Master These 8 Golf Swing Basics to Hit More Consistent Shots
Written by Brittany Olizarowicz

Britt O has been playing golf since the age of 7. Almost 30 years later, she still loves the game, has played competitively on every level, and spent a good portion of her life as a Class A PGA Professional. Britt currently resides in Savannah, GA, with her husband and two young children. Current Handicap: 1

Updated on December 12, 2023

I’m sure you’ve been tempted to head out to the driving range and just start swinging away to see how much distance you can get. We’ve all been there at one point or another.

But here’s the thing… If you want to actually become a good player, you have to work on some golf swing basics.

When I work with beginner golfers, I start with these basics. And interestingly, I also often start here for golfers that have been playing their entire lives. I’ve found that students who commit to learning the basics are much more likely to be lower handicap golfers over time.

These are things you really can’t skip. In fact, you will use them for the rest of your golf career.

I’ll show you 8 golf swing basics to hit more consistent shots and give you some insight into where you are probably missing the mark in your golf game.

Here are the 8 golf swing basics we’ll cover:

  • Gripping the club for control
  • Foot position at setup
  • Weight distribution in the swing
  • Body rotation on the backswing
  • Head positioning in the golf swing
  • Adjusting for shorter shots
  • Rotation of the arms through impact
  • Balance and stability in the golf swing


1. Gripping The Club for Control

The grip can control everything from hand and arm position to the swing plane, and it even impacts how much power you have in your golf swing. So many golfers struggle to pay enough attention to the grip; that is where the problems lie.

Most of the time, players get away from a neutral grip. The neutral grip position is the easiest one to use if you want to have a square face at impact. You can use an interlock, overlap, or even a baseball grip to get a neutral grip, but your hand position is the most important aspect here.

How to Grip The Club (Neutral Position)

  1. Place your left hand (right handed golfer) on the club so that the V created by your thumb and forefinger is pointed to your right shoulder.
  2. Let your thumb wrap slightly around the golf club so that it is not pointing straight down the shaft.
  3. Place your right hand on the club and let the left thumb fit into the crease of your right hand.
  4. Interlock or overlap the fingers in the back.
  5. Check that the V created by the right thumb and forefinger is also pointed at your right shoulder.




2. Foot Position at Setup

Foot position can impact everything from alignment and shot direction to power and balance. The biggest mistake that golfers make with foot position is consistency. There is no real rhyme or reason to the way they approach the ball, and this makes it difficult to hit the right golf shots.

You can follow these basic tips to get your feet correct at setup. Remember that foot position will change based on the type of shot that you are attempting to hit. However, you must have the basics of proper foot position down.

  1. Feet should be about shoulder-width apart.
  2. The feet need to be square without dropping the left or the right foot back.
  3. Feet should be on a line that is parallel to your target.
  4. Turning the toes out slightly can help golfers with rotation issues, but do not exaggerate the motion.
  5. Keep foot position consistent from one swing to the next so that you are not changing too many variables in the swing.


3. Weight Distribution at Setup

One of the most common questions I get from golfers is regarding where weight should be at setup. Weight should be mostly evenly distributed between your feet. However, there are a few details to keep in mind about weight distribution.

  1. If you have a driver in your hands, a little extra weight on your trail side at setup is acceptable. Shoot for a 60/40 weight distribution.
  2. With irons, a 50/50 weight distribution should work. With short irons, you can lean a little bit on the lead side at setup, aiming for 60/40 weight distribution.
  3. Try to keep weight positioned towards the insides of your feet. When weight is on the toes or heels, you can easily get thrown out of balance.


4. Body Rotation on The Backswing

If the body doesn’t rotate in the backswing, getting the club into the right position is nearly impossible. In addition, you miss out on a ton of power.

The most common mistake amateur golfers make is swinging with their arms only and leaving the body out of it. Here are some basic steps to take to make sure you get proper body rotation.

