5 Beautifully Basic Swing Tips with Mike Diffley

Mike Diffley, 2013 Met PGA Teacher of the Year, tells us how to build a solid, consistent swing

1 Let’s start with balance, the basis of everything. If you move back on your heels or forward on your toes during the swing, your hands and body will try to compensate in some way to get the club head to the ball. That will change all kinds of things in your swing for the worse. You can’t fix any other swing flaw until you swing in balance. When you want to improve, you need to start by doing something harder than your desired end result. Swinging a club while standing on the foam log is a lot harder than swinging with your feet on the ground. If you can keep in balance on the log, you can do it on the ground.

mike diffley
Photographs by John Fortunato

2 Every player I’ve ever taught has asked me how to get more consistent results from their swing. One key is to work on a one-piece takeaway. We want the hands and body to work in sync. You don’t want to be too hands-oriented because then you underuse your body, don’t get as much power, and you have less control of the club. You want to start moving the club with your shoulders or your chest, not your hands. Hands players do not produce power and they do not produce consistency.

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mike diffley

3 Practice your tempo — and slow it down! You almost can’t swing too slowly. In all my years of teaching, I’ve probably only told two people to swing faster. Swinging in tempo lets your hands and body square the club face to the proper line. It also lets your body shift its weight in the right sequence for maximum power.

mike diffley

4 Now relax and let it go. Remember, the golf swing is not vertical, nor is it horizontal or flat. It follows a tilted circle. When you swing along that path, you get more consistent results.

mike diffley

5 Now that you have a solid swing, let’s go where it all really begins — in your head with a sound pre-shot routine. The main thing is not to get tied up with mechanics. You get robotic and try to create a perfect move, which just creates tension. Tension is the enemy of the golf swing. I start behind the ball, visualizing the shot I want to hit. I will not walk up to the ball until I “see” the curvature and height of the ball flight, as well as the target. When I’m ready, I take a step toward the ball and take a breath in, then one out, to release tension. Then I step up to the ball, check the club face for alignment, set my body to the club, and take my grip last because I don’t want to build tension by gripping it earlier. Then I waggle and go.

mike diffley


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