Golf Swing Tempo Guide: 5 Cues To Perfect It

If you are an experienced golfer you have probably heard tons of swing tips from other players – Keep your head still. Turn, don’t slide. It’s all in the hips. Stay on plane.

Wise golfer Roy McAvoy in the famous movie Tin Cup once noted “Tempo is all” – But how often do you hear about your golf swing tempo?

While golf swing tempo may not be the most talked-about swing tip, it’s amongst the most important.

In this article, we’ll run you through:

  • What is golf swing tempo?
  • Why is golf swing tempo important?
  • 5 cues to perfect your gold swing tempo.

Let’s get into it.

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What Is Golf Swing Tempo?

A simple definition of golf swing tempo would be the quickness or speed of your swing, but that over-simplifies it.

You can find professional golfers with “quick” or “slower” swings. The key is the consistency of your tempo throughout your swing sequence.

You need to be able to maintain your golf swing tempo on every shot. You don’t want it to change based on the club or shot you are trying to hit.

Timing is critical when hitting the ball and there are pieces of your swing that the correct tempo will determine if you hit a good shot or a poor one.

You may sometimes hear golfers say that a “smooth” uninterrupted swing is best. But this isn’t strictly true – you want smooth speed in your swing, but you need that speed to be released at the correct time.

Why Is Golf Swing Tempo Important?

The correct golf swing rhythm or ‘tempo’ is key to reducing volatility in your shots and on your scorecard.

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If your golf swing tempo breaks down at the wrong time, you will hit wild golf shots.

It can cause duck hooks, tops, or can simply make you mis-hit the ball. Plus, you’ll often lose your balance as well.

A player with poor golf swing tempo will be inconsistent. They will hit some good shots, but their bad shots will lead to penalties and high scores

. . . So, Invest Time In Your Golf Swing Tempo

Golf is not a game of perfect. Every round you play will include some poor golf shots. The key is learning to play these poor shots.

Golf swing rhythm is a tricky concept. You won’t develop the perfect tempo after one range session.

But don’t get frustrated. Stick with it. Golf is a marathon, not a sprint. Invest time in practicing your golf swing tempo and you will see improvement.

Related Article: Can A Shorter Backswing Improve Your Game?

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5 Cues To Perfect Your Golf Swing Tempo

The tempo of your golf swing can be a tricky thing to work on, as it can be pretty difficult to feel the speed of your swing.

But hopefully, with the 5 golf swing tempo drills below, you’ll soon be seeing your progress. The best indicator for whether you’re improving will be more consistent ball striking.

#1: Focus On Your Transition

The most common mistake made related to golf swing tempo is going too fast during your transition – leading to various issues, the most common being a duck or snap hook.

Transition is the time between completing your backswing and starting your downswing – also referred to as the “top of your swing”.

The transition is a small part of your golf swing – but getting it right is critical to perfecting your golf swing tempo.

If you don’t have a slight pause at the top of your swing, then your golf swing tempo needs work.

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To see this swing-pause concept exaggerated, check out the 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama swing the golf club. Hideki’s swing pauses so much that it basically stops at the top.

# 2: Count To Two (1-&-2)

Our favorite full golf swing tempo drill is simply called “1-&-2”. A basic concept that can do wonders for your game.

For this method, as you swing the club to hit a shot, slowly count “1 and 2”. “1” should be your backswing. “and” is your transition. “2” should be your downswing.

You will be amazed at how different your swing feels if you perform this drill correctly. You may notice your transition for the first time.

There is another benefit of this drill. While working on your golf swing tempo (with 1&2), you may also develop some lag – which will improve your ball striking, helping to shift the ball farther and straighter as you hit.

#3: Start Slow And Low

Rule number three is to start slow and low. Jerking the club back quickly from your setup position will immediately get you out of sync.

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To avoid making this mistake, your first move should be to drab the club back along the ground – i.e. keeping it low.

Don’t pick it up off the ground or take it back quickly. This will not only help your golf swing tempo but will also get you started on the correct swing plane.

Golfers with fast takeaways tend to pull the club to the inside on the way back – this is a dangerous position and can lead to hooks or even shanks.

When it comes to starting your golf swing, don’t be in a hurry. Take your time and keep it slow and low.

#4: Where Is Your Speed? Listen Closely

Finding the perfect golf swing tempo doesn’t mean you have to swing softly or easily. You need speed, but it must be activated in the correct place, at the correct time.

You want the club to be traveling its fastest right after impact.

Many high-handicappers have speed at transition or too early in their downswing. This causes inconsistent ball striking and loss of distance.

Golf Swing Tempo Guide 5 Cues To Perfect It

We have the perfect golf swing tempo drill to determine if have speed in the right place. To perform this drill you need a golf aiming stick.

The good news is that you can find golf aiming sticks for as little as $10 each. A great investment in your game.

Hold the golf aiming stick as if it was a club and take your normal swing without hitting the ground. Swing hard and the stick will make a noise (a “whoosh”).

Where do you hear the “whoosh”? Ideally, you want to hear it past where the golf ball would be (in other words, past impact).

If you hear the “whoosh” at the top of your swing or during your downswing you know you need to work on your golf swing tempo.

Keep swinging the golf aiming stick until you can make the noise in front of the impact position. Now grab a golf club and try to recreate that swing.

This golf swing tempo drill will improve your swing sequence and help you gain more distance. It will put your speed in the right place!

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#5: Monitor Your Balance – Hold Your Pose

Some golfers will struggle to think about golf swing rhythm/tempo (both the same thing!) when hitting shots. If #1 to #4 don’t work for you, change your focus to balance.

It is a different way to achieve the same result. You must have a great golf swing tempo to make a balanced golf swing. Can you make a full golf swing and finish on balance? Can you hold your pose until the ball hits the ground?

It is more challenging than it sounds. When you are practicing on the driving range monitor your balance after every shot.

Ask yourself; how often can you stay balanced and how do those shots compare to ones where you fall off balance? We bet there is a significant distance.

The key is to be on balance throughout your golf swing. Think about it during your backswing, transition, and downswing.

Stay on balance and magically your golf swing tempo will improve.

The best thing about the game of golf?

You can always get better – you never quite master it. Even Tiger Woods changed his swing after winning 10 major championships.

If you now feel pretty good about your golf swing tempo, try getting more distance from perfecting your weight transfer or try improving your game by learning by paying attention to your divots.

Photo of author
Ray has played golf for over 30 years and competed at the collegiate level. He enjoys growing the game of golf through coaching PGA Jr. and High School golf teams. Ray continues to play in local amateur golf events and currently has a +1 handicap.

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