Full Swing Golf Tips

By Matthew DeBord

The full golf swing is really two swings. The swing golfers make with the driver and woods is slightly different from the swing they make with irons. Woods involve a sweeping motion, while irons ask for more of a downward, striking action. Regardless, players still need to be able to make an effective full swing with all their clubs. There are some tips that you can use to play better and avoid "hiding" from the full swing.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderate
Step 1
Keep the full swing full. Make a complete backswing with a full shoulder turn; then drive into the ball and follow through. Don't overswing, but try to keep the full swing as full as possible. The idea is that you'll really find out how far you can hit your clubs.
Step 2
Hit down on the ball with irons. To hit all but the longest irons well, you need to be able to strike the ball with a descending blow and take a divot. With the full swing, it can be tricky to make precise contact. The best way to achieve this is to make shorter swings first, gradually building up to a full swing. Don't swing harder or faster. Instead, use the length of the swing to generate speed. Eventually, you will be able to make a full turn and a full downswing, compressing the ball crisply through impact and gaining maximum distance from your irons.
Step 3
Sweep the ball with the woods. Irons are designed to strike the ball with a descending blow, imparting backspin, which causes the ball to rise. Woods achieve the same effect with weighting that propels that ball into the air. As a result, a more level strike, with the club sweeping the ball off the ground and taking no divot or a very small divot, is the best way to hit woods.
Step 4
Stay wide. You want your arms and hands to extend away from your body on the backswing and downswing. Don't allow your arms to collapse or fold prematurely---this will cause your swing to become narrow and steep. You want wide and shallow. Think about keeping your left arm straight but relaxed on the backswing (for you're a right-hander), then driving your right hand forward on the follow-through, almost as if you're throwing a punch at the target.
Step 5
Concentrate on balance. The longest full swing you can make is the one in which you don't overstretch your body on the backswing and remain balanced on the follow-through. Try making half swings to get a feel for your balance. Then add length until it becomes more difficult to control your body weight on the follow-through. When you feel yourself losing balance, you've found the limit of your full swing.

Tips & Warnings

Don't try to max out distance with your full swing on all your clubs. A smooth, balanced swing is more consistent and will yield better results. Most professionals rarely hit their shots at 100 percent of their power. Copy this, taking one more iron---a 6 iron rather than a 7 iron, for example---and swinging more smoothly, in balance. Play a round in which you make a full swing with every club you use (except for when you have to chip or putt). No half swings or three-quarter swings. If you're 70 yards from the green, hit a full sand or gap wedge. If you're 220 yards from the green, go with a full 3 wood or 5 wood (or 3 iron, if you're a strong player). This process will build confidence in your full swing. Occasionally, try to force more distance out of a club. If you get into the habit of striking every full shot with about 90 percent of your power, you will still have 10 percent more power to add. So if you're faced with, say, a 120-yard shot for which you'd normally use a 9 iron, drop back to a pitching wedge and "lean on it." As you improve, you'll often discover that it's easier to "force" a club with a full swing, rather than trying to finesse less distance out of a club with an abbreviated swing.
Don't try to max out distance with your full swing on all your clubs. A smooth, balanced swing is more consistent and will yield better results. Most professionals rarely hit their shots at 100 percent of their power. Copy this, taking one more iron---a 6 iron rather than a 7 iron, for example---and swinging more smoothly, in balance.
Play a round in which you make a full swing with every club you use (except for when you have to chip or putt). No half swings or three-quarter swings. If you're 70 yards from the green, hit a full sand or gap wedge. If you're 220 yards from the green, go with a full 3 wood or 5 wood (or 3 iron, if you're a strong player). This process will build confidence in your full swing.
Occasionally, try to force more distance out of a club. If you get into the habit of striking every full shot with about 90 percent of your power, you will still have 10 percent more power to add. So if you're faced with, say, a 120-yard shot for which you'd normally use a 9 iron, drop back to a pitching wedge and "lean on it." As you improve, you'll often discover that it's easier to "force" a club with a full swing, rather than trying to finesse less distance out of a club with an abbreviated swing.
Don't be ashamed to hide from your full swing if you have to. If you're struggling, mishitting shots with your full swing, take one or two clubs more than the yardage calls for and hit an abbreviated punch shot, or give up some distance with a wood and play for accuracy. It's important to remember that golf is about scoring, not about making full, beautiful golf swings.

About The Author

Matthew DeBord has written about sports, cars, and wine since 1994 for a variety of publications. Formerly the golf columnist for the “Improper Hamptonian,” he has covered major championship tournaments and played some of the best courses in America. He graduated from Clemson University and has a master's degree from New York University.

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