Lifting is for the weight room, not your golf game. Lifting the golf club abruptly as you prepare to swing can ingrain bad habits, causing problems such as speed-killing tension and an off-plane swing.
If you waggle the club before starting to swing – and most golfers do – emulate the motion of a one-piece takeaway. Move the club back with the left (lead) arm and shoulder in unison, without cocking or hinging the wrists.
This pre-shot golf routine will serve as a precursor to the start of your full swing. Get the waggle right and your full golf swing will sequence in the right order, creating a wide arc that produces more distance and accuracy.
Stop Lifting and Start Swinging Your Golf Club
When you refer to the action that is going to move the club around your body in order to hit the ball, what do you call it? Of course, you call it a 'swing'. Do you ever call it a 'lift'? Certainly not. No one has ever gone to the range to work on their 'golf lift'. You practice your golf swing, because a swing is exactly what it should be. When the club is free to swing naturally around your body, great things are possible on the course. However, if you just lift the club up into position before dropping it back down on the ball, you will be highly unlikely to ever produce anything of value in your game.
So, the mission is simple – swing the club, rather than lifting it. As you might suspect, that task is going to be a bit more difficult than it may sound at first. While you may understand this idea while sitting down to read this article, putting it into practice on the range or the course is going to take some work. If you are currently a player who is guilty of liftinh the club far more than you swing it, there are a number of changes which will have to be made before you can round your swing into shape. It can be done, to be sure, but you are going to have to work for it.
If you watch any golf on TV, you will surely notice how beautifully the professionals are able to swing the club around their bodies. There doesn't seem to be any rushing or forcing of the action when a pro swings the club – the swing develops in its own time, and it delivers a powerful blow into the back of the ball when the clubhead arrives at impact. This is exactly the kind of swing you should be trying to build in your own game. Rather than forcing the club to do something it doesn't want to do, take your time and let the club swing around you with a smooth and relaxed rhythm.
Even though this type of swing might feel a bit relaxed and even 'lazy', it is actually a powerful action that can result in long and accurate shots. Forcing the club to move is one of the most common mistakes made by amateur golfers, and it is one of the reasons why many players never really improve. Embrace the idea of letting the club swing smoothly around you and there will be great ball striking in your near future. It will take a little bit of time to learn how to use this kind of swing effectively, but your patience will be rewarded when you start to blast the ball down the middle of the fairway time after time.
All of the instruction 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.
Signs of a Lift
Before you can work on building your swing the right way, you need to confirm that you are actually guilty of lifting the club in the first place. If you are already doing a good job of swinging the club back, there may not be much work to do after all – at least, not on this point. To check on how you are doing in the backswing with regard to lift vs. swing, review the following signs that you maybe lifting the club instead of swinging it around your body.
- Hands active early in the swing. This is one of the worst mistakes that you can make in the golf swing. If your hands are overly active early on in the swing – especially if they are hinging the club up into the air – you are going to run the risk of lifting the club rather than swinging it. In a proper golf swing, the hands will remain quiet during the takeaway while you simply rotate your shoulders away from the target to move the club. When the backswing is handled by the shoulders instead of the hands, the club will stay low to the ground at the start and you will be on the right path toward a swinging action.
- Straightening from the waist. Another bad sign, this mistake is going to cause you to lose your posture early on in the backswing. At address, you should be bent slightly from your hips in order to get your upper body out over the ball. However, if you give up that tilt by standing straight up shortly after the swing begins, you will wind up liftinh the club over your right shoulder instead of turning back properly. During the backswing, it is your job to stay down in your stance as completely as possible – ideally, there will be very little change in your posture from the start of the swing on up to the top. Players who stay in their posture are always going to have an easier time making solid contact with the ball at impact.
- Failing to turn the shoulders. This might just be the biggest indication of all that you are lifting the club instead of swinging it. Your shoulder turn is at the heart of your golf swing when it comes to building speed, but many golfers fail to get the shoulders turned adequately going back. If you aren't moving your left shoulder under your chin (or at least close) in the backswing, you can be sure you are lifting the club. You don't have to make a huge turn like many of the pros on tour, but you should do your best to rotate your left shoulder back under your chin in the backswing. A good shoulder turn will do countless positive things for your swing, including the fact that it will help you stay on balance and prepare for a powerful downswing.
