12 Best Golf Tips To Improve Your Swing And Your Game

Written by John VanDerLaan 

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When you first start playing golf, you believe that everything is random. That is to say, that “If I swing at it enough times, eventually I will hit a good shot”. As you play more, the game takes on a more spiritual quest. For instance, when your ball is slicing towards out of bounds, you often pray for a miracle. The turning point occurs when you come to the realization that golf is like getting stranded on a desert island. No one is coming to help you. You are on your own. At this point you either embrace the game, or abandon it. Should you choose to embrace the game, be prepared for the roller coaster ride of your life. This is where learning and researching more about the game will help you. The best golf  tips in this article have been gathered to aid you in this quest.

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On this road as a golfer you might experience the highest of highs (a hole in one) at some point, which usually is followed by something rather unspectacular. I got my first hole in one on the Palmer Course at Reunion Resort and Golf Club. It was on the 2nd hole, a downhill par 3, and I was playing with my two sons. It was a perfectly struck 8 iron and we all got to see it go in the hole. I thought that was going to be the round of my life! But it was the same 75 that I was used to shooting on that golf course.

What does this have to do with golf tips? Your commitment to improving your golf game is a lonely journey. There will be a lot of self evaluations. You are going to have to be brutally honest with yourself.

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Golf is like solitaire. When you cheat, you cheat only yourself. 

Tony Lema

Jack Nicklaus once said, ”There are a multitude of things that you have to do in a very specific order to get the golf ball to go where you want. A mistake during this process can cause your shot to go anywhere from five to one hundred and five yards off course.” 

Jack Nicklaus

Now that we’ve got our first Jack Nicklaus euphemism out of the way, let’s get started.

The 12 Best Golf Tips You Will Ever Receive

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1.  Develop a takeaway that encourages you to start on the correct plane

Golf is difficult and swinging off plane is a very common problem. It affects some 90% of amateur golfers. But, if you talk to any golfer who is committed to improving their swing, invariably they will admit to working on their swing plane. Next time you go to a house party, stand back and do a bit of people watching. There will sure to be some serious golfers in the group. If there are, you will see them periodically let their arms hang down and they will sway side to side. It might look funny, but they are sub-consciously working on timing and takeaway.

Obviously, the first thing that affects your swing plane is how you take the club away. If you have an overly flat swing plane (taking the club away too far inside the intended plane), you will fall victim to a myriad of problems. Sweeping hooks, pushing to the right and even catching the ball thin with your irons. If you are too steep, there are a number of things that will show up as evidence of this problem. Deep divots, toe first contact with the ball and an open clubface at contact are a few of these things.

Click here for an in-depth explanation of a Golf Slice vs Hook, what the causes are and how to fix each onw.

Drill

Using A Bench To Develop A Perfect Takeaway

Use a bench to encourage a consistent takeaway. Point the bench to your target. Take your stance so that your club shaft rests on the bench. When I do this drill, I find it best to use a longer club. I find I get better feedback as the drill unfolds. Slowly begin your backswing, stopping when the shaft is parallel to the ground just short of mid backswing. Let the shaft ride on the edge of the bench as you do this.

Do this drill enough times and it will help simulate what your correct swing plane should start as. The nice part about this drill is that most tee boxes have a bench there to sit on. You can actually do this drill on every hole before you actually take your tee shot. The ability to get immediate feedback is a wonderful thing

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2. Eliminate the fault of coming inside out or outside in on your downswing

More often than not this problem arises early in the golf swing, but it doesn’t manifest itself until you are on your downswing. Most professional golfers have a swing that is considered inside out. The reason for this is that it is almost impossible to draw the ball with a swing that is outside in. Some of you might argue that I am wrong, that your swing is outside in and the ball always goes to the left. If it goes to the left with an outside in plane, it means that you have pulled the ball, not drawn it. There is a huge difference between the two.

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Drill

Golfer Using The 3 Ball Drill

You can develop a correct swing plane at impact with a drill that I call “The 3 Ball Drill”. At address position, put the target ball in position, then put another ball 2-3 inches back and 2-3 inches toward you. Then put another ball 2-3 inches forward and 2-3 inches away from you. The balls should line up in a straight line that is 45 degrees from bottom right to top left. Now just hit the ball.

If you contact only your target ball, then your horizontal swing plane is correct. If you strike either the back ball or the forward ball, then your horizontal swing plane is incorrect. At first, this drill should be done only with ¾ swings. This drill typically helps a golfer who is struggling with hooking the ball. If the opposite is true, and you struggle with a slice, then move the balls to the opposite diagonal, with the back ball being 2-3 inches away from you and the forward ball being 2-3 inches closer to you.

Try to get a spot on the driving range where the stalls next to you are vacant. If you have a wonky swing plane, there may be some errant balls flying to your left or right from time to time.

