How to Mirror Great Golf Swings - dummies

By Gary McCord

You watch golf pros make amazing swings every weekend, and you want to swing like they do. But can you? Yes! If you study another person’s swing long enough and then practice what you observe, you, too, can swing like the pros.

Sports science even supports this approach. Research suggests that watching someone perform an action can be almost as helpful as doing it yourself. It activates “mirror neurons” in the brain that can help you imitate the action. When he was a toddler, Tiger Woods spent many hours watching his father hit golf balls — and when Tiger took his first whacks with a cut-down club, he already had a pretty good swing.

Phil Mickelson may be an even better example. A natural right-hander who was 18 months old when he began imitating his father, Phil literally mirrored what he saw — by swinging lefty!

No matter what your skill level, you can improve by observing good players. Check out these tips:

  • Start by identifying your goals. Do you want to emulate the game’s big bombers, guys like Davis Love III, Bubba Watson, and Dustin Johnson, who regularly blast drives beyond 300 and even 350 yards? Or do you want to follow the short-game experts, such as all-time great Walter Hagen and tour veteran Brad Faxon? Phil Mickelson is long off the tee and has a great lob wedge. Tiger Woods, at his best, does everything well.

  • Pay attention to players with some of the same characteristics that you have. Look for similarities in body size, pace, and shape of swing.

  • Copy someone whose swing speed is similar to yours. Maybe swing speed is your demon. Don’t copy someone just because you admire them. The pace you use should be as natural for you as tour golfers’ swings are for them. Copy a pro who swings at about the same speed you do.

    Down through the years, Ben Crenshaw, Nancy Lopez, and Jay Haas have displayed slow-paced swings. Ernie Els has a syrup-smooth motion that builds great power at impact. Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead, and Annika Sorenstam all won with medium-paced swings. Ben Hogan, Lanny Wadkins, and Tom Watson swung fast.

    [Credit: Photo © Thomas]
    Credit: Photo © Thomas
  • Notice how the attitudes of famous players affect not only how they play but also how much they enjoy the game. Arnold Palmer was a master of special shots and a bold golfer. Other daring players include Mickelson and Ireland’s Rory McIlroy. Fred Funk is a Champions Tour fan favorite whose love for the game is infectious.

    On the other end of the attitude spectrum, you find Ben Hogan, a perfectionist who surrendered not to any other player but only to the yips. Other perfectionists include Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Annika Sorenstam, and many of the Asian players doing so well on today’s LPGA tour — hard workers like Jiyai Shin and Song-Hee Kim of South Korea, and Japan’s Ai Miyazato.

  • Learn from the mistakes others make under pressure. Just don’t mirror those!

Whomever you choose to emulate, keep in mind that golf is an individualist’s game. You can mix and match facets of great players’ styles, or develop your own — whatever works for you.