If any of the three points above are present in your golf swing, you should be concerned that you may be lifting the club going back. When you do suspect that this problem is present in your swing, the best thing you can do is to record a quick video to confirm your fears. With just a simple video recording of your swinging action, you will be able to see the truth right in front of your eyes. Even if you don't like what you see, at least you will know the battle that you are facing once you watch your swing for yourself. Seeing the mistake or mistakes that you are making on video will help you to better understand exactly what the problem is, and how you can go about fixing it once and for all.
Characteristics of a Proper Swinging Action
In the previous section, we listed some of the points that are common among golfers who lift the club. Going in the other direction, this section is going to review some of the positive things that you should be doing if you want to swing the club freely. Players who are able to hit on the points listed in this section are almost sure to be making a nice swinging action, which will give them a great chance to hit powerful and accurate shots.
- One-piece takeaway. The one-piece takeaway is among the most important fundamentals in the game, yet many golfers have no idea what it is or why it is so crucial to their success. Basically, a one-piece takeaway is an action that starts the golf swing without any wasted, extra movement. Instead of using your hands, wrists, or arms too actively during the takeaway, you will keep everything quiet and just sweep the club back with a turn of your shoulders. The vast majority of professional golfers use a one-piece takeaway, and you should be doing the same. By moving the club back through the use of your big muscles rather than the small muscles in your hands and arms, you will keep the club on track to swing wide around your body. It will take some practice to get comfortable with this type of takeaway, but mastering it will take you a huge step closer to making a great swing.
- Back to the target at the top. This position is one of the easiest ways to check on the quality of your swinging action. When you arrive at the top of your swing, pause for a moment and check on the position of your back relative to the target. Have you fully turned your back to the target that you have picked out for the shot? If so, you are doing a good job of rotating in the backswing, and you are probably swinging the club nicely as well. If, like many amateurs, you aren't quite getting your back all the way to the target, you may need to work on improving your address position as well as your takeaway to promote a better turn. Upper body rotation going back is one of the biggest keys to hitting powerful shots, so you don't want to take any shortcuts on this point.
- Light grip pressure. This might seem like a point that is off track in this discussion, but it is actually closely tied to your ability to swing the club properly. When you use a light grip pressure, your hands and wrists will be far less likely to get involved in the swing when they aren't welcome. You should be holding onto the club lightly throughout your swing, no matter what club you are hitting – although, you should obviously be holding on tight enough to keep the club in your hands. Work on using light grip pressure while practicing your short game and gradually work up into longer and longer clubs until you are able to make full swings with a relaxed and comfortable grip.
- Even tempo. Perhaps the most important point of all when it comes to swinging the club freely is your ability to use an even tempo from start to finish in your swing. There should be no hesitations or 'rough spots' in your swing – it should be a smooth, flowing, continuous motion from the time it starts until you wind up in a balanced finish position. Many golfers never manage to develop this kind of rhythm in their swing, and they pay the price in the way of poor ball striking and lackluster distance. Make an improved tempo one of your top golf priorities and you will soon find yourself in the category of a 'swinger' rather than a 'lifter'.
When you start to successfully swing the club, you will feel the difference almost immediately. You will feel like you have more power available than when you were liftinh the club going back, and the consistency of your ball striking will improve.
Impact is Not the Finish Line
The golf swing is an action that needs to be completed from start to finish in order to be successful. While most golfers understand the importance of the early and middle stages of the swing, few appreciate just how important the finish of the swing can be. Without a good finish, you will likely be looking at problems somewhere earlier in your swing. A balanced, full finish is a great sign that you have done things right throughout your swing, so make sure to complete your swinging action all the way on through to the end.