RELATED: Golf Shot Shapes: How To Hit Fades And Draws

3. Get rid of the dreaded chicken wing

Golfer with The Chicken Wing

Anyone who has suffered from this knows what I mean. More often than not, a chicken wing produces a slice that is also very weak in relation to ball flight and distance, or it could even result in topping the ball. Eliminating the chicken wing may the way that you finally break 90.

RELATED: Best Driver For Beginners With A Slice

Drill

This is a two part drill and should be done together to produce the best results.

The first part is done without actually striking the golf ball. Take the club firmly in your left hand only. Hold the club up in front of you parallel to the ground. Ball up your right hand into a fist and put it under your left armpit. Lower the club into your address position. Now take, what is in essence, a one handed swing, keeping your right hand under your left armpit. As you are doing this, it should be impossible for your left elbow to fold into the “chicken wing” position.

Part two will also help with your chicken wing issue. Take a head cover and put it under your left arm. Make a regular golf swing trying to hold the head cover there through impact and follow-through.

Both of these drills are best done with a 6 or 7 iron for best results.

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4. Work on your timing with your first move away from the ball at address

Your swing must have the proper tempo to make it perform to it’s utmost. My initial swing thought when trying to get this done is to “Go Low and Slow.” It sounds easy but in actuality, it is difficult to get the feeling naturally.

Drill

Golfer Using The Mop Drill

The trick here is to swing something that creates a small amount of resistance when you begin your backswing. The best swing aid to use here is a mop, a heavy headed mop. All you do is hold it like a golf club, then practice your takeaway with this heavy headed club substitute. There is no need to actually swing the mop. Just use it to get the feeling of a “Low and Slow” takeaway. The result being that it will be very difficult to make a hurried takeaway and, because of the extra weight, it will remain low as well.

In the absence of a mop, a golf towel can be tied around the head of a golf club to create a similar feeling.

5. Don’t rush your backswing.

What do you think your swing speed is?  Most golfers overestimate their swing speed. They often wonder why they cannot generate more swing speed. One of the reasons is that they get out of rhythm right out of the chute by rushing their backswing. When you rush your backswing the whole concept of timing is thrown off.

Drill

Golfer Demonstrating the Two Ball Drill

There are actually two drills to help you with your timing. They are both easy to do, and of equal benefit to beginners or advanced players.

The first is a simple counting drill. I call it the Lawrence Welk drill. Lawrence Welk was a band leader from the 50’s and 60’s. His trademark saying was, “And a one and a two and go”. I have modified it a bit but I’m sure he won’t mind. As you swing, start counting, “One and a two and go”. By the time you get to two, you should be at the top of your backswing, getting ready to transition downward. “And go” should be your command to swing away. Ideally, it should take half as long to downswing as it did to backswing.

The next drill is also very simple. Place two golf balls on the teeing ground, one directly behind the other. With a six or seven iron, gently slip the club between the two balls. Start your backswing. If the back ball goes hurtling off into the next county, you are rushing your takeaway. Keep practicing until you can keep the distance it rolls back to two or three feet.

6.  How to hit the Stinger Shot and practice hitting low shots for control with less spin.

Golfer Hitting The Stinger Shot

The stinger shot is one that is hit even lower than a traditional knock down shot. It is especially useful when hitting a long shot into the wind. The shot not only stays low, boring into the wind, but also runs out much farther than any other shot. Practicing this shot will improve your swing once you master it and you will have more options to choose from when you are out on the golf course, especially in windy conditions.

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Drill (technique)

This is how Tiger hits this shot. He sets up with his shoulders a bit narrower than usual. When using 3 wood or driver, his ball is just inside his left heel. His hands lead the club well past impact. This requires firm hands and soft elbows. He takes a small divot, even with his driver.

Here is an easier way to hit this shot. Align your feet and shoulders to the right of target. This shot has a tendency to want to hook, so let’s work with that. Aim your clubface to the target. Set your body to the aim line, not the target. Close the clubface and regrip the club. Take a ¾ swing only. This will produce a punch type shot with little backspin. Do not rush the swing. Keep your follow through short with your club close to the ground after impact. This is a difficult shot to master, but if you can, it is a tremendous weapon to have in your arsenal.

7. Make a bigger turn on your backswing

Golfer Making A Bigger Shoulder Turn

It is very important to maintain your spine angle to maximize distance, especially with your driver. If you are having trouble losing distance, it may be because you have a rounded back at address. If this is a physical limitation, then such is life. If not, do everything you can to develop a spine angle that can maximize your shoulder turn vs. hips.

There is no drill for this, however, if you have access to a video camera, you can have some feedback as to your progress with this fix. Another way to get feedback is to position yourself so that your shadow tells you what is going on to some degree while you are practicing.

