Golf Swings | Columnists | -

Golf Swings | Columnists |

I’m often asked, “Do you like his or her swing? What swing do you think is the best?” Well, here’s my standard reply:  If the swing in question is on the PGA Tour or playing on television, the answer is “YES” I like that swing. Go play a round with the lowest ranked Tour player in the PGA ratings, and I’m willing to bet he or she will be the best player you’ve ever played with. One does not qualify for the PGA Tour with a “bad swing.” 

By definition, a good swing is a functional one, one that works. Consistently. John Jacobs said it best: “The purpose of the golf swing is to apply the golf club to the ball correctly. The method employed does not matter, as long as it can be done consistently.”

If we look in the golf Hall of Fame, we would find any number of styles and methods of swinging a club, setting up to the ball, pre-shot routines etc. But they would not be in the Hall of Fame if they didn’t win golf tournaments. Again, how you do it does not matter at all, as long as the golf ball is struck solidly on a consistent basis. If one were to observe, say Jim Furyk, from a distance, one might decide he needs lessons. But go stand next to him on the range, and you’ll have a very different opinion, I assure you. 

What does this mean for you? Well, it means this – the three elements of striking a good shot are the following: a square club face, a good swing direction and an appropriate angle of approach. That’s it, that is ALL that matters. 

Think of the golf swing as an equation. As long as the two sides of an equation balance, the problem is solved. No one would (or should) question how you did it. Let’s say one side of the equation is four; the other side can be 3+1, 2+2, 4+0, 8-4, and so on. 

If you have a wide backswing, you will need a narrower downswing ala Sergio Garcia. If the backswing is pulled well inside, the downswing needs to come outside that path, ala Arnold Palmer, if the backswing is taken outside, the downswing needs to loop back inside, Lee Trevino, Fred Couples. We could go on and on. The bottom line is these greats all balanced their equation. A “backswing” or “take away” is a preference; its only function is “find a way home to the ball” from there.

When Kevin Costner was working on his role in “Tin Cup,” he was taught to act like he was swinging the club. The truth is he did not have to hit a shot! He made effective practice swings that looked smooth and coordinated. But he never actually hit the ball; the camera men produced the result. It looked like a golf swing but had no impact! That’s what I mean by a pretty swing, not a functional one. In truth he’s a 16 handicap!

In my role as a teacher/coach I’m simply trying to help balance your golf equation. That does not have to be a new swing. It needs to have “compatible variations.” If your swing produces solid impact, we change nothing. If it does not, we find what side of the equation is unbalanced. I’ll discuss more on these variations in my next article.

Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional and a seven-time PGA award winner, including Golf Professional of the Year and Teacher of the Year. Dennis now teaches at Bobby Clampett’s Impact Zone Golf Indoor Performance Center in Naples, Florida and Eagle Lakes Golf Club. Some articles have previously appeared in Dennis’ popular column on


Leave a Comment