You often hear certain pros’ golf swings described as “pretty.” Eye-pleasing swings have a fluid quality, a smooth, flowing tempo and textbook finish position, among other traits.
A graceful rhythm and picture-perfect pose are built on a single fundamental that rarely attracts the same attention: balance. It’s too often taken for granted by golfers who prefer to practice so called more interesting facets, like swing plane or a late release. But after the grip, balance may be the most critical element of all.
Balance may be overlooked because of the ease with which pros achieve it. Rarely will you see a professional golfer lean too far onto the heels or toes during a swing, or finish in an awkward, off-kilter position.
Why It’s Important
Without steady balance from setup into the backswing and through the downswing, it’s extremely difficult to return the clubface to square at impact. Physics simply won’t allow it.
Your balance can shift off-center in any direction before and during the swing, and each sway has its own unwanted consequences. For example, too much weight on your toes can cause contact on the club’s heel or even the dreaded shanks. Lean back on your heels and you’ll hit the ball off the club’s toe.
Starting with a balanced address is essential. Weight should be evenly distributed between the heels and balls of your feet on all full shots, and in a 50-50 arrangement on the left and right feet. (The exception is hitting the driver, when placing a little more weight on your right or back foot is recommended to add loft to your shots.) Your knees should be flexed at address and remain that way throughout the swing.
Who You Should Watch
Pick a pro, any pro. He or she would never have made it so far with poor balance. Still, some set a better example than others.
Golfers with classic form always have impeccable balance. Think of Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel and Justin Rose – all possess perfect posture, with knees, hips and shoulders stacked neatly in line.
When the camera is behind the golfer, note how they rotate around the body’s core, never leaning forward or back. Except for a slight lifting of the left (front) heel on some pros’ backswings, their feet stay firmly planted from beginning through impact.
Apply It to Your Game
Maintaining good balance requires a smooth tempo, free from quick or jerky movements. Rory McIlroy and Ernie Els set sterling examples.
For improving and maintaining great balance, the feet-together drill is unbeatable. It’s also incredibly simple:
- Using a wedge or short iron, address the ball with your feet an inch or two apart.
- Hit a number of shots swinging at 50-percent effort.
- Once you’ve hit a few solid shots with good balance, increase to 75-percent swings.
- When you’re achieving crisp contact every time, switch to the next club up and work all the way through your driver.