It’s understandable that golfers might give their primary attention to the parts of their swing that precede hitting the golf ball, with one main objective: hitting the ball.
At this point in the swing, however, your work as a golfer is only half done.
Following through correctly in your golf swing can be a huge influence on the success of the whole shot, and will go a long way to helping you play more consistent golf.
Are you someone who struggles to get their body through the golf ball? Or perhaps find yourself awkwardly off balance after the ball is struck?
This article will guide you through everything you need to know about perfecting your golf swing follow through.
What Is The Golf Swing Follow Through?
The golf swing follow through concerns everything that happens after your club has made contact with the ball.
You might have noticed tour pro players on TV holding that signature finishing pose at the end of their swing as they watch the ball fly down the fairway. Club over the shoulders, trail foot on tiptoes.
This finale posture is a great look for the cameras, but it isn’t all for show.
The golf swing follow through acts as a reflection of how well all of the prior parts to the swing have been executed.
It represents how weight and momentum have been shifted forward through the body and how balanced the overall swing has been.
This is the final motion the body and club path make in the completion of the swing, resulting in a controlled ending posture which can be held for as long as seen fit by the player.
Why Is The Follow Through Important?
To make a clean and reliable strike, you need to get your whole body through the ball, not just the club.
The momentum that your swing generates has to go somewhere when your club meets the ball – your golf swing follow through is what facilitates this.
It helps you maintain swinging velocity through the point of impact and is crucial in channeling the direction you want your swinging momentum and ball to travel in.
Without a proper follow through it’s likely your ball won’t fly as intended and you’ll become off-balanced as a result of neglecting the finish.
How To Perform The Golf Swing Follow Through Correctly
In golf, each swing you come to make will be slightly different, but most share the same principles in their follow-through – with the common goal of getting the body through the shot.
Here are 5 steps to perfecting the golf swing follow through:
1. Chest Points At Target
At the end of your golf swing your chest should finish facing directly at the target.
Aim to get your upper body to transition from facing down and parallel to the target at setup, to pointing up and forwards towards the flag in the follow through.
Visualizing your chest facing the target as your ‘end goal’ in the swing can be a simple but effective tip to helping you get through the shot as this naturally prompts your body to open up.
To get your upper body into this position, you need your hips to clear in the downswing towards the target too.
Having this intention with your chest will encourage rotation in the hips and leverage your body’s momentum towards the target so that you can finish proudly in your golf swing follow through.
Ending your swing facing the target will help you to square the club face at impact and hit the golf ball straighter more consistently, ironing out those wayward slices that can result from not getting through the shot properly.
2. Weight Shifts To Lead Foot
It is important to send your weight and momentum forwards through the body during the follow through.
In the golf swing, weight typically begins shared across both feet at the point of setup, then moves into the trail foot upon takeaway before finally shifting almost entirely into the lead foot from the downswing into the follow through.
The player should typically have about 80-90% of their body weight in the lead foot at the end position of their swing.
You’ll find that the weight falls on the outside edge of the lead foot whilst it remains parallel to the target during the follow through.
Your golf setup plays an important role in assisting a balanced golf swing follow through.
Golfers will ensure their lead foot is flared outward at setup to accommodate for the speed at which weight and momentum arrive together when the swing comes to an end. This helps you not fall off your stance in the follow through.
3. Trail Foot Heel Raised
During your follow through, something has to ‘give’ in your stance to allow for the momentum to propel forwards through the golf swing – this occurs in the trail foot.
In the golf swing follow through, the trail foot pivots on its toe line whilst the heel raises up in the air.
This looks like about a 90 degree turn anticlockwise (for right handed golfers), trail knee included, towards the target.
Your trail toes will host the remaining 10-20% of your body weight at the end of your golf swing follow through, acting as a point of balance for the lead foot.
4. Arms Fully Extended
You should allow for a full extension of both your arms directly following the strike of the golf ball before they lap over your shoulders.
Aim to get your club to extend down the line of your target initially after impact by straightening the arms.
At this point of extension, there will be some natural rotation in the forearms where the right hand folds over the left (for right handed players).
Extending your arms in the follow through helps to ensure your arms don’t buckle or wrap around the body too early or bend in an incorrect direction.
This will help promote a full completion of the swing’s path with your club.
5. Finish Position
Finally, your end goal for the swing is to get your club resting over the back of your lead shoulder behind your head.
Your lead elbow has tucked inside, your trail hand on top, and the club has come all the way across the body as you’ve opened up, completing the full arc in your swing.
You should be able to hold this end position until your ball lands.
Being completely balanced in your finishing position will indicate a controlled swing.
Bonus step: Make a divot after the ball.
Not all clubs will require making a divot in the follow through, but with irons for example, creating a divot just after the ball is a good sign you’ve got through the shot. Learn all about divots here!
Common Mistakes In The Golf Swing Follow Through
Being able to identify what is going wrong in your finishing position will be valuable to improving not only your follow through but your swing as a whole.
Here are some common reasons why you might be struggling to follow through on your golf swing:
Quitting The Swing Follow Through Too Early
Don’t give up on your swing as soon as the ball’s been played. It’s easy to think what happens after the ball’s in flight is largely irrelevant.
Quitting your swing too early will mean your finishing position will be unpredictable and you’ll be prone to deceleration in club velocity at the point of impact.
Above all, this will hinder your shot consistency and you won’t reap any of the crucial benefits discussed above.
Lack Of Extension In The Arms
A lack of extension in your arms after impact can lead to hooked shots or slices depending on which way your arms buckle too early.
This affects a consistent club path in the follow through where, instead, you might be carving across the ball or ending your follow through too short.
If you’re a player who suffers from the dreaded ‘chicken wing’ arm posture after striking the ball, this happens when you bend your lead elbow towards the sky in your follow through, rather than extending your arms together.
Doing this restricts the amount you can open your body up in the follow through and you’ll be prone to leaving your club face open.
Getting Caught On The Back Foot
Don’t get caught with your weight on the back foot at the end of your follow through.
This is a sign you haven’t transferred your momentum forwards in the swing and therefore haven’t got through the ball properly.
You need your trail foot to raise in order to shift that weight into the lead foot.
Getting caught on the back foot will mean you’ll struggle to make a divot after the ball, lifting back in the shot rather than hitting down and through the ball.
Maintain Spine Angle
As your body exits the impact position, try to maintain the angle of your spine you establish when you setup to the ball.
This will also help to avoid lifting out of your shot too early which is a common cause of slicing the ball.
Over/Undershooting The Upper Body
Lastly, you can follow through too much in your swing whereby your torso turns too far and overshoots the target.
This is normally indicative of the body getting ahead of the shot which is common to see in players trying to hit the ball as hard as they can.
This is in contrast to an incomplete swing where the upper body doesn’t reach as far as the target in the follow through.
Next time you’re on the course take the time to treat your golf swing follow through with the same priority as the rest of your swing and you’ll improve your consistency in no time!