No one has ever mastered golf, and it's a near certainty that no one ever will. Ironically, that's a big part of the game's appeal. Playing golf means constantly seeking ways to improve.
That could mean fixing a swing flaw, shoring up a weak part of your game, or learning how to play a new type of shot. Ideally, you'll spend more time on the latter two areas than the first.
To that end, the best thing you can do is develop a “low-maintenance” swing built on sound fundamentals, big-muscle movements and consistent tempo. Think of your swing as a machine: the fewer moving parts it has, the more efficient and less likely to break down it will be. And when something does go wrong, it'll be easier to locate and correct the problem.
Turn your swing into a low-maintenance model of efficiency by focusing on these keys:
- Tempo and balance: Tempo or rhythm isn't the speed the club travels but the overall pace of the swing. There's no right or wrong tempo for everyone, but there is a right one for you. Tempo goes hand in hand with balance, and those who excel at both are typically the best ballstrikers. The classic feet-together drill is an unbeatable way to develop and maintain these two critical fundamentals.
No matter how well you may be playing at a given time, never stop working on these basics. Pro golfers constantly monitor their fundamentals to make sure nothing gets out of whack. On every trip to the range, make a point to check your grip, stance, posture and alignment, and utilize the feet-together drill or similar tip to maintain your tempo and balance.
You may never conquer the game, but you can become a well-oiled golf machine.
Best Way to Improve Golf Swing – Keep It Low Maintenance
Every golfer would love to improve his or her swing. While an improved swing doesn't guarantee lower scores, it does take you a big step in that direction. Improving on your swing will allow you to hit more fairways and more greens, and you will almost certainly make more pars and birdies as a result. It is not a coincidence that the players on the PGA Tour have some of the prettiest swings you will ever see – having a solid golf swing is one of the biggest keys to shooting low scores.
Of course, you probably already know that it is a good thing to improve your swing. What you may not know, however, is exactly how to go about creating that improved swing. This is where it gets tricky. Millions of golfers have tried to improve their swings throughout the history of this game – and sadly, most of them have failed. The average golfer improves quickly when they are a beginner, but then hits a 'wall' and fails to improve throughout the rest of their time playing the game. If you are going to be the exception to that rule, you need to have a specific plan in place for how you are going to make your improvements.
The argument that we are going to make in this article is that you should be trying to keep your swing as simple and low maintenance as possible. A low maintenance golf swing is one that performs the same way from round to round, while requiring very little in the way of practice time in between. For the amateur golfer, the appeal of this kind of swing is obvious. Most amateurs don't have tons of practice time available, as they have family and work commitments which take up most of their time. For example, a typical amateur golfer may be able to play a few rounds per month during the summer – but they probably don't have much (if any) other time available for practice. In order to play well, this golfer needs to have a swing which is low maintenance, simple, and easy to repeat over and over again.
It is worth noting that a low maintenance golf swing is not necessarily a perfect golf swing from a technical standpoint. You would have to spend countless hours refining your technique in order to master all of the various fundamentals you would like to see in your swing, and that just isn't realistic. So, rather than constantly striving for a goal that you will never reach, forget about being perfect and shift your attention to being consistent. With a low maintenance, repeatable swing on your side, you just might be surprised to see how well you can play this game.
All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
Components of a Low Maintenance Swing
There are a few specific pieces you will want to have in place when building a low maintenance swing. These swing 'parts' are going to serve you well because they are unlikely to break down, even if you aren't able to practice on a regular basis. Do your best to incorporate the points below into your swing technique and you will be on the right path to a low maintenance future on the links.
- No lateral motion. This is one of the biggest keys to building a swing you can rely on day after day. The golf swing should be a rotational move, meaning you should have very little lateral motion in your backswing or downswing. Your downswing is going to include a bit of lateral movement as you need to get onto your left foot in the finish, but that motion should be a result of your aggressive rotation. What you are trying to cut out of your swing is any kind of 'sliding' action that takes away from your balance and your ability to rotate. It is technically possible to hit good golf shots with some lateral motion in your swing, but that kind of swing is always going to be relatively high maintenance. There is a lot of timing involved with hitting the ball while sliding from side to side, so take that element out of your swing and simplify the whole process. Work on keeping your weight in between your two feet while your rotate back and through and your game will be better for the effort.
