Golf Swing Drill: Use the “No-Backswing Golf Swing” Like Justin Thomas

Symptom:  You have heard of the no backswing golf swing drill but don’t know how to do it. You wonder if using a no backswing swing could help.

You sometimes lose your balance, and your backswing goes too long or past parallel.  Your playing companions call you “Happy Feet” as your feet slip and your ball slices off to the right yet again…

Description: Tee up the ball.  Take a stance like a baseball player, with your left arm parallel to the ground and the club at 90 degrees to your left arm.  Alternately, put the club shaft parallel to the ground, toe up, in perfect position. Make a small backswing from this position and then execute the golf shot.

Justin Thomas using no backswing golf swing to warm up no swing golf no backswing no backswing swing no backswing golf swing
Justin Thomas using a no backswing golf swing drill to help warm up at the driving range.

Why it works: Many golfers have a backswing that is much too long or fast, and it robs them of both power and control.  The no backswing golf swing puts the club in the proper downswing position, so you can execute a solid and crisp downswing.

The No Backswing Golf Swing Gives You Perfect Downswing Position

This is a big advantage for you.  Indeed, when you do this drill for the first time, you might actually be in the correct position to strike the golf ball for the first time in your life!  (There certainly is a lot of ways to get into the wrong position as you attack the ball on the downswing).  Once you feel the proper downswing position, you will find it easier to get back there on your full swing.

Justin Thomas shows us how to execute the no backswing swing as he warms up for this golf clinic.  He does this warmup drill several times between 0:23 and 1:10.  Have a look.


Justin uses the no backswing swing for warmups, but you will be amazed at how straight and far you can hit the ball with this very modest backswing.  Gradually increase the length of your backswing, but as soon as you lose power or control, go back to the shorter backswing.

The hope is that once you realize the right downswing position from no backswing drill, you will alter your full swing to get back to this perfect position.

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Golf Swing Drill: Learn the Proper Golf Swing Path With a Three Step Drill

Symptom: Your golf swing path is too steep, causing you to hit behind the golf ball, or worse.  You long for a proper golf swing path that just works better most of the time.

Head shaking and cursing under your breath are common.  You want to enjoy the game a bit more and win some money from your playing partners for a change…

Overview: A proper golf swing path is not hard to learn with this three step drill:

  1. On the range, put a golf tee in in the ground in front of your golf ball about eight inches away, on your target line.
  2. Let about an inch of the tee show above the ground.
  3. When you swing to hit your golf ball, make sure you clip the tee with your club on your follow through.
Tom Lehman golf swing at address and after impact proper golf swing path
Tom Lehman’s club hugs the ground well beyond impact with the golf ball.

Why it works: Chunking, duffing, and hitting behind the ball are caused by a downswing that is too steep, and often over the top. You need to keep the lag in your downswing and go for more of a sweeping motion on your downswing, which will give you a full release on the follow through.  Hitting the tee beyond the ball on your target line requires this motion.  You will hit the ball, then the ground, and then clip the tee, just as you should.  Straighter, more powerful shots will result.

It will feel odd at first.  This is good.  After all, if you have this swing fault, it’s because you do not have a proper golf swing path.  Fixing it will feel strange at first.

Tom Lehman’s Proper Golf Swing Path

To demonstrate this action, let’s have a look at Tom Lehman.  Tom has been one of the best ball strikers on the PGA Tour, and now the Champions Tour, for many years.  Watch Tom deliver an incredibly shallow, descending blow to the ball with a mid iron from the fairway:

To understand his motion in more detail, have a look at Lehman at the start of the takeaway, during his Starter Move to initiate the swing, and just after impact:

Tom’s sweeping motion at impact keeps the clubface in the proper hitting position well beyond the original ball position.  This is the true meaning of a proper golf swing path.  This leads to greater consistency because this swing path delivers a shallow, descending blow that is very reproducible.  And it tends to promote a draw, which is a good thing for most Occasional Golfers.

Tom would have easily clipped the tee on his target line with his follow through!  You can do it too!

It’s an easy concept to understand — if your clubface is only in the right position to strike the ball for an inch or two (a few percent, really) of your entire downswing, it’s incredibly difficult to always strike the ball crisply.  You will be erratic.  And frustrated.  There are just too many ways things can go awry.  Why not maximize your chances of a clean strike by having your clubface in excellent position as you impact the ball and well beyond?  That’s what Tom Lehman is showing us here.

