Any golfer worth their salt knows that the mechanics behind your swing can make or break the game. However, making sure your posture is correct and carrying out each individual stage of your swing perfectly is only half of the battle.
Your swing also needs to have a good tempo behind it. By maintaining a good tempo, you’ll be much more likely to control the ball’s flight and hit consistent shots on each and every hole you’re up against. But for some reason, and despite a good tempo giving you the ability to hit some of the best shots you’ll ever achieve, it still remains one of the most overlooked elements of a golf swing.
As well as the tempo you’re swinging with, you also need to make sure that your balance is perfect as well. If your balance is off as you set up your shot then you’re essentially setting yourself up for failure, and you’ll never get the results you’re looking for when you send your ball soaring through the air.
But, when you combine good balance with excellent tempo, something magical happens…
Aside from giving you more accuracy upon impact, the combination of tempo and balance will make your golf swing look professional and effortless, leaving your competitors in awe of your seemingly natural ability to send your ball flying towards its target on every shot.
Getting your tempo up to speed, and getting it to work perfectly with your balance does take a bit of practice and patience, but stick with it and pretty soon you’ll be hitting the green with new found skill and confidence.
But just what does tempo mean in regards to your golf swing? Put in basic terms, the tempo is the amount of time that passes from your backswing all the way through to your follow through. To get the perfect tempo for your swing, it needs to be at a 3:1, which is something we will explore more in depth below.
So, if you’re looking to take your golf swing to the next level and improve both your tempo and balance, but have no idea where to start, don’t worry – we’re here to talk you through everything you need to know. Let’s begin!
The Importance of a Relaxed Address
Before we even begin discussing tempo and balance, let’s take a moment to look at how you’re addressing the ball. This is where a lot of problems lie, particularly with amateur golfers, so it’s an important thing to pay attention to.
As soon as you step up to the ball, the first thing you need to make sure of is that you’re addressing it with a relaxed manner. This is really important as hitting the ball with a tense posture or with too much of a grip on your club will undoubtedly create a stunted shot, sending your ball off in the wrong direction or traveling only half of the distance you need to cover.
So, before you even begin raising your chosen golf club skyward, take a moment to note the ball’s position. Then take a couple of deep breaths, and try to relax your muscles as much as possible. Make sure that the grip you’ve got on your club is relaxed enough to allow your wrists to move with the flexibility they need, but still firm enough to ensure you actually keep hold of your club as you carry out your swing.
Another really important thing to be sure of is that you’re maintaining this relaxed posture throughout your swing. Suddenly switching to a super tight grip and a tense posture as soon as your swing is in motion will cause you the same issues as if you were tense from the beginning, so practice staying relaxed.
Finding The Right Grip Pressure
As we’ve discussed above, the grip you have on your golf club during your address, and throughout your swing, will directly affect how well your shot goes. A lot of finding the perfect grip pressure will come down to comfort, however it’s important to make sure you’re getting it correct if you want to get the best swing possible.
The overall goal is to find the grip pressure that allows you to keep control of the club without your hands or arms becoming tense and stiff, allowing you to achieve a fluid motion in your swing without it stunting the ball upon impact.
It’s important to bear in mind, however, that this will also vary depending on the type of club you’re using, and the shot that you’re taking. A good way to measure this is to create a ‘grip scale’ in your mind’s eye, and then apply this to each individual shot.
For example, if you’re looking to achieve a full, clear shot that travels a good distance then you’ll want to aim for about a 5 out of 10 on your ‘grip scale’. Gripping your club any tighter than this will cause you to jerk the club backward as you carry out your backswing, rather than performing the smooth lift you need. It also makes it almost impossible to hit that perfect 3:1 tempo.
Likewise, if your ball lands in the rough then you’ll want to use a bit of a tighter grip to help give the ball the force it needs to get out of tricker situations.
A Smooth Takeaway
To set your tempo up for the perfect swing, you need to make sure that your takeaway is slow and smooth. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t use some speed, but by going at a slightly slower speed you are setting yourself up for the beginning of that perfect 3:1 tempo.
It is equally as important, however, to make sure that your takeaway isn’t so slow as to create a rushed downswing, resulting in a stunted shot. This won’t only mess up your tempo from the start, but will also reduce the chances of the ball getting to its intended target.