- A wide stance. As you can imagine, this point goes right along with the first point on the list. When you use a wide stance, you should find that you are less inclined to move laterally during the swing. It will be easy to keep your balance, and you will be able to rotate freely back and through. Some players feel like they are able to be a bit more athletic with a narrower stance, but it will require more practice to master that kind of technique. Keep your feet out wide and repeat the same simple motion over and over again.
- Strong grip, quiet hands. When you play golf with a strong grip, you are able to keep your hands relatively quiet through the hitting area. Some golfers call this a 'hold off' swing, because you are basically holding off the release of the club head at impact. Your strong grip will keep the club face mostly square to the target line as you swing down, so it will not be necessary to actively release the club at the last moment. This is different than a swing which is made with a weak grip, as those using a weak grip need to aggressively release the club through the ball in order to hit straight shots. You have to be turning properly with your lower body to make a strong grip work in your swing, so be sure that your rotation is working well before you experiment with a grip change.
- Stable head position. One of the best things you can do for the quality of your ball striking is to keep your head as stable as possible throughout the swing. You don't necessarily have to 'keep your head down', as some would have you believe, but you do need to keep it relatively stationary. Excessive movement up and down or from side to side will make it difficult to achieve solid contact at impact. Do your best to keep your head in the same general position throughout the swing while the rest of your body does the work of moving the club.
- Quiet feet. The last point on our list relates to the footwork that you use in the swing. Most golfers never think twice about their feet while swinging the club, but your footwork – or lack thereof – actually says a lot about the consistency of your game. Ideally, there will be very little happening with your feet from the start of the swing on through to the finish. In the backswing, your feet should stay planted on the turf, just as they were at address. As you swing down, your right heel may start to come up off the ground slightly – and that's okay. However, your left heel should stay down all the way through to the finish. Think about limiting the activity in your feet throughout the swing and you will be doing yourself a great favor in terms of creating a low maintenance action.
There are five points included in the list above. If you are able to hit on all five points in your own swing, you will have successfully built a low maintenance action that is sure to serve you well for years to come. Of course, this is golf, so building a swing which hits on all five of those points is going to be easier said than done. The best way to approach the process is to deal with them one at a time, checking them off as you go. As long as you are willing to put in the work, you should see your swing become more and more consistent with each passing range session.
A Single Swing Thought
Building a low maintenance swing on the driving range is something that is within the reach of nearly every golfer. Sure, it will take some work, but you can do it if you are patient throughout the process. However, that swing isn't automatically going to translate from the range to the course. Countless golfers complain that they aren't able to play as well on the course as they do on the range, so you need to take steps to make sure you don't wind up as one of those players.
One of the best things you can do to make sure your swing translates from range to course is to develop a single swing thought which you will use on every shot. Most likely, you have more than one swing thought in your mind when you hit a shot in your current game – the average player is thinking about several things at the same time when they stand over the ball. Trying to think about multiple fundamentals at one time is only going to confuse your body during the swing. You don't have enough time as the swing develops to think about more than one thing anyway, so dial your brain in on a specific point and make sure to execute that key to the best of your ability.
Unfortunately, we aren't going to be able to tell you exactly what swing thought you should be using, as the proper thought will vary from player to player. This is something that you are going to have to find for yourself on the range. As you practice, think about what it is that seems to key your swing to perform at its best. Is there a specific move that you need to make early in the backswing to get on the right path? Is there something in the transition that seems to help you make great contact? Pay close attention on the range and create a swing thought based on what you find.
Once on the course, don't give up on your swing thought just because you hit one or two bad shots. Poor shots are a fact of life on the golf course – even the best players in the world hit at least a few poor shots during every round. Commit yourself to sticking with the same swing thought for all 18 holes and you will almost certainly be pleased with the results. If it seems like you do need a new swing thought, wait until your next practice session to figure out exactly what it will be.
This concept of using a single swing thought is important in the quest to make your game as low maintenance as possible. Rather than trying to solve all sorts of problems while on the course, your mind will have a specific direction that you can follow for all swings. A swing thought is going to help you keep things simple, and simplicity is a common theme in a low maintenance golf swing.
