You may think your shot is over after you've made contact with the golf ball, but this couldn't be further from the truth.
The follow-through is just as important as your backswing, because the follow-through is a reflection of what happened before contact. If your stance, grip, takeaway or any other segment is amiss, it will show up here.
During the downswing, your weight should shift from the right side (for right-handed players) to your left foot. This should happen naturally if the swing is properly executed.
As your body moves through the shot, focus on turning your hips and fully extending your right arm. While we want to maintain the proper spine angle and head position throughout the swing, the head should turn toward the target as the right shoulder comes under the chin.
Once your swing is finished you should hold a balanced posture, with the weight on your left side. Your hips, chest and head should face the target. While the back may curve slightly into a "reverse-C" position, it’s better to maintain a relatively straight spine at the finish.
While a proper weight shift is an important part of the golf swing, it is important to not take it too far which can cause swaying. A good swing thought is to shift your weight without letting your weight extend out beyond your feet.
When shifting to the right, don't let the weight drift outside of your right foot and on the downswing when shifting to the left, don't let the weight shift outside of your left foot.
The Underrated Fundamental: The Golf Swing Follow Through
It is tempting to make the mistake of thinking that nothing which happens in your golf swing after impact matters – after all, once the ball is gone, what can you do about it? It is true that you can’t fix a poor shot once it has left your club face, no matter how much you yell at it to go one way or another. The ball leaves the club face in just a fraction of a second, and there is nothing you can do it get it back until you walk up and hit it again.
Even still, the golf swing follow through remains a vital fundamental that you need to pay attention to within your swing. How can that be? Think of it this way – the follow through is a visual representation of everything that has happened leading up to that point. While you might not be able to fix the shot that you have already hit, the golf swing follow through positions that you reach can certainly help you to figure out what might have went wrong. Good golfers are always analyzing their golf swing follow through positions so they can make corrections and make a better swing next time.
If you take the time to watch any golf on TV, you will notice a pattern among all of the best golfers in the world. While their swings might look drastically different during the backswing and downswing portions, the follow through positions look incredibly similar. Among the common elements that you will see in the follow through of most professionals includes –
- Great balance. This is the big key, and the one that almost every pro gets right time after time. A good follow through position is one that demonstrates excellent balance when the club finally stops moving. If you feel yourself leaning to one side or the other at the end of your swing, there is a good chance that something went wrong along the way.
- Right heel off the ground (for RH golfers). A good release of the body is key to a powerful swing, so you will notice that good players have their right heel off the ground during their follow through. The left foot should stay mostly planted on the ground, while the right foot rolls up onto the toe of the shoe. This is a classic finish position in golf because it means that you have done a good job of turning your whole body toward the target. Many amateurs make the mistake of hanging back on that right leg, and they sacrifice power as a result.
- Belt buckle at the target. This point goes along with the previous point of a full body release. Notice that the pros almost always reach a finish position that has their belt buckle pointing at the target. This is another sign that the body rotation has worked properly and nothing has been left behind in the swing.
The vast majority of professional golfers will exhibit those three traits on their follow through, and you should strive to do the same. The great thing about working on these fundamentals is they will affect the rest of your swing in a positive manner. When you are able to find the kind of follow through position described by those three points, you can be sure your swing isn’t too far off track.
It is important to note that everything included below is based on a right handed golfer. Those of you who play left handed will need to reverse the instructions.
Common Follow Through Mistakes
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that many of the common follow through mistakes seen in the golf swing are just the opposite of what was listed above. Still, it is important to review these errors as it is likely you are making one or more of them in your own swing currently. If you are to improve your follow through – and your swing as a whole – you are going to need to be able to identify what is going wrong in your finish position. Clean up the finish and you will be surprised at how quickly the rest of the swing can come together.
The first mistake we need to cover is getting stuck on your right foot. This is probably the most common mistake of all when it comes to the follow through for the average amateur player. If your weight isn’t making it onto your left foot at the finish, something has gone wrong and you are wasting potential power earlier in your swing. Not only is this mistake going to cost you power, but you will also have a hard time striking the ball cleanly on a consistent basis.
