What do you focus on when you swing a golf club?

How to Produce a Consistent Golf Swing With Proper Golf Club Handle Techniques

Perhaps you focus on the target that you have picked out for the shot, or maybe you think about moving the club head properly through the ball. Or, if you are like some golfers, you may try to focus on absolutely nothing at all. In this article, we are going to present the idea of focusing on the handle of the club and the way it moves as you swing. Despite being the part of the club that you actually hold onto while swinging, the handle seems to be largely overlooked by most golfers. Hopefully, we will be able to change that with the content below.

As you will see as we work our way through this article, the handle of the club has a major influence on the outcome of each of your shots. Of course, that does make a lot of sense when you think about it. The handle is directly connected to the club head, and anything you do with the handle is going to be reflected in the way the head swings through the ball. If you can manage to move the handle correctly, the club head will have no choice but to follow along.

This way of thinking is useful both with your full swing and also in the short game. Don’t make the mistake of forgetting about your short game when working on your technique, as it is just as important to putt and chip well as it is to make good full swings. Later in the article, we will talk about how you can focus on the handle in the short game. If you commit yourself to this type of focus with all of your clubs from the driver down to the putter, you’ll be building a nice consistency in your approach which may pay off in the long run.

All of the content 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.

The Handle at Address and In the Backswing

The Handle at Address and In the Backswing

Golf is a game of details. If you get the small details right, there is a good chance that the big things – like your ball flight – will fall into place successfully. In this section, we are going to analyze the detail of placing your hands correctly at address, and then moving them properly throughout the backswing. This probably won’t be the most exciting thing you’ve ever read about the game of golf, but we hope it will be valuable to you as you move your game forward.

For most standard iron shots, you will want to place the handle of the club directly over the ball at address. As a result, the shaft is going to have a bit of ‘forward lean’, since the club head is going to be resting behind the ball. ‘Forward lean’ is a golf term that simply means the shaft of the club is leaning toward the target. It is important to set up with forward lean at address because this is the position you want to return to at impact. You generally will want to hit down through the ball when playing iron shots, and that is only going to happen when your hands are in front of the ball at impact. If your hands lag behind, and the shaft of the club leans away from the target, you won’t be able to hit down properly. So, as a basic rule of thumb, set up for your iron shots with your hands directly over the ball and you should be in good shape.

The story changes a bit when you move up to the longer clubs in your set. If you are hitting shots with a driver or one of your fairway woods, you’ll probably want to avoid the forward leaning shaft. Instead, try setting up with your hands directly in line with the club head, keeping the shaft in a neutral position. The reason for this plan is simple – you don’t want to hit down on these clubs. You want the club head to move through the hitting area on a flat plane, parallel to the ground. If you can return the club shaft to a roughly vertical position when you strike your driver and fairway wood shots, you should be relatively happy with the results. This is not the only piece of the ball striking puzzle, of course, but it is a big step in the right direction.

So, to review quickly – at address, you are going to set the handle of the club in line with the golf ball when hitting iron shots. For driver and fairway wood shots, you’ll move your hands back so that they are in line with the club head. However, since you are almost certainly going to use a more forward ball position with your woods, it won’t really feel like your hands have moved back at all. In fact, they may be in roughly the same spot as they were when you were hitting iron shots, only their position relative to the ball will have changed.

Moving on, let’s discuss how the handle of the club should behave during the backswing. The three points below are keys to keep in mind.