As a golfer, there is a good chance you enjoy watching golf on TV from time to time. Seeing the best players in the world hit massive drives and accurate iron shots is a thrill for any golf enthusiast. While watching golf is a great way to learn about the game while being entertained at the same time, you have to be careful to avoid falling in love with any one player's swing. If you decide that you are going to swing like your favorite Touring professional, you are likely in for a long and disappointing road. There will be nothing low maintenance about the swing you create when trying to imitate a top pro, as you will be forcing yourself into a swinging action that is not naturally your own.
Sure, you can see a pro hitting great drive after great drive and think that you could simply copy their mechanics to great success. Unfortunately, golf does not work that way. That pro you see on TV has spent many, many years perfecting their swing, and you aren't going to simply be able to copy it overnight. Golf isn't that easy – it never has been, and it never will be. You need to create your own swing in order to make progress and have consistent success, so don't look to the pros for a template to follow.
If you were to copy the swing of a professional golfer, you would never know exactly what to fix when things start to go wrong. Basically, you would just be 'borrowing' the swing, rather than 'owning' it. When things got off track, you would have to review swing videos of the pro and compare them to your own technique to see where you are going wrong. That doesn't sound low maintenance at all – that sounds like a lot of work, and it still is unlikely to succeed in the end.
Does this mean you can't learn anything from watching professional golf on TV? No – it doesn't mean that at all. You certainly can learn from the pros, as long as you aren't trying to copy an entire swing. Take note of little bits and pieces here and there that you think will help you improve your own technique. There is a big difference between using a small tip to improve your own swing and trying to copy someone else's swing entirely. It is the process of consistently refining and improving your own natural technique which will lead you to the best success in this game.
As you work on making your swing as low maintenance as possible, remember that you always need to be true to what comes naturally in your swing. Getting back to the idea of watching pro golfers on TV – do all of their swings look exactly the same? Does each swing you see on Tour look like a copy of every other swing? Absolutely not. Golfers who make it to the top of the game do so by being true to themselves all along the way. They work with teachers who help to mold their techniques into reliable swings, but each player is still his or her own individual. This is a great lesson for the amateur golfer to learn. Your swing doesn't need to look like anyone else's swing – it just needs to work.
A Low Maintenance Short Game
Building a low maintenance golf swing is a desirable goal – but it is only half of the battle when trying to play your best golf. Without a great short game to go along with that simple swing, you will still be struggling to shoot a good score. While the technique is going to be quite different, the simplicity concept applies to the short game just as it does the long game. Creating a low maintenance, reliable short game will take you a long way.
As you work on improving your short game, keep the following points in mind to make your chipping and putting just as low maintenance as your full swing.
- No hand action when putting. As you swing the putter back and through, do your best to keep your hands completely out of the action. You don't need your hands in order to roll accurate putts, so they are only going to get in the way if you decide to use them. The job of swinging the putter back and through should be left up to your shoulders alone. Rock your shoulders back and forth and the putter head will swing beautifully through the ball. Not only will this kind of stroke give you a more consistent path, but it will also make it easier for you to control the speed of your putts.
- No looking up early on your chip shots. When chipping from around the green, you need to keep your head down and your eyes on the ball until it is on the way toward the target. It is tempting to look up early, of course, as you want to see where the ball is going to go. However, looking up early is only going to make your inconsistent, as you will miss-hit some of your chips due to the head movement. If you can be disciplined enough to keep your eyes on the ball until after impact, you will likely be pleased with the outcome of the shot when you do look up to see where it went.
- Patient decision making. Over-aggressiveness can be your worst enemy when it comes to the short game. If you are trying to make every single putt and chip you attempt, you are likely to leave yourself in difficult spots after you miss. There is nothing wrong with two putting most of your greens, so be patient and use a reasonable speed that is going to leave the ball right next to the cup. Likewise, when chipping, you don't have to hit an incredible chip shot each and every time. If you are facing a difficult chip, pick out a safe landing spot and make sure you at least get the ball on the green. Your short game will be far less stressful if you simply remain patient and take what the course is willing to give you.
Building a low maintenance golf game really comes down to keeping things as simple as possible. If you can build a simple swing, you will be set up to play solid rounds of golf time after time. You might not be the most spectacular player on the course when you emphasize consistency, but you just might be the one with the lowest score at the end of the day. Use the tips included in this article to take your game in a low maintenance direction. Good luck!