Many people say that there are 3 stages to the golf swing sequence: the backswing, the down swing and the follow through. However, the first stage should really be the set up, because without that even if you hit the ball 500 yards, it's no good if it's going in the wrong direction! It's a bit like the golf-playing gorilla joke. In the set up, the feet should be shoulder-width apart and parallel to the target, ball opposite the left heel and, of course, the club face aiming at the target. A good way of lining up the shot is to stand behind the ball, then using your club shaft to create a straight line from the ball to the target, select a prominent piece of grass or mark on the turf to act as a marker.
Then, in the set up or address position you can square up the club face to this marker, which is then in line with your target. In the next stage of the golf swing sequence the shoulders, arms and club initially all start moving as one, in the backswing. The sole purpose of the backswing is to get the arms and club to the top of the swing arc in preparation for the down swing, so there is no speed involved here. In fact, this needs to be done slowly and carefully, with a slight pause at the top, in preparation for the downswing. The downswing actually starts with the legs and hips turning fractionally before the arms and shoulders start moving, with the movements starting slowly and fluently to avoid any misallignment caused by trying to rush it.
The weight is transferred from right to left with the legs and hips moving forwards throughout the swing. The momentum of the swing gradually gathers pace until the point of impact. This leads into the final stage of the golf swing sequence with the follow through.
An important point to note is that throughout the swing the head should remain still and focused on the ball. This is even more important during the follow through. The natural tendency is to lift your head to see where your shot went, but the problem is that there is a tendency to lift your head before impact and apart from disrupting your stance, it's difficult to hit something that you're not looking at! So the head should remain focused on the ball for as long as possible way after impact. As with most things, a great deal can be learned from copying the experts.
So watch your favourite player and try and mimic him.
David Hoyles is the webmaster and publisher of several golf sites containing further great tips to improve your game. Visit http://www.golfworldguide.com, http://www.golfingdecisions.com and http://www.golf-swing-sequence.com to learn more.