Essentially, you want to make sure that the leading edge of your golf club is perpendicular to the ground, and that the shaft of the club is running parallel to the ground. Ensure that your hands and your wrists are kept still, and that their position is maintained until they start to naturally hinge during your backswing.
Practice makes perfect, so it’s a good idea to perform your takeaway over and over again at a slower speed than usual, until you’re satisfied that you’ve got it right.
Allow Your Personality To Influence Your Tempo
Believe it or not, your golf swing tempo actually has quite a lot to do with your personality, and matching the two up so they are in perfect harmony can have a powerful effect on your overall performance. By allowing your personality to influence your tempo, you’ll be able to create a swing that is not only mechanically perfect but is tailored specifically to you.
A good way to match up your personality to your golf swing is to think about how you go about living your day to day life. If you’re a person who is always on the go, rushing from place to place, and unable to sit still for long periods of time, then you’re most likely going to want to perform your swing with some speed as well.
Likewise, if you’re a person that takes a more laid back approach to life and moves at a steady pace, your golf swing is more likely to be slower and more measured.
It’s really important to make sure that your golf swing and tempo match who you are as a person, otherwise you may find that you’re running at a counterproductive speed to your personality.
With that in mind, it’s also really important to make sure that you’re not mimicking or directly copying the speed that another player is swinging with. It’s highly unlikely that you are a perfect personality match with that person, and what works well for them may not necessarily work well for you.
Not only will allowing your personality to influence your tempo make your overall swing more effective, but it will also allow you to perform your swing with more consistency as you play your way around the green. So take some time to think about the speed you live your life at, and then try and match your tempo to suit you. We guarantee you’ll see a marked improvement!
Maintaining A Consistent Tempo
Once you’ve figured out which speed suits you best, you’re going to need to consistently maintain your tempo throughout each and every hole you come up against. This is where the aforementioned 3:1 tempo comes into play.
Although the speed of every player’s tempo is going to be different, a consistent backswing to downswing ratio of 3:1 will mean that you’re able to reproduce the same tempo time and time again until it almost becomes second nature.
To put the 3:1 rule simply, your backswing should take three times as long as your downswing. So, if you’re getting to the top of your swing in three seconds, then your downswing should only last for one second. If you’re a player with a slower tempo who takes six seconds to perform a backswing, then your downswing should only last for two seconds. And so on and so forth.
The reason the magic 3:1 formula works, is because it allows you enough time to complete your backswing before properly transitioning into your downswing, resulting in a consistent tempo and an accurate shot.
The Importance of Practicing Effectively and Efficiently
By now you know that practice is key not only for ensuring each step of your swing is being performed correctly, but also for helping you maintain that perfect tempo and delivering a consistent golf swing every time you step up to the ball.
Although practicing the same routine over and over can seem like a less than enthralling idea, it’s pretty much the only way that you’re guaranteed to get the results you’re looking for, and it will pay dividends when you eventually take your new and improved swing out onto the golf course.
To make practicing seem a little more appealing, and to ensure that you’re practicing as effectively and efficiently as possible, take a look at some of our advice below that will get you out of the practice phase and onto the green as quickly as possible.
First of all, remind yourself exactly why it is that you’re practicing in the first place. You want to be the best, and you want to iron out any wrinkles in your swing, and the best way to do that is to practice consistently. Reminding yourself of the reasons you’re practicing will help you view it in a more positive light, and will ensure that you don’t lose your patience or end up developing bad habits.It’s also really important to remember to take regular breaks whilst you’re practicing. Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve hit that metaphorical wall, taken five minutes away and then returned feeling renewed and refreshed? Well, the same principle applies to your golf practice. When things are getting tough or repetitive, rather than getting frustrated or feeling as though you just want to walk away altogether, set your golf club to one side, take a few minutes away and return to it with a clearer head.
Mixing up the way that you practice will also help keep things interesting. Performing the same thing over and over again will soon become repetitive and monotonous, so whilst it’s important that you are practicing your swing and your tempo, there’s also nothing wrong with setting some time aside to practice putting or working on your wedge technique. By doing this you’ll be keeping your brain active, and it will respond better to taking in the information you’re teaching it when you go back to practicing your swing and tempo.
The 1-2-3-1 Tempo Drill
You may have heard of the 1-2-3-1 tempo drill in regard to your golf swing, and it’s a really simple and super effective way of maintaining a consistent tempo whilst you’re learning what works best for you.