And this is the true essence of the common golf exhortation, “Stay Down”.  I prefer to rephrase this as, “Keep your clubface low through impact on your target line”.  It’s much more descriptive and useful.

Will you give the “tee on the target line” drill a try at the range?  Then tell your friends!  Like, Share, Tweet, +1, or Email below!

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Golf Putting Tip: Miss Your Putts on the High Side, Past the Hole

Symptom: You don’t miss your putts on the high side of the hole.  Instead you miss on the low side.

Seldom is there a need to watch your ball all the way to the hole because, well, it falls below the hole halfway to the cup and so cannot possibly go in.  So you look away in disgust, and start walking towards the hole while your ball is still rolling…

Description:  Play a bit more break on your putts, so that if you miss, your golf ball misses on the high side of the hole, not the low side.  

Why it works: Putts that miss on the low side cannot go in the hole.  Obviously.  Putts that are tracking to the hole on the high side might go in the hole.

Jim Furyk sets the all time PGA Tour scoring record of 58 miss putts on the high side past the hole
Jim Furyk sets the all time PGA Tour scoring record of 58.

The High Side is the Pro Side

You will seldom see a pro miss a putt on the low side.  If they do, it is usually because they did not have enough pace on the putt for the ball to end up past the hole. This is why the “high side” is often called the “pro side”.  If you are going to miss, your miss needs to be on the high side.

The worst putt is the one that misses low and doesn’t make it to the hole.  The next best is the putt that misses on the high side, but doesn’t make it all the way to the hole.   Better still is the putt that makes it to the hole, but misses low.   The miss that you want is the miss that ends up past the hole, on the high side.

Of course, the putt that goes in the hole is the best of all! Jim Furyk’s amazing round of 58 is worth a look.  He makes seven straight birdies but fails to hole the putt for his eighth straight birdie.  Where does he miss?   You guessed it — on the high side (1:59).

Check it out:

If you should miss your putt past the hole, you have a lot of advantages over your buddies who leave it short.  For one, you know what the comeback putt is going to do, which gives you more confidence for your next putt.  And you know that downhill putts have more break, so you can hit your next putt at the right pace. All-in-all, you are much better off with your misses on the high side, past the hole. Please let us know if this tip works for you! Like, Share, Tweet, or Email below!  

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Golf Strategy: Recognize and Don’t Aim at the Sucker Pin Placement!

Symptom: You aim at the pin, even the sucker pin, no matter where it is on the green. You aren’t thinking about the pin placement, just about knocking it close like the guys on TV.

But, alas, often a well-struck shot ends up in the rough or the bunker, challenging your short game and costing you strokes.  “But I hit a good shot,” you mutter as you go see if the ball held up on the bank or rolled into the water.

Overview: Do not fire at the golf pin, especially a sucker pin.  Aim for the middle of the green instead.  Do this always.

Why it works: The essence of this tip is to manage your mistakes.  If you take an aggressive line, and hit something other than a perfect shot (which happens a lot to Occasional Golfers), you put yourself in a very tough position around the green.

Almost Every Pin Placement is Actually a Sucker Pin

Aim away from the sucker pin in the back left of this green. pin placement golf pin sucker pin
Aim away from the sucker pin in the back left of this green.

What are the odds of you sticking that ball within a few feet for a tap-in birdie like the highlight shows on TV?  Don’t you realize that the pros usually aim for the middle of the green too, and that a shot right next to the pin is often a mis-hit?  Why not aim for the middle of the green, or the fat part of the green, or whatever line gives you the best chance making sure your next shot is a putt and not a bunker shot or chip shot?

Often, I see Occasional Golfers who don’t give the matter much thought.  They see the flag, they aim at the flag, they fire at the flag.  Indeed, that is what you do on the driving range, right?  You aim at the flag.  But that is the driving range, not the golf course.  On the golf course you need to aim at a point that allows a less-than-perfect shot to avoid a major disaster.  Pick a tree in back of the green, or a chimney of a roof, or something else to aim at.  Don’t allow this mental lapse to sabotage your game!

To hit the green with high probability, then, you will often need to play left or right of the flag.  Be sure to pick something to aim at, and align your clubface to a spot on your target line.  Then don’t look at the flag again, look only at your intended target and your aiming point.

