include some skill practice where you think far less about your technique and just try to hit the ball towards your target. If you want to learn more about this idea you can check out this guide on three types of golf practice.
Golf swing length
If you watch the pros you’ll notice they rarely use 100% of their potential swing speed, they hit most of their iron shots at 70 – 80% speed. This is a great way to improve your accuracy and consistency.
If your best hit with a 7-iron travels 150-yards then you’ll be far more consistent making a smoother swing with a 6-iron from 150-yards, rather than a full swing with your 7-iron.
A great strike will solve many issues
One tricky aspect about playing golf is that you can’t see what you are doing. When beginner golfers hit a few back shots they often start questioning every aspect of their golf swing.
How should I take the club back? Where is my right elbow? How should I hit the ball?
Most poor golf shots are the result of one thing – not hitting the centre of the club face. If you are struggling, try making a few smooth swings and just focus on making great contact as you hit the ball. Also, try out the golf tee drill mentioned above – I use it in most beginner golf lessons.
You’ll quickly find 90% of your poor shots disappear when you start hitting the centre of the golf club.
Why do I hit behind the ball?
Golfers who hit behind the ball are often trying to help the ball up in the air during their golf swing. As we covered earlier, the trick is to strike down and through your iron shots.
Make sure you transfer your weight and turn into a balanced finish if you start hitting behind the golf ball.
Last tip – have fun!
Swinging a lump of metal around your body to hit a little white ball is tough. I’ve been a professional golfer for 15 years and still have some days on the golf course where the game feels near impossible.
Just take joy in the good shots, see how many good shots you can hit and worry far less about the bad ones.
There we have a quick guide to help you swing a golf club – I sure hope you’ve found it helpful. If you have any further questions just post a comment below and I’ll update the article and get back to you.
If you’re looking for golf equipment then check out this article on the best game improvement irons. For more on the golf swing check out the long game hub. Or if you’ve mastered the golf swing after this review then check out our ultimate chipping and pitching guides.
Also, if you would like a free weekly article sent to your inbox every Monday come join the golf insider weekly post.
Happy Golfing – Will @ Golf Insider UK
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8 thoughts on “How To Swing A Golf Club [Step-By-Step Guide]”
This is great information…
I’ve quit and restarted numerous times because I couldn’t quite get myself to do exactly what I was being instructed..
Glad it was if use sir. I always wonder if this article is useful, or a little too abstract, but I shall leave it as it is if you and other golfers are finding it useful. All the best with your golf!
I completely agree that golf instruction tends to focus on too many swing positions and not enough on the interaction between the club face and the golf ball.
What do you think about manipulating the path of the golf club by aiming at different parts of the ball (middle of ball = neutral path, inside of ball = in to out path, outside of the ball = out to in)? Thanks.
Thanks for getting in touch. I find what you state above is a great approach for some people – if it clicks it really clicks. However, from my years coaching I found there is no magic bullet that cures all. A pretty good grip and posture speed up the learning process no end – then it is a journey of self-discovery – hopefully with a good coach to pick the player up and place them back on track when they go astray.
A strange factors I find time and time again is that players are trying to make golf swings, rather than hit golf shots.
I want to re-write this article at some point, but still pondering on the best approach – my aim is to make the message clearer. I appreciate any thoughts you have.
I hope the golf is going well.
For a systems thinker this article is perfect as is. It is easy to forget the fundamental problem of golf when on the surface it seems so simple. However in reality even stage 1 is very complex when you factor in the fact that lie and conditions on an actual golf course are very rarely ideal and far removed from the practice environment. I think this is why I enjoy golf so much as it is such an interesting problem to try and solve. Just when you think you have all the variables sussed it reveals another layer of complexity.
Love your site and as a beginner I find this to be an incredibly useful website to improve my game. Thank you!
I do have a question for you that I’m hoping you can clarify: when you say “your key thought should be to brush the grass (or mat) under the golf ball” does this apply when hitting off a tee as well? Thank you!
Thanks for getting in touch – delighted the site is of use. I actually have a driving article queued up for October. However, to get you going now, yes focusing on clipping the tee out the ground is a pretty good thought when hitting a driver. The only difference is that with irons you’re striking downwards into the ground, whereas with driver your club is sweeping level or is starting to travel upwards as it hits the tee.
This might sound complicated, but as long as you shift your ball position for driver (see the link below for more detail) this will happen naturally.
I sure hope that helps.
Great content, made less readable by numerous spelling errors. Probably a misbehaving spellchecker, but a quick reread would make this article a solid 5 Stars !!!