5 simple fool-proof swing tips for beginners

a golfer chips

In a game in which conventional wisdom is often marked by misguided information, here is some guaranteed good advice.

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First, do no harm. That’s the physician’s oath, but it should also apply to anybody giving swing tips. Most of us who play golf are well-intentioned. We like to share advice, especially with newbies to the game.

Problem is, a lot of what passes as conventional wisdom is misguided, more apt to hinder than it is to help. But don’t just take our word for it. Listen to Jon Tattersall, a GOLF Top 100 Teacher. We asked him for simple tips that can do no harm, just good.

1. Get a (firm) grip

Maybe you’ve been told to grip the club gently, as if you were holding a baby bird. Nonsense, Tattersall says. Not that he’s into avian abuse, but that easy-on-the-bird talk needs to go. Testing shows that the best players — and the biggest hitters — grip it firmly. If it feels light to them, Tattersall says, that’s because they are so strong. Gripping lightly makes the average player feel like they can’t control the club, which saps their confidence and slows their swing. The thought should be the opposite: grip it firmly and let it fly.

2. Build speed

At the elite level, modern speed training can be intense. But no need to go crazy. Or to be precise. “To increase speed, try simple things like swinging a club upside-down to create a swishing sound,” Tattersall says. 

3. Work on posture at address

Golfers come in different shapes and sizes, and no two stand exactly the same. What the best players share is good posture, hinged at the hip, with the upper body bending forward and the arms hanging straight down. This isn’t hard to practice. It’s something anyone can work at in front of a mirror at home.

4. Keep the arm straight

That goes for your lead arm (the left arm, if you’re a righty). But even more so for your trail arm. “Keeping a good radius will help with making contact,” Tattersall says. Don’t focus on hinging. That will happen naturally “due to the forces you’re trying to counteract during the swing.”

5. Finish high

“Keep your head down!” Now there’s an old, flawed chestnut, Tattersall says. A good swing comes to a full finish, which can’t happen if you’re keeping your head down. “The problem with that ‘Keep your head down’ thought it you wind up in a crumpled position. You want to be moving athletically to the finish. Hands high, standing tall.”

Josh Sens

Golf.com Editor

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.