9 Practical Golf Swing Basics Tips to Improve Your Game


We here at Howard’s Golf are passionate about helping people lower their scores. Although a round of golf with friends can be very fun, it can also be very frustrating at times. Whether you are a beginner or are in need of some simple golf swing basics, you’ll find the following tips better than any Reddit golf search. Building a solid foundation is key to improving, and these golf swing basics will lead you in the right direction to playing better!

1. Golf Swing Basics –  “Push” the Club on the Takeaway

Many swings go bad within the first two feet of the club swinging back. So much, people often google Golf Swing Takeaway Wrists. The role of the hands in a golf swing is important. And it starts at the takeaway. The most common mistake golfers make is lifting the club off the ground, usually with an early wrist cock. This will usually result in a steep, choppy swing. Now he/she is requiring a great deal of hand-eye coordination to make consistent contact. Rory McIlroy feels like he pushes the club back on the takeaway.

PGA Pro Rory McIlroy shows the wrist cock in golf swing as he pushes the club away

Source: Golf.com

A good rule to use when initiating the takeaway is to feel like your top hand (the left hand if you are a right-handed golfer) is pushing the club back to start. This accomplishes a few key things:

  • The club stays lower to the ground, which promotes a shallower swing plane and angle of attack
  • Since it’s usually the less dominant of your two hands, the tempo stays fluid and doesn’t rush
  • Your bottom hand will remain more passive, which will limit your ability to lift the golf club during the swing.

Drill: When practicing your takeaway, take a few slow practice takeaways, really ingraining the sensation of your top hand doing most of the work to get the club started. After 2-3 practice takeaways, hit a couple shots on the driving range. Repeat the process 5 times. Any time you are on the golf course and feel like your takeaway is rushed or choppy, do this golf takeaway drill before starting your pre-shot routine.

Golf Swing Basics Image Tip: Gary Woodland's back of hand leads the club in takeaway before the hip turn in golf swing

Source: Golf Digest

2. Golf Swing Basics – Turn in a Barrel (On the Backswing)

This is a classic tip that goes back as far as golf instruction literature does. The idea goes as follows: imagine there is a barrel around your hips, with just enough room to rotate but not much to move laterally. Lateral movement in your lower body, especially on the backswing, can cause a host of different problems, including a lack of stored energy, a need to compensate with a big forward lateral move, making it tougher to be consistent.

Look at a face-on angle of Tiger Woods’ swing. Although it looks like his lower body is quiet, in reality, he is rotating in a very tight, concise manner, which is the hallmark of a consistent ball-striker.

Drill: The easiest way of working on making your turn with as little lateral motion as possible is to set up a barricade on your strong (right side for right-handers) side. Take an alignment rod (another use other than your golf alignment drills) with you as you set up on the practice tee. Once you are in your setup position, place the rod into the ground about 3-4 inches from your hip. The key here is to make a turn without your hip bumping into the rod.

One thing to keep in mind: while this drill works great for the backswing, it’s not practical for any golfer to try and maintain their hip turn inside a specified line on the follow through. The more you practice keeping your hip from touching the alignment rod, the more consistent you will become.

3. Golf Swing Basics – Set the Wrists Properly

How the wrists cock is something that can be often debated amongst golf instructors, followed by when the wrists should cock being a close second. The good news is, there are some simple and effective ways to ensure that your wrists hinge effectively in the backswing.

A simple piece of tape, as demonstrated in this video, can let you know if you are allowing your wrists to cock properly. However, the question remains of how much and when your wrists should hinge in the backswing. The answer to part one of that question is simple: you want to hinge your wrists as much as possible without losing the connection in your grip. It’s far too easy to get so much wrist cock that your dominant hand takes over, and once you lose the connection between your hands in the golf swing, you’ll have a difficult time making solid contact. This is one aspect of your golf swing you’ll want to practice often if you struggle with distance and consistency.

As for when your wrists should hinge, the answer is less obvious. While most players begin to hinge their wrists at about waist height, others, like Sergio Garcia, delay their full wrist cock well into the backswing. The key to this aspect is to do what feels most natural, and the easiest way to find that natural tendency of yours is to have soft hands and arms so that they can react athletically.

4. Golf Swing Basics – Tension-Free Shoulder Turn for Distance and Accuracy

A proper shoulder turn is key to maximizing distance and promoting a repeatable golf swing. The more fluid and consistent the shoulders and hips turn, the better your golf swing will be. However, there are a couple of things that are misunderstood about the shoulder turn in the golf swing that, once clarified, will have you on your way to swinging the club with less effort and more clubhead speed.

First and foremost, you want your shoulders to be loose. This may seem like an obvious statement, but you’d be amazed as to how many people have tight shoulders and thoracic spines, yet complain about poor shoulder turn. Here is a basic stretch that will help you achieve more flexibility and allow you to turn more effectively.