One of the common mistakes that is seen in many amateur golfers is the tendency to look at the moment of impact as the finish line for the swing. This is a mistake. The ball is not a stop sign for your swing – rather, it is just a point along the way. You should be swinging from address, up to the top, and down through into a full finish each and every time. If you quit applying effort into your swing as soon as you reach the ball, you will be robbing yourself of potential power and ball striking ability. There is a reason that you always see professional golfers swinging through to a full finish – they know just how important it is to complete the action.
To work on holding your finish, you should pay increased attention to this part of the swing during your practice sessions. It is all too common for golfers to rush through their practice sessions in an effort to finish as quickly as possible, but this is a bad habit that can have a negative impact on your swing. As a good rule of thumb, you should do the following while hitting practice shots – always hold your finish position until the ball has landed on the ground. This is a simple tip, but it is extremely effective in teaching you how to value the finish phase of the swing. If you always hold your finish until the ball comes down – even when you are hitting a driver that seems to hang in the air forever – you will have to focus on holding your balance nicely in the finish. Even though it takes place at the end of the swing, your finish is an important piece of the overall golf puzzle.
Another thing to key on while practicing in the idea that the club should be accelerating through the hitting area. Instead of letting the club head slow down as it approaches the ball, which is what many amateur golfers do, you should be doing just the opposite. Speed the club up on the way down, giving it a chance to reach its maximum velocity right at the moment of impact. Professional golfers do this beautifully, but amateurs often struggle to have the same success. By holding your wrist angle as deep into the downswing as possible, you will unlock potential power and unleash an impressive blow into the back of the ball.
This point is just as important to remember in the short game as it is in the long game. When hitting putts, chips, and pitches, you need to be sure to accelerate the club through the ball at impact. It is even easier to lose track of this point in the short game than it is in the long game because you may be afraid of hitting the ball too far. You will put those fears aside, however, if you want to play great shots from around the green. You need to swing the club in the short game just as you need to swing it in the long game. Lifting the club is a problem from short range as well, so focus on swinging back and through and you should see quickly improved results.
Weighting the Club Head
Adding weight to the club head is a great way to help yourself feel how the club should be swung back and through. Most golf clubs are relatively light in overall weight, especially your driver and fairway woods which are made from light metals in the club head. Therefore, it can be hard to get a feel for the club, and it can be hard to swing it freely. As a drill, you can add some weight to the club head end to give your hands and arms a chance to feel what is going on with the club during the swing. Also, this approach will make it harder for you to lift the club, which is going to help to eliminate the problem at its root.
There are a couple of ways in which you can go about using this method. First, you could choose to buy a training club. There are some training clubs on the market which have heavy club heads intended to help you accomplish the very goal that we are discussing. If you would like to buy something to work on this point, go ahead and pick out one of these swing aids. However, if you would like to work on this drill for free, there is a quick and easy way you can do so.
To get started, take a golf towel and roll it up into a 'snake' shape. When rolled, the towel should be long and narrow, and it should be tightly rolled to keep its form as much as possible. Next, you are going to take the towel and tie it around the bottom of the club shaft, just above the head of the club. Tie it on tightly – even double knot it, if possible. Now, find yourself somewhere safe to swing the club and take a couple of practice swings. Instantly, you should notice the difference in weight while swinging. Although the towel itself doesn't weigh very much, it will significantly weigh down the club head while in motion. After a few swings, untie the towel and go back to swinging the club normally. The club at this point will feel very light, but you will hopefully be able to remember the sensations you had during the drill in order to swing the club with a better tempo and rhythm.
You can use this simple drill just about anytime during your practice sessions. It is a great way to get out of the habit of liftinh the club, and it will help you maintain a smooth rhythm from the start of your swing all the way through to the finish. Many golfers get in a rush when they swing the club, and rushing the swing is never a good way to produce quality shots. Learn how to slow down through the use of the towel drill and your game should take a big step forward.
Lifting the golf club is something you never really want to do in your game – it is called a golf swing for a reason. Work on the tips provided in this article to take yourself closer and closer to something that looks like a swing rather than a lift. When you are successful, you will find that you suddenly can produce powerful and accurate golf shots more frequently than ever before.