Where to Focus: Speed, Technique or Tempo?

What’s the most important component of the swing: speed, technique or tempo? You need to think about this in order to place your emphasis in the area where you will get the most benefit.

Most recreational golfers work on SWING SPEED FOR DISTANCE. Hank Haney reminds us that we can gain 2.5 yards in distance for every mile per hour in swing speed. Unfortunately swing speed is the WORST CHOICE. Keeping the ball in the fairway and learning to consistently hit or putt the ball will save you more strokes than swing speed and a few more yards on your drive.

Swinging faster may give you 10 or 20 yards more but those yards are more likely to be deeper in the rough. I guarantee that your next shot out of the rough will hurt your chances of hitting the green in regulation a lot more than a longer drive will benefit you. Killer speed will kill your game.  It sure does kill my game when I go for the gusto.

About a year ago I saw a series of blogs which promised great success if you blank out your mind, forget about technique and just swing to create success.  [NOTE: These ads stopped running long ago.]  I decided to improve on this opportunity by working with a specialist in relaxation and hypnotism. We agreed that I had a good understanding of the swing technique and it was time to let my subliminal mind take over.

I was expecting to lower my golf scores by swinging with a relaxed frame of mind. After a month of effort I realized that success in golf is the culmination of many components. A relaxed frame of mind will not help you cope with an uphill, downhill or sloped lie. It will not help with swing speed for the right distance adjustment. Golf is a game of concentration and focus. You also need to adjust for your weather environment, hitting & landing surface and your club selection to deal with every situation. Without focus your technique is useless.

Golf needs an intense swing to create distance but tempo and timing is the real key for success. Developing a straight arm backswing while practicing with GOLFSTR+ can be a real break-through for more consistent hits but your scores will really started to drop when you learned to control your tempo.

According to Hank Haney’s study, the time for your back swing to your forward swing should be about a 3 to 1 ratio. Unfortunately, if your transition starts with your arms casting over the top, your swing will result in limited power, many mishits and more slices.

Ernie Els is a great image to keep in your mind when you think about a smooth transition and acceleration through the ball.

Ernie Els is a great image to keep in your mind when you think about a smooth transition and acceleration through the ball.

Tempo is all about timing. Start your transition by pressing your hip forward and dropping your arms as you accelerate your wrists through impact (like snapping a whip). Release your hips, shoulders, arms and wrists in that order. Try to visualize the shifting of your body to transfer power through the ball. Using your driver you should be swinging up through the ball. Using your irons you should be focused on the forward press of your hips to ensure that you bottom out with the ground after you smash the ball.


Last week CBS Sports golf analyst Peter Kostis showed a slow motion comparison of Tiger on the practice tee and on the golf course.  He said that it was clear that “tension and tempo” were the culprits causing Tigers poor results on the golf course. A faster swing speed (back and forward) with a greater head drop were not helping Tiger’s results.

Too much speed will kill your control. Technique should be sorted out during your setup to cope with the conditions. Most important, you need a smooth tempo for amazing power and consistency. GOLFSTR+ will help your get there. Buy it today at www.golfstr.com



  • Scott Mohn says:

    I completely agree. And using the GolfStr has encouraged me to focus on making a swing at what feels like an unhurried tempo with a smooth, full back swing while maintaining a relatively straight, extended lead arm.

    The GolfStr helped me to realize that to maintain that extension in the lead arm through to impact the lead arm has to remain relatively soft as I make a smooth, unhurried transition into the down swing. This only works when an appropriate tempo is maintained and it seems like one of the hardest things for most people to learn.

    For me tempo is at an appropriate speed when it produces consistent contact. And I have experimented with my tempo over the years. The LPGA is a very good place to go to see effective swings with vastly different tempos. Everyone’s most effective tempo/swing speed is probably a bit different. It may even vary a bit with age. For me, at 74, that tempo is a bit slower than it was years ago. But the relative evenness and smoothness of the entire swing is still very much the same as when I was 24.

    I try to get a smooth swing at a consistent tempo that is appropriate for my swing and strength. When It feels like a consistent, unhurried tempo the result is usually solid contact with good direction and distance. If the tempo of the swing feels too fast, or if it speeds up through the transition, things begin to break down. For example, the trail hand and arm take over control, the lead arm collapses, the trail wrist releases early, the trail shoulder is forced over the plane, etc. Of course the swing speed gets faster after the transition on the downswing but I think it does so gradually and with consistent acceleration in the best swings. You just need to let it happen without trying to force it to happen. The most effective swings look smooth not jerky to the eye if they are made at a tempo appropriate for the individual.

    A good thing I have found about the GolfStr is that it does not force your lead arm to remain straight but it helps you feel when it has been forced to bend by some unwanted force during your swing.

    Sometimes I feel amazed how well I hit a shot when the tempo seems to be even and not fast or hurried. PGA great Bob Toski says those shots feel like cutting butter. But, while the downswing never feels hurried on these shots, I can tell that greater club head speed has resulted. It just happens. So, as so many instructors have suggested over the years, I focus on just letting it happen as the result of a solid grip, good set-up, and a good, unhurried tempo! Those things seem like basic basics!


    • Bill says:

      Your comments and experience are even better than my blog. I know exactly what Bob Toski is saying: “Like cutting butter”. I talked about this same feeling with one of my golf partners on Wednesday. It’s like effortless power that energizes the ball. It has to come from the whipping action of the club when the wrists release through impact.

      Thanks for the input. Will Curry