If you’ve ever watched a professional golf event on television, you’ve probably noticed players hit a ball and then pose while they watch the ball land.
It’s a great image, but they aren’t just pausing for the cameras. That follow-through tells the story of that golf swing.
It tells the player what went right or what went wrong.
More often than not, a follow-through that can be held for a fairly long time means that the swing was executed properly.
Unlike a lot of previous articles where I’ve talked about different elements of the golf swing and the importance of getting it right, the follow-through is a bit different. It’s the final piece in the symphony that is the golf swing.
Getting the follow-through won’t make the ball change its direction or spin more. Instead, a good finish position is a crucial diagnostic tool for the golf swing.
As a diagnostic tool, the follow through will tell you everything you need to know about what happened before that point. If you can get to a good follow-through, or finish, position, then chances are high that the rest of your swing was done properly. A beautiful, wide follow through extension is unlikely to happen if you have a bad grip, poor setup, inside takeaway, bad swing tempo or a terrible transition.
So, in this article, I’ll talk about what a proper follow-through looks like. Then, if you can get to that point, much of the rest of your swing will be forced into the correct position.
Elements of the Golf Swing Follow Through
In this section, we’ll look at the five main elements of a good follow-through. As you probably know, not every golf swing is the same, but most of them share these parts because they indicate that other parts of the swing have been done right.
1. Club behind head
The first element in a good follow-through is that the club finishes behind the player’s head or shoulders. Basically, the hands will be shoulder height or above and the club head will be on the opposite side of the player.
For the right-handed player, the hands ought to finish on the left side of their head with the club head either behind the head or on the right side of the head.
The other part of this position that is important is that both elbows stay fairly low.
- The front elbow (left elbow for the right-handed player) will be a little bit higher than the back, but neither one will be above your ear.
- You want to make sure your arms are in a comfortable position to rest after the shot.
- When the elbows get too high, the follow-through gets to be too forced.
This position is the most natural spot for the hands to finish after hitting a golf swing. It allows the full force and momentum of the golf swing to be gradually slowed without slowing the swing too early or too late.
This position will also allow the player to maintain their overall balance without falling over after the swing is completed.
2. Weight On Front Side
Next, and possibly most importantly, the player’s weight ought to be on the front side, or foot.
- In general, about 80% of a player’s weight should be resting over the front foot (left foot for the right-handed player).
- When most of a player’s weight finishes on the front foot, it allows them to maintain their balance, while also shifting weight through the impact zone.
As I’ve mentioned in other articles, it’s incredibly important for a player to shift their weight forward when hitting a golf ball. This allows for maximum club head speed, resulting in greater distance.
With your weight finishing on your front side, you’ll guarantee that there has been a weight transition through impact.
A golfer cannot finish on their front side without having a good weight shift through the golf swing.
3. Back Heel In The Air
Going along with finishing on your front side, a good follow-through will also mean that the back heel (right heel for the right-handed player) will be raised in the air. The back toe is the only part of the back foot that makes contact with the ground when finished.
Again, it’s important to transition weight through the impact zone. Allowing the back heel to raise in the air is a natural movement that forces weight on to the front side.
Like I said in the previous section, which is also true here, it’s almost impossible for a player to finish with their back heel in the air if they haven’t shifted their weight through impact.
4. Chest facing target
The forth element of a good follow-through is that a player’s chest will be facing the target.
Facing the target is not just a convenient location to be watching your shot from, though that is an advantage of this position. It’s also helps to accomplish the previous three elements of a good follow-through;
- club behind head,
- weight on front side,
- and back heel in the air
Making sure that your chest is facing the target means that you have rotated through the golf swing. As you may already know from other articles, it’s important to rotate your body backwards in the backswing. This rotation creates torque and energy to release through impact.
As the rotation is released, you’ll turn all the way through impact and finish with your chest facing the target. Facing the target also allows you to accomplish the final element of staying balanced.
You’ve probably notice that I’ve talked a couple times about staying balanced at the end of the golf swing. Maintaining your balance means that you can rest comfortably in this follow-through position without falling to one side or the other.
Balance is important because it shows that a swing is controlled. Believe it or not, it is possible to over swing or swing too hard.
When a player swings too hard it becomes really difficult to finish the swing in a balanced position. Further, swaying in the backswing can lead to a loss of balance in later parts of the swing sequence.
So, to make sure that the right amount of intensity or power is released in the golf swing, focusing on keeping balanced will be a huge help.
Common Mistakes in the Follow Through
In the section above, I’ve hinted as some common mistakes and what those mean for the rest of the golf swing. So, here I’ll highlight the main four mistakes that amateur golfers make when finishing their golf swing.
