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answer The tempo that matches your personal pace and manner

Nick Price is pretty darn good, right? Hes got a really quick swing, so maybe you should emulate him. Then again, Ernie Els has won a few big golf tournaments, and his rhythm makes molasses look like lightning. So, maybe a slower tempo is the way to go.

See where were coming from? Let us spell it out more clearly: Theres no right or wrong swing tempo, no one perfect rhythm every golfer should try to attain. There is, however, a correct tempo for you.

In a nutshell, tempo is the pace at which you swing back and through the ball. (Dont confuse it with swing speed, which is literally the speed at which the clubhead travels through impact, measured in MPH.) Whether your swing is short and quick, long and languid or somewhere in between, the key is to find and nurture the tempo that best suits your individual traits – your natural tempo, if you will.

Think of it like buying a car. High-energy thrill seekers thrive in sporty models. Put them in a minivan and they fall asleep at the wheel. At the other end are your more cautious, conservative types, who feel out of their element in a bright red coupe but are perfectly comfortable driving a big luxury sedan.

OK, back to the golf course. Heres a brief personality test to help you figure out your natural tempo:

  • Do you tend to hurry through tasks, walk and talk briskly or fidget when forced to wait? You probably fit the mold of a quick-tempo player.
  • Are you relaxed and patient, long of stride, measured in words and actions? You sound more like a slow-tempo type.
  • Personality tests can lie, of course, so weve got a driving range drill that will help you find your natural tempo. Heres what you do:
    • Place four balls in a line, each about 6” apart. Tee them up or lay them on the turf, using the club of your choice. A short or mid-iron is easiest.
    • Set up to the first ball and hit it – no need to align the shot precisely – then hit the next one without pausing, then the next, then the final ball.
    • Dont rush to hit each ball, but dont deliberate and try to hit these shots perfectly. Simply hit them in succession with the pace at which youd conduct any other task.
    • Repeat the drill a time or two, then hit a few shots with the same club using your usual practice routine. Try to retain the pace you found during the drill – thats your natural tempo.

    (Heres the same drill demonstrated on video: Find Your Natural Tempo)

    Whats the big deal about tempo, anyway? Golfers who can maintain a steady tempo from shot to shot, hole to hole and round to round are the most consistent among us. On the other hand, getting out of your tempo leads to problems. For example, if your medium tempo suddenly becomes quick, youll likely suffer from pulled or hooked shots.

    It takes time, practice and play to develop a reliable, repeatable tempo. But its worth the effort. Start by finding your natural tempo. Then reinforce it with the tips and drills at the bottom of this page.

    Once youve found your natural tempo, the next step is to develop and maintain it with every club in the bag. These tips will help you do just that:

    Best Golf Drill Ever? Feet-Together Instills Balance, Rhythm

    Quick Swing is OK, But Keep it Consistent

    Maintain Tempo from First Hole to Last

    Top 3 Ways to Improve Your Golf Swing Tempo

    Seniors: Great Way to Cure Bad Swing Tempo

    Women: Best 3 Ways to Improve Swing Tempo

Sorry Try Again! - See Explanation Below

This answer mixes up tempo with speed. Yes, you want the clubhead moving as fast as possible at the moment of impact. No, a quick tempo does not necessarily enhance swing speed. See Fred Couples, one of golfs longest hitters, for an example of a slow-tempo player who generates massive clubhead speed.

Sorry Try Again! - See Explanation Below

A world full of golfers swinging like Couples and Els would be a beautiful thing, indeed. Unfortunately, many of them would be terrible. A languid rhythm simply wouldnt work for a guy like Lanny Wadkins, whose restless mannerisms are best matched to a rapid-fire tempo.

Sorry Try Again! - See Explanation Below

The truth often lies between opposite poles. But not in this case. While a medium tempo may well be your sweet spot, the last thing you want to do is force yourself to develop a rhythm that doesnt mesh with your innate pace.