50 Best Swing Keys

What to do and where to be throughout the swing for guaranteed success

At The Top At The Top
1 The hands should be well above the shoulders as the club reaches the top of the backswing, producing a wide arc.
2 The right elbow is clearly away from the body, which helps produce both leverage and power.
3 My back is facing the target as my hands reach the top of the backswing, indicating I’ve made a full turn. 
4 Maintaining the flex in the right knee is absolutely critical!  Don’t straighten the right leg at this point.

Top Notch
Though it might not seem as exciting as other aspects of the golf swing, achieving a solid “at the top” position is something that every Tour player and better golfer takes seriously. If you look closely at Ernie Els (below), Tiger Woods or anyone among golf’s elite, you’ll see a lot of similarities, including a wide right elbow, a flexed right knee and an upper body that’s “stacked” above supporting legs. If you’ve ever wondered why professional golfers look so effortless and in control during the swing, one of the main reasons is their mastery of the “at the top” position.

Ernie Els Parallel Parked
Notice how the clubshaft is parallel to the target line, not pointing to one side or the other. Achieving this position at the top of the swing is extremely important for any golfer hoping to produce straight shots. A slightly cupped left wrist promotes better ballstriking.

 At The Top Drill
The best way to learn a proper “at the top” position is to continue the takeaway drill described earlier. After you get to what I like to call “checkpoint one” in the takeaway, simply raise the club up over your shoulder, without manipulating it with your hands or wrists. At this point, your shoulders, hips and knees have rotated as far as they need to go.

Pro Techniques
Two-time U.S. Open Champion Ernie Els displays a perfect “at the top“ position.

“The Big Easy,” Ernie Els, is without a doubt one of the most technically sound golfers in the world, which contributes largely to why he’s also one of the best golfers on the planet. Notice how his right knee maintains its flex all the way through the sequence. It’s the key to his outstanding balance, perfectly controlled golf swing and effortless production of power.

Downswing Downswing
1 Just as it was in the corresponding point in the takeaway, the clubhead is between my arms and the clubface is square.
2 The left arm must be almost perpendicular to the ground as the right forearm points at the ball. Keeping the upper left arm close to the chest is also a hallmark of good players.
3 My right leg has maintained its flex and has stayed back and away from the ball. Collapsing the right leg as you approach impact prevents a proper release and saps power.
4 Notice how my back is still at the same angle it held at address. Maintaining this angle throughout the swing is a must.

Downswing Drill
An exercise I recommend to my students that helps them ingrain the proper downswing positions is called the Pump Drill. Assume your normal setup position and take the club up to the top of the swing. From there, slowly move the club to three-quarters down and then to a position that’s parallel to the ground.

At first, move the club as slowly as you need to achieve the proper positions and continue to pump the club in sets of three. As you feel more confident that you’re in the right spots, you can speed up the pumps until you’re moving at the same rate as a normal swing. As you perform this drill, be certain to keep your right hip back, away from the ball, and your right knee flexed.

Closed Shoulder
One of the true keys to delivering the club into the ball like a Tour pro is a left shoulder position that’s slightly closed and slightly lower than the right. Keeping the shoulder closed prevents the body from spinning into the ball, which tends to cause glancing blows and slices. A left shoulder that’s slightly lower than the right keeps the club on-plane and prevents a too-inside swing path.

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