It's said that a golfer's finish position tells you whether or not he made a well-balanced swing. By following the concept backward, you can improve the balance of your swing by practicing a proper finish.
The basic idea is this: If you're off-balance at any point from setup to follow-through, you'll be off-balance at swing's end. Instead of standing poised with your weight on the left foot, chest facing the target and right hip and knee turned through to the left, poor balance will cause you to rock back onto your right foot, tip forward onto your toes, backward onto your heels, or even lose your footing altogether.
By focusing on holding the finish every time you swing, you're body will essentially teach itself to stay balanced from the beginning.
During every practice session, make a point of staying in your finish position until the ball hits the ground. On the course, hold your follow-through to the count of three – even on shots that make you want to look away. Before long, those will happen less and less frequently.
Correct Poor Balance by Holding Your Finish
The finish is an easy part of the golf swing to ignore. After all, the ball is already gone from the clubface by the time you reach the finish, so what's the difference? Does the finish even matter since the ball is well on its way to the target by this point in the swing? Well, yes, it does matter, if only because it tells you a lot about what has happened in your swing up until that point. A poor finish is a sure sign that something is going wrong earlier in your swing, while a great finish proves that you have done things the right way throughout the rest of the motion.
When you watch golf on TV, do you notice anything about the finish positions used by the best players in the world? Hopefully, you will notice that all of them are nicely balanced when the swing is completed. That balance should be an indication to you that the finish is actually important – after all, if it didn't matter, why would all of the best players finish so similarly? They do so because it is important to stay on balance during the golf swing.
When you are balanced as you swing the club, everything about the game becomes easier. You will find that you are able to strike the ball cleanly more regularly do to your improved balance, and you will have more power as well. Also, you will perform better under pressure with a balanced swing because your overall action will be more repeatable. No matter what part of the golf swing is in question, it is going to be improved by the presence of good balance. Many players like to make the swing more complicated than it needs to be, but it is really quite simple – stay balanced, turn through the shot, and keep your eyes on the ball and you will be well on your way to success.
It is best to think about the finish as 'evidence' as to what has occurred earlier in your swing. If you find that you are in a great finish position after all of your shots, you can be sure you have done a great job of staying on balance. You won't even need to think much about the rest of your swing, because the evidence that is provided by your finish position tells you everything you need to know. It is almost impossible to be off balance during the swing only to find your balance by the time you reach the finish, so don't even consider that possibility. Balance at the end indicates that there was balance throughout, and you can feel good about that fact. By taking the time and effort necessary to improve on your finish position balance, you will have successfully improved your swing as a whole.
All of the instruction contained below is based on a right handed golfer. If you happen to play left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
Checking Your Current Status
Before you start to work on making changes to your technique, you first need to know how you are doing currently with regard to your finish position balance. Of course, if you are already balanced at the end of your swing, there is nothing to be done – you can forget about this point and move on to other issues. Since you are reading this article, however, chances are that there is at least something going wrong within your swing that needs to be addressed.
To check on the status of your balance in the finish position of your swing, review the points below.
- Can you hold your finish? This is the easiest, and most important, point to check when your swing is complete. As the ball is flying toward the target, what is your body doing? Are you able to hold your finish in place comfortably while watching your shot, or are you falling over in one direction or another? If you are struggling to stay balanced in your finish position, there is obviously something that has gone wrong. You should be able to hold still with your left foot flat on the ground and your right toe on the turf until the ball lands at its destination. Without this ability, you will always struggle to strike solid shots because your balance will remain an issue.
- Are you reaching a full finish? For some players, the issue isn't so much holding a balanced finish as it is reaching that finish position in the first place. If you never quite release your body through the hitting area – led by your lower body – you might not have a chance to even get to the finish. A good finish position will see the hips facing the target and the right heel completely up off the turf. If that is not a position that you are reaching in your swing, there is something going wrong earlier on in your action.
- Do you feel like you are working hard to hold steady? Balance is something that should become natural and even 'automatic' in your swing. In other words, you shouldn't have to work on it consciously as you hit your shots. If you are having to fight yourself in order to stay balanced, there is a problem somewhere in the swing that needs to be corrected. Ideally, you will be nicely balanced from the start of the swing through to the finish without any struggle whatsoever. Work on making your balance as easy as possible during the swing and you will find that the game as a whole becomes much easier.
