Its A Right-Sided Swing

Why hitting with the left is a flawed theory

AddressGolf is simple. Check that–golf should be simple. After all, the swing is basically a takeaway and a downswing. Like when you throw a baseball–you rear back then let it go. Then why do millions of golfers have such difficulty making consistent, solid contact? In my opinion, it’s because the golf swing requires coordination of not only all moving parts, but synchronization of the two halves of your body, the left and right. Each has a specific role in the swing, and if one does the other’s job, chances of success dwindle dramatically.

For years, golfers have been taught that the golf swing is a left-sided motion. Proponents of the left-sided swing claim that allowing the left side to dominate better keeps the club on plane and promotes greater accuracy. No disagreement with that here. The pulling motion of the left-sided swing certainly traces a more solid route back to the golf ball and, without a doubt, makes it almost impossible to push the ball to the right.

Furthermore, it’s the left side that leads the weight shift toward the target. But that’s not all there is to a repeatable, powerful golf swing. Equally important is how the right side of the body performs. As the left side leads, it’s just as crucial for the right side to turn and release through the ball. Both halves are critical to successful ballstriking._Ê

TopThe problem many amateurs face is they’re consistently told to swing with the left and, in turn, wind up forgetting how the right side of the body should work. For one, it’s quite easy to pull the club to the inside of the target line, which, as you probably know, can create dead pulls to the left or, if the face is left open, a slice. Often, focusing solely on the left side results in sliding the entire body in front of the ball without properly turning the body through impact. In my experience, it’s this error–getting ahead of the ball without turning properly with the right side–that forces millions of golfers to hit shots far worse than what they’re capable of and post scores much higher than they should.

If you ever take a lesson from me, I’ll show you the benefits of hitting with the right side of your body. Hitting with the right side fuels a simpler swing and, believe it or not, increases power. Plus, it takes better advantage of your natural right-handed abilities (for all you right-handers out there) and, most importantly, allows you to stay behind the ball and create impact reminiscent of a home-run hitter. Here’s how.

Let’s assume you can achieve a solid at-the-top position, with the majority of your weight residing on your right foot, the clubshaft and plane and the clubhead square. Now what to do? First things first–what shouldn’t you do? Flaw number one at the end of the backswing is rushing the downswing. When you rush, you destroy path, tempo, timing, etc. Left-sided swingers are more prone to rushing since they’re preoccupied with the pulling the club down sensation from the top. If you think right-side turn, you’ll negate this problem, because in the right-sided swing I promote, you want to hit from your right side, with your head behind the ball and your eyes pointing down to your right shoelace. This is a key power position. Look at Barry Bonds when he swings the bat. Even when his hands reach his front shoulder in his followthrough, his head is still back over his rear knee (Bonds is a lefty, but you get the idea). Bonds’ right side remains still as he turns through the ball with his left side. This is real power, my friends.

ReleaseSo how do you get to your left side, as you should, in the mid-followthrough with all this hanging back? The key is in your shoulders. While a left-sided golfer uses the lower body to get through the ball, which is a complicated task to time perfectly for most recreational players, the right-sided golfer uses his or her shoulders. Think of it this way: At the top of the backswing, the shoulders are rotated farther than the hips. At mid-downswing, that gap still exists, but at the finish, both the shoulders and hips are in alignment. What that should tell you is that through the impact zone, you must continue to rotate your shoulders in order for them to catch up to your hips.

I like to envision my right shoulder sliding right underneath my chin as I make contact. In fact, this always has been my best swing key. As long as you keep your lower body under control, and are aware of the need to rotate your right shoulder under your chin, you then can exploit the power inherent in your right side.

Hitting from your right has a few caveats, but they’re minor. One, don’t become so occupied with your right arm that you forget about your left. After all, it’s your left side that leads the right-side turn by shifting your body weight to the left on the downswing. While I advocate hitting with the right, the technique requires coordination with a firm left arm so that just after contact is made, both arms are straight, with the continual turn of the right shoulder. Second, be wary of releasing too early. Power your swing with your right side, but strive to retain the angle in your right wrist for as long as possible. More angle here means a greater, faster release at impact.

Lastly, don’t over-prepare for a right-sided strike. Many of my right-side-dominated students fall into the habit of setting up directly on top of the ball with their shoulders aiming left. The proper address position features square shoulders with the right slightly lower than the left and with the head pre-set behind the ball. You have to think, Lead with the left and turn with the right. There’s an old saying that your impact and address positions should match. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Unlike your address, where your hips and shoulders are square to the target, at impact your hips should be open with your shoulders square! Continue turning that right shoulder until it catches up with your hips at the finish position. That’s the secret to right-side power and accuracy.