  • Quiet at the start. As the backswing gets going, you don’t want the handle of the club to be doing much of anything. Sure, it will be moving – the whole club will be moving – but it won’t really be the handle of the club that is responsible for the movement. Instead, your hands should be quiet as your shoulders rotate your entire upper body away from the target. It is common for amateur golfers to use their hands too aggressively at the start of the swing, a mistake which leads to a variety of problems. Learn how to turn away from the target by simply rotating your shoulders and you will be in much better condition as you continue on toward the top of the backswing.
  • A set. At some point, you are going to need to ‘set’ the club in order to complete the backswing properly. The ‘set’ of the club is nothing more than the action of hinging your wrists in order to establish a big angle between your left arm and the shaft of the club. While it’s possible to set the club at a variety of points during the backswing – some golfers even wait all the way until the transition – most players find a comfort zone setting the club halfway back. As a handy checkpoint, you can stop your backswing when your left arm is parallel to the ground to see how your set is coming along. If the club is vertical while your left arm is horizontal, you have set the club nicely and should be in good shape when the time comes to transition into the downswing.
  • Quiet through the transition. Again here, we see a phase of the swing where the handle shouldn’t be doing much at all. This is one of the most important points that you can take away from this article. Too many golfers use the handle of the club actively at the top of the swing, and the results are ugly. If you actively move the handle around at the top, you are almost certainly going to give up the angle you just established when you set the club on the way back. That means there will be very little angle between your left arm and the club shaft in the downswing, and you will struggle to develop any kind of meaningful swing speed. Avoid this mistake by keeping the handle quiet and using your lower body to initiate the downswing action. Turn your hips toward the target and let everything else fall into place naturally. If you can get through the transition without using the handle too actively, you’ll be in great position to hit a good shot.

As you can see, there isn’t a lot that you need to be doing with the handle of the club during the backswing. Assuming you set up with the handle in the right position at address, and assuming you set the club nicely during the backswing, you should be good to go.

The Handle in the Downswing and at Impact

The Handle in the Downswing and at Impact

In the previous section, we walked through how the handle should be positioned at address and how it should behave in the backswing. Now, we are going to move forward and talk about the downswing and the moment of impact. This is where everything comes together, and you learn whether or not your efforts are going to be successful or not. Fortunately, nothing in this section is particularly complicated, but it will take plenty of practice nonetheless.

Let’s pick up where we left off in the previous section. If you were able to make it through the address position and backswing without much trouble, you should be at a point where the club is hanging at the top of the swing and your lower body is turning aggressively toward the target. Once all of that is done, the best thing you can do with the handle is to keep the butt end of the club pointed at the ball deep into the downswing. This is going to maintain the angle between your left arm and the shaft of the club, and it is going to allow for the potential of impressive power to be released into the ball at impact. In golf circles, holding your angle in the downswing is known as ‘lag’, as it is one of the biggest lessons you need to learn on your way to playing good golf.

We will acknowledge right here and now that it is not easy to learn how to lag the club. This move feels somewhat unnatural to many players, as it seems like you should be taking the club head – not the handle – down toward the ball. There will be a time for the club head to swing through, of course, but that time does not come until the last possible moment. For now, taking the butt end of the club toward the ball is going to put you in a great position to achieve a powerful strike.

As your hands move down toward the ball and you continue to hold the angle, there will come a point where you can wait no longer and you are forced to release the club toward impact. It is now that the handle is going to jump into action through the use of your right hand. Your right hand is going to pour on the speed, forcing the club head into the back of the ball with some serious speed. The angle between your left arm and the shaft of the club is going to evaporate, and all of the stored-up energy you had created in your swing will be used.

When all of this comes together properly, the feeling is incredible. The ball seems to leap off the face of the club, it soars well into the distance, and hopefully comes down somewhere near your target. It should go without saying that it takes plenty of time and effort to learn how to stitch everything together in a way that allows you to produce consistent results swing after swing.

Making Adjustments

Making Adjustments

Unless your golf swing already happens to be in excellent condition, it’s likely that you will need to make some adjustments to how you are swinging the handle of the club. In this section, we’ll highlight a few common adjustments along with some tips on how you can make these adjustments as quickly and easily as possible. Please review the points below and consider working on those that relate to the issues you are facing with your swing.

