A Simplified Base Swing
There are two objectives for the Simplified Base Swing:
- It needs to be simple itself.
- It can be used on all the shots (e.g. driver, fairway woods, irons, pitching, bunker, and flop) with
little or no adjustment.
Golf is hard as is; we don’t want to make it harder by having to learn multiple swings for different
shots. By reusing the base swing on all shots, we drastically reduce the things that need to be
learned and mastered.
There is only one prerequisite for the Simplified Base Swing: you need to have some flexibility in the
core of your body. The swing shares many of the fundamentals with one-plane and stack & tilt
swings. They are all core-dominated. To perform the base swing properly you need to be able to turn
your shoulders independently from your hips by at least 30 degrees. Most people have no problem
doing it. With some stretching exercises, even those who have stiff core muscles can.
Below, we will describe the essential elements of the Simplified Base Swing. For aspects that we do
not mention, just follow the ‘conventional wisdom’. E.g. there is no discussion on grip pressure. In
that case, you should follow the good advice of many teachers and books—don’t grip it too tightly.
1. Use a strong grip. I.e. the “V’s” formed by the thumb and the forefinger on each hand point more
toward the right shoulder (instead of the right ear) when viewed face on.
2. Weight centered. I.e. evenly distributed between the two inside edges of your feet.
3. Bend a bit more from the hip.
4. Connect both upper arms to your pecs.
A pair of gloves is a good training aide. (See
picture on the right.) Note that the gloves are
not placed right underneath your armpits.
Instead, they are placed toward the front of
your chest so they can help keep your elbows
in front of you. This will also prevent the right
elbow from sliding behind you or flying up
during your backswing. If you do it correctly,
you will feel your triceps resting against your
1. Keep your head steady.
You can swivel but don’t move off the ball.
2. Turn your shoulders steeply with a one-piece take away.
A good way to gauge how steeply the shoulders need to turn is to feel like you are pushing
your left shoulder toward the ball. Due to varying distances between you and the ball with
different clubs, this will self regulate the amount of steepness. E.g. with a driver, you stand
farther from the ball and your shoulders will turn less steeply as with a wedge where you are
much closer to the ball.
3. Push your right thumb pad against your left thumb with moderate pressure (Homer Kelly’s #1
This helps you cock your wrist correctly and keep the club on plane. It also has a whole host
of benefits that we will discuss later.
4. At the top of your backswing, your weight should still be centered or forward toward the target
instead of shifted to the back foot. Your spine from a face on view should be vertical or slightly
leaning away from the target (but not toward the target).
5. Maintain the arm to chest connections throughout and make sure the R elbow stays in front of your
body instead of sliding behind it.
1. Keep your head steady as you transfer more weight to the front foot and swing the club down.
2. Continue to maintain the arm connections and the #1 Pressure Point until after impact.
The right arm to chest connection is especially important in maintaining the right and
consistent distance between the clubhead and your body at impact. If you heel or shank a
shot, check and make sure your right upper arm does not detach from your pec before impact.
3. Your arms and hands should feel relaxed and rather passive.
Do not try to flip your hands. Your body will swing your arms and hands around and release
them without any conscious hand manipulation. Some people call this “body release” in
contrast to a “hand release”. The stronger grip ensures a squared clubface at impact. If you
actively flip your hands, the club face will be closed at impact and send the ball left (for a right
handed golfer). Since your subconscious doesn’t want that, it will naturally prevent a violent
flip. As UST 4 stated, pushing the concerns of the swing elements to subconscious makes
the swing simpler to execute. Here, we set up with the strong grip and let the subconscious
You should be balanced and can hold the finish for a few seconds if you want to. If you have trouble
doing so, you are likely swinging too hard. There is a big difference between swinging hard and
hitting it long. A relaxed and smooth swing will generate more distance than a tense and jerky one.
- It gives you lag in your swing.
Try getting into your impact position
and then apply the pressure. (See
picture on the right.) The clubhead will
want to lag behind your hands and the
shaft leans forward. This lag promotes
more solid impact and longer distance. It
will also come in handy when you want to
hit a knock down shot into the wind since
it de-lofts the club.
The slow-motion video below shows the Simplified Base Swing with a 7-iron.
Simplifications and Benefits
There are quite a few simplifications in this Base Swing. Let’s take a look at their effects.
1. The head doesn’t move off the ball during backswing
Then you don’t have to move it back during the down swing2. Weight doesn’t shift to the right foot
Instead of rocking back and forth, you are only moving weight toward a single direction—3. Right arm doesn’t detach from the core and the right elbow doesn’t fly up or slide behind you
forward toward the target. If you shift the weight to the right foot, you need to reverse the
direction and transfer a larger amount of weight toward the left. The timing and tempo of such
a transfer is harder to master and maintain. Not shifting weight to the right also prevents the
reverse pivot problem that plagues many amateurs when they transfer their weight all the way
to the outside edge of the right foot, which results in the hip sticking out away from the target
and the spine tilting toward the target. Here the UST 4 is at work again. By getting the weight
transfer right, your subconscious will maintain the correct spinal angle.