Even proponents of the left-sided swing admit it’s not as powerful as hitting with your right. So take advantage of the energy you can create with your right side and don’t worry about any loss of control. If you follow the swing cues outlined above, you’ll certainly enjoy more than your fair share of accuracy.

Veteran instructor Marshall Smith has been teaching the game of golf for more than 50 years. Current students include PGA Tour player Todd Fischer. Smith instructs at Peoria Ridge GC in northeastern Oklahoma.


12 thoughts on “Its A Right-Sided Swing

  1. I remembered this article from some years ago, and have only recently put Mr. Smith’s advice to use. The use of the right side is more natural feeling to me, and has allowed me to play with more feel and less mechanical thinking. Letting the right side release has freed me from the “lower body clears to start the swing,” which held me back for a decade.

  2. I had completely lost my swing and was concentrating on a left-sided only swing just to hit the ball. The left-side only swing resulted in a lot of low ugly slices from pulling hands inside target line. I have practiced right-sided swing just hitting wedge shots for two months. I now have power back in my swing and eliminated ugly slice shots.

  3. I played on the tour for years this is probably the worst advice anyone could listen too

    right side help loads the pressure in the left shoulder after that its on for the ride you have to create lag at the top you put the right hand into it your done .

    1. This guy never played on tour. The clubhead must pass the hands at impact and in order to do that the right hand is releasing…like a top spin forehand or hitting a baseball or hitting a nail sideways below you…feeling like you are hitting with your right hand is one of the best ways to correlate “The Move”

    2. Not to mention what doea the left shoulder have to do with any of it. The downswing is initiated with a bump of the hips…the golf club is Swung with the arms and hands…if you’re thinking about your left shoulder past setup…Grip, AIM, Stance, Posture, your done anyway.

  4. After a great round last night and a change in my swing, I looked up “hitting with your right hand” this morning and found this. Interesting that Hogan mentioned it in his book. I have never been a good striker of the ball, i have focused on the mechanics of the game. While practicing chipping on the tee box last night on the 4th hole, i switched from trying to back hand the ball with my left hand to hitting it with my right. What resulted was an ahah moment for me. Every chip was perfect, i then took it to the next 5 holes and started hitting the greatest shots i have ever hit. Long straight, high…and wow did i mention long? i took the club away with the triangle and straight left arm, the diffference was focusing on my right hand on the down swing. I could feel my right side tuck in which engaged my right hip. As for the “R” the ex tour player, im sure Jim Furyk has it all wrong too.

  5. Most teaching pro’s will have you hitting the ball with your left arm or left side. That’s why the ex tour pro here says this is not good advice. While it may not be good advice for him, it is good advice if your like David or countless others that have had that ah ha moment associated with using the more dominant side. I currently play to a 2 handicap and practice hitting chips and pitches with just my right hand then I use the same feel with all my irons (only with both hands on the club). The result (for me) I am able to control distance, spin, and trajectory way better than if I think of using my left arm. Being able to use any given club a multitude of different ways means more creativity and way more fun playing this great game. Swing your swing and be confident about it…

    1. Most teaching pros actually don’t know what they are doing. Ask any good player or teacher and for a right handed golfer they will most all agree…it’s hard to get too much right hand at impact

  6. Not good advice at all! Sure anything can work. If you look at most touring pros like the gentleman who played the tour above stated, its a left sided motion. People love quoting Hogan. Hogan showed the picture of throwing a ball with his left side. George Knudson a Hogan disciple and played with Hogan mentioned “Pulling a rope”. Folk who get to firing that right hand your done. Bad advice.

  7. Setup reverse”k”, rear foot perpendicular to line of flight, forward foot 45?? angle to line of flight, hands forward of clubhead, leading edge of club perpendicular to target line. My focus has always been on the palm of my fight hand mirroring my clubface for flush/square contact at impact. My left arm has always been along for the ride, extended and radiusing my swing. How much simpler can it be? Swinging with a longer “chip” motion never dividing my feel between “sides” allows me to play the game with full target awareness. Awesome, powerful, accurate!

  8. It depends which way you play.. right handed people are left side weak and need to train that more and vice versa. I was always confused as to my bad shots until I learned to train my weaker side. If you are right handed, try swinging with only your right hand feathering the club and no more and your left hand doing all the work. To the degree that is difficult is the degree you are weak in your left side and need a tonne of work.

  9. The author is right. If you plan on hitting with the right hand, you are much more likely to slow down the transition at the top. Hogan may have used his left arm and hand to control the clubface, but he did say that once he got into the “hitting” position, he wished he had three right hands.

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