A PGA golfer might make a golf swing look effortless and uncomplicated, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Those effortless swings are the result of thousands of hours spent practicing. The more you develop your golf swing, the more apparent it becomes that the speed of your swing matters.
But can a golf swing be too fast? The only time a swing could be too fast is if it becomes uncontrolled, but that doesn’t mean that a fast swing is superior or even desirable. Most experts agree that the speed of the swing doesn’t matter except at the crucial moment when the club hits the ball. Maximum speed at this moment allows the ball to fly farthest.
In this article, I will cover everything you want to know about swing speed and swing rhythm (a close relative to swing speed), including some tips for beginners on developing a swing sped and rhythm that works for them.
How Fast Should a Golf Swing Be?
A golf swing needs to be fast enough that you hit the ball with enough speed to send it the necessary distance, but the speed of the entire swing also called the tempo of the swing, doesn’t matter all that much. There is no “should” when it comes to swing speed.
What does matter is the rhythm of your golf swing.
- According to Martin Hall, a well known golfing instructor and speaker, the tempo of a swing is the speed at which you swing the club.
- The rhythm of a swing is the ratio of time that it takes for you to move the club from the setup position to the top position compared to how long it takes you to go from the top position to the bottom.
The best rhythm for backswings is 3:1, meaning if the first part of the swing took 3 seconds, the last part would take 1 second. Of course, golf swings are much faster than this. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone with a four-second swing.
According to Andrew Rice, another well-known golf instructor, the average backswing of PGA Tour golfers is .75 seconds, with the downswing being .25 seconds. The whole swing takes about a second with faster swings taking a little less and slower swings taking a little more, but you’ll notice the ratio still applies. This rhythm is more important than the speed of the swing.
Can the Clubhead Speed Be Too Fast?
Clubhead speed is the speed at which the clubhead is moving as it makes contact with the golf ball. As long as the ball is well hit, you can never hit it with too much speed at the point of impact: the faster, the better in this case.
The fastest clubhead speed ever recorded is 129.2 miles per hour, according to Golf.com. This record was set by Tiger Woods at the Valspar Championship.
Can a Golf Swing Be Too Slow?
Most definitely, yes, a swing can be too slow. A slow swing will pull you out of rhythm, and you also aren’t likely to hit the ball with enough speed to send it as far as it needs to go. Remember, the speed of your club at impact is what determines the potential distance your ball will travel.
An excessively slow swing can also be a sign of overthinking. You don’t want to be thinking about every little thing while your swinging. This can result in an awkward, imprecise and ineffective swing
How Do You Know If You’re Swinging at the Right Speed and Rhythm?
So now that we’ve got out second-guessing your swing speed, you’re probably wondering how to know if your swing is out of rhythm. It isn’t easy to tell by yourself if you’re swinging fast or slow. Many golfers feel they are swinging much faster or much slower than they are.
Luckily, you have some options:
- Invest in a coaching session: An experienced professional can help you work out any speed or rhythm issues in your swing. Investing in coaching can make a huge difference in how your overall swing, but if you want to focus on rhythm, let your coach know that.
- Take some video: Video recording your golf swing can help you work out any number of problems that are going on with your swing if you know what to look for. Ask a friend to record you, or set up a tripod. You might even be able to post it to a golf forum for some feedback. Otherwise, check the time stamp and calculate the timing of each part of your swing.
- Swing Index app: Swing Index is an app for your smartphone that allows you to video and analyze your swing.
- Swing Catalyst: Swing Catalyst allows you to have your swing analyzed by computer software.
There are other apps and software out there that will analyze your swing. A quick search on the app store or online will bring up several. Take your pick based on what features are most important to you.
Swing Speed and Rhythm Tips for Beginners
Beginners usually struggle with uncontrolled, fast swings or uncontrolled, unconfident slow swings that result in a poorly hit golf ball. It is hard to swing fast with precision until you’ve got years of practice under your belt.
Here are some tips for finding your speed sweet spot as a beginner:
Focus on Your Form
As a beginner, it is really important to focus on what is considered proper form. Do some professionals break the rules and incorporate different forms into the swings? Of course, they do, but you can bet they learned proper form before they began trying to break the mold.
Focus on your form first, get that down, and then move on to speed and rhythm. If you don’t have your form down, having a good rhythm and speed isn’t going to help you.
For tips on how to master your golf form, check out this video by Data Animation on YouTube.
Don’t Rush Your Swing
Having a fast swing and having a rushed swing are two very different things. You should swing the club at a speed that feels good for you. You shouldn’t feel rushed when you swing the club, that’s when bad form and silly mistakes will slip into your golfing practice.
Find a Speed that Feels Right for You
Try not to go crazy analyzing your swing and your rhythm. If you find a slower or faster swing works for you, stick with it. Do what works, right? Everyone’s swing is different because everyone’s body is different, and many golfers approach the tee with very different attitudes and mindsets. All of these things can go into how you swing, and to try and change your swing is somewhat futile.
You might not be able to find time to practice your swing every day, but the more you practice, the more you’ll find a rhythm that works for you, and the more fluid your swing will become. Pro golfers practice for hours a day to perfect their swings. You might not have professional aspirations, but frequent practice will be certain to improve your swing.
Find drills that you can do at home to help improve your swing. The Woosh Drill is one way you practice your swing at home in your backyard or in any open space where you don’t have kids or pets running around you. This video by Essentially Golf, PGA golfer Erika Larkin demonstrates how to do this drill.
Now you should be equipped with the knowledge that you need to develop and perfect your swing speed and rhythm, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Your buddy on the golf course might comment on the speed of your swing, but your scorecard won’t lie.