Practice is going to be your best friend when it comes to hitting a golf ball successfully. Having proper mechanics and technique will get that golf ball flying into the air in no time. The game of golf is not built around one specific golf swing. You need to have a vast array of shots to successfully finish a round with a decent score. Some shots will require more power while other shots may just be a chip or a putt. Either way, knowing how to hit a golf ball, will make the game of golf a little bit more enjoyable for yourself and everyone around you.
How Is This Guide Going To Help?
I wanted to create this guide to help beginner & amateur golfers perfect their swing and get the proper mechanics down. Most people starting out fail to master the fundamentals before buying new golf clubs and equipment. I have outlined the basics and if you follow along, your game will definitely see an improvement. Make sure you are constantly practicing the basics, because every great golfer should have a strong foundation to build on.
Step #1 – Proper Stance & Grip
Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you’re doing while you swing. Most of the time, whatever you’re doing before the swing is going to make a world of difference. Having a proper form before even taking a swing is crucial to allowing the ball to fly straight in the air. Also, an incorrect grip on the club may cause your hands to over rotate. An over rotation of any sort is not good for the overall ball flight.
Start With A Natural Feeling Grip
A lot of beginner golfers think that they need to hold the golf club in their hands like they would hold a hammer. You shouldn’t hold the golf club in the palms of your hands. The grips should be held naturally in the crease where your palm and fingers meet. It should feel comfortable in your hands and not too loose where the club is going to fly out onto the course. Instinctively when you take your swing, your fingers will naturally get tighter around the grip.
If you are a right handed golfer, your pinky finger on your non-dominant hand should curl just below the end of the club. Your dominant hand should go just below your non-dominant hand. Make sure to have the club resting in that crease on your hand. Your grip should be fairly tight but not so tight that you are straining your hands. You want to feel comfortable during your whole swing.
Get Your Feet And Shoulders Situated
When lining up you want the golf ball in the center of your stance. If you are right handed, your left foot should be closer to where your target is. Your right foot should be placed perpendicular to your target. Everything should be lined up in a nice even line to your target. This is going to be your first point for aiming the golf ball. If your stance is off, then your aiming is going to be slightly off.
Your weight should be distributed on the balls of your feet. You shouldn’t have your weight on your toes or heels. This will cause you to become off balanced. An off balanced shot is detrimental to your game and can do a lot more harm than good. Your body weight should be distributed evenly on both feet. There shouldn’t be an overload of weight on one specific foot.
Also your arms should be at a comfortable distance from the golf ball. You shouldn’t have to reach for the golf ball and also your arms shouldn’t be really close to your body. They should be at a comfortable distance from your body.
Make Sure To Bend & Be Loose
Before you take your swing, you shouldn’t be standing straight up. Your body should be bent forward roughly 35 to 40 degrees. Your knees should also be bent slightly. Remember though! Nothing should be uncomfortable or painful. If bending forward 40 degrees is too much for your body just crank it back 10 degrees. This should be set to your comfort level.
An awesome tip for this section is to observe yourself in a mirror. Doing so will allow you to visually critique your stance. This has helped me so much!
Take a golf club and line up like you usually would on the golf course. Then hold the pose and see what it looks like in the mirror. Everything should look smooth and not uncomfortable.
Keep Your Whole Body Parallel With The Target
When lining up with the golf ball, everything should be parallel to where you want the ball to go. I have been told this one tip in the past and it has helped me tremendously. Imagine that you are standing on train tracks. Your feet should be on one track while the golf ball should be sitting on the next track. This will visually help you aim the golf ball. Everything should be square and in a straight line. Try to keep everything parallel with the target and you will be ok.
Step #2 – Get Ready To Begin Your Swing
Alright, you have your body fully aligned with your target. Your grip is comfortable but not too tight that it is hurting your hands. Your knees are slightly bent and your upper body is at a 40 degree angle. Now it is time to take a swing and see where the ball goes. If you’ve done the first section correctly, the swing will almost be second nature.
Start By Shifting Your Weight
You’re going to start your swing by moving all of your weight to your back foot. This weight shift is going to be your momentum going forward. The more weight or “power” you have, is going to determine how far your ball will travel. As you’re moving your weight to the back foot, you should also start to bring your golf club up while keeping your arms straight. You don’t want to bend your arms a lot because it will throw off your swing plane. To hit full and mid-distance shots, you will need to completely rotate your body back when you’re pulling the golf club back.