To carry out this technique, you simply need to count out loud “1, 2, 3” as you take your backswing, and then “1” on your downswing. You can of course count these numbers in your head, but there is a certain amount of fun that comes from seeing the look on other players’ faces as they try to work out what it is you’re doing!
It’s a good idea to begin by practicing the 1-2-3-1 technique without using any actual golf balls. Instead, just get used to raising your club and bringing it back down to begin with. This means that you’ll already have a pretty good feel for the technique once you start to practice with balls.
You also don’t necessarily need to head to the golf course or even use any equipment as you begin practicing this drill, and you can easily do it from the comfort of your own home. Simply extend your arms and put your hands together, as though you were holding your club, and carry out the technique in front of a mirror so you can see how it looks. This also presents a good opportunity to check your posture and positioning.
The Importance of Balance
By now, you should understand the importance of the tempo in your golf swing, but there’s another crucial factor in getting your swing from learner to professional – the balance.
A well-balanced golf swing looks graceful, effortless and is generally a pleasing visual experience for anybody watching you play. However, it isn’t only aesthetically pleasing, but also helps you generate good clubhead speed and ensures that you hit the ball nice and squarely with a good amount of impact force.
Balance is also particularly important for ensuring that each swing is as consistent as possible throughout your game, and much like with your tempo, there is a good amount of practice that goes into getting your balance perfect. However, once you’ve mastered it you’ll have the ultimate golf swing that will make you a force to be reckoned with.
Achieving Perfect Balance at Address
As with every single swing, the way you address the ball is going to have a direct impact on how your shot goes, so therefore you need to make sure that your balance is perfect from the beginning.
When you step up to the ball, ensure that you’re in the correct posture with your feet positioned in a way that allows for the size of the club you’re using. Make sure that you keep a fairly wide stance, particularly if you’re using a longer club, as taking a stance that is too narrow could easily throw you off balance, and result in the clubface not hitting the ball squarely, giving you a reduced amount of impact.
Achieving perfect balance at address will help to remove any potential mistakes that you could otherwise spend years working on and trying to figure out where you’re going wrong, so it’s absolutely imperative that your balance is correct from the get go.
Achieving Balanced Body Rotation
Part of building a super powerful swing is making sure that your body is correctly rotating through each of the separate components, allowing you to perform with flexibility and fluidity and removing any chances of strain, injury or from getting a stunted shot.
Here, we’ll take you through each single move of your swing, so you can make sure you’re getting a perfect balance and maintaining the correct posture throughout.
1. The Backswing
Holding your club with the appropriate level of grip, as we’ve discussed above, begin to raise it upwards whilst ensuring that your left arm is perfectly straight and steady. To help with the balance here, keep your elbow locked firmly in position so that there is no chance of your left arm bending as you elevate it.
During your backswing, you also need to make sure that your left heel is planted firmly on the ground. Granted, this will feel quite unnatural, but it will ensure that there is a reduction in any movements that could otherwise affect your swing. Practice is key to keeping your left heel on the ground and achieving the perfect balance, and you’ll need to fight any natural instincts that are telling you to raise it.
Your right knee should be positioned in the same way as it was during your address, although some flexibility will be needed as you perform your backswing. If you accidentally straighten or lock your knee in place during this move, your balance will be affected and your swing path will be thrown off.
Whilst it’s important that your left heel is kept solidly in place, your left knee needs to have a slight bend in it as you begin to raise your club towards the sky. By doing this, you’ll be able to effectively transfer the weight balance into your right leg, giving you a better strike at the ball when the time comes.
Lastly, your hips need to gradually rotate as you raise your arms, shifting upwards as your club comes up and then pausing at the top of your swing. By using your hips to rotate your body, you’ll be maintaining both your balance and your posture, and you’ll be able to transfer more force onto the ball.
Remember to work this balance and positioning in with the 1-2-3-1 technique. This is the part of your swing where you would be saying “1, 2, 3”.
2. Top of the Swing
When you reach the top of your swing, you need to stop moving your hips and arms upwards, and focus on making sure your balance and posture is correct before bringing the club back down towards the ball.
