What Happens During a Golf Swing?

By Steve Silverman

What happens during a golf swing can produce magic. When well-executed, a golf swing can produce a 285-yard drive that soars over the fairway and lands right in the middle of the soft green grass. It can also produce a 70-yard pitch shot that lands softly on the green and rolls to within five feet of the hole. A well-struck putt can roll eight feet into the hole with the precision of a surgeon's first cut. What happens during a golf swing is that the energy and skill in a golfer's body gets transferred through his club to the ball. The results can range anywhere between artistic and disastrous.

Stance

In order to hit the ball correctly, the golfer has to address the ball correctly. In order to do that, his left shoulder (for a righthanded golfer) should be facing the target and his left foot should be directly under the shoulder. The ball should be midway between your right and left foot and your knees should be flexed.

The Grip

In order to hit the ball accurately and with adequate distance, the golfer must have a solid grip. Hold the club in your left hand. Place the small finger of your right hand in the gap between the forefinger and middle finger of your left hand. Make sure your thumbs are in alignment down the shaft of the club. Don't squeeze the club too tight. Hold the club at about 5.5 on a scale of 1 to 10. That's about the equivalent of a firm handshake with a business acquaintance you meet for the first time.

The Backswing

The backswing gets the golfer started. Your club will end up by your rear (right) shoulder, but the initial move is with your hips. The hips are the engine of the golf swing. Turn your hips to the right slowly and let your hands and arms follow. This is a smooth and steady takeaway, not a fast and jerky movement.

Downswing

This is the key element of the swing. This is where you make contact with the ball. As you maintain eye contact with the back of the ball, turn your hips to the left. As you move your hips, your arms and hands follow. Once your hips get through the hitting zone, you make contact with the ball. Your left hand leads the club head to the ball and at the moment of impact your right hand snaps through the ball to give it extra distance and accuracy.

Follow Through

Your follow through helps keep the ball on course. Many golfers--and not just beginners--pick their heads up and stop their swing shortly after contact because they want to see the results of their shot. This is a mistake. Continue to keep your head down and finish your swing by bringing your hands to the level of your front shoulder. Once your club gets to this point, you can pick your head up and look at your results.

About The Author

Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.

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