You don't have to be an avid golf fan to really appreciate the beauty of the sport. However, if you are an avid fan, then you already know how majestic a golfer looks when he or she lets loose on a 365-yard par 5 off the tee with a perfect swing, which drives the bar straight, high and far down the center-mass of the green. It's something that's a sight to behold in baseball, when someone like Ken Griffey, Jr. shows up and gives the perfect swing. And when Steph Curry gives the perfect shooting stroke in the NBA, fans cheer and rave. However, in golf, the perfect swing is more like something that takes your breath away. It's graceful and powerful; it's a stunning thing to watch and something that every golf fan looks for on every tee off.
Many of the greatest golfers have great swings; in fact, there's a 1:1 correlation. You cannot be a great golfer without having a great swing. The physics of the mechanics involved make it necessary to swing beautifully to play well. But for that perfect swing, well, that's another story entirely. If you've ever wanted to know what you can do to get that perfect golf swing, here are a few tips you can try to implement into your game.
These tips are just reminders on how to keep your golf swing natural and beautiful. They're not necessarily in any particular order, but try to remember to implement them all for the health and functionality of your swing.
Anyone can grab a golf club, but grabbing it right is another story. Stand up straight, allow your arms to hang loosely, and look at how your hands rest naturally. A golf club was designed to perfectly fit within the crease of your natural hand, so no ham-fisting a club. Grab it naturally and softly, and grip it more tightly as you begin to maneuver the club. Bring your lead hand to the club and grip it with your thumb pointing down, and place your other hand below your top hand, keeping a neutral position on the club.
After taking a neutral gripping position on the club, you need to work on strengthening your grip and achieving a proper golf grip. Start with the Vardon grip. This is called an "overlapping" grip and is accomplished by placing the pinkie finger of your trailing hand (non-dominant hand) between the index and middle finger of your lead hand, almost interlocking them. Practice with this type of grip, or interlock more fingers until it feels comfortable, and work on swinging the club around until it feels good and natural. Here is a video demonstrating this grip:
The grip is just the first part of the process; you also need the proper stance for the physics of the perfect golf swing. Start out by aligning yourself with the ball and where you want it to go. Imagine that there is a set of railroad tracks going from the tee to the green. Now, imagine that you're standing on the inside rail. Next, spread your feet to shoulder width apart. You need your weight to be balanced. After this, bend and flex your knees as if you're balancing on a skateboard. Keep your spine straight, but allow your knees to bend. After this, relax! Loosen up your grip, breathe out, and focus only on your stance. Grip the club securely but not tightly, and practice hitting the ball off the tee. For right now, you're just looking for the perfect alignment which allows for constant contact with the ball.
Now, you want to start swinging just to get the hang of swinging. After your grip and your stance feel right and natural, work on taking practice swings but don't follow through fully. Draw the club back as if you're going to drive one 300 yards, but stop at the top of the swing. Make sure your shoulders are pivoted toward your spine, and shift your weight to the back foot while allowing your front arm to form a 90-degree L shape. When on your downswing, allow your arm to simply release, letting gravity do the work, and glide back down while shifting the weight back to your front foot. This is where your power is going to come from, so it's not about your arm strength. It's about the physics of a fluid motion with which your weight and balance is shifted to strike the ball with the brunt of the swing's down force.
Your grip, your stance, and your swing mechanics are all part of your repertoire now. So, start practicing. What you're looking for here is a rhythm. From the time you take your stance and lift the club, until the time it strikes the ball, you should be able to keep this timing in your head. And it should always be the same, and should always be fluid. Create a beat in your head to repeat while practicing your swing. When swinging in rhythm, transferring your weight and following through with the right mechanics will become second nature, like humming your favorite tune.
To create power and drive the ball, what you want to do is keep practicing with a fluid, in-time swing. When you're aligned perfectly and have the right fluidity of motion, the ball will go farther. And as you start getting the hang of this, you can start putting a little more torque into each end of your downswing. For instance, as the club drops by itself, you can start putting some "uumph" into the final part of the swing and the follow-through. As it becomes part of your overall rhythm, you can start tweaking how hard you want to hit the ball. This is how you will eventually develop the muscle memory to blast a drive with a 3 wood or to chip up onto the green with a 4 iron. It's all about what you're adding at the end.
Remember here that a golf swing isn't about teeing off only. You're only going to use a tee at the beginning of each hole. From there on out, it's just you and the elements. So, get rid of the tee after you've learned the basics of your swing. Start putting the ball into higher grass and getting it out without tearing up the surrounding dirt. Doing this requires little more than perfect alignment and solid contact between the club and the ball. No power, no fancy mental gymnastics, just pure contact. Practice hitting the ball squarely without a tee to improve your overall swing.
Another big part of the perfect golf swing is the ability to get the ball out of soft material when only half the ball is visible; e.g. in a sand trap. Place the ball in the sand and practice your mechanics. You may find that you have to actually dig into a little of the sand to find full contact with the ball, but this is something that cannot be helped through literature. This is something you must feel your way through. Get out there and actually hit the balls. If you hit too little of it (the top), you're going to drive it further in. If you hit too far under it, you're going to kick up more sand than ball. Practice until you can catch that sweet spot of the ball.
All that can be said from this point is that you need to continually practice your swing. Once you have all the mechanics of your swing down, you need to actually play the game to keep it vibrant and to continue building. In many ways, you can think of it like throwing any kind of ball. Say you want to hit a target that's 50 feet away. How do you know how hard to throw it or what to take off of it? You don't know until you start throwing. The same goes with golf swings. You don't know how hard or soft your swing needs to be per situation until you start playing. Repeating your swing is the only way to ensure it will be there and be perfect when you need it.