The golf swing, by nature, is a rotational action. While many golfers try to force some side to side movement into the swing, it is really the rotation of your body that propels the club into the ball at high speed. If you have ever wondered how professional golfers are able to produce such impressive club head speed while seemingly making a smooth swing from start to finish, it all comes down to rotation. When the body rotates properly – and the club turns around the body correctly as well – amazing power and control is possible. Of course, it isn't necessarily easy to achieve that kind of efficient rotation, which is why so many players struggle to unlock the power that they desire.

Rotation – Golf Lessons & Tips

To hit good golf shots, you need to rotate. While that might sound pretty simple, it really is the truth. In a game that is easy to overcomplicate, it’s focusing on the basics that will take you a long way. There is more to hitting good shots than just rotation, of course, but rotating well is a big step in the right direction.

In this article, we are going to cover the topic of rotation in the golf swing from a variety of angles. We’d like to explain why it is so important to rotate, what you can do to improve your rotation, and how you can make sure you are sticking with it when you transition from the range to the course. Also, we’ll finish up by talking about whether or not rotation plays a role in the short game as it does in the full swing.

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 Value of Good Rotation

Rotation has a lot to offer your golf game. Turning back and through your shots properly can improve the quality of your play significantly, even if it will take some time to learn how to make progress in this area. We’ll talk later about how you can improve your turn, but first we are going to focus on what it is you stand to gain. Hopefully the content in this section will provide all the motivation you need to get down to work on the driving range in the near future.

Rotation Golf Lesson Chart

  • Add power to your swing. It seems that nearly every golfer wants to hit the ball farther and learning how to use your rotation correctly is a great way to do just that. It is the turning action of the swing that allows you to build speed, yet countless players try to create power by sliding from side to side. There is going to be a bit of lateral movement in the swing naturally, but that motion should not be your focus. Rather, you should be trying to turn back and through aggressively while staying on balance. If you can make a powerful yet controlled turn, you might be surprised to find just how much speed you can create through the hitting area.
  • Improve the consistency of the strike. While many players are consumed with the goal of hitting the ball farther, consistency will actually be more valuable to you on the golf course. The ability to strike your shots cleanly on a consistent basis will make it much easier to get the ball around the course without running into too much trouble. A swing that utilizes excellent rotation should help you strike clean shots more regularly, because your center of gravity will be in a consistent position. One of the issues faced by golfers who slide from side to side is that their swing doesn’t bottom out at the same point every time – so they struggle to make clean contact as a result. If you can make your swing more rotational and less lateral, the bottom of your swing should become more predictable, and you should find it easier to hit the ball cleanly as a result. If you know that there is currently a lot of side to side movement in your golf swing, focus on improving your rotation and you’ll be well on your way to better contact.
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  • Open up your options. If you do manage to put together a swing that can produce decent shots without much of a turn, you might find that your options are limited with that swing. In other words, you might only be able to produce one kind of shot out of that swing. That will be okay in many situations, but you’ll be limited as to how you can improve your game moving forward. For instance, if you can only hit a fade from your current swing, what do you do when encountering a dogleg left hole? You don’t have to be able to carve it all over the course like a pro, but having the basic ability to curve the ball both directions – and to hit high and low shots – will take you a long way. A swing that is based on excellent rotation has a better chance to be versatile that one which slides from side to side.
  • Reduce the need for practice. Okay – so this one might sound a little too good to be true, and we don’t want to oversell it. You will still need to practice if you hope to play good golf on a consistent basis. However, if you focus your swing on rotation rather than lateral movement, you should be able to play more consistently without having to practice as often. Swings that move significantly from one side to another require a lot of timing to execute correctly and mastering your timing means spending plenty of time on the driving range. If you don’t have the time available in your schedule to hit the range with regularity, improving your rotation could help you create a low-maintenance swing action.

Your game stands to improve significantly if you make improvements to your body rotation. Will you instantly start to play better after just a short period of time working on the rotation in your swing? Of course not – this is going to take a while. That is always the case in golf, however, so don’t let that deter you from getting to work. The sooner you start working on bettering your swing’s rotation, the sooner you can start to see results.