Tilt Your Shoulder When Starting Your Downswing
When you go from your backswing to your downswing it should feel like you’re tucking down your front shoulder slightly. Maintain eye contact with the golf ball and keep the bend in your knees. The main thing you should take from this step is to keep your head down and maintain eye contact with the golf ball. The moment you take your eyes off the ball, everything will get thrown out of line and the ball isn’t going to go where you were aiming.
Lead With Your Hips
So you should already be starting your downswing. Your weight should already begin shifting forward and your front shoulder is tucked in. Now you should be shifting your weight from your back foot to your front foot now. Rotate your body quickly to the target while continuing to move your weight to your front foot.
Your downswing should be smooth and consistent. I like to imagine my body as a spring. If you wind a spring up or move it in one direction. It is going to react by going in the other direction at the same force. Your body works the same way when you’re swinging a golf club. The more weight you put into the backswing. The more power you’re going to get in your downswing.
Remember to keep your eye on the ball! Failure to do so will result in horrible shots!
Return To Your Starting Position
The very moment when you make contact with the golf ball, your body, arms, head, feet, and everything else should be the same as it was before you started your swing. Everything should be in the same spot as it was in Step #1. Your feet should be planted on the ground still and now all your weight should be on your front foot. If everything returns to its original position the golf ball should go to where you were aiming. This is probably the most important thing to imagine during your swing. You just want to get your body back to the way it was before you took a swing.
Follow Through While Striking The Golf Ball
After you strike the golf ball and watch it land softly on the green. Hopefully one foot from the hole haha! You want to continue to follow through with the golf club. You shouldn’t hit the ball and then stop completely. Everything should flow through the ball and the golf club should finish behind your back. As you turn your body, feel free to lift up your back foot to get even more rotation. You should finish standing up very tall and having most of your body turned towards the target. Everything should be extended and almost a little stretched out.
Don’t be afraid to really rotate your body and lift up your back foot. Some people think that once they hit the golf ball they should stop instantly. Doing this on a consistent basis can cause injury like back pain or golfer’s elbow. Avoid these injuries and just follow through completely.
Step #3 – Different Shots Require Different Techniques
Not every shot is going to require the same power level to get it where it needs to go. Some shots require just a delicate touch to push the golf ball up onto the green. A chip shot isn’t going to require the same mechanics as a driver shot. You will need to be aware of what shot you’re going to hit before you make contact. Knowing how to hit a golf ball in different situations is going to be a handy tool in your shot arsenal.
Control Your Power
A putter is not going to require the same power as a driver would. The two clubs are on opposite sides of the golf spectrum. A putter requires a pendulum like swing while a drive requires your whole body. Depending on your club choice, you want to make sure that your power is proportional to the distance you want the golf ball to travel. Depending on the distance you can do a full, half, or three-quarter swing by lifting your club that far up. If you need a lot of power then lift your club all the way up. If you’re just looking to chip it on the green it may only require a three-quarter swing. Just be aware of your distance and location to the pin.
Make Sure To Lift The Ball Up On A Drive
To get the most distance out of your shots you should be trying to get the golf ball as far up as you can. The higher up you can get the ball the farther it will travel down the fairway. When you are taking your downswing you want to make sure you’re really turning your hips and getting that golf club below the ball. The lower point of contact will pop the golf ball up into the air. Make sure to keep your arms straight during the whole swing. This will keep your club going where it needs to go during the whole swing.
Shots In The Fairway Also Require Low Contact
A shot that is sitting in the fairway is going to require a different swing than a driver. You should imagine your clubs path like a giant circle. You want the golf club to stay on the same line as the circle. If you’re lining up to hit a shot from the fairway, you should try to line the ball up not with your front foot but more towards the middle of your body. You’re going to want to hit just below the golf ball to get the desired height.
Don’t be afraid to make a divot in the grass!
The clubs are designed to be hit into the ground and a little abused. You’re going to take the same swing as you would with a driver. Just line up with the center of your body and try to hit below the golf ball ever so slightly.
Make Sure To Observe The Wind
Before you take a shot you should also consider the wind. If there is a strong breeze it is going to alter your ball flight in the air. What I personally like to do is pull up some grass with my hand and throw it up into the air. Then I watch the grass and see which way the wind takes it. Then I change up my aiming ever so slightly to account for the wind blowing. The wind can definitely play some tricks on you and it is important to know how you’re going to hit the ball with the current wind situation. Sometimes you should swing harder while other times you should let up on your swing. Give the wind a quick check before taking a swing. It can be the deciding factor as to whether your ball misses or hits the green.
