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The 6-Step-Golf Swing

How to swing a golf club correctly

by Virgil Herring


From the proper set-up, the first move of the golf swing is a shift away from the ball one inch to the right that transfers the weight to the inside of the right leg and moving toward the heel of the right foot.

This move is followed by the "one-piece" takeaway of the shoulders rotating around the spine. Keep the left arm connected to the core and the right arm extended at this position.


Step two is where the player begins to blend the rotational motion of the torso and the leveraging motion of the wrist hinge and elbow fold. The culmination of step two is reached when the left arm is parallel to the ground and the club is at a ninety-degree angle to the left arm. At this point the butt-end of the club should be pointing somewhere close to the ball/target line. There is plenty of freedom at this position. Ben Hogan's club would have been pointing at the ball/target line, while Jack Nicklaus' club would have been closer to his bodyline at the end of step two. To help find the right position for the player just ask them to stop the club when it feels the lightest. There is also some personal preference in how much the wrists hinge at this position. I would say that there are very few players who have ever played great golf with less than sixty-degrees or more than ninety-degrees of wrist-set. Tiger and Jack would be great comparisons to closer to sixty, while Hogan and Faldo are at ninety-degrees.

At this position in the swing is where the club moves off the shaft plane and moves toward the shoulder plane.

Top of golf swing


Step three of the golf swing is reached when the player finishes the turn of the shoulders. Our goal for a model swing would be for the upper body to have ninety-degrees of shoulder turn, ninety-degrees of wrist-hinge, and ninety-degrees of elbow fold. The lower body would have thirty-five to forty-five degrees of hip rotation. The clubface should be level to the shoulder plane, or in line with the left forearm. This indicates a square clubface.

There is no such thing as a perfect position of the clubface at the top of the swing. There have been many great players who have played from either a slightly closed or slightly open clubface at the top of the swing.


The downswing transition is where the separation from an advanced player and a novice player is most noticeable. In a model swing the downswing is initiated by the entire body shifting toward the target and the right shoulder delivering the right elbow to the right hip. This position is widely publicized as "the slot". Harvey Penick coined this "The Magic Move" because this is the most elusive and treasured move in all of golf. Step four is completed with the clubhead getting back on the shaft plane or very close to the plane.

Golf Impact Position


Step five is the impact position. At impact, the sternum is on top of the golf ball, the left arm is straight, the right wrist is bent back and ninety percent of the body weight is on top of the left leg.


After impact, the swing rotates the club left of the target line so that the shaft will exit underneath the left arm. The finish of the golf swing offers the player the final fundamental of the golf swing. I haven't seen a great player not finish in perfect balance. At this point the student has fully transferred his/her weight into the left side and the belt buckle faces the target. The student should learn to swing the golf club slow enough to reach this position before trying to increase distance.

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Virgil Herring is an instructor for the Golf Channel Academy.


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