How to Swing a Golf Club

Mike Regan May 05 2021

Golf. The game you can start playing at 5 years old and continue until you’re 100. How many activities can say that? You’re interested in golf, that’s good and well. The real obstacle that comes with picking up the game is how to swing a golf club. Not an easy answer and certainly not something you can pick up overnight. Ask 100 golfers how to swing a golf club and you’ll get 1000 answers.

You can take a swing as massive as Bryson DeChambeau. You can have a short backswing like Jon Rahm. You can be as unorthodox as Matthew Wolff. You can have a swing path like Jim Furyk. Even Charles Barkley’s swing evolution shows us that there is hope for everyone on the course. Bottom line, there is plenty of ways to swing a golf club and be successful.

The Basics

As you begin your swing, take the club straight back. This is the first step to hitting the ball straight. A takeaway that goes too far inside or outside will make it difficult to get the club back on course as you come down.

First off, your feet should be about shoulder width apart, or just wider for clubs like your driver and woods. A swing that is too narrow or wide will prevent you from maximizing your distance. Additionally, an improper stance will lead to balance problems that affect your accuracy.

For most golfers, a comfortable and controlled backswing will have you take the club to about shoulder height. Based on flexibility this height will differ for every golfer. Don’t be afraid if you get the club further back or don’t make it that far, everyone's different. After reaching peak height, you’ll want to pull with your leading arm (left arm for a right-handed golfer). Your bottom hand and wrist will turn as you get close to contact.

When you strike the ball, your clubface should be square (aligned with how you started). For a righty, leaving the club open will lead to shots straying to the right. On the flipside, a closed club means you will pull shots left.

Don’t be afraid to go slow, especially with your backswing. At first, you will lose distance due to the decrease in swing speed. In the long run, it will pay off. As you become more consistent, you can pick swing speed back up, this time with improved and more consistent results.

Be sure to keep your head still and allow your shoulders turning to pick your head up. If you pick your head up before making contact, it will lead to inconsistent contact and frequently topping the ball. As a beginner, allow playing partners to track your ball (you can pick it up in the sky after it travels a bit). As you improve you’ll start to know where it's going based on feel and sound.

We won’t get into grip as that’s a beast of its own and we’re trying to stick to the basics. However, most common is the interlock grip. Other popular choices include the overlapping and ten-finger grips. As is the theme of this post, start with the interlock. If it’s uncomfortable try something else and don’t be afraid to buck the trend of normality if it leads to success.

Ball Placement

When figuring out how to swing a golf club one of the most important (and overlooked) aspects is ball placement. For each club, there is a different place your ball should be. Less lofted clubs are played closer to your front foot, while more lofted clubs are best hit from the middle of your stance.

With a driver you want to place the ball just inside your front foot. As you go down your clubs, begin sliding the ball towards the middle of your swing. A 3-wood should be nearly as close to your front foot as your driver. A 7-iron goes about halfway between the middle of your stance and front foot. By the time you get to wedges, you should be in the middle of your stance.

These are very gradual changes and as you get more comfortable on the course will become second nature. For a beginner golfer trying to learn how to hit a golf club, your goal is simple. You want to advance the ball towards the hole. As you improve, things like hitting up or down, producing spin and shaping your shots becomes more important. For a beginner, focus on the easy stuff.

Most Common Mistakes for Beginners

Too much wrist, not enough hip or shoulder turn, improper weight distribution. Forget all that. Without seeing someone’s swing, it’s impossible to diagnose these issues. When you’re a new golfer trying to learn how to swing a golf club, it’s best to keep it simple. In my mind, the most common mistake is a lack of patience.

Learning how to hit a golf club is a process. There is not a single golfer in history who picked up a club and shot even their first time out. Golf is a game that takes a while to figure out. Don’t rush yourself. Set realistic expectations such as hitting more fairways and greens in regulation or expanding your “automatic” range while putting from one foot to two feet. Don’t expect to go from 100 to 70 in a single summer—not going to happen.

Half the fun of golf is being there and not elsewhere. When you struggle remember that you could be stuck at home or work. Any old timer will tell you that a bad day on the course beats a good day at work. They’re right 100% of the time. Go piece by piece with your game. One swing adjustment after the other. Don’t try to fix everything at once. Don’t forget that golf is a game of leisure and you’re there to relax and have some fun.

How to Swing a Golf Club and Age

If you pick up golf at a young age, your swing will change over time. This has nothing to do with swing or skill improvements and everything to do with your body. If you start golfing at 40, don’t compare your swing to a 20-year-old. If you start at 60, don’t compare yourself to a 40-year-old. Same goes if you started at 40 and are now 60, adapt with natural changes and learn how to play differently. Make swing adjustments, keep your scores the same. Do both of these and you’ll have more fun.

How to Swing a Golf Club Final Note

One of the most important things about finding a golf swing that works for you is not listening to other people. The occasional tip from a knowledgeable golfer or a frequent playing partner is nice. Unsolicited swing advice from someone you don't know is usually more harmful than anything else. Far too often you’ll hear about your backswing being large or takeaway varying too much. My advice, don’t listen to anyone you aren’t paying or trust. There are no pictures on the scorecard. If something works, stick with it.

Mike Regan

Mike is a weekend golfer from Connecticut and a devoted fan of the game who turned his passion into the writing experience. Any day he keeps it under 80 is a cool day. When he's not writing about golf his is playing it.