Beginner golfers often struggle with the game of golf because they tend to over-complicate the swing. What compounds this problem is that there are way too numerous golf instructional approaches that basically communicate the same things, but contain nuances that confuse the beginner golfer. What follows is a quick primer of beginner golf swing tips intended for the beginner golfer to begin to learn the fundamentals of the golf swing.
Learning Golf Swing Basics: The Four Phases of the Game
Before we get into beginner golf swing tips, it is important to realize that there are four related, but distinct phases of the golf game and the golf swing fundamentals within each phase builds upon one another.
The first phase of the golf game is the “distance” game which for our purposes we will define as golf shots 200 yards or longer. These shots are typically hit with the woods (driver, 3 wood, etc.) or long irons (1-iron, 2-iron, hybrid).
The second phase of the golf game is the “mid-range” phase which is for golf shots that occur after distance shots and typically range from 130 to 200 yards.
The third phase is the “short game” phase which is typically for shots toward the green from 130 yards and in.
The fourth phase is the “putting” phase which is for shots that occur on the putting surface toward the golf cup.
For many beginner golfers, it is often best to “start small” and learn golf swing basics starting with the fourth phase (putting) and move back through each phase ending with the first phase (distance game). The advantages of this approach is that 1.)the golfer can build solid golf short game fundamentals in phases four and three which also serve as the foundation for the full golf swing in phases two and one and 2.) the short game typically accounts for over 60% of the golf score, so the quicker the beginner golfer has a handle on the short game, the faster he or she will achieve lower scores.
Beginner Golf Swing Tips
For the beginner golfer, what follows is a set of beginner golf swing tips to properly setup and execute the key shots necessary for each phase:
Phase 4: Putting Golf Swing Tips
- Key to putting setup is comfort over the ball, light grip tension and no breakdown in stroke.
- Ensure that eyes are directly over the ball.
- Use steady, pendulum-like tempo and accelerate through follow-through.
- Keep lower body “quiet” throughout stroke.
Phase 3: Short Game Golf Swing Tips (Pitch Shot and Chip Shot)
Pitch Shot Golf Swing Tips
- The “pitch shot” spends more time in the air than on ground and is typically used for shots that range from 10 to 70 yards from the cup. Use lofted club—sand wedge (54-58°) or lob wedge (59-62°).
- Grip firmer
- Slightly open your stance.
- Position yourself that the golf ball is slightly forward from the middle of your stance.
- Place and leave 60% of your body weight on your left leg throughout the shot. This promotes a descending blow on the golf ball which is needed for a crisp pitch shot.
- Move hands down the grip and in front of the ball.
- Keep steady pace and move your torso back and through the shot.
Chip Shot Golf Swing Tips
- The “chip shot” is used to land the ball on the green as quickly as possible and is typically executed when you are 3 to 6 feet from the green.
- Place 60% to 70% of your weight on left leg throughout shot.
- Open your stance.
- Position yourself so that the ball is just right of center or back in your stance.
- Place your hands down on the grip and in front of ball.
- Maintain a smooth, easy stroke…do not let left wrist break throughout the shot.
Phase 2: Mid-Range Game and Phase 1: Distance Game Golf Swing Tips
Phases 2 and 1 should both follow the same basic swing fundamentals with one exception –golf ball position. The position of the golf ball dictates whether you make contact with the golf ball at the bottom of your golf swing arc (descending swing that hits “down on the ball”) or as your golf swing arc starts to ascend just after the bottom of your swing arc (ascending swing that hits the ball on the “upswing”). Basically, you want to hit down on the ball in your iron shots and on the upswing with your woods off the tee.
Golf Ball Position Golf Swing Tips
To hit downward on the ball to hit crisp iron shots, position yourself so that the golf ball is:
- In the center of your stance for 8, 9 irons and wedges
- One golf ball forward from center for 5, 6, and 7 irons
- Two golf balls forward from center for 3 and 5 woods and hybrid clubs
- Three golf balls forward from center for driver shots
Backswing Golf Swing Tips
- Assume address position
- Rotate club, body and arms back along your golf swing plane while shifting your body weight to the inside of your right leg.
- As hands approach waist, wrists should hinge.
- At the top of the backswing, check that left arm is straight, 80% of body weight is on inside of right leg and right knee is flexed.
- Check that your shoulders are turned 90° and hips are turned 30 to 45°
Downswing Golf Swing Tips
- First movement of downswing is weight shift to the left, then hips, arms and shoulders unwind to impact.
- At impact, club is released by unhinging wrists and delivering club head square through ball – keep head behind ball at impact.
- As body turns to target through golf swing impact, arms and clubs extend down the target line.
- At finish position, belt buckle faces target; club is wrapped around shoulder; 90% of weight is on left leg with right foot upright on toes.
Practice these beginner golf swing tips regularly and you will soon have a strong feeling (and fever) for the game!