1. Weight On Back Foot/Flat Back Foot
First, a lot of amateur golfers will finish their shot with too much, or all of, their weight on their back foot. There are two main reason this happens.
- One, is that they fail to understand how a golf ball gets up in the air. A lot of golfers think that, in order to get the ball in the air, they have to get under the ball and lift it up. Thus, their weight shifts back to get under it.
- Next, a lot of amateur golfers fall backwards because they are trying to swing too hard. When we swing too hard, it often takes our weight backwards.
2. Front Foot Drops Back/Moves
Next, to go along with swinging too hard, a lot of golfers take their front foot and step backwards or to the side. This move often happens earlier than a player thinks and with affect the impact position too.
Swinging too hard and stepping the foot back may not seem like a big deal, but it makes it more difficult to accomplish other positions through the swing.
An overly-hard swing causes a player to lose bodily awareness and control, which leads to more and more little mistakes. Those little mistakes in a golf swing add up and result in a big miss hit.
3. No balance
Another mistake that a lot of golfers make is that they don’t maintain their balance. Once again, this can be a result of swinging too hard. Balance is important because it allows your body to work in the way it was designed to work.
Without balance, a golf swing is basically free-falling through the air and the chances of hitting a quality shot dramatically decrease.
There’s a reason why every golfer on the professional tours has good balance, because it’s crucial to the success of a golf shot.
4. Club too low
Finally, the last mistake that a lot of amateur golfers make is that they finish with the club too low.
The ideal position, like I said above, is for the club to be behind the head or shoulders. This is where the club can rest naturally after a powerful, controlled, golf swing.
When a follow-through is too low, with the club finishing below the shoulder line, it can indicate several different errors have occurred.
- First, it could mean that the swing path was too far outside-in. A path that is outside-in will, most of the time, create a big slice that can’t be controlled very easily.
- Next, it could also mean that the front foot hasn’t stayed flat on the ground throughout the swing and would make solid impact even more difficult.
So, when the club finishes too low, chances are good that the shot didn’t go the right direction.
Drills to improve your Follow Through
Those mistakes are common, but they don’t have to be difficult to fix. Here are a couple great drills to help solve any issues you may have with the follow-through.
Throwing A Baseball
Most people can naturally pick up a baseball and throw it with some fairly decent fundamentals.
Their weight will:
- shift from the back foot to the front,
- their weight will finish on their front side,
- and their back heel will raise up in the air.
Those three elements are the exact same in the golf swing, but for some reason when we hit a golf ball, we think it’s different.
Practice throwing a baseball, or golf ball, and focus on the lower body weight transition. If you’re able to keep the same weight shift in your golf swing, then you’re well on your way to creating a proper follow-through position in your golf swing.
Hit Balls Standing On A 2x4
Next, to improve balance, get a 2x4 piece of wood and lay it flat on the ground.
- Stand on the 2x4 so that you are balanced at the address position.
- Then, go ahead and hit some golf balls while standing on the 2x4.
- You may need to get a second 2x4 to set a ball on top of as well.
You’ll be aware of the fact that the ground below you isn’t the most stable and swing a little bit more under control. If you can hit a shot and not fall off the 2x4, then you have good enough balance throughout your golf swing to finish in a proper follow-through position.
Tap Back Toe
Third, to make sure that your back heel comes up in the air while also maintaining your balance.
- Hit some golf balls and after every one, try to tap your back toe three times.
- If you can tap the toe, without hesitation, and remain standing throughout the follow-through position, then you have correctly finished on your back toe.
A lot of times, people will finish on their back toe, but there will be too much weight on the back toe. When you have too much weight on the back toe, you will not be able to pick up the foot to tap it very easily.
Focus on how easy it is to lift the foot and tap it on the ground. If it’s really easy, then you’ve done it correctly. If you have to shift your weight before tapping it, then that means you probably have too much weight hanging back on the back foot.
Hold The Follow-Through And Push Without Falling
Another similar drill is to hold every follow-through for a 5-second count:
- If you are able to hold the follow-through for a solid 5 seconds, then you are balanced and have your weight in the correct position.
- Then, once you’ve accomplished that, have a friend give you a slight push in your back or front.
- Notice which way you fall or how hard they have to push to get you to fall over.
- If you fall forwards easily then you have enough weight on the front side of your golf swing.
- On the other hand, if it’s easy to fall backwards, then that’ll indicate that you have too much weight on the back foot.
The Bottom Line
There you have it!
Everything you need to finish your golf swing in a solid follow-through position. Remember, the follow-through is a diagnostic position, meaning, it’ll tell you a lot about what happened earlier in your golf swing.
If something is not right in your follow-through, it probably means there was an error in your golf swing. Listen to your follow-through position and make the necessary changes to ensure that it’s a natural, comfortable, and easy position to finish in.