— Making Improvements

Now that you understand why it can be helpful to work on your rotation, it’s time to look at what you should be doing to make strides in this area. Every golf swing change is hard, but you can make small progress by focusing on one task at a time. Don’t try to fix everything about your technique at once – chip away at this project and eventually you will arrive at a swing that you love.

Let’s look at a few ways to improve on the rotational component of your swing.

Rotation Golf Lesson Chart

  • Find the right stance. While it is your upper body that will be doing most of the rotating during the swing, your lower body actually plays an important role in this process. In fact, it’s fair to say that your lower body is going to set the stage for what your upper body is able to accomplish once the swing gets going. If you want to make a great turn, start by working on the quality of your stance. First, be sure to place your feet wide enough that they can support your swing from start to finish. If you stand with your feet too close together, it will be difficult to keep your balance while making an aggressive swing. The perfect stance width varies from player to player but try starting with your feet just outside shoulder width and see how that feels. You can adjust from that starting point until you settle on a stance width that seems to work for you. In addition to stance width, the other element to monitor here is the flex in your knees. You should set up over the ball with at least a modest amount of flex in your knees, as this will help to engage your lower body and allow you to turn more completely. Without knee flex, you might find that even a modest shoulder turn causes you to lose your balance and get out of position. Again, as was the case with the width of your stance, the right amount of knee flex is going to vary from player to player. Experimenting is always the right way to go, so test out how much knee flex you should use to optimize your swing.
  • Give yourself enough time. One of the biggest causes of a poor backswing turn is simply not allowing for enough time for that turn to be completed. When you stand over the ball, you might feel like you need to be in a hurry to swing as hard and fast as possible. That’s going to lead to disappointing outcomes for a number of reasons. One of the many issues with rushing your swing is that you won’t have enough time to turn all the way back before you transition into the downswing. Rushing your backswing robs you of rotation, and you’ll fail to build as much speed as you could have if you allowed the turn to finish. For many golfers, this is a problem that shows up on the course more than the range. On the driving range, you’re probably pretty relaxed and you allow yourself to get all the way through the turn as a result. When you get on the course, however, you might feel a little pressure to hit a good shot – and you might rush as a result. You don’t necessarily need to make a slow backswing, but you do need to make sure there is enough time for you to get all the way back before swinging down. Dialing in the right timing and tempo for your backswing will help your ball striking and help you get the most out of your rotation.
  • Start with the turn. There are a variety of ways you can put your golf swing into motion. Some players use their hands to start moving the club away from the ball, only letting the rest of their body get involved after the hands and wrists have moved the club back the first few inches. Other players slide away from the target, shifting their weight onto their right side. Each of these methods can come along with some problems, which is why starting your swing with a rotational move is the best way to go. Make an effort to have your first action be a turning of your shoulders away from the target. If that’s how you start your swing, you’ll be placing an emphasis on rotation that should help you get to the top of the backswing in a great position. If you start with anything other than a rotational move, you’ll always be playing from behind with regard to your shoulder turn.

The three points above should give you an excellent starting point to work on the quality of the rotation in your swing. If you can build a good stance, take enough time to make a full turn, and start your takeaway with that turn, you’ll be well on your way. Make it a point to work on this part of your game during upcoming practice sessions and it’s possible that you’ll start to make some exciting progress.

— Are You Turning on the Course?

Perhaps the biggest frustration of all in golf is the difficulty that comes with going from the driving range to the course. You’ve probably heard this complaint from other players, if you haven’t yet made it yourself – why can’t I play as good on the course as I do on the range? There are a number of issues that are potentially at play here, but there’s no doubt that it’s harder to swing well on the course than it is on the practice range.

So, you might be disappointed to find that your new and improved golf swing on the driving range doesn’t translate as well to the course as you had hoped. If you think your rotation on the course is letting you down even after making improvements in practice, consider the points below.

