Looking for ways to improve the tempo of your golf swing? Good idea. After all, they say tempo is the "glue" that holds a good swing together.
I'm an avid golfer, a 9.2 handicap on my way to a 2 (been a 5.6) and frequent tester of golf clubs and equipment since 2015.
In this short & sweet article on tempo in the golf swing, I define tempo and I explain the best golf swing tempo drills and tips I could find, plus any resources to help you get the job done faster.
First, what is golf swing tempo?
It's the amount of time it takes for you to complete a golf swing. From the start of your backswing until your follow-through.
A fast tempo isn't necessarily bad and a slow tempo necessarily good.
Fast Tempo PGA Pros: Nick Price, Jon Rahm, Lanny Wadkins
- All major champs
Slow Tempo PGA Pros: Sam Snead, Ernie Els, Freddie Couples, Jason Dufner
- All major champs
What swing tempo is often confused with: Rhythm. If tempo is a measurement of speed, and it is. Rhythm is sequence - how your body moves in your swing. I think of it as the "look" of the swing.
Ok, why is good golf swing tempo important?
Consistency. One of the keys to consistently good golf is to have a consistently good swing and consistent tempo is part of having a good swing... consistently
Copying Jon Rahm's tempo on one swing and Freddie Couples on the next is a recipe for pain. It's either/or or somewhere in between. But, do it every time.
There's no perfect golf swing tempo for everyone but there is a widely accepted ratio for backswing vs. downswing - 3:1. Your backswing should take about 3x longer than your downswing no matter your tempo.
How can I improve my golf swing tempo?
Drills and training aids. There are a number of both that will help you improve your swing tempo. Either way, you're going to have to work at it. Take heart, you can improve your tempo quickly.
Golf Swing Tempo Drills
These two drills or minor variations are well-known in golf teaching circles.
Drill #1 - Leapfrog Drill (Courtesy of Eric Cogorno)
- Use your full swing, but hit shots of varying lengths.
- You will need to drastically slow your temp as you start this drill to hit the shortest shots, then go up to your normal tempo - or a better version of your normal tempo.
1- Grab your favorite iron (mine has been 8-iron in every set I've ever owned)
2- With your full swing distance in mind, take a full swing and hit the ball about 40% or so of your normal yardage.
- I hit my 8-iron about 155 yard normally. So, my first shot might go 60-70 yards. It's going to be hard to be precise when you're first trying this drill
3- Take another full swing and try to fly the ball about 20 yards past your first ball.
4- Do the same until you are up to your full distance.
It may take a few sessions until you get good with this drill. But, it's well worth it.
Drill #2 - Count Aloud as You Swing (Courtesy of Martin Hall & Ian Highfield)
This version of counting out loud during of your swing has you start as you step into your address position.
The advantage of this approach is it encourages you not to hang out in your address position trying to get comfortable. Mechanics are forced from your mind. You get into "execution" mode.
1- Start with "one" as you step into address and begin your backswing
2- Continue counting, making sure not to rush or add tension in your voice or in your body
3- Count until your are into your follow through
Do this a few times until you find the number that feels the best and produces the best results. You'll likely end up somewhere between 5 to 7.
Golf Swing Tempo Training Aids
There are a few great training aids made especially to help you build good tempo. The best known & seemingly most popular training aid for tempo is the Orange Whip. I spot it in golf bags all the time at the course and in the bags of pros on tv.
I own a couple myself. The SKLZ Gold Flex, which I bought a couple years ago. And, the Lag Shot 7-iron, driver, and wedge. Which I got about a year ago.
I regard the Orange Whip and SKLZ Gold as identical... basically. The Orange Whip is more expensive, but comes with beaucoup training.
My issue with both is, 1) I can't swing on my correct plane because they are both about 48" long 2) I can't hit balls with them. This is an issue because I don't know if my beautiful tempo has me squaring the clubface and swinging on my correct path.
The Lag Shot wedge, driver, and iron solve both of those problems. I get instant feedback in addition to building a fundamentally better swing without a lot of head trash (swing thoughts). Lag Shot also comes with a 10-part video training series.
Thanks for checking out my golf swing tempo guide and let me know how the drills work for you.