Golf Swing Basics

Whether you are new to the game of golf or have been playing your entire life, it never hurts to brush up on the golf swing basics. The good thing about the way the golf swing works is that you will be able to break it down into sections.

Each of those sections will be areas of the game that you can work on individually. Most great players will tell you that working on the golf swing in sections can be a great avenue to becoming a better player. We will take you through the golf swing basics and some of the most important steps of a proper golf swing. 

Before The Swing

If you don’t set up to hit a golf ball correctly, it is not even worth taking the club back. So much happens before a swing that you must ensure you are truly ready to take the club back and complete your takeaway. Before the swing starts, you must consider your grip, aim, posture and stance.


There are three main ways to grip the club; the overlap, interlock, and the ten-finger grip. The grip should be neutral, with the club sitting mostly in the fingers of the hand. The more grip pressure you have and more involvement with your wrists and hands, the harder it is to let the golf club travel on the path that it should.

For a right-handed golfer, the thumb on the left hand should fit inside the palm of the right hand. The hands will fall in the center of the grip so that neither hand has too much control over the shot.


The quickest way to see where you are aiming is to put some alignment sticks down on the ground when you practice. Aiming in golf is hard. The fact that you are standing parallel to your target makes the aiming a bit tricky to pick up initially. Make sure that your shoulder, hips, and feet are parallel to your target.


Golf posture takes a bit of time to master. If your posture is great, your club face will be square to the target, you will be well balanced, and there will be no slouch in your spine. The best way to practice your posture is to watch yourself in a mirror and ensure that you are in an athletic and repeatable stance.


The stance typically starts with the feet being about shoulder-width apart. Some golfers will point both of their feet square, while others will angle the front foot slightly. If you are hitting the ball with a driver, your stance will change a bit compared to a 7 iron or a wedge.

The longer the club you are hitting, the wider the stance will get. In addition, the golf ball will move further towards the front of the stance when you are hitting long irons, fairway woods, hybrids, or the driver.

During The Swing

Once you have your stance square and your posture and grip correctly, you are ready to actually start making a golf swing. The golf swing has lots of moving parts, and most players will end up making it more complicated than it is. Hitting behind the ball, topping it, hitting left or right can all happen due to several of the issues with your takeaways, backswing, or even the downswing. Let’s get some of these areas of the swing under control so you can have more success on the golf course.


Great players will tell you that of all the golf swing basics, the takeaway is the most important. With the takeaway, you will set the stage for the rest of the golf swing. This one simple move will guide your upper body and lower body to be on the right track.

The takeaway should start with the club heading down the line very low to the ground. When you take the club back, you must ensure that you are starting to turn your shoulder and your lower body as well. If you start the takeaway with just your hands, it becomes challenging to get the club on the proper plane.

As you work through these fundamentals, you will often come back to the takeaway, ensuring that the arms and body work together.


The backswing involves rotating the body while keeping the club on plane. You will need to keep your head relatively still and focused on the golf ball. Any kind of rotation that you do should be deliberate and in control the entire time.

On your backswing, you will also have to shift your weight from being balanced to moving more towards your back foot. This weight transfer will help you gain some power and deliver a little extra speed at impact.

The golfer’s backswing can be either on the plane, shallow or upright. If you take the club up a little too upright, expect to see shots that travel to the right. Golfers that take the club back too shallow are going to end up hitting golf shots that go more to the left.

The backswing takes a bit of time to master, and it can be really helpful to video the swing to see the position your body is in throughout the shot.


Once your club is parallel to the ground at the top of your backswing, you will transition into the downswing. This transition starts with turning your left hip while your arms start to fall into the slot created in the backswing.

For a beginner, it is challenging not to just slap at the ball with the club from the top of the swing. This is obviously not going to be something you want to do, but many new players think that hitting the ball straight from the top of the swing is the way to play.

One of the best tips you will ever receive as a golfer is to take a slight pause at the top of your swing. This pause will allow your body to start to turn and your arms and hands to fall into place. This simple motion will end up getting the downswing started down the target line and helping you to make much better contact with the ball.


The downswing should unfold as naturally as possible. If you are able to stop the backswing in the proper location and begin the downswing with the turning of the body, and transferring of the weight, the rest of the downswing should fall into place.

At impact, a golfer will want to have their arms extended, their weight moving forward towards the lead foot, and their head positioned behind the ball. These are all necessary positions to keep the power and momentum you have built up in your golf swing.

Although you will want your downswing to have plenty of power, it is just as important to stay balanced and in control. Many golfers try too hard to get the golf club moving fast, and it ends up costing them balance and control.


Last but certainly not least is the finish. If you are making a perfect transition and downswing, the finish should come naturally. The majority of golfers have a tough time finishing their golf swing with their weight on their forward or lead foot.

This is typically because the ball becomes a hold-up for many players. As golfers swing down, they think that they need to hit the ball instead of just trying to let things evolve as they swing through their golf shot.

The goal of your golf swing should be to finish with your body facing your target, all of your weight transferred to your left foot (right-handed golfers), and the club up high over by your left ear. If you have done all of these things and can maintain your balance, chances are you hit a relatively good shot.

Encourage all of your swings to come to a complete finish. Without this finish, your club face angle and ball flight may never get themselves square at impact. A lot of what happens in the finish will be the results of the downswing. Keep this fact in mind.

What Are The 4 Steps To The Golf Swing?

Now that you have the information down on the golf swing basics, you may hear people refer to the four steps of the golf swing. It’s hard to narrow down the golf swing to four basic steps. However, what people are referring to is the backswing, transition, downswing, and follow-through.

As we talked about, the setup and stance are just as important as any of these individual parts of the swing and will need just as much of your time and attention. Try to focus not just on hitting the golf ball but on hitting it correctly.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you now feel as though you have a better idea of some of the basics of the golf swing. Learning to swing the golf club properly and then repeating it consistently takes a lot of time and effort. Overall you must understand the way that a small change or movement in your body is going to impact the way the ball travels. Start to take some time to video and review your swing; in addition, read some books about a golf swing and what the proper plane and path look like. How can you master the golf swing basics without knowing the proper positions? Invest the time into this game, and you will be well rewarded.

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Brittany Olizarowicz

Brittany Olizarowicz

Britt O has been playing golf for more than 25 years. After a successful college golf career, Britt became a PGA member, membership director, and teaching professional. Her love for the game led her to a career of teaching golf and writing about the sport. Britt has two young children who have taken a liking to the sport, and they can all be found on the golf course several days a week.