Rotation Golf Lesson Chart

  • Look at your pre-shot routine. Some of your struggles with rotation on the course could be related to your pre-shot routine. Using a consistent routine is a good way to get yourself comfortable and to forget about some of the pressure that comes with hitting a shot during an actual round of golf. If you don’t use a routine, or you only use one from time to time, you might be allowing your mind to wander too much away from the task at hand – and you could be rushing your swing as a result. During practice, work on establishing a consistent pre-shot routine that you can use over and over again on the course. Then, during your rounds, use that routine before each and every swing. This method could go a long way toward helping you swing on the course like you do on the range.
  • Think about club selection. Believe it or not, club selection could actually have something to do with how your swing is holding up on the course. If you don’t pick the right club for a given shot, that mistake could lead to a swing error that winds up sending your ball in the wrong direction. Often, amateur golfers will not use enough club for the shot at hand. Then, knowing that they might not quite have enough club, that player will swing extra hard in an effort to force the ball all the way to the target. Of course, that extra effort on the swing is likely to lead the player to rush, and the backswing rotation will be cut short as a result. In most situations, you want to favor the longer of the two clubs you are choosing between for an approach shot. So, if you are stuck between a 7-iron and 8-iron, opt for the 7-iron and take a little bit off. This method is going to lead to a smoother swing, and usually better contact.
  • Have a specific plan. Yet another potential issue that could lead to a poor turn is a lack of a plan for any given shot. This is a big problem among average golfers. The typical player just looks out toward the target, picks a club, and makes a swing. That might seem good enough, and it will work out sometimes, but it isn’t enough of a plan to focus your mind on what you are trying to accomplish. Instead, try planning out your shots in greater detail, thinking about how high you are going to hit the ball, how much you want it to curve, and more. Are you going to pull off exactly the shot you have imagined each and every time? Of course not. In fact, that might only happen a few times per round. However, planning out your shots in detail should tighten up your pattern of misses, and it should help you do a better job of committing fully to the swing. If you’ve been cutting swings short just to get them over with and see where the ball is going to go, try making better plans and you might be able to get away from that bad habit.

The frustration of failing to make good swings on the course after having a good practice session is hard to shake. However, you should know that you aren’t alone – many golfers struggle with this issue. We hope the points above will help you rotate better than ever before during an upcoming round.

— Rotation and the Short Game

Your first inclination is probably to think that rotation doesn’t have much to do with the short game. And to some degree, that is correct. However, there are elements of rotation that you’ll want to incorporate in some of your short game shots, so this last section will explain how you can make that happen.

For starters, you don’t need to think about rotation when putting. To make a proper putting stroke, you’ll want to rock your shoulders back and through – but that move isn’t going to look much like the kind of rotation you use to hit a full shot. Also, you don’t want to have any rotational move at all in your lower body when putting, as your legs should be as still and stable as possible. So, overall, rotation is a topic you can leave behind when working on your putting stroke.

Rotation Golf Lesson Chart

It’s when you step off the green and put a wedge in your hands that you need to start thinking about rotation – at least a little bit. For a basic chip shot, you aren’t going to rotate much, but you can let your shoulders turn just slightly back and through. That motion will help deliver the club accurately into the back of the ball without having to involve your hands too much in the action. Naturally, as you get farther and farther from the green, you’ll start to involve more rotation as you need to hit the shot with more speed. Once you reach the range of a 30 – 40-yard pitch shot, you’ll basically be using a miniature version of your full swing, at a much slower speed.

There is one area of the short game where your rotation is going to be quite similar to what it is in the full swing, and that is bunker play. When hitting explosion shots from greenside bunkers, you’ll want to make an excellent shoulder turn away from the target during the backswing. You need quite a bit of speed to splash the ball through the sand and send the ball on its way, and good rotation is how you are going to create that speed. Of course, striking the ball cleanly with such a big swing from so close to the green would be a problem, so make sure to swing down into the sand and under the ball. With a littler practice, you should be able to get comfortable with this important short game technique.

It’s always a good idea to pay attention to how the rotation in your golf swing is working. If you aren’t rotating particularly well right now, don’t give up hope – everyone has room to improve in this game in one way or another. We hope the information in this article will help you get down to work on improving your technique in the near future.