Check that your left wrist is hinged at a 20 degree angle, and not bowed or cupped. Bowed wrists will make it look as though the club is too heavy for you to hold, and cupped wrists will result in your club being rotated backward as you swing it down, giving you a sliced shot. When your wrists are hinged correctly at that perfect 20 degree angle, you’ll be able to make your ball fly in a straight line towards your target, as well as reducing spin on the ball.
Take a moment as well to make sure that your golf club’s shaft is in the correct position. It needs to be pointing directly at the target on a line that is parallel to your feet and to the space between the ball and the target.
Throughout all of this, your balance needs to remain in the steady position you’ve placed it in whilst carrying out your backswing. There’s about to be a shift in balance, so hold yourself steady for this split second!
3. The Downswing
Now is the time to start bringing your club down towards the ball, sending it to meet its intended target. Getting your balance and positioning correct here will either make or break the shot, so it’s important to pay close attention.
Throughout your downswing, you’re essentially going to be reversing the movements and the balance you established during your backswing. First of all, start by making sure that your wrists remain hinged in the 20 degree angle throughout the downward movement, only slightly unhinging just as you are about to make contact with the ball.
If you unhinge your wrists too early, you’ll create a casting swing error, which will result in a loss of energy transferring to the ball.
Your hips need to begin uncoiling and moving to the other side of your body, however make sure that you remain perfectly balanced throughout this and that they don’t sway. Instead, they need to remain as one solid unit with the rest of your body, using your core for strength.
To remain balanced and steady, your weight will now also need to be shifted to your left foot, whilst ensuring it remains firmly on the ground. This should happen naturally as you gradually rotate your hips and shoulders when the club begins to descend.
With the 1-2-3-1 drill technique, this is the part of your swing where you would say the final “1”.
This is the moment you’ve been building up to, and where all of your hard work and patience will pay off as you see your golf ball soar through the air with ease, picking up amazing speed and distance and hurtling towards its target.
But, your swing is still not yet complete, and you still need to ensure that you remain balanced and correctly positioned even during impact.
Firstly, make sure that your hands are ahead of the clubhead when it makes its connection. This technique is called ‘keeping the lag’ and involves unhinging your wrists just as you are about to make contact with the ball. By doing this, you’ll reduce the chances of hitting the ball downwards, and you’ll be able to get a good clean shot at it.As soon as you’ve made contact with the ball, your hips should be pointing directly towards your target. If you’ve performed the rest of your swing correctly up until now, you should find that they’re naturally pointing this way and will have been placed in this position using your core strength and upper body.
You’ll also know if you’re correctly balanced by determining where the majority of your weight is. Upon impact, it should mostly be in your left foot, so if you’re finding that it’s still resting in your right foot, reevaluate your swing and try again.
Rotating your body in this manner takes a lot of muscular strength from your core, and requires a great deal of flexibility from your hips. To help strengthen your body and in turn provide you with better movement for creating this balanced rotation, there are some exercises you can perform at home, which will also help to create muscle memory and ensure that your swing is consistent.
These exercises do require the use of resistance grips or bands, but they are a good investment if you’re serious about taking your golf swing to the next level.
- Stand sideways on to the anchor point of your resistance grip, holding the handle in front of you
- Turn your body towards the anchor point, creating a slack in the resistance rope
- Then, using your hips, rotate away from the anchor point so that the resistance rope builds up tension
- Turn back again and repeat however many times you like
Start these exercises using a slow, controlled speed and then build up over time until you’ve reached around the same sort of tempo as your golf swing. Practicing this exercise will not only help you fine tune your body rotations, but will also help your body rotate with greater speed and power over time.
Achieving Optimal Balance on Follow Through
Achieving Optimal Balance on Follow Through
Once you’ve made impact with the ball, it’s really easy to think that the job is done, your swing is complete and that you can immediately drop out of your position. However, the follow through is a really important part of maintaining your balance and performing a consistently expert swing.
There are a few different elements to helping you achieve optimal balance on follow through, as well as making sure that your posture and positioning are correct, allowing you to get a really strong finish on your swing.
1. Final Club Position
Once you’ve made impact and the ball is speeding through the air, you need to make sure that your club has also found itself in the correct position. Depending on whether you’re a right handed golfer or a left handed golfer, your club’s head should be behind your head, on either the left hand side of your head or the right hand side of your head.
