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PGA Tour professionals make it look easy because they've learned to maximize the arc or width in their golf swings.
PGA Tour professionals make it look easy because they've learned to maximize the arc or width in their golf swings. (Brandon Tucker/WorldGolf.com)

Maximize hand sway to gain distance and straighten your shots

By Daryn Lawson,

DENVER - Are you wondering how PGA Tour pros make such effortless swings but still hit the ball such a long distance? If you are you are not alone. In about 85 percent of the lessons I give, I hear the comment, "If I could hit it straighter and a little further I'd play better like the pros. They make it look so easy."

Tour pro's have either been taught or have learned through experience how to maximize the arc or width in their golf swings.

At GolfTEC, a part of the swing that we measure is Hand Sway. Hand sway is a measurement of how far the hands move laterally in the golf swing on the backswing and the follow-through. The tour pro's that we've tested have a hand sway measurement of 47cm from their starting hand position by the time they stop at the top of their backswing. Most of our amateur clients measure between 20 and 35cm of hand sway.

The average tour pro's hand position at impact is 17cm in front of where their hands were at the address position. This is an indication that the pros maximize the lateral motion of their hands in their golf swing creating more distance and straighter shots. This also indicates that their shaft is leaning forward at impact. Most amateurs' hands at impact are 5cm behind the position they were at address.

The golf club passes the hands and the shaft is leaning backwards at impact. This is a big loss of power in the swing. The longer the hands maintain their distance on the backswing the bigger the arc. The further the hands are extended through impact, the longer the clubhead moves down the target line.

A longer arc and more extension down the target line will create greater distance and straighter shots. This is what you've seen on television or if you've had a chance to see a live pro tournament. This hand sway is a "good sway" to have in your golf swing!

Golf tip: Maximizing your hand sway

Let me give you some help on maximizing your hand sway. First, from your address position, it is very important to start your backswing by extending the golf club as far back and straight as possible without falling off balance. This will keep the club traveling back on the correct path and increase the width of your golf swing.

The further you can keep your hands away from your chest maximizing your hand sway width, the greater your potential for distance. If this is done correctly your body and golf club will be in a very good position to start your downswing and you will have completed the first step to gaining more distance.

As a check, make a swing and stop at the top, have a friend pull your hands further away from your chest. If they pull and your hands and club move more than 3 inches, you have not maintained good hand sway. Do this drill until your friend can not pull your hands away from your chest.

Second, from the new position at the top of your swing through the finish of your swing you must maintain the distance from your chest for as long as possible. This will give you extension and the look of the effortless swing that the pros seem to exhibit. Maintaining your hand sway to the finish gives you the best possible chance of hitting it straight by allowing the club to stay on the target line longer.

Try this drill. Make mini-swings with a ball teed up. Take the club about half way back and on the down swing try to lead with your top hand (for right handed golfers that is your left hand) and hit the ball on the follow-through only after you have checked that your top hand has passed the ball. You should start with very slow swings until you are sure that your top hand is leading and the golf club is square at impact. You can speed up and lengthen your swing until you reach the top of your backswing.

Want to know your hand sway? Let us measure your hand sway and help you maximize your distance and directional control. Good luck and see you further down the fairway! If you have any questions, please contact the store location nearest you or call 1-877-4GOLFTEC. Golftec is also on the web at www.golftec.com.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • hand sway

    sandbag wrote on: Mar 6, 2013

    it would be easier for me to understand if you provided the reason/s why it would lead to longer distances and not just because pro's do it.


  • hand-sway

    nicholas demetriades wrote on: Aug 27, 2010

    The biggest reason the pros can maintain this distance in hand sway is their superior conditioning, flexibility, balance, coordination and amount of time spent playing and practicing the game of golf. Therefore one should become more flexible, increase their strength and fitness level until their bodies are capable of accomplishing close to a pro level swing. Good luck.


  • Still not clear on what is hand sway..

    hspace wrote on: Mar 10, 2006

    Laterally? Distance from chest? A simple diagram would be helpful.
    I'm not clear on what the hand sway is, or how a friend should help with the "less-than-3-inches" test..


  • instruction

    chester chiku wrote on: Sep 27, 2004

    The tips are very good and they could be better if they were backed by diagrams or pictures to fully understand what you are conveying