If you let your right arm detach, you will have to wait until it reconnects with your core (so the 4. As shown in the diagram below, by not flipping the hands through impact, the body release gives
arms and the club are into the slot) before you can turn your body hard into the impact. The
timing of it could be quite tricky and is a significant source of inconsistency. If you miss-time it
by a little and start turning the shoulders before the hands and the club drop into the slot
position, you can easily get a big slice. If you let the club drop too low before you start turning,
you will be coming down from the inside and will hook the ball if you flip your hands to square
the clubhead. In contrast, by keeping the right arm connected with the core and the right
elbow in front of you, the Simplified Base Swing keeps your club in the slot all the time. You
don’t need to worry about timing the drop of the hands. One less thing to learn and one less
thing that could go wrong.
you a more generous zone for impact. If you catch the ball a little early before the club face squares
up (or a little late), the ball won’t spray as much.
5. The #1 Pressure Point is a “Mega Swing Thought” that we discussed in UST 2 (The fewer the
concerns of a swing, the simpler it gets). It has the following benefits:
- It keeps the club on plane during the backswing (prevents the clubhead from going too much
- It keeps your right arm connected and your right elbow in front of you. Try flying or sliding your
right elbow behind you while applying the pressure. It’s much harder, isn’t it?
- The pressure also extends the left arm straight. It creates width for your swing that promotes
power and consistency.
- It promotes a flat left wrist at the top which is what you want (unless you are fighting a big
- It encourages more shoulder turn.
The pressure inhibits the right arm from lifting the club up. When you can’t use your right
arm to pull the club up, the only way to get the club to the top of the backswing is to turn your
shoulders. Go to the top of your swing, pause, and then apply the #1 Pressure Point. You will
feel the right shoulder getting pushed and the left shoulder getting pulled clockwise. This
helps you turn the shoulders just a bit more.
6. Finally, the same Base Swing can be used for all the clubs from your lob wedge to the driver. See
the slow-motion driver videos below for an example on a long club.
Longer is not better unless it’s consistent
If you are an inquisitive golfer, you will no doubt find other more complicated ways to hit the ball
farther. For example, given the same amount of shoulder turn, lifting your right elbow so your right
arm has more room to swing can add additional thrust to the club and generate higher club head
speed. However, you must ask whether or not you can do it consistently with limited practice time. If
you can’t, you might hit one 7-iron 160 yards and two of them 140. Your average distance will be
shorter than the simple Base Swing that makes consistent sweet spot contact and sends the ball
150 yards every time. You will also score better with the tighter distance dispersion. Psychology
comes into play as well. When you can consistently hit the sweet spot, you mind is more confident
and you will be much more relaxed. We all know that relaxed muscles can generate more clubhead
speed and distance. Finally, if lifting your right arm reduces your shoulder turn, you will end up losing
length instead of gaining. Due to all the reasons above, for most amateurs the simplest swing is
also their longest swing.
Shaping the Shots
There will be times that you need to control the trajectory of the shot. Instead of introducing
manipulations that you do DURING the swing, we simplified it by moving all the concerns to before
the actual swing. Remember the advice from UST 3: Don’t put off till the actual swing what you can
do before it. Here is how to create the shot shapes you want:
- To hit the ball low: move it back away from the target at your address. Your subconscious will
do the right thing for you (UST 4).
- To hit the ball high: move it forward toward the target.
- To hit a draw: Address the ball with a closed stance; rotate your grip (not your hands) so that
the club face is facing the target (i.e. closed). Swing along your stance line (i.e. inside out
from a target line perspective).
- To hit a fade: Set up opposite to the above and swing along your opened stance.
Beyond the Basics
We’ve discussed all the basics of the Simplified Base Swing above. However, there are still many
other factors that need to be right to produce a good shot. They are required no matter what swing
you use. For example, good posture, good tempo, balance, concentration, and visualization. If you
follow the Base Swing faithfully but still are not able to hit them flush. Don’t despair. We know that
per UST 1: A good swing requires many many things to be right. It will turn bad if only a few of them
go wrong. You are likely to have a lot of it right and all you need is to fix one or two things that are not
unique to the Simplified Base Swing. Have a pro look at your swing or video yourself and compare
your swing with a tour player’s. It won’t be long before you find the culprit.
Fixing a golf swing is like debugging a computer program. It takes sharp eyes, sound logic, a
systematic approach, and perseverance. All else being equal, a simple program is much easier to
debug than a complicated program. Since you started with the simplest swing possible, your fixes
should come much easier as well. Good luck and have fun.