There are a lot of different ways to hit a golf ball, but all of them require a good weight transfer or weight shift as some call it. Without a good weight transfer, you won’t be able to hit the ball with much power at all. Too many amateur golfers rely on their arms for power, but those are limited. Sure, you need some arm movement for power, but your primary power source is the movement of the weight from back to front.
The tricky thing about weight transfer in the golf swing is that it’s difficult to see. If you watch a player hit golf balls, you can see where their body mass, or center of gravity, is located. It’s easy to notice when that move back and forth, but that’s not the same thing as weight transfer. For example, it’s possible to finish with your back heel in the air, while still having a lot of weight back on that same foot.
Weight transfer also requires timing. If you’re not transferring your weight at the correct time throughout your golf swing, you’ll have a lot of issues with making good contact, hitting the ball straight, far, and staying balanced. In this article, we’re going to tackle these things, so you can have a perfect weight transfer that’ll allow you to hit it long and straight.
What is the Weight Transfer in the Golf Swing?
First, let’s define the weight transfer or weight shift. Like I said above, it’s not your body mass or center of gravity. Those things are often mistaken for weight transfer because they are easier to notice. Weight transfer in the golf swing is the movement of your weight from one foot to the other in the sequence of your swing.
We’re going to talk about weight transfer in terms of the percentage of your total body weight on each foot.
- For example, at the address position, you probably have about 50% of your weight on each foot. This would be a great place to start.
- As you swing, the percentage of your weight ought to increase on your back foot in the backswing and then shift onto the front foot through the downswing.
Of course, that’s easier said than done.
Why is the Golf Swing Weight Transfer Important?
Again, the weight transfer in the golf swing allows you to unleash all of your power. Golf is different than other sports, in that it doesn’t require big bulky muscles to hit the ball a mile. Instead, it requires a well-timed weight transfer.
I like comparing the golf swing to pitching in baseball.
- It’s not necessarily the pitchers arm muscles that allow him to throw it hard, though I’m sure that contributes some.
- Instead, it’s the power that he pushes off the rubber towards home plate and the flexibility or range of motion of his arm.
Golf is very similar.
Weight transfer, not only allows you to explode your weight through the ball, but it also allows you to turn better and create length in your swing. Length is another thing that contributes to distance. When you shift your weight back in your golf swing, you allow your body to turn more and stack up energy that can be focused into the golf ball.
Think of your weight transfer like a hammer striking a nail versus a lighter object, like a toothbrush. Sure, the design of the object hitting the nail helps, but it’s the weight of that hammer making impact with the nail that helps to drive it in. If you had a hammer that weighed the same as your toothbrush, it’d take a lot more effort to get that nail pounded in.
Your body weight works in a similar way in the golf swing. Use it to your advantage and let it work in your favor. It doesn’t take much effort, but shifting it properly will dramatically increase your power.
How to Transfer Weight Correctly
Now, let’s get in to how to transfer your weight correctly. We’ll break it up into several different parts.
- Address Position
- Finish Position
Alignment & The Weight Shift
First, we’ll start with the address position. Like I said above, you’ll probably start with about 50% of your weight on each foot. Though this can be tweaked a little bit, I always encourage people to try to start here because it limits the number of essential moving parts in your golf swing.
Once you begin your swing, your weight ought to start moving to your back foot. Since your arms are moving in that direction during the takeaway, you’ll have more of your body mass on that side of your body, so it should happen somewhat naturally. Again, though, body mass does not equal weight transfer. When your hands are about belt-high, that’s when your body mass is farthest away from your center, but your weight transfer shouldn’t stop as your arms start to travel to the top of your backswing.
I can’t say this enough, body mass is not weight transfer, so as you continue to shift your weight to your back foot through the top of your backswing, that doesn’t mean you need to sway your body towards your back foot. Instead, focus on shifting your weight to the back foot without equivalent shifting of your body backwards too. At the top of your swing, you should have about 75% of your weight on your back foot.
The Transition & Weight Shift
Once you’ve completed your backswing, the very first move down towards impact is the lower body weight transfer, started by the hips firing through impact. The upper body will then follow the lower body’s weight shift through impact.