For most players, this problem starts when the club transitions from backswing to downswing. The moment that the club changes direction is crucial, and getting it wrong at this point will mean you have basically no chance of saving the swing later on. Ideally, you want your lower body to be initiating the movement toward the target, with the club following along as it gets pulled into position by your arms and your torso. Unfortunately, many golfers make the mistake of starting the downswing with the arms and hands, putting everything out of sequence and leaving you with a weak hit down toward the ball.
This is generally the case for players who wind up stuck on their right foot during the follow through. If you allow your hands to start the downswing instead of your lower body, your weight will remain on your right foot and it won’t have much of an opportunity to move. You won’t be able to rotate your torso through the shot correctly because the club will have beaten you to the ball. A swing like this is usually lacking power, and often results in a slice.
The other big mistake that is made in the follow through is a lack of balance – with your weight falling either to the right or left as your swing is coming to a stop. Most of the time this is caused simply by trying to swing too hard. Your ability to hold your balance should determine how hard you are willing to swing the club. If the speed of your rotation is causing you to lose balance at your finish position, try slowing down slightly until you regain control of your balance. Over-swinging is another common amateur mistake, and it can lead to poor accuracy, inconsistent ball striking, and even lost distance.
You don’t need to try as hard as you think you do in order to hit long drives. Distance is golf isn’t achieved by sheer power as much as it is timing, balance, and solid contact at impact. Any distance you might gain by swinging as hard as you possibly can will likely be lost when you hit the ball out off the toe or in toward the heel. Focus on hitting the sweet spot of the club face time after time if you really want to maximize the distance you achieve.
How to Test Your Own Follow Through
Most likely you already have a pretty good idea of what kind of condition your follow through is in. If you can hold your follow through comfortably while watching your ball sail toward the target, you probably don’t have any big issues to worry about. However, it is still a good idea to take a look at the details of your follow through to spot any signs of trouble and look for ways to improve the finish position – and the rest of your swing as a result.
Just like any other part of your swing, video is the best way to analyze your follow through position. Taking a couple quick videos of your swing will go a long way toward helping you make improvements. Fortunately, most people have quick access to a video recording device because most cell phones today have them built-in. Ask a friend to come with you to the driving range to record a few swings so you can watch them back later. You want to get video from two specific angles –
- Down the line. This is where most golf swing videos are taken from. The person recording the video should stand behind you, on an extension of the target line so they are recording directly over the ball and on to the target. Obviously, they need to stand far enough back so as to not get hit with the club during your swing. This angle is great for watching the amount of rotation that you are able to achieve during your follow through, as well as for checking your side-to-side balance.
- Face on. It will also be helpful to get a shot from the ‘face on’ camera angle. This angle is shot so that the camera is looking directly at your face from a few feet away – in other words, if you looked up from your address position, you would be looking at the person with the camera. Again, they should always be a safe distance away from you while recording the swing. Using this angle is best for observing the lateral movement in your swing, and for making sure that you are successfully getting off of your right foot during the follow through.
The beauty of modern technology is that you should be able to review these swings right there on the range after you record them. That way, you can see what problems might be taking place in the swing, and get straight to work on finding a solution. Try to use the video review on a periodic basis to see improvements from any changes you have made, and also to see if any new problems have cropped up.
Easy Drills to Solve Follow Through Issues
Using drills is the best way to cure problems in your golf swing, and that is certainly true of the follow though. The golf swing follow through drills contained in this section are designed to help fix the most common mistakes made by amateur golfers. Even if you don’t suffer from any of these problems currently, these drills can still be useful to help you reinforce the right feelings and positions within your swing.
The first drill to work on is basically a reverse swing. To start, use a middle iron and stand in a position where you have room to make a full swing. You don’t need to hit any balls with this drill. Instead of taking your regular address position before a shot, start by posing in a balanced follow through position. You should have the majority of your weight on your left foot, your right foot should be balanced on its toe, and your belt buckle should be pointing toward your (imaginary) target. Imagine that you are posing for the cover of a magazine and trying to strike the perfect look of a balanced golfer in their finish position.
Once you successfully take this stance, slowly start to ‘unwind’ back down toward the impact position. You are trying to make your normal golf swing, except in reverse (and in slow motion). Don’t move quickly – rather, take your time and feel how your balance and weight distribution is changing as you go backwards through the swing. Over the course of a few seconds, you should be able to move backward through the whole swing until you are all the way back to a regular stance. Once you have completed a repetition of this drill, start over and do a few more.
