What makes a golf player great? While each great golf pro has different hand positions, swing planes, and other swing techniques, there is one thing that they all have in common – and that’s great golf swing tempo.
But what exactly is swing tempo, what makes it good, and how do you make sure you’ve got great swing tempo? Let’s unpack in today’s guide on golf swing tempo.
Defining Golf Swing Tempo
Simply put, swing tempo is the amount of time your golf swing takes from the backswing to the follow-through.
Back in 2000, golfer John Novosel was editing the swing of a professional golfer for an infomercial when he realized that the ratio of the time between the golfer’s backswing and front swing was exactly 3:1.
He examined other professional golfers and realized all of them had the exact same ratio, too. Today, we know that this magic number – 3:1 – is what guarantees a perfect tempo. But what does that ratio mean?
Think of it this way: if a backswing is three seconds that means the downswing should be one second. If a backswing is 1.2 seconds, the downswing should take .4 of a second.
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How to Get the Perfect Swing Tempo?
Okay, you may be saying, the math is easy, but how do I actually achieve this ratio? Well, here are a few tips:
- Make sure to relax when taking the address position. Take a deep breath, release any tension and keep your body loose. Tension frequently results in a swing tempo that is way too fast.
- Find the right amount of grip pressure that you need. Hold the club lightly when you address the ball and then firm your grip before you begin backswing. You want to maintain control of your club without tensing up your hands and forearms.
- Keep it smooth and slow during your takeaway so that you can get that 3:1 ratio. When practicing it’s a good idea to start your swing much more slowly than you normally do to get a feel for that 3:1 tempo.
Adapting Your Techniques to Different Golf Clubs
Your approach towards golf swing tempo should vary based on the club and shot you opt for. Here are a few tips you should know.
When it comes to the driver, you don’t want to rush your backswing or downswing. Lift your left heel off the ground as you swing back and place it back down as you start down. This will help you keep track of when to change direction and keep your swing in sync.
Try to avoid jerking your irons up and away from the ball when you begin the backswing – this will cause a lot of issues on your way down. Instead, make sure your club smoothly traces the turf for one or two feet before moving it upward. One way to practice a smooth takeaway is to address a ball with another behind your iron on your target line. Start the swing by rolling the ball behind your iron away.
With wedges, you want to keep it light. You’ll want to use a softer grip, move the club lightly, and shift your weight between your feet. Once you’re ready, place the wedge behind the ball and start the motion.
A good tip for developing a strong putting stroke is to download a metronome app on your phone and set its beat interval to a pace that feels like a good stroke. Practice to that rhythm – the metronome will help you ensure you maintain rhythm in your stroke.
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Practicing Your Golf Swing Tempo
If you want to improve your golf swing tempo, the trick is to practice! Here are some drills you can do to help work on your tempo.
Count to Three Tempo Drill
When you’re on the range count to three during your backswing and try to count to one on your way down. This will help you establish that golden 3:1 ratio. When you’re not on the range, practice at home in front of a mirror by extending your arms and putting your hands together.
Swing Tempo Drill
This drill is useful when you can’t practice on the range. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Flex your legs and step into address position
- Cross your arms like you normally would, except that your left arm is directly over your right oblique and your right arm is directly over your left oblique
- Tense your core
- Rotate your body back and forth while holding onto your obliques
This drill helps prevent you from overswinging or letting your arms get too active during the swing.
How Training Aids Can Help
Training aids can help you improve your swing tempo. One example of a popular training aid is the Orange Whip, which is a device that helps coordinate rhythm between your arms, upper body, and lower body.
The Tour Tempo Timer app is an app that does exactly what it sounds like – helping you to time and space out your backswing and downswing.
Some swing tempo analyzers can even turn your club into a smart club that analyzes your swing and instantly transmits data to your phone or tablet.
Getting that perfect golf swing tempo might seem overwhelming, but with the right knowledge, practice, and training aids you’ll be on your way to that important 3:1 ratio in no time at all.
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