How Many Practice Swings are Allowed in Golf?

If you are looking to get into golf, you may be concerned about perfecting your swing.

Historically, practice swings were not always allowed once you were on the tee, but the rules are much more relaxed now.

Many players choose to take a practice swing before they hit the ball, but how many swings are too many?

So, How Many Practice Swings are Allowed in Golf?

Most true golfers will tell you that you should practice your swing way before you ever hit the green.

While it is not frowned upon to do one or two before your shot, the longer you wait, the more pressure you are putting on yourself.

Practicing your golf swing is a great way to get the feeling for a shot before it is time to make it.

Luckily, there are no rules against taking a practice swing, but you want to be respectful to other players.

Golf is one of the oldest sports in the world, but like many others, it has changed over time

Let’s talk about practice swings on the green, and how you should approach them as a player.

Practice Swing Rules

Golf used to have a set of rules that did not permit a player to have any chance at practice swings once the game started.

Traditionalists still believe that any true golf players should not feel the need to practice their swing. Lessons, practice areas, and driving ranges are all places where you can perfect your swing without taking too much time.

With that being said, the rules have changed over time. It is not uncommon to find someone taking one for two practice swings before making their final shot.

With professional golfers, they can get fined if their game takes too long, so they tend to practice before it is time to hit the ball.

The average length of time a professional golfer will spend on his shot is usually around forty seconds at most.

If you find yourself waiting on a group ahead of you, feel free to take practice swings since you are not holding anyone up.

You can also ask your fellow player if it is okay for you to practice your swings while they are practicing theirs. Most golfers have a certain feeling when it is time to take their shot, and overthinking is the best way to mess that up.

While there is no written rule, it is something that many golfers understand. If you are practicing on an empty course or at your own home, then you can take as many shots as you wish.

It all boils down to how long you are taking to play the game. When it is your turn to strike your ball, you should be ready and waiting for the player ahead of you to finish.

Do You Actually Need to Take Practice Swings?

There are some golfers who believe that you should not be taking practice swings on a golf course.

We see professionals do it all of the time in televised tournaments, but some play with the idea that when you walk onto a course, you should be ready.

If you are new to the course, golf in general, or are facing a difficult shot, your other players should understand your practice swings.

If they don’t, you can always simply tell them that you would like to take one or two. Keeping your practice shots to a minimum will prevent you from overthinking the shot, as well as not taking up too much time.

If you find yourself struggling with a particular swing or angle, make sure that you are taking the time to practice outside of the course.

You can use driving ranges, practice grounds, or even get lessons from a professional or a friend to make sure you are learning more about the sport.

Golf is a motor memory sport, which essentially means that the more you learn or practice something; eventually, your body is just going to “know” how to do it.

What Happens If You Hit a Golf Ball During a Practice Swing?

If you have ever taken a practice swing during a game of golf, you have probably at some point in time hit your golf ball without actually meaning to do so.

Deciding what this means is all reliant on if the golf ball was “in play” when it was struck with the practice swing.

A ball that is on the green before you take your swing is considered out of play, but once the ball is on the tee and you have made your first stroke, that ball is in play until the round is over.

This also counts for anywhere else on the course such. If you hit your golf ball before your tee shot is lined up, then have no fear.

There will most likely not be any penalties against you, and you can line up your next shot. You should consider where you are on the course and your intention with the golf ball before taking a practice shot.

If you intend to hit the ball, that is considered a stroke.

However, if your ball is currently in play and you hit it with a practice swing, this will usually end up in a one-stroke penalty.

It is often rare that you will be able to take a second swing at it so that you may find yourself with a penalty or just an awful shot. Some players and courses allow you to reposition your ball after a practice swing if they make contact.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Practice Swings

Now that we know how many practice swings we should be taking, it is time to start making sure that we are getting the most out of each of those practice swings.

Once you have practiced so many times, your body is going to know how to line up, where to stand, and how strong of a swing you are going to need eventually. The other side of a great golf swing stems from the mental aspect.

When you are taking a practice swing, make sure you are visualizing where your ball is going to go.

You want to be able to picture the trajectory of the ball once it leaves the end of your club. After a few times, you should also be able to determine the distance you want your ball to go.

Visualizing your swing will help you understand how hard or lightly you need to hit your ball on your upcoming swing. You can also use this to prepare yourself for the shot and to picture the swing you may need.

You should also be standing in a position that is natural for you.

Proper form will allow you to have the most control of your practice swing and can help you make sure you are “striking” your imaginary ball at the correct time in order to be in total control of your swing.

Another great way to practice your swing is to stand a decent distance behind your ball and focus on a specific target.


Although golf is a memory motor sport, not everyone has the confidence or belief they need in order to swing correctly.

Practicing both outside of the course and leading up to your first strike are both great ways to improve your confidence as a golfer, and that confidence will eventually lead to a better golf swing.