Golf Swing Mechanics: The Basics

A golf swing is the motion of the hands, arms, hips, shoulders, and wrists with the club that a golfer uses to hit the golf ball. It is a circular movement around the body. In a golf swing, the club travels along a tilted plane. The golf swing basically encompasses two phases; the in-swing and the pre-swing.

The pre-swing stage constitutes all the preparation undertaken before the actual playing begins. It includes addressing the ball and a pre-shot routine. The in-swing stage is where the actual swing occurs.

Your golf swing needs to be good for you to be at the top of your game. Your swing has to be in a smooth motion. However, for this motion to be achieved, a number of techniques need to be executed.

When it comes to playing golf, making a perfect shot each time is the biggest challenge since it is a complex procedure that involves several unique movements.

Mechanics of a Golf Swing

Generally, there are five parts to a golf swing. They are as follows:

  • Preparation
  • The takeaway
  • The backswing
  • The transition
  • The impact and downswing
  • The follow through

Each of these elements has been reviewed below to help in your understanding of golf swing mechanics.


This stage does not involve the actual swinging. It, however, plays a vital role in creating your desired swing. Golfers spend a lot of time talking about the shot before the ball is hit. During this stage, you should ask five basic questions. These questions will help you in determining your options and visualizing the shot:

Five questions you should ask before taking a shot

  1. How far am I from the hole?

This is a question you must ask yourself. If you know how far away you are from the hole, you can make clear decisions on what you need to put work in to get the ball near it.

  1. Is there anything between the hole and me?

It is essential to know if there are any obstacles you will encounter in your path. There always is an obstacle, e.g., trees, water, or hills. Depending on the nature of the obstacle, options for hitting the shot may vary. Thus, before moving to the next stage, ensure you are in control of the situation.

  1. How does my lie (balls position) look?

Before committing to a shot, asking yourself how your lie looks is vital. The worse your lie, the harder your shot will be.

  1. Where should the ball land?

You should determine the ideal place to land your ball so that after it falls on the ground, it will lie in the desired position (assuming that all goes correctly with your swing).

  1. What should be my choice of club?

This is the last question you ask yourself. An experienced golfer will know the type of club they need to use for different situations.

The preparation portion can further be sub-divided into three phases:

  • Planning
  • Visualization
  • Pre-shot routine


This stage sets the mood for the whole swing. Here is where the swing fundamentals start. Your alignment, grip, and even posture determine whether or not your shot will be a success. For consistent results, you should consider midline stability as a priority.

Stand on your feet with your ankle joints positioned under your shoulders. You should evenly distribute your weight between your heels and the balls of your feet. Balance your weight between the left and right foot.

Fundamentals of the Swing

A healthy body

We need healthy bodies to play golf with. If you take good care of yourself by eating healthy and exercising, your body will stay in good shape, and you will get even better at the game.


It is essential to align your body and aim correctly at your target. Good aiming skills will help drive the ball to the target.

Good alignment skills will help you know if the shot is a straight one. It will also make your eyes familiarize with how a straight shot looks like.

To aim correctly

  • Stand three feet behind the ball and choose a spot on the target line that isn’t more than two feet in front of the ball
  • Once you have selected your spot, walk to the ball while your eyes are fixed to the spot. Put the clubface behind the ball facing the target and spot
  • Even as you set your feet and get into position, continue looking at the target

Grip and posture

Grip and posture are also important aspects of the swing. Without a proper grip, it is hard to make a good shot. To obtain the proper grip:

  • Stand upright, hold the club at a 45° angle in front of you. Your trail hand should be above the grip
  • Use your target hand to place the grip of the club across your fingers base in a diagonal manner
  • Let your trail hand slide sown the club shaft
  • Firmly hold the club, but not with excessive pressure

But just as there is no perfect way to play golf, there is also no perfect grip or posture in golf. Whether your grip is firm, neutral or weak, what matters is the final outcome.

The Takeaway

The manner in which you begin your swing affects whether or not your swing will be successful. A good takeaway will mark a good end for your swing while a bad one may knock you off, and you are not likely to recover.

For your takeaway to be perfect, your hands need to be calm and steady. The secret is to face your shoulders away from your target. Your hands have to maintain calmness and steadiness, and so does the lower part of your body.

Golfers new to the game always want more action during the takeaway, but this will just cause more problems.