  • Tweak your address position. This is likely the easiest of all adjustments to make, since it takes place before the club actually goes in motion. If you notice that your hands seem to be too far forward or back at address, make the necessary correction and then hit some shots on the range to see how it works out. Remember, you should never judge a stance or swing adjustment by just one or two shots. It will take a bit of practice to get comfortable, so give yourself a chance to make this adjustment work rather than reverting back to your old way after a couple swings.
  • Try a one-handed takeaway. You aren’t going to use a one-handed takeaway during your actual swing, of course, but this is a good drill to use in order to learn how to keep your hands out of the takeaway action. With only your left hand holding onto the club, turn your upper body away from the target by rotating your left shoulder under your chin. It’s hard to manipulate the club with just one hand on the handle, so you should be able to keep the handle quiet as you turn away when using this drill. Then, when you go back to making your normal swings, remember what you have learned during the drill, so you can continue to make quiet takeaways. With a bit of practice, the quieter takeaway will feel comfortable and you will have made a big improvement in your overall technique.
  • Hit some pitch shots. Most likely, you are going to have at least a little trouble learning how to lag the club down into the ball. This is the part of the swing that tends to give amateur golfers the most trouble, so don’t be too frustrated if you get hung up here as well. One good way to work on getting over this hurdle is to hit some pitch shots while focusing on your lag. Since pitch shots don’t require as long of a swing as full shots, you can more easily focus on your technique and get comfortable with the idea of lag. Try hitting some 30 – 40-yard pitch shots on the range while lagging the club nicely into the ball. As you start to find success on these shots, gradually work your way up to bigger swings and longer shots.

If you can’t seem to find your way to a place where you feel like your technique is serving you well, it might be best to speak with a teaching professional at your local course about a lesson. The experience of having a teaching pro watching you hit balls on the range is powerful in terms of speeding up your learning curve. It’s almost certain that the pro will have plenty of points for you to work on, and even taking just a single lesson should provide you with enough ideas to keep you busy for many range sessions to come.

Short Game Considerations

Short Game Considerations

With the discussion of the full swing wrapped up, we’d like to talk for a moment about the importance of using the handle correctly in the short game. First, with regard to your address position, there isn’t much of note to say as far as differences from the long game. You are generally going to want to have a bit of forward lean in the shaft at address, whether you are putting or chipping. The only exception to that rule would be when you are trying to hit a particularly high short game shot – like a flop shot. For those, you’ll want to set up with your hands a bit behind the ball at address in order to maximize the amount of loft you expose to the ball at impact.

So, setting up correctly should be pretty simple. But what about once the club goes in motion? We have some basic tips below, divided up into three categories – putting, chipping, and greenside bunker shots.

  • Putting. The movement of the handle of your putter should be very minimal as you produce a stroke. Basically, the goal is to simply rock your shoulder back and through without any movement in your hands or wrists at all. This feels too simplistic to many golfers at first, but it is the right way to go. You don’t need to swing particularly hard when you are putting, so there isn’t any need to use your hands actively. Work on keeping the handle steady and stable while rocking your shoulders back and through to send the ball on its way.
  • Chipping. You’ll need to do a bit more work with the handle when hitting a standard chip shot. You can think of your chipping technique as being somewhere between a putting stroke and a full swing. There should be a bit of wrist action going back and a little bit of right hand use moving through the ball. You aren’t going to set the club completely like you do in a full swing, but you’ll move the handle more than when putting.
  • Greenside bunker shot. Here, you are going to essentially move the handle in the same way you move it when hitting full shots. It takes a lot of swing speed to hit an explosion shot from a greenside bunker, so a full set on the way back is called for. Hinge your wrists in the backswing and then unhinge them on the way down to send the club into the sand and under the ball successfully.

It’s worthwhile to think about the way the club head moves during the swing, of course, but don’t forget about the importance of the handle. It may be easier for some golfers to make progress when they think about the handle instead of the club head, so we hope you are able to apply some of the concepts from this article. If you are able to use the handle more effectively on the way back and the way through, the quality of your shots should improve. Good luck!