How to use your hands in the golf swing

Science has shown that the golf swing should definitely have a focus on the hands and arms. We have good control over these body parts and it ties in with how we perform most other skills.

Client: Am I correct in my understanding that you need to focus on the hands in your takeaway for all parts of the swing?

Let me try and answer this.

It depends. If you’re swinging in the backyard or hitting balls into the net, there’s nothing wrong with your focus being on your hands. You can even consciously attempt to control what your hands are doing. Just don’t overdo it. Mix some conscious effort with some free flowing action.


… if you’re out playing on the golf course, this kind of focus is rarely constructive. You’ll tend to be too concerned with what your hands (or any body part) are doing and you’ll lose any flow. You’ll become too precise and your swing will lack rhythm and power. It will be a tight and ugly swing and the chances of you playing your best could be lost.

It’s important to point out that most golfers play this way. They think too much and they try too hard to swing “perfectly”. So you’ve got to forget about the swing at some point (like when you pull up into the car park for your weekly game) and let the swing go. Forget about swing and focus on where you want the ball to go. This is the best way.

Client: But how do I use my hands in the golf swing?

Most teaching would want to go into all sorts of detail and point out,

– wrist cock
– arm rotation
– speed of takeaway
– hand positioning
– thumbs
– and anything else they can think of

I’m going to offer a deeper and more advanced option.

It doesn’t matter HOW you start the backswing. If you do it your way there’s NO wrong way.

I know this is going to be hard for many adult learners to comprehend. They’re used to being fed lots of instructions and they incorrectly think if they’re told HOW to do something they’ll be able to actually do it.

But learning doesn’t work this way.

If detailed instructions were all you needed, then we’d all play better golf.

One of the biggest leaps a golfer can make is to put trust in their own learning system. Instead of worrying about what the convention wants you to do, it’s time to do things your way.

Yep, this take some guts and courage. You need to be brave enough to walk your way. But a little uneasiness is the way forward. Learning isn’t cut and dry. Learning is messy. But it’s fun too! It’s really satisfying when you realise your way is the BEST way. It’s fun to walk to the beat of your own drum and get better results. Stuff convention I say!

So please don’t worry too much about your backstroke. Trying to consciously figure out HOW to move the club away and how much you need to synchronise your arms and body is complicated. It’s also not that effective.

If you clear your mind and stop worrying about doing things “right” then I’m convinced your learning system will look after you.

When you’re chipping your backstroke will be slower and smooth.
When you’re whacking from the tee there will naturally be more speed and power.
When you have a tricky shot over a bunker to a tight pin you’ll swing in a way that gives you more touch and control.

You DON’T want to be thinking about it! This is the ultimate level of playing the game and unlocks your best swing time after time. The nice side benefit of all this is you’ll probably surprise yourself with how good you are.

You might even have playing partners comment on how good you’re swinging and how well you use your hands in the golf swing. This will make you laugh because you’ll be reminded at how you used to do things and how much easier it is to let your subconscious take over.

Client: I’m trying really hard to swing slowly…

No, this is arse about. You shouldn’t be trying to find the right backswing. The backswing will find you.

Trying really hard is outdated. Also takes a lot of energy and can be frustrating. Here’s a question that can set you on a better path,

How would you swing if you knew you couldn’t make a mistake?

That’s a better mindset to approach your next game or practice session. I would love to hear your feedback…

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  • Adam

    Reply Reply February 21, 2015

    We use our hands all day long for most things. Makes sense to use them in golf


  • Tony Lucas

    Reply Reply February 22, 2015

    You’re right Cam trying too hard only creates problems
    Cheers Lukey

  • Aapo Keskimölö

    Reply Reply September 16, 2018

    I do agree that it probably gives the best results in short-term for beginner/intermediate player to not to overanalyze their golf swing, but as soon as the player reaches a semi-advanced level, this script might take a bite on you. We have extremely adaptive learning system built into our bodies that will also learn bad habits that will be extremely hard to get rid off on later stages. Most players hit bad shots because they dont know what they are doing wrong. This is where instructions and feedback are the most effective.

    There is no way to get consistent strike on the ball until mastering the fundamentals of a golf swing and learning that by doing is much harder and slower process than getting the basics right from the beginning: grip, stance, takeaway, backswing, downswing, followthrough, everything. This just has to be done, there is no magic pill to happiness.

    Take videos of your swing, consult low handicapper friends or book a time at the pro that has teaching style that fits to your learning. Listen to the feedback repeatedly until you really get it.

    And then, hit a lot of shots.

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