The idea here is that you will learn how your balance works throughout the swing by doing it in reverse. You are used to feeling your swing going forward, and it is hard to make changes since you are so comfortable with how it works at this point. You aren’t comfortable swinging backwards, however, so this drill should force you to think about your swing in a new way and hopefully enable you to make some needed changes.
The second of three golf swing follow through drills that you can use to improve your finish position might have you feeling a little silly on the driving range – but it works. The set up for this drill is simple: head to the driving range for a normal practice session and hit a few balls with one of your irons. You want to do everything just like you regularly would, from picking a target and going through your pre-shot routine to making a good swing and holding a balanced finish. However, when you do get to your finish position and the club stops moving, you are going to make one extra move – bend your knees slightly and then straighten them up again.
There is no doubt that this will look a little weird to the others on the driving range, but that doesn’t matter. The idea behind this drill is that you will be able to feel any slight imbalance in your weight distribution when you bend your needs. If, for example, you have too much weight stuck on your right foot, that feeling will be exaggerated when you try to do this quick squat. A perfectly balanced finish will make this drill easy to do, and you won’t even need to do it more than a couple times before moving on.
The last drill for you to work on will really test the quality of your swing mechanics and your balance. You are going to hit shots on the range as hard as you possibly can with 100% effort. This is not something that you should do on the golf course, because it makes it difficult to make solid contact. However, for this drill, go ahead and hit a few shots completely flat out and see how your balance holds up. If you have done a good job of getting your mechanics in order, you should still be able to hold your finish position even when you really reach back for extra power. This drill isn’t going to result in hitting very many good shots down the range, but it will highlight any problems in your swing that might be covered up when you swing at regular effort. You don’t want to do this drill for more than a few swings before switching back to your regular speed swing.
A Few Final Tips
You should now have a great idea of how to test and analyze your follow through position. Depending on what you find once you start looking at your finish position more closely, you might need to make some serious swing changes to get things straightened out – or you might just require a couple small tweaks to get on track. Either way, take a look at the following golf swing follow through tips to some basic ideas on how to correct the problems that you have discovered.
- Get the transition right. As mentioned earlier, the transition of your golf swing is crucial to many different things, including the finish position that you reach. Of all the golf swing follow through tips you can receive, working on getting your transition right is the most important. As the club is reaching the end of the backswing, your lower body should be starting to move toward the target. Without that, it will be nearly impossible to get your weight in the right spot at the finish. Your lower body is the engine that drives the swing forward, so be sure it takes charge right from the start of the downswing.
- Watch the position of your hands. One element that we have not yet discussed is the position of your hands when you finish the swing. You want them to be up off of your shoulder wrapped slightly around your head. When you finish with your arms and hands in close to your body, it is a sure sign that your swing lacks extension – and power. To solve this problem, work on extension in your backswing. The forward swing tends to mirror the backswing, so better extension going away from the ball should lead you to better extension in the follow through.
- Wear good golf shoes. Something that seems as unimportant as the kind of golf shoes you wear can have a big effect on the swing that you make. If your shoes aren’t providing enough traction throughout the swing, you won’t be able to push yourself into the finish position that you are looking for. Specifically, your left foot might have a tendency to slide open instead of remaining stable on the turf. Make sure your shoes are in good condition and the soft spikes on the bottom haven’t worn down too far.
The importance of the follow through in your golf swing is a classic case of cause and effect. Since the ball is long gone by the time you reach the finish, it certainly isn’t going to change the outcome of the shot. But it can tell you a lot about the swing that you made leading up to that finish position. You want to take advantage of every piece of information you get on the golf course, and your finish position is a great directory to learn about the mechanics of your swing and what can be done to fix them.
During your next trip to the practice range, make sure to use some of the lessons above to analyze and improve on your golf swing follow through. Also, when you are playing a round on the course, notice any problems that pop-up with your finish position. Sometimes, under the pressure of playing on the course, you swing may change from what it was on the range. Again, every bit of info you can get is critical to making yourself the best player you can be. There is no detail too small for the serious player to consider, and the follow through is a perfect example of that fact.