How To Start The Downswing In Golf

In this video, Alex Elliott presents a simple drill that will help you start your downswing properly

PGA pro Alex Elliott demonstrating how to start the downswing in golf
(Image credit: Future)

The transition from the backswing to the downswing is something so many golfers struggle with and is one of the main reasons many of you are