The golf swing tempo is one of the most critical parts of the game.
As a golf professional, I saw so many students with very good fundamentals and great practice habits, but they struggled to get the proper tempo in place.
Although finding the right tempo takes some feel, practice, and time there are actionable steps that you can take to improve your golf swing tempo.
We have put together a guide outlining the most important things about the golf swing tempo.
What Is Swing Tempo?
Golf swing tempo is the time it takes for you to swing the club from the setup position to the follow through.
The proper golf swing tempo tends to happen a little slower on the backswing and faster on the downswing.
Golfers that have great tempo look as though they have rhythm and balance in their swing.
Golfers that struggle with tempo will have a swing that looks jerky or unbalanced.
Most golfers will have a certain tempo that feels natural to them, and they should stick with that tempo and speed for their swing.
What is the proper swing tempo?
There is no exact number that is going to define the perfect golf swing tempo. However, there is a ratio that seems to lead to the highest level of success when it comes to the swing tempo in golf swing.
The golf swing tempo ratio would be that it takes you three times as long to swing the club back as it does to swing the club down.
For instance, if a players started at the address position, they could count to three during their backswing. However, from the top of the backswing down to the ball, they should only be able to count to one.
This is a rough estimate of what a proper tempo should be, but it does help some golfers get a visualization of what tempo should look like in the golf swing.
Some students of the game will calculate a perfect tempo for the amateur or professional, but this is something that is difficult for most golfers to think about or control.
How to get a proper swing tempo?
Getting the proper swing tempo takes quite a bit of practice and feel as well. Knowing how to improve tempo in golf swing can be a little tricky, but we have some great tips to help you.
1. Relax At Setup
Golf can make people tense up and get very rigid before they swing the club back. This is quite common, and it is mostly caused by nerves.
Everyone wants to hit a great shot, and that pressure makes tension build up throughout your swing. This tension generally tends to make golfers swing too fast.
When you swing the club too fast, you have the potential to get your golf club on the wrong plane, and the club face position could be wrong as well. All of these negative things can happen just from having too much tension when you set up to hit the ball.
Tip: Take a deep breath before you address the ball. Keep your body moving and limber, so you don’t stiffen up. Before you swing the club, make sure your body is limber and ready to turn.
2. Check Your Grip
When we swing a golf club, the only connection we have with the club is the grip. If the grip is not perfect, it could cause issues with where the ball ends up.
Grip pressure is a major issue in the games of golfers who struggle with tempo.
When your grip pressure is too tight, you will tend to swing the club faster, and it will be more jerky as well. Loosening the grip pressure allows your swing to be more fluid, and it can also help you increase your swing speed.
Tip: Make sure that your grip on the club is not too tight. If you need to take your hands off and put them back on, that is acceptable.
Make sure your golf grips have plenty of grip left in them so you can loosen your hands with the confidence that the club will stay in place.
3. Low And Slow On The Way Back
One of my favorite swing thoughts of all time is low and slow on the backswing. When you keep the club a bit lower and take it back slower, good things will happen.
The low and slow concept is not just good for golf tempo, but it is also good for making sure your golf swing plane is correct.
You may remember when we talked about the golf swing ratio; the backswing is slower than the downswing.
You will want to be able to count to three during your backswing and count to one on the downswing. If you can slow down the takeaway and the entire backswing just a little, it could help improve your tempo.
Tip: Try making your backswing a little slower. Golfers with a slower backswing are not going to lose distance, but they may gain a good amount of control.
4. Pause At The Top
Golfers always wonder about the transition. The transition is when the backswing turns into the downswing.
This is a tricky part of the golf swing to work on because it happens so fast. The transition can also be a difficult spot of the golf swing to have a mental swing thought for.
One way that you can help your tempo is to feel as though you have a slight pause at the top of your swing. For most people, the pause will never actually happen; it will just feel like there is a slight delay when the club transitions from going up to heading back down.
Many golfers find that the simple thing though of “pause at the top” has helped them not only to hit longer golf shots but to control the ball a little better as well.
This is a simple concept, and it is not difficult to think about when you are playing. It also helps to ensure that you complete your entire backswing before rushing down to hit the ball.
Tip: Feel a slight pause at the top. It does not need to be exaggerated, and it is more of a feeling than an actual pause. The pause helps golfers feel the transition in the golf swing.
5. Focus On The Finish
The golf swing ratio idea can help you try to hit shots, but golfers must remember that the downswing also includes a follow through.
When working on good golf tempo, you must remember that tempo starts at setup and finishes at follow through. The tempo does not finish at impact.
When you think of the 1, 2, 3, on the backswing, make sure that the downswing is taking into consideration that you have to get through the golf ball, not just stop at impact.
When you are working on your tempo, it can be a good idea to focus on the finish of your swing and making sure that you complete each shot.
Tip: Don’t forget to finish! Golfers with great tempo and balance always have a strong and complete follow through. Great tempo does not mean that you are going to stop at impact with as much power as you have.
Swing Tempo Drills
Now that you have some tips to help improve your tempo and your golf shots, it’s time to get to the driving range and start working some drills.
Golf drills, done correctly, can make practicing and learning a new concept much more manageable.
Here are a few of our favorite golf swing tempo drills to help you get the concept of a perfect tempo down.
Short Game Metronome
If you are a musician, you know how important a metronome can be to the success of your music. You may find that the metronome could also be the key to your short game.
Many golfers, both professional and amateur, will practice their chipping and putting using a metronome.
The metronome allows you to hear a steady beat, and you can really start to feel and hear how the swing ratio works.
We recommend just putting the metronome on and letting it play while you practice. You will quickly learn how it should be set and what beat helps your putting and chipping strokes the most.
Probably my favorite drill of all time, better than all the training aids I’ve ever attempted to use, is the simple feet together drill. When you use this drill, you will work on so many great parts of the swing that you are almost guaranteed to see improvement.
When you practice the feet together drill, you are simply going to hit golf shots with your feet together.
You should use something like an eight iron when you start out. Place your feet close together, almost touching, and then take your regular golf swing.
If your tempo is unbalanced or the ratio is off, you will have a hard time making contact, and you will also be extremely unbalanced.
This drill is simple, it can be done on the golf course or the range, and it will almost certainly lead to some more consistency in your shots.
The swoosh drill is excellent for improving your tempo, but it also helps golfer get a bit more strength. With this drill, you can choose any iron in your bag.
Instead of gripping the club near the butt end, grip the club just under the club head. With this swoosh drill, you won’t actually hit golf balls.
Now that you have your club gripped at the top, you can start taking swings. Keep the grip (which will now be close to the ground) just off the ground when you make these swings. As you come through, you will hear the grip of the club make a swoosh noise.
When you practice like this, the extra resistance will help you feel the club a bit more, and it will make your tempo and your swing more balanced.
We hope that our tips to help improve golf swing tempo have helped you in some way. Sometimes more concrete concepts like grip, stance, and posture are easier to work on than the more abstract ideas of tempo, feel, and plane.
If you practice your tempo using our drills and tips, you are going to notice the golf ball going both further and straighter.