No matter how good you are at chipping and bunker shots, you are better off on the green!  So stop firing at sucker pins!  You’ll be on the green more often, and you’ll avoid those big, ugly numbers on your scorecard!

Remember — most every pin is actually a sucker pin.  Aim at the middle of the green instead.

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Golf Swing Lesson: A Slow Backswing Doesn’t Hurt Your Golf Swing Speed

Salt was musing at how nearly every high handicapper he met was obsessed with their golf swing speed.  They wrongly equated a slow backswing with a slow golf swing.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Just them Salt saw a curious gentleman in the distance. Or rather, he heard him. He was pounding drivers on the range, one after the other.

He could hit the ball a long way indeed. Sometimes he would carry his drives 250 yards, very long for an amateur. Salt was watching him hit ball after ball with a furious intensity that intrigued him.

The man was working up a sweat from his high impact aerobic workout.

Not every drive was perfect, though. Sometimes he missed badly, maybe 40 yards right or left. Death on most good golf courses.

Salt did not know the man, and the man did not know Salt. So he stood politely at a distance, watching.

The man hit another fifteen balls before taking a break and looking up. It was the opening Salt needed.

A Slow Backswing Can Help You

“Good afternoon, I’m Salt.”

“Hello, I’m Jim. Pleased to meet you, Salt. Not every day I meet a man named Salt. Don’t tell me your last name is Pepper!” Jim was enthusiastic and warm, a friendly sort. Instantly likable.

“How’s the practice session going Jim?” asked Salt, ignoring the question for the moment.

“Great. I’m getting good distance on my driver.”  Salt nodded.

“I’d like a little more consistency, though. I guess we all would.”

Salt approved. “Yes, consistency is the foundation of the game.”

“What do you do for a living, Salt?” asked Jim?

“Oh, I help out around here, this and that, giving golf lessons and so on,” Salt replied.

“You’re a golf teacher? Wow. What do you think of my swing? How can I get more power?  I want to amp up my golf swing speed.”

Salt knew that people tend to want more of what they already have, not what they really need. So he was cautious.

“Well, Jim, I was watching you hit balls and I’d like to make a suggestion”.

“OK, shoot”.

“Jim, I’d like you to slow down your backswing. Just a bit.  Try a slow backswing for me.”

“Slow down? But I don’t want to lose power.  I am focused on hitting at least 106 mph golf swing speed.” Jim was just a bit defensive.

A Slow Backswing Can Generate Great Golf Swing Speed

Gary Woodland just after impact driver slow backswing golf swing speed slow golf swing
Gary Woodland has a slow steady backswing but generates tremendous power on the downswing.

“Jim, what part of the swing do you use to hit the ball?”

Jim was confused. “Well, the downswing, of course.” He thought for a moment. “I see. What matters is the power in my downswing, not a fast backswing”.

“Yes,” said Salt.  “The only real purpose of a backswing is to store energy in your body that you release in the downswing.  What matters is how well you store that energy, and how well you are positioned for your downswing.”

Jim pondered this for a moment.

“Maybe take a few practice swings with a little slower backswing and see how it goes,” suggested Salt.   “Think of Gary Woodland’s swing.  He hits the ball a long, long way, with great control, and a very compact, slow, and controlled backswing.”

Jim remembered seeing Gary Woodland’s swing on TV, and recalled how stable and controlled his swing looked from start to balanced finish:

The Slow Backswing Test

Jim did as Salt requested. His swings improved instantly. Jim was a fine athlete; it took a lot of ability to gyrate as he did and still hit decent shots.  He also had an excellent setup position which helped a great deal.

“Shall I hit one Salt?”

“By all means, have at it.  But first put down a club on your target line so we are sure you are aiming correctly.”

And Jim did. His first shot was straight but a little weaker than usual.

His next shot, though, was very good. The third shot was the longest of the day, and straight. As was the fourth.  Jim found that he was actually attacking the ball with more swing speed with a slow backswing.  He surely did not have a slow golf swing as he had feared.

“Salt, I can’t believe it. Thank you. I owe you. Would you like a beer? Sorry about my wise crack earlier.”

Salt had moved along the range already. He waved at Jim. “No problem. Come back soon,” said Salt.

Did you like this short story about slowing down your backswing and focusing on your downswing?  Then please tell your friends — Like, Share, Tweet, or Email below!

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