In the end, it shouldn't be particularly difficult to determine whether or not you are staying balanced in your swing. If there are problems with your balance at the end – in the finish position – then you can be sure there are problems earlier on as well. Be honest with yourself in your assessment of your balance and commit time and effort to correcting any problems that you find. Balance is absolutely critical to your success as a golfer, so it will always be worth your time to focus on this key fundamental in practice.
Practice in Reverse
If you are currently having trouble finding a balanced finish in your golf swing, it may be that you don't even know what it feels like to finish in a proper stance. This is a problem, as you will have trouble taking your body into the right position if you have never before held that position at the end of a swing. To get over this hurdle, consider using the drill included in this section. This drill will help you understand what it feels like to hold a balanced finish position, and it will also help you understand the connection between address and the finish.
To get started, take any one of your clubs from your bag and find a safe place to make some swings. You aren't going to be hitting the ball in this drill, so you don't even need to be at the driving range. Once you have a spot to swing, start by taking your address position as you would before any standard shot. Take your time to get into a good address position, pretending as though you are about to start an actual swing. However, once you are set, you are going to move the club slowly forward rather than backwards. Gradually move the club forward and up around your body, until you arrive at a finish position. This is not going to happen at full swing pace – it is going to be a slow, deliberate, controlled movement.
When you get up into a full finish, you should have the majority of your weight on your left foot with your right heel up off the ground. Your chest should be pointing at your (imaginary) target, and your hips should be facing that same direction as well. Of course, above all else, you should be nicely balanced and feel like you could hold this position indefinitely. It should be relatively easy to get into this balanced, comfortable position when simply moving up into it rather than getting there at the end of a full swing.
After you have held this finish position for a few seconds, gradually start to 'unwind' your body back down toward address. Again, you should be moving in a slow and controlled manner. When you get back down to address, pause there and then do the whole thing over again. You will want to go back and forth between address and the finish several times before concluding the drill. At no point during this drill is the club going to go into the backswing or downswing phases of the golf swing at all.
So what is the point of all this? Mostly, this drill is designed to help you feel how you can move from the bottom of your swing up to the top comfortably time after time. Of course, it is going to be different when you are actually swinging the club at full speed, but you have to start somewhere. By learning what it feels like to finish in a balanced position with the club wrapped around your back, you will now have a target in mind when you are making your regular swing. Once you go back to making full swings and hitting shots, your body will naturally remember the feeling of that finish position, and you should find it easier to achieve.
When done with the drill, go ahead and start to hit some shots (if you are at the range, of course). As you begin to hit shots, start slowly at first by hitting half wedges to close range targets. Gradually move up into longer and longer shots that use more and more speed. Hopefully, if you have learned anything from the drill, you will be able to better balance during your follow through and into the finish. If you find yourself having trouble during your practice session, feel free to revert back to the drill in order to recover some of your balance before getting started with hitting shots again.
Eliminating the Slide
The golf swing, when executed correctly, is all about rotation. Unfortunately, many golfers replace rotation with a slide that makes it difficult for them to stay on balance throughout the swing. In fact, the lateral slide is one of the leading causes of lost balance during the swinging motion. If you are having trouble staying nicely balanced in your swing, and you can't quite seem to 'stick the landing' when it comes to your finish position, you may be sliding in one direction or the other rather than rotating properly. Replacing your lateral slide with proper rotation is one of the fastest and most effective ways to fix your balance once and for all.
To work on taking any element of lateral slide out of your golf swing, review the following points before your next practice session.
- Stable at the start. The most common place to put a slide into your golf swing is right from the start, during the takeaway. To avoid that outcome, focus on the behavior of your right knee early on when the club moves away from the ball. Ideally, your right knee will remain stationary as you swing the club back around your body. However, for many amateur golfers, the right knee gives way as soon as the swing begins. Weight starts to slide away from the target, the right knee moves to the right, and balance is lost almost immediately. When this happens, there is very little that you will be able to do to save the swing later on. To fix your takeaway, keep your right leg as stable as possible while you move the club moving just your shoulder rotation. If you can start the swing in this manner time after time, many of your balance problems will be instantly solved.