A lot of people say that your address position ought to look a lot like your impact position. That’s true in some sense, but not when it comes to your weight transfer. Instead, in the downswing, you should start to have more of your weight on your front foot when your hands are about belt-high in the downswing. At impact, you ought to have about 75% of your weight onto your front foot.
Weight Transfer in the Follow Through
Finally, in the finish position, you really ought to have about 90%, if not more, on your front foot. Obviously, this is after the shot has been hit, but it’s still incredibly important. If you can easily get that much weight onto your front foot, that means the weight transfer was probably pretty good throughout the rest of the swing. If you have to work at it, or it gets to your front foot late, that probably means you aren’t transferring enough weight.
Again, the key here is not to be fooled by your body mass. It’s possibly to have your back heel in the air and chest facing the target, but still have too much weight on the back foot.
Common Golf Swing Weight Shift Problems
When it comes to the weight transfer, there are three common mistakes that amateur golfers make.
No Transfer at All
The first is not transferring their weight at all. When this happens, there’s very little power and the swing looks almost rigid. You can tell if you’re not transferring enough weight because you finish with both feet flat on the ground and still about 50% of your weight on each foot.
The second mistake that amateur golfers make in the weight transfer is that they transfer the weight back, but not forward. You might have heard people talk about “falling backwards” or “hanging back.” Both of those mean that a golfer is shifting their weight to their back foot in the backswing, but not forward in the downswing.
It’s the forward shift that is the most important part. That’s where the club head speed and power is generated. If you are doing this, you might notice that you’ll finish your swing with most of your weight on your back foot. This typically comes from trying to lift the ball in the air by getting under the ball. Unfortunately, this is the opposite of what you want to be doing.
Finally, the last mistake that a lot of amateur golfers make is that they sway too much from back to front. This is normally because people want to get so much power that they rock back and forth in order to get their weight shifted through the ball.
The thought is correct, but the execution is incorrect. When you transfer your weight to your back foot in the backswing, your body doesn’t have to move that direction very much. In fact, it is possible to shift your weight back without moving your body in that same direction.
Rocking your body back and forth actually makes it more difficult to make solid contact with the ball. It makes timing your impact position incredibly difficult, so you’ll rarely hit it well. You’ll know if you’re doing this by taking a face-on video of your swing. If your back shoulder moves more than a couple inches, you probably need to limit your movement when transferring your weight. The only time your body, and specifically shoulders, should move a significant amount is in the downswing and into the finish position.
Drills to Improve your Weight Transfer
Now, let’s talk about a few drills you can do to help improve the weight transfer in your golf swing.
Drill #1: Medicine Ball throw
In this first drill, get a ball about the size of a basketball. If you have a medicine ball or heavy ball, that would work best.
- Hold the ball on both sides while you pretend to address a golf ball.
- Swing the ball like you would swing your golf club.
- Then, at impact, let go of the ball and try to throw it as far and straight as you can.
If you’re only swinging with your arms, you won’t be able to throw it very far. You’ll naturally want to shift your weight in order to get the ball to travel far. So, do the same thing with your weight once you go back to a golf club and ball.
Drill #2: Drop the sand wedge
The next drill, all you’ll need is your sand wedge.
- Stick the face of your sand wedge under your back heel, so the shaft is pointing up and behind you.
- Take some shots with another club and you should notice that the sand wedge will drop to the ground before you make impact.
- That’ll happen because your back heel will lift up in the air slightly before impact in the downswing.
- If the club drops before impact, that means you are properly shifting your weight forward at the right time.
- If it drops after impact, that means you’re hanging back a little too long on the back foot.
Drill #3: Toe tap
Finally, on the last drill, you won’t need anything except your normal club and ball.
- As you hit shots, try to tap your back toe on the ground without falling over.
- If you’re able to do this immediately after you finish your shot, then you’ve transferred your weight forward correctly.
- If it takes you a couple seconds after the shot to lift your heel and tap your toe, that means you’ve still got too much weight on your back foot.
This is a quick drill, but really helpful. If it’s not a smooth and almost immediate tapping of the toe after you hit the ball, then you need to shift more weight to be able to do that.
If you struggle with distance or balance, your weight transfer might be the reason why. I’m sure if you try the drills and understand the concepts in this article, you’ll be hitting long straight shots in no time at all.