Maintain simplicity, and you are going to do a perfect swing. Avoid actively engaging your hands during the takeaway. This is what happens: When you engage your hands so much at this stage, by the time you reach the swing’s top, your arms will be cramped, and in order to make room, you will lift up. This will place your arms a bit higher at your swing’s top.

The outside-in motion makes the ball spin in a clockwise direction, and this will leave you with a poor swing. A bad takeaway can lead to hitting a slice even though the rest of the swing is alright.

The Backswing

This is the part of the swing that lies between the takeaway stage and the top transition. In this stage, the club is lifted into position, and you complete the shoulder turn. The emphasis here is on the lower part of your body, mainly because it is here that golfers will either succeed or fail in their shot.

While you complete your backswing, ensure you remain balanced. Let your legs support your weight and avoid turning to far to prevent an imbalance in your weight.

A golf swing acquires speed through your rotation, and you won’t be able to rotate determinedly if you lose your balance at the top of the swing.

If you want a strong swing, balance should be your focus.

The Transition

A good transition should be a necessary ingredient in the golf swing. The transition stage is that time when the club changes its course from the backswing stage to the downswing. During this stage, the movement of the lower part of your body should be the main focus.

Most golfers mess up this portion by focusing on their hands and not the lower body as expected. The outcome is a contact that is weak and inconsistent.

To strike the ball well, you should correctly use the lower part of your body. When this part of your body is in control, everything else is in good position. Start practicing by beginning the transition stage by rotating the lower part of your body. The quality of your swing will drastically upgrade.

The Downswing and Impact

Golfers refer to impact as the ‘moment of truth revelation.’ This is because the club meets the golf ball during this portion of the swing. Regardless of how well you may have done in the other stages, This is the stage that matters most.

The key here is to let your hands be in front of the ball at impact. Relaxing grip pressure will help you do this. Holding your club so tightly makes it almost impossible for the head to lag correctly behind the hands.

To ensure the club flows freely, you need to put slight pressure on your grip before you begin your swing. You should just hold on tight enough.

Why Your Hands Have to be in Front of the Ball at Impact

If you are using an iron, hybrid or wedge club, your hands need to be positioned at different degrees in front of the ball at impact. This will result in a descending blow and the desirable swing arc. If you are using a fairway wood, your hands have to be level with the ball during impact. Your hand position will affect your swing and how accurate it will be.

With the short irons, the arc will bottom out after the ball. This is the reason why, after the impact between the ball and the club, a divot is produced.

The Follow Through

In the follow-through stage, contact between the club and the ball has already taken place. Still, you have to be attentive at this stage. The focus here is still on balance. When your swing ends, you should be balanced on either your left or right leg, depending on whether you are right-handed or left-handed. You will be aware that something has been done wrong when you have difficulty staying in a balanced position after the swing.

Factors Affecting the Shot Height and Distance

Degree of the Loft Angle

Loft angle is the angle of the club face at impact. This is the most crucial factor because it impacts on both the motion and direction of the ball at the start. You have to hold the club face in the direction of the target.

If the club face is held in a straight manner and is perpendicular to the golf ball during impact, the ball will move smoothly without any spin. The greater the degree of the loft angle of the club, the higher and shorter the golf ball will carry.

The Angle of Approach

Your shot should be shorter and higher if your angle of approach is steep.

Club Head Speed

The faster it is, the further away your ball will travel.

Sand Displacement

The  more sand displaced under the ball, the shorter the shot.

The Ball’s Sweet Spot

To acquire the best impact, the ball’s sweet spot has to be hit by the club face. The sweet spot is the part on the club face that shifts the pressure of your golf swing to the golf ball. In a case where the angle of the club face and club head during the time of impact is perfect, shifting this pressure will increase its capacity.

The Club Head at Impact

Your swing speed will decide how much force you need to shift to the ball, and to what distance it will go when hitting the sweet spot.

Final Thoughts

By themselves, your muscles cannot determine the power or speed of the golf swing. Other elements that influence how a golfer uses their muscles in making a good swing include flexibility and range of motion. By understanding the mechanics involved in your golf swing, you will be able to hone your skills and improve your swing.

Whether you are using an iron, driver, wedge, or wood, knowing how to effectively swing your club is vital to your success in each round of golf. Additionally, by understanding the mechanics of your golf swing, you can make the subtle improvements needed to up your game. Happy swinging!