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8. Use your hips correctly to maximize performance, especially distance

This is a tough one. I guarantee you that most players that slide their hips back on their backswing will not believe that they have fallen victim to this swing fault. The best way to catch this is on video.

Drill

Golfer Demonstrating The Feet Together Drill

This drill should encourage you to turn instead of slide on the backswing. This drill is best done with your 7 iron. Stand with your feet together. Place a ball in the middle of your feet. It will be very difficult to slide with your feet so close together. Start with a half swing, concentrating on making a turn. Try to hit the ball in the middle of your clubface. As you become more comfortable, gradually increase to full swings.

This is a drill that Tiger Woods uses to prevent himself from swaying or sliding his hips. He tries to keep the angle of his back leg constant throughout the backswing. At the same time, it is best to keep your weight on the inside portion of his right foot. Knowing that this is something that Tiger has concentrated on his entire career, should give comfort to anyone who also struggles with hip sliding.

9. Make the shaft an extension of your left arm

Golfer Demonstrating Shaft In Line With The Left Arm

Align your club with the left arm at address. You can check this by addressing the ball in front of a mirror with your body’s target line 90 degrees angle to the mirror. Your left arm should not have any angel in relation to the club shaft. Doing this correctly forces you to tilt your head and shoulders slightly, so you get into a strong position at address. As Kevin, currently ranking 38th on the PGA Tour, would put it, “eventually my left arm and shaft must align, so why not do it as early as possible?”

Drill

At address, grab the club with your typical left hand grip. Lower it to the ground and put your right hand on the club. This should put you in the position you see Michael in above. Now when you swing, you are already in a strong position.

10. Work on being balanced throughout your swing

A friend of mine that was a +1.4 handicap golfer at his prime has this to say about balance: “I used to be a longer hitter when I was younger. Over the course of one winter I lost 30 yards off my driver and 10-15 yards off of my irons as well. I was able to attribute this loss of yardage to an illness that affected my balance. As hard as I have tried over the years, I have been unable to get that distance back. That is how important balance is, especially when it comes to power. My advice to you is this. Cherish your ability to be in balance. There may come a time when you don’t have it.”

Drill

There are two drills that I use to help swing in balance.

The first is the garbage can drill. Take a standard barrel size garbage can. Step in and swing, at first with a 6 or 7 iron and no ball. After some practice, you will feel more balanced. Then you can move onto striking the ball while practicing.

The next drill is the 2 x 4 drill. Get yourself a 2 x 4 about 6 feet long. Position it under your feet. Put both feet on it as you take your stance. As you swing, make sure you hit down and through the ball, allowing your back foot to naturally come up as you follow through. This drill not only helps work on your balance, but also your spine angle. You may, in fact, fall off the board at times, especially on your follow through, but with enough practice, it will improve your balance.

11. Keep your knees flexed all the way through impact.

Knees Flexed At Impact

Many times in my life, friends have made the comment to me, “Keep your knees flexed”. More often than not, their observation was correct. It is a very easy bad habit to fall into, and I’m not sure why. After watching many swings, including my own, I have come to the realization that the flex in my knees, especially my left knee, must be maintained even through impact. If you get a chance, try to find old video of Tiger Woods.

Note that he was able to hit the ball a long way and he was actually locking his left leg straight at impact. Hold on a minute!!! Why are you now instructing us not to do that??? What gives??? Yes, Tiger did this. But, he also had to endure multiple surgeries on his left knee that could be directly attributed to the stress he put on that knee. In addition, if you look at most good players you will see that they maintain their flex in the left knee somewhat through impact.

Drill

Virtually the only way to combine the feeling of the correct position in regards to knee flex, while at the same time getting the visual feedback, is to use a mirror, or video camera. First you need to get your weight forward, on the balls of your feet. A common problem, with all levels of golfers, is to straighten up as we start our backswing. This can be fixed by ensuring you get in an athletic position. Stand straight up and put your hands on your hips.

From there, simply flex your knees to the point where they are over your toes. Then flex your pelvis forward. Train yourself to get in this solid athletic position. Once you have that mastered, the next step is to start your backswing, trying to keep that flex in your knees. One thing that forces our legs straight is a hip turn that is over exaggerated.

This also results in a very flat swing plane. If you can keep your knee flexed in the correct position at the top of your backswing, the next move is quite simple. You’ve turned your hips in relation to your shoulders. Your knees are flexed. The only time between now and follow through where your legs would even want to straighten would be impact/follow through. By this time, the ball is already on its way. Mission accomplished. Just be wary of the strain that a straight front leg will put on the knee joint. I hope that you can avoid the maladies that affected Tiger.

12. Pre shot routine

Pre Shot Routine

This is the last thing you will do before you actually swing the golf club. The object of the pre shot routine is to get a repeatable procedure to put you at ease before you swing. All players have their own unique pre shot routine. Make sure you develop your own. You should try to do exactly the same every time in your pre shot routine, and try to develop a routine that takes more or less the same time to execute every time so you don't linger over the shot for too long.

