The Four Basics of Any Golf Swing

When we think about the basics of the golf swing, we usually think about ball position, stance, grip, and so on. In other words, we think about the swing’s physical mechanics. That’s only natural, because its what most golf pros focus on in their golf lessons and what golf magazines highlight in their articles on the golf swing. It’s what I write about the most in my golf tips as well.

But not everyone agrees that these are the true basics of the golf swing. For many, the true basics of the swing are something quite different, something that has nothing to do with the physical mechanics of the swing. For these people, a swing’s true basics are four components-plane, centering, radius, and face. Golf instruction sessions focusing on these concepts are as helpful as golf lessons on the swing’s mechanics, maybe even more helpful

Most golfers have heard of the concept of plane, but are confused as to how it applies to the golf swing. Plane is defined by the angle your club creates when it is ground at address. To master accuracy, the club must remain on this plane, especially while it approaches the ball on the downswing. (Actually, two planes-one formed by the takeaway and the other by the downswing-are involved in swinging a club, but the second plane is key.) This plane is the most powerful and direct route to the swing, as I discuss in my golf tips. Coming back to the ball above or below this plane results in pulls and slices.

Every swing has a center to it, a foundation defined by your head and your spine. If you want to hit accurate golf shots, this foundation must remain steady. Watch Tiger or any of the pros on TV and you’ll see how steady their heads and spines remain throughout their swings. This foundation has two angles to it. One is the angle your spine creates with your hips at address. The other involves the lateral movement of your head. Focus on preventing both your head from moving unnaturally one way or the other and your spine from moving up or down, and you will produce better results.

Radius is the distance between the lead shoulder and the clubhead. You must keep radius intact, if you want to hit good quality shots. The key is releasing your wrists at the right time. Most amateurs release their wrists early, forcing the shaft ahead of the lead arm before impact. An early release causes you to hit the ball thin, or even worse, mis-hit it altogether. If you execute the proper sequence of movements in the downswing, you’ll maintain radius.

The ball travels in the direction in which your clubface is pointing at the moment of impact, minus the effect of sidespin. You must attain the same clubface position at impact that you establish at address, which is why you need to align your club properly. The key to doing this is matching the position of your hands at impact with the position of your hands at address. If you grip the club on the right side of the shaft, your hands must be on the right side of the club when you hit the ball; otherwise, you’ll mis-hit.

Is one basic more important than another? Not really, as I tell players who take my golf lessons. They all must be executed properly, if you want to achieve a powerful, repeatable swing. Now that you are aware of them and how they contribute to your swing, try filming yourself some day and see how well you maintain them during your swing. Also note how well you hit the ball.

Plane, centering, radius, and face-these aren’t the usual basics you talk about when discussing the golf swing, but they are critical. While the physical mechanics of the swing, like ball position, stance, and grip, are key, so are these four components. Master both sets and you’ll achieve accuracy and consistency every time, lowering your golf handicap in the process

Copyright (c) 2006 Jack Moorehouse