The Golf Swing: Basics & Tips

Instructor: Darren Grant

Darren has 27 years experience as a certified HS science teacher and college professor. He holds a M.S. in Science Ed. and B.S.Ed. in chemistry

Some have described the game of golf as a peaceful walk in the beautiful outdoors, ruined by a little white ball. Read on for some helpful tips to keep your game from being ruined.

How hard can it be?

The basic laws of physics apply to golf balls. Newton's second law of motion, force = mass x acceleration holds true in the game of golf as in all of life. The purpose of golf is to accelerate the golf ball toward the cup at the end of the fairway until it falls into the cup, attempting to accomplish this objective in the fewest strokes possible. Applying the proper force with the proper club in each successive acceleration toward the cup greatly improves success in this game. Hitting a golf ball correctly is more about hitting the ball straight than it is about hitting the ball far! If the golf ball stays in play on the fairway, and is closer to the green than it was before you hit it, then the player is closer to achieving the ultimate goal of the game.

Why does the ball curve?

Golf balls are covered by dimples, small round indentations in the surface of the ball. These dimples increase the uneven force of air pressure on the ball as it spins through the air. Bernoulli's principle, states that the faster the air moves past the surface of the ball, the less force that air will exert on the ball. The dimples on the golf ball cause the air to increase speed around the spinning golf ball in flight, and cause the ball to experience greater force differences than a similar size and weight smooth ball would experience. If the club face impacts the ball squarely, it imparts a backward spin on the ball because of the loft, or backward slanting face of the club, which causes the air to travel faster over the top of the ball than it does over the bottom of the ball. This backspin causes an upward force on the ball while in flight, allowing it to stay in the air longer and go farther.

golf ball with dimples increases air speed over the surface
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Beginning players often twist the face of the club to the left or right as they swing, causing the club face to impact the ball in such a way as to impart a sideways spin to the ball. A slice curves to the left if you are left handed and to the right if you are a right handed player. The effect is the same as when a baseball pitcher throws a curve ball. Although some have been known to open up my club face and slice the ball on purpose to get around a large tree near the water trap, it is generally considered a bad idea to slice the ball. A bad slice can turn your golf game into a game of find the white ball in the tall weeds, or worse!

Out of bounds balls may get eaten by alligators
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Tip #1

To prevent club face rotation causing a slice during your swing, the following should be observed.

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