This means that if you like to stand behind the ball before your shot, then walk towards your ball, address the club first, then setup and do 2 waggles and look at the target 1 time before you waggle and one more time in between the waggles, then you do that exact procedure each time you hit a shot and you make a habit of it. This will improve your comfort and confidence over the ball.

Bonus: What Are The Three Kings?

The Three Kings are the most important fundamentals in the golf swing. 

  • Grip
  • Stance 
  • Alignment

All the best golf tips in the world will be destined to fail if you don't master the Three Kings. 

This is not just a golf tip for beginners. The best players in the world are constantly checking and working in the Three Kings and you should too.

Let's take a look at each of them.

Grip: There are three basic variations of the golf grip;

Interlocking Grip:

  • As the name of this grip states, this grip has the pinkie finger of your bottom hand interlocking with the ring finger of your top hand.
  • Pros that use(d) this grip: Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson
  • Advantages: encourages the hands to work together, and reduces excessive wrist movement.
  • Disadvantages: uncomfortable or even awkward at first, limits free movement of the hands and wrists.
  • Beginners, regardless of age, would be smart to start with this grip. In addition, people with small hands or weak forearms and wrists might benefit from this grip.

Overlapping or Vardon Grip:

  • In this variation, the pinkie on the bottom hand is simply overlapping the ring finger of the top hand, resting in between the ring finger and middle finger.
  • Pros that use(d) this grip: Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar
  • Advantages: golfers with large hands do better with this grip-it allows for the hands to work together without limiting their movement. Some find it more comfortable than interlocking.
  • Disadvantages: golfers with strong hands could end up with a hands dominated swing.
10 Finger or Baseball Grip:
  • Take your top hand, shake hands with the golf club, then put your bottom hand on the club. Slide the bottom hand towards the top hand, allowing the top hand thumb to fit nicely in the palm of the bottom hand.
  • Pros that use(d) this grip: Steve Piercy, Dave Barr, Tommy Gainey
  • Advantages: some players that have trouble hooking the ball, say that this grip allows them to hook it. Very comfortable grip. Great for people who suffer from arthritis.
  • Disadvantages: hands want to take over the golf swing-athletic discipline is a demand here.

Grip tendencies

Within each of these grip variations, a golfer will have one of three tendencies. Those are; strong grip, neutral grip or a weak grip.

A strong grip: Where you can see three knuckles of your top hand-the bottom hand is rotated almost under the shaft. This grip helps promote a draw, and you should consider using it if you are fading the ball too much, or struggling with slice.

A neutral grip: Is best thought of as having the back of your top hand facing squarely at the target, and the back of your bottom hand facing squarely away from the target.

A weak grip: Is one where the knuckles of your top hand are not visible, and the back of your bottom hand is rotated toward the top of the shaft. Players that have a weak grip tend to move the ball left to right.

Click here for a thorough explanation of the proper golf grip.

Alignment:

Get your body (feet, hips and shoulders) lined up to your target line. Make sure that your feet hips, feet and shoulder are all aligned with each other, and regularly make sure to check that you do not have a tendency to aim and align with your body to the right or to the left of your target.

Stance:

Allow your body to get itself into an athletic position as you address the ball. Make sure you place the ball with clubs between 7 and Sand wedge in the middle of the stance. For 6 iron, 5 iron and down to driver, the longer clubs, you put the ball a little more left in the stance for each club. 6 iron goes almost in the middle of the stance, 5 iron a little more the left, and so on, down to the driver. This is important because of the length of the club, and for you to sweep the ball with the bottom of your swing at the right point. It will promote a better angle of attack and a stronger ball flight.

Conclusion

If you follow the best golf tips above and test out the ones that are relevant to you and your game, you will see that you get better and better results as you keep practicing. Make sure to use ball flight and the overall average result of your shots to measure and evaluate how well you are practicing and working on your game. Also if you have the chance to work with a Teaching Professional that uses an advanced launch monitor like Trackman, or similar, in his teaching lessons and swing analysis that could be of great value while working on these golf swing tips, or for a general analysis of how you hit the ball. You can see the benefits and advantages of analyzing your swing with a Trackman at www.trackmangolf.com.


Photo of author

John VanDerLaan

John is the Lead Editor and founder at Golf Gear Advisor. He is a golf coach and mentor to his 2 sons that are current playing professionals. His son John is currently playing on the Korn Ferry Tour and his son Michael is currently playing on mini tours and preparing for Q School. John Sr. has been their coach and mentor since they were 2 years old. He helped them to succeed in golf with the right equipment, instruction and mindset. John knows a thing or two about playing good golf and he has a passion for sharing his knowledge with others.

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