Easily Get Out Of The Sand
I know that one aspect of my game that I need to practice more is getting out of the sand traps. Getting out of the sand can be a little bit of a challenge. There is now a new element to force your golf ball out of. Sand can be a little tricky because not all the sand on the course is equal. Some sand is harder while other traps have a much softer sand feeling.
Choke down on the club slightly and open up your stance a little bit. Make sure that your feet are solid by digging them into the sand a little bit. Don’t worry about your cleats, the sand can be easily banged out. Take a normal swing at the golf ball but try to make contact where the ball meets the sand. You’re almost going to try and make a lifting motion with your club. This is a very tricky shot and requires a lot of practice to master. Don’t get discouraged if you struggle your first couple of rounds to get out of the traps.
Use The Right Approach Shot
There are three different approach shots that you should know how to hit around the greens. The approach shots are a:
A pitch shot is probably going to be your most used approach shot. This shot will pop the golf ball up into the air and the golf ball will only roll a little bit once it hits the green. This shot should be attempted with a pitching wedge.
A flop shot will get the ball even higher in the air. If you don’t have much room to work with on the green then a flop shot will be perfect because the golf ball shouldn’t move really at all when it hits the green. This shot is great for tight spots or flags that are close to the fringe. Use your sand wedge for these type of shots.
Last but not least is the chip shot. This shot usually has a much lower trajectory and is sometimes called a punch shot. The ball won’t travel as high as a pitch or flop shot and the golf ball will roll smoothly on the green. You can use either a wedge or short iron to perform a chip shot.
Hitting a draw or fade can also be solid shot choices but these require a lot of skill and practice to master on the course.
Step #4 – The Right Club For The Job
There are many different clubs on the market for golfers. You have everything from drivers to putters and everything in between. It can be tough to find the right club for the job but I hope to make your thought process a little bit easier. You now know how to hit a golf ball correctly and straight with ease. Now it is making sure you have the right club in your hand to do the heavy lifting.
Don’t Be Afraid To Use Your Woods
If you are a beginner and you are staring down the barrel of a 200 to 350 yard shot I would highly suggest taking out your fairway wood and giving it a smack. That amount of yardage can be a little intimidating for a beginner player. Why not make the journey a little easier by swinging a fairway wood.
Fairway woods are usually your 3, 5, or 7 wood. Sometimes a driver is considered a 1 iron. The higher number club, the more loft it will have. They are called “woods” because the club actually used to be made with wood. The more advanced clubs are made with different types of metal like titanium.
Use Your Irons For Mid Range Shots
If you’re not close enough for a chip or putt, you should be using an iron to get you to the target. Middle handicap and beginner golfers can benefit with a great iron set in their golf bag. An iron will get more lift on the golf ball as compared to a fairway wood. There are two types of irons. You can hit either a “long” iron or a “short” iron.
Long irons are usually 3, 4, 5, and 6. Short irons are 7, 8, and 9. The higher the number, the shorter the ball will go. A 9 iron will travel a lot shorter than what a 3 iron would travel. Keep that in mind when selecting an iron to hit. Also make sure that you know how far you can hit each iron because it will make a huge difference on the golf course. It is better to be confident about your irons distance than guessing.
Opt In For A Wedge When You Want Height
If you’re looking to get the ball up really high to go over a hazard then you should choose a wedge. A wedge is perfect for getting really high shots to sit softly on the green. Some common wedges are a:
- Pitching Wedge
- Lob Wedge
- Sand Wedge
- Gap Wedge
The wedges won’t travel as far as an iron so it should only be used for small distances around the green. Experiment with the different wedges to see which ones work better for your playing style.
Putters Are For Short Distances
This should be a no brainer but you should use your putter on the green. The green is a delicate place and your putter is going to be the best club for the job. Gently tapping the golf ball with the putter will allow it to roll towards the hole. You don’t want to lift the golf ball off the ground. Before the putt, you should try to read the greens to see if there are any slopes or hills that will alter the ball’s path. Makes sure to adjust your putts accordingly.
Just Remember To Have Fun!
Golf should be a sport that you enjoy playing with all your friends. If you can get the basics down and understand how to hit a golf ball you’ll enjoy the game a whole lot more. Try to take what I mentioned above and add it to your golf game. Practice makes perfect and it won’t make your game any worse.