Although the club’s head will be positioned upwards, you also need to make sure that your elbows are positioned fairly low. The elbow on your dominant hand should be slightly higher than the other, but to keep a good balance at this stage it’s important that neither elbow is above ear height.
If your elbows are too high at this stage, the follow through becomes too forced and you’ll most likely have hit the ball with a reduced amount of impact force. Again, keep practicing this until you’ve got it perfect.
Finishing with your club’s head behind your own head allows for a more natural finish, and also allows for the full force of your golf swing to gradually slow to halt without it accidentally stopping too early or too late. You’ll also find it much easier to maintain your balance by finishing in this position, and there won’t be any risk of accidentally falling over with the force of your swing.
As we’ve mentioned before, the majority of your weight now needs to be in your left foot. This is absolutely crucial if you’re going to maintain perfect balance throughout your swing, and by shifting your weight to your left foot you’re also providing the maximum amount of club head speed, allowing you to send the ball flying over a greater distance.
It is important to note, however, that if you’re a left handed golfer the majority of your weight should be in your right foot as you finish. Ultimately, you need to have your front side (the side pointing towards the target) holding at least 80% of your weight upon follow through.
3. Heel in the Air
It’s a classic golf stance that we’re all familiar with, but it’s not something that is posed or happens for stylistic reasons. As the majority of your weight transfers over to your left foot, your right heel will be raised from the ground, with your toes being the only part of your right foot left making contact with the ground.
By doing this, you’re ensuring that your weight has nowhere to go but to the left foot, which in turn naturally forces your left foot to take the weight. It’s almost impossible for a golfer not to finish with their back heel in the air if they have properly transferred the weight, so if you’re finding you’ve still got both feet firmly planted on the ground, take some time to practice this weight transference.
4. Face the Target
With your feet correctly balanced and your club positioned behind your head, you should now find that you’re naturally facing towards the target. Although this gives you an excellent viewing point to see where your ball lands, it’s actually the result of having got all previous three factors correct; club behind head, weight transferred, back heel in the air.
Finishing with your chest facing towards the target also means that you have correctly rotated your body through your swing, and that you’ll have created the maximum amount of energy possible to send your ball flying.
By working on improving both your tempo and your balance, and then combining these with the correct positioning each element of your swing requires, there’s absolutely no doubt that you’ll be working your way around the golf course with a killer golf swing in your arsenal.
Before we finish though, let’s sum up with another couple of notes on each of these factors.
Whilst tempo is all about speed, try to remember that it’s not necessarily about being the fastest. Matching your own personality to your tempo will give you the opportunity to carry out a slower swing if you’re more comfortable with that, and is particularly useful if you’re an amateur golfer who is just getting to grips with learning the basics of a golf swing. Or, if a faster swing feels more natural to you, go with that.
Regardless of the speed your hitting with, a good tempo that you’re comfortable with will give you a powerful shot every time.
Remember also that there are several techniques that you can use to get your tempo correct. Using the 1-2-3-1 technique is the absolute best way to get your timing correct, and will also help you maintain consistency throughout each shot you take. Again, remember it’s not about speed, so don’t feel like you need to match each number to a timed second. You can allow two or three seconds for each one if you’re swinging slowly, it’s just there as a marker so you can make sure your club is in the right position upon saying the relevant number out loud.
Your balance is important for keeping you steady whilst you carry out your swing, but also shows that you are in full control of it as well. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as ‘over swinging’, or swinging too hard. This results in a messy shot with either reduced or stunted impact on the ball, so by getting your balance correct throughout your swing you’re ensuring that you’re also hitting the ball with the maximum amount of force each time.
Your balance is also going to be constantly shifting as you carry out different aspects of your swing and, although this can seem daunting and you can easily get confused as to where your weight should be and when, it all adds up to make sure you’re delivering a powerful impact that will send the ball flying in both speed and distance.
And, as ever, remember that practice is the key to getting your tempo, balance and positioning perfectly synchronized. It might take you a while, but by mixing it up, taking regular breaks and using equipment such as a mirror to note your mistakes, you’ll be able to make practicing your swing fun and pinpoint where you might be going wrong.
Stan Johnson is an experienced golf coach with over 10 years of experience of coaching golfers of all abilities and ages. Recently he took his love for golf and founded his website where he passes on his experience and expertise to fellow golf enthusiasts to help improve their game.