Jack Nicklaus’ simplest (and most effective) swing tip

When you’re playing golf, are you locked in or locked up? For many, tension is a nagging issue throughout the swing, not only causing blisters and discomfort but shanks and chunks. But for as easy as it sounds to simply “loosen up,” finding a free-flowing swing can prove to be more difficult than it looks.

In this week’s Flashback Jack, Nicklaus breaks down his keys for easing up your swing, a goal that starts with your hands.

“A fast backswing is generally caused by tension at the start of the swing,” Nicklaus said. “What do I mean by the start of the swing? As I’m standing up over the golf ball, if I have tension anywhere in my body, that is generally caused, for most people, through the grip.”

jordan spieth crouches to read putt
This practical golf tip from Jordan Spieth might be the best advice you’ll hear all year
By: Zephyr Melton

As Nicklaus explains, the golf swing is little more than a chain — when one of the links is broken, the rest falls apart.

“If my grip is tight then my arms become tight, then my shoulders become tight, then my upper body becomes tight,” Nicklaus says. “If I’m tight everywhere else, then my legs become tight.”

When the grip is too tense, the chain breaks before the backswing begins, a perfect concoction for mishits.

So, how can you fix the problem? Nicklaus says one key is to quiet your mind. Stop thinking about all the other elements of your round and focus instead on relaxing your whole body, starting in the hands.

“Now really what I want to do is I want to be very loose with all parts of my body,” he said. “I want to be very relaxed. I want to keep constant motion. That means my grip is nice and loose, my forearms are soft.”

If you’re able to manage that, you’ll find a breezy swing that forms better to your body type, your game, and hopefully, to a better number on the scorecard.

“And what it does, it allows me to keep the tension out of my whole body and thus promote a slow takeaway and a smooth golf swing,” Nicklaus said.

Golf Magazine

Subscribe To The Magazine


James Colgan

Golf.com Editor

James Colgan is an assistant editor at GOLF, contributing stories for the website and magazine. He writes the Hot Mic, GOLF’s weekly media column, and utilizes his broadcast experience across the brand’s social media and video platforms. A 2019 graduate of Syracuse University, James — and evidently, his golf game — is still defrosting from four years in the snow. Prior to joining GOLF, James was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at james.colgan@golf.com.