- Tighten up the backswing. Another common place to lose balance is at the top of the swing. If you are forcing yourself to swing back as far as possible in an effort to gain distance, you are likely going to force yourself off balance in the process. Usually, this happens in the form of a slide to the right with your hips as the club continues to wrap around your head. In reality, stretching out the backswing as far as possible really isn't going to help you hit the ball any farther. It will, however, cause you to fall off balance. Therefore, the best thing you can do is to keep your backswing tight while you focus on avoiding the dreaded slide.
- Turn to start the downswing. One of the commonly overlooked mistakes that is made by amateur golfers is sliding toward the target to start the downswing. It might seem like the right thing to do – after all, you need to get the club moving toward the target – but starting the downswing with a slide to the left instead of rotation is a huge mistake. Sliding left will cause your upper body to hang back to the right, the club will drop, and you will have a hard time making solid contact at the bottom. Instead, turn your left hip open to start the rotational action in the downswing and go from there. This kind of rotation will not only keep you on balance during your downswing, but it will also help you to generate maximum power in your swing. In the end, you will be left with an action is that balanced, powerful, and repeatable – exactly what you need if you are going to play golf at a high level.
Sliding from side to side seems like a natural thing to many golfers. It seems like a good way to build speed, and it feels like it is going to take the club down a direct path to the target. However, this is the golf equivalent of 'fool's gold'. You are causing yourself plenty of trouble when you slide from side to side in the swing, so try to avoid this mistake at all costs. If you can manage to focus your swing on rotation rather than lateral movement, you will be much better off in the end. As proof, look no further than your finish position – when you rotate rather than slide, you will have very little trouble landing in a balanced, comfortable finish position time after time.
A Mental Battle
Believe it or not, the ability to get into a balanced finish position is as much mental as it is physical. Sure, you have to have solid fundamentals in place in your swing if you are going to get all the way to the finish correctly, but you also need to have the right mindset for the shot. If you aren't thinking correctly during your swing, it will be difficult to find that proper finish after all. Many amateur golfers have a variety of mental game 'demons' in place that stop them from performing up to their peak ability. If you would like to step up your game, one of the best things you can do is learn how to think more effectively.
One of the leading mental game mistakes made by amateur golfers is a simple lack of commitment to the downswing. It is common for amateurs to be unsure of themselves as they swing down, which will usually result in a weak, disappointing impact with the ball. Additionally, that lack of commitment in the downswing will prevent you from getting all the way into a full finish, meaning your balance will be compromised along the way. This might not even be a mistake that you are aware of in your swing, but it certainly can cause problems in a hurry.
To fix this issue, you have to convince yourself that you are going to hit a great shot each and every time you put the club in motion. It's just that simple. Without conviction, you are going to hesitate in the downswing and the quality of your shots will suffer as a result. There is no time for hesitation in a good golf swing – once the swing begins, your mind needs to be filled with confidence and dedication to the task at hand. It is easy to get nervous when you look down the fairway to see all of the hazards and trouble spots that are waiting to catch your ball, but it is your task as a golfer to rise above all of that. You have to trust yourself, trust your technique, and trust your ability to stay on balance while swinging through to a full finish.
On the driving range, work on the commitment to your swing that you will need on the course. Pick out specific targets and then focus your mind on making it all the way into your balanced finish position after each swing. Once you get out on the course, take this same mindset to help yourself ignore all of the fears you have about your shots. Thinking only about making it into a full finish is a great way to keep your confidence high – and confidence is half the battle when it comes to playing good rounds of golf.
The balanced, posed position of a professional golfer after he or she has struck a shot is one of the most familiar pictures in all of golf. To strike the same pose, use the instruction included above along with plenty of practice time on the range. When you bring together good instruction with plenty of practice, the results can be impressive. Don't make the mistake of thinking that the finish position doesn't matter simply because the ball is already gone. It does matter, and it will mean big things for your game if you can focus on this seemingly minor element. Good luck and here's to great balance!