  1. Start your swing by feeling a small turn of the lower body.
  2. Feel as though your belt buckle will turn away from the target and back down the target line.
  3. Make a full lower body rotation where your weight transfers to your right side.
  4. On the downswing, allow the body to rotate completely through the target so you are left facing the target with all of your weight on your lead foot.


5. Head Positioning in The Golf Swing

Have you ever heard the swing, though, that you should be keeping your head still during your golf swing? This concept isn’t wrong, but it’s often not explained well.

Some golfers get so stuck on this concept that they restrict rotation and make a poor turn.

  1. Make sure your head is positioned over the golf ball at setup.
  2. When taking shots with an iron, stay mostly centered with your head position over the golf ball.
  3. With a driver swing that requires a bit more rotation, feel free to allow for a turn back where your head moves slightly behind the ball.
  4. On all golf shots you hit, ensure you keep your head on or behind the ball at impact.
  5. Any vertical movement of the head up and down can cause you to change your spine angle and hit shots thin or fat.


6. Adjusting for Shorter Shots

In my first year of teaching golf, I remember telling students to take a club and hit a half shot, or maybe even saying, “ok, now hit your 150 yard club but only hit it 100 yards.” This concept was much simpler to me than it was to my students, and I quickly figured out why.

Most golfers are not adjusting to hit shorter shots and; instead, they just take a slower swing.

That slower swing does not work!

To adjust to hit a shorter shot, follow some of these steps:

  1. Make your stance narrow. Your feet can get pretty close together when hitting shorter shots, and you won’t need the extra stability and balance.
  2. Choke up on the golf club a bit to make it a little shorter and easier to swing.
  3. Lean a bit on your left side (lead side) to take a shorter swing yet still compress the ball and control the distance.
  4. Take a shorter backswing, about ¾ length.
  5. Accelerate through the shot. You make the adjustments before you swing so that you can hit a shorter shot, don’t make the adjustments as you are swinging; you will end up hitting behind the ball.



7. Rotation of The Arms Through Impact

You’ve undoubtedly heard about the release in golf and how important this is. If you’re not getting that proper transition from backswing to downswing and downswing to impact, you might leave the clubface open, causing a poor shot.

Rotation of the arms through impact is key, and some golfers wait too long to do it. Many players will get the club sort of stuck, and it feel as though you have to flip the wrists at impact.

Instead, try this the next time you are at the driving range working on your swing.

  1. From the top of the backswing, feel your body start to turn and rotate so that your arms can drop into place.
  2. As the arms are coming down, the right arm will start to rotate and eventually turn over the left arm.
  3. See the video below about the proper release position in golf and how to time this. You’ll want to watch videos of professional golfers where you can really see their forearm rotation and how being in a proper position at the top of the backswing can make all the difference.


8. Balance and Stability in The Swing

The last of the golf swing basics is balance and stability. If you want to maximize your clubhead speed and improve on consistency, you have to be both balanced and stable in your golf swing.

Good posture, the proper stance, and of course, accurate foot positions all help lead to this balance and stability. Here’s a general checklist to make sure your balance and stability are as accurate as they can be in the golf game.

  • Spend some time off the golf course working on your strength and stability. Take a walk, work out at the gym, or do some stretches; it all matters for your golf game.
  • Make slight adjustments to your stance to make yourself more stable. If slightly less than shoulder width feels better to you, do it! Golf is not an exact science.
  • Make sure your spine angle stays consistent on your backswing. Many golfers move their spine up or down, and it moves weight around and causes issues with consistency.
  • Work on swinging at a speed that allows you the maximum distance without losing your balance. If you can’t stay in balance, slow things down or get into better physical condition to be able to handle that speed.
  • Always have a goal of finishing your golf swing with a balanced finish, facing your target and staring down the target line. 


These golf swing basics may just be the basics, but once you have them down, you are going to be an entirely different golfer.


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Brittany Olizarowicz

Britt O has been playing golf since the age of 7. Almost 30 years later, she still loves the game, has played competitively on every level, and spent a good portion of her life as a Class A PGA Professional. Britt currently resides in Savannah, GA, with her husband and two young children. Current Handicap: 1