With the PGA Tour revving up and the weather getting warmer, it’s about that time of year to dust off your irons and hit the links. But first, it’ll probably benefit you to spend a little time at the driving range to get your golf swing back into tip top shape.
Here’s a breakdown of basic tips — from simple body positioning to helpful hints — for getting your golf swing ready for the season. (Page 9 is a total game-changer.)
1. First and foremost, your address
This may sound like a no-brainer. But if you haven’t played for a while, your foundation can get a little out of wack. And before you can take a swing, make sure your address is solid. “Set up with your feet shoulder-width apart and your head over the ball,” Men’s Health simplifies. Your shoulders should be open and, as PGA pro Tom Watson tells Golf Digest, should be perpendicular to your spine. (More on that on Page 9.)
Next: The crucial source of power
2. Rely on your body for power
A few months away from the course, and you may come back relying heavily on your arms to do the work. It’s imperative to remember that the power behind your swing comes from the entire body. Golf Tips Magazine presents an exercise that can help you get into the habit of using your whole body to be in control, especially on your backswing.
Next: Speaking of which …
In need of a stellar backswing to emulate? Look no further than PGA Tour veteran Lee Westwood. In addition to keeping his arms and hands in sync with this upper body Westood turns his wrists at the perfect point in his backswing, instructor Brian Manzella points out to Golf Digest. “If you took a still picture of (Westwood’s) swing at impact, it would look like he’s shoving the handle forward, toward the target, but in real life, the handle is slightly forward while he’s in the middle of a full release of the clubhead.”
Next: More pro inspiration
Adam Scott has been wowing PGA Tour followers with his swing for years now. His trick? The one-piece swing, for maximum power. “Just as it’s critical to stop everything together at the end of your backswing, it’s equally important to start everything together on the way down,” he tells Golf.com. “Get everything moving toward the ball at the same time. Other than that, your downswing is as simple as turning through the ball and accelerating through the hitting zone.”
Next: The importance of your drive doesn’t stop with your swing
Simply put, the term “hitting through the ball” is one of the best golf tips you can get. “Don’t quit at impact!” Scott urges. “I see a lot of everyday players hit the ball and then stop. The ball isn’t the target. Your finish position is.” He says that “allowing” the ball to get in the way to drive it straight — and far.
Next: The most crucial part of your shot?
According to Golf State of Mind, the follow-through is the most important part of a golfer’s swing, and should not be neglected. “Your hands, arms, legs and hips need to come through the shot together or you won’t consistently hit the ball as best you can.” Long story short: Keep the body in one piece starting with the backswing apply all the way through the swing.
Next: This body part as a bigger impact on your follow-through than you may think
7. Hand placement
Keeping the ball down and on a straight trajectory is something that even the pros struggle with sometimes. (Who hasn’t heard Jordan Spieth yell at his golf balls before?) Golf Tips Magazine explains that your hand placement on your clubs has a huge impact on the height of your ball. “The lower the hands, the lower the ball flight,” they say.
Next: Important advice you may not expect
8. Watch your tempo
This may sound counter-intuitive. But PGA pro teacher Mike Diffley insists that slowing your tempo is beneficial. “You almost can’t swing too slowly,” he tells Westchester Magazine. “Swinging in tempo lets your hands and body square the club face to the proper line.”
Next: Perhaps the most important pro tip on our list
Even with all the previous components in line, your golf swing can be completely out of wack if your shoulders aren’t aligned properly. Watson previously shared his woes with shoulder placement with Golf Digest, saying that a slight shoulder tilt through off his whole game. “I was dipping my right shoulder coming into impact, which caused me to fall back with my upper body,” he says. “I realized that when my shoulder plane stayed the same in relation to my spine as I swung back and through, everything else—arms, hands, clubhead—would fall into a foolproof groove.”
Next: Pivotal for preventing injury
10. Saving your back
“When I started teaching,” golf instructor Sean Foley tells Golf Digest, “it seemed that 80 percent of my students had lower-back issues.” He also notes that golf injuries to other parts of the body are typically due to compensating for back pain. Foley maps out a four step plan for Golf Digest that helps you to maintain proper form through your entire swing and keep back pain out of your game.
Next: A tip to help a problem you may not be aware of
11. Reducing flips
LSU golf coach Chuck Winstead tells Golf Tips Magazine that “flippiness” occurs when the body gets too far in-front of the ball during a swing. To keep up with the body, the wrists tend to flip to close the face of the club on the ball. “You need to establish a firm left side to keep your head behind the ball and stop the flip,” Winstead instructs. (Of course, if you are a left-handed golfer, you’ll want to keep your right side firm instead.)
Next: Tips for working on your short game
Now after all the info you’ve received to improve your swing, it’s time to work on your short game. Golf Tips Magazine recommends working on your chipping technique and wrist motion at home using a wooden dowel, so you can get a good feel for the motion before taking to the course.
Next: more injury prevention
13. Protect your knees
It’s no secret that your knees are vulnerable in a game of golf. And if you feel one tweak or become sore, it’s imperative not to ignore the pain. Instead, follow these steps from Hospital For Special Surgery so you can prevent further pain or damage.
Next: Before you put any of these tips in motion …
14. Have a pre-shot routine
Diffley tells Westchester Magazine that getting in the right frame of mind — even if you are working on your mechanics — can benefit your golf game. If you try too hard, “you get robotic and try to create a perfect move, which just creates tension.” Take all your tips into consideration, then take a deep breath and go for it.
Next: Last, but certainly not least …
15. Take inventory
Before you can put any of your golf tips into motion, you have to make sure your equipment is up to the challenge. Sure, you may have a newer set of clubs. But PGA.com recommends taking inventory before you ever hit the course, especially if you have to re-stock up on all of the essentials.