The 90 Degree Myth: It’s often been stated that a full shoulder turn is achieved when you have turned your shoulders about 90 degrees. This may hold true for the Tour professional, but for most recreational players, it’s simply not true. What does matter, however, is that you are able to turn as much as your body allows. The moment you feel any tension in your body in the backswing, the more you will compensate somewhere in your swing, robbing you of power and consistency. When you feel like you’ve reached the top of your backswing comfortably, you can focus on the downswing. But first, a brief word about swing plane.

5. Golf Swing Basics – Keep Your Swing Plane Simple

When golfers begin focusing on improving their golf swing, they will inevitably see or read something about swing plane. From two-plane vs. one-plane swing, the literature can be confusing and often intimidating. We are all about making the golf swing simpler to understand, and the swing plane is an element that needs to be simplified in order to help you the most.

Most of what goes into creating a proper swing plane are taken care of well before you ever address the golf ball. For example, your posture, and your ability to maintain your posture play a significant role in determining your swing plane. Next, the takeaway, which we discussed in the first tip, also plays a huge part in if your swing will be a good one. The sequence continues with your rotation.

6. Golf Swing Basics – Sequencing from the Ground Up

Once you’ve reached the top of the backswing, a good golf swing sequence is essential to initiate the downswing into impact. The most common mistake golfers make is starting with the hands, arms, and shoulders, which promotes the dreaded “over-the-top” move. Instead, you want to start your downswing from the ground up. As your weight shifts to your lead foot (left foot for right handers), your hips will begin to turn and clear a path, and once your shoulders begin to unwind, your arms and hands will follow, keeping the club on an inside-out plane, which eliminates a slice.

Drill: Smylie Kaufman is one of the best young players on the PGA Tour, and he uses a drill that has been around for generations. Next time you’re on the practice tee, make some basic practice swings and hit a few shots. Then, for 5-10 shots, after swinging to the top of your backswing, lift your lead leg up and step back into the ground as you initiate the downswing and try to hit the golf ball. This promotes the proper sequencing better than any other drill available. Over time, you should be able to make consistent contact with the ball with this drill. If it works for a Tour pro, it should work for you too.

7. Golf Swing Basics – Back of hand at impact

One of the simplest golf swing basics tips to consistent ball-striking is imagining that you return the back of your top hand back to its original position at impact. When reaching the golf impact position, most of what you can do is done during the sequencing: everything is happening so fast, any kind of manipulation in a split-second can ruin the shot more than help it. However, ingraining a feel for the back of your hand returning to its starting position on the downswing can help with a couple of aspects at impact.

First and foremost, it takes the focus off your stronger, more dominant side, which is always going to want to take over. By allowing your strong side to take a more passive role in the downswing through impact, the chances of scooping your shot or turning over the clubface too much dwindle dramatically. In essence, you want to feel like you’re pulling through the shot with your lead side, and thinking of your top, lead hand returning to impact where it began is a good mental picture to have. Your hands will be slightly higher at impact than they were at address, but the thought still helps immensely.

It’s important to remember that although it may feel like it’s returning to impact exactly how it began, the truth is that, when done correctly, your hands should be slightly ahead of the clubhead at impact with every club except the driver. Practice this tip and you should gain a better sense of golf impact position.

8. Golf Swing Basics – Belt Buckle to the Target

Another classic swing tip, but one that has lasted through generations for a reason. When your belt buckle faces the target on the follow through, you’ve accomplished several key positives throughout your golf swing. First, you are able to swing through in balance. Second, you have enough flexibility to fully rotate onto your lead side and remain stable. Third, your sequencing is more often than not going to be spot-on, since those who swing over-the-top tend to have less balance on the follow-through. This concept also applies to receiving feedback. If you are not able to rotate your belt buckle to the target, it could be a result of a poor swing or a lack of flexibility.

Drill: Arguably the easiest drill to do in this list, but can also be utilized during the round. Every time you hit a full shot, hold your finish with your belt buckle pointed to the target until the ball lands. The more you can ingrain the feeling of fully rotating into a balanced finish, the better your overall results will be.

9. Golf Swing Basics – Relax and Have Fun

Whenever you’re trying to improve your golf swing, there are going to be peaks and valleys. No matter if you are a beginner or a scratch golfer, improvement takes time and with that time comes frustration. The easiest way to handle the ebbs and flows is to have a playful, fun-spirited attitude towards your practice. The above tips are useful and practical, but only to the point of you being relaxed.

Drill: Try to smile after every golf shot no matter if it’s a good one or a bad one or even an awful one. Bad shots happen to even the best players, and having the right attitude will save your sanity and help you appreciate the game we all love.


Learning good technique is a key component to golf swing basics, and the above tips listed are our absolute favorites. What did you think of them? How helpful were they, and which ones were more helpful than others? Let us know in the comments below, and hopefully, these tips help you play better golf today!


About Author

You're looking for some help when it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game. Chris Howard has been in the golf industry since 1995, and knows just what you need to take your game to the next level. Growing up on a golf course, Chris has always had a love and passion for the sport. He desires to provide others with a better golfing experience - from helping them choose the right golf gear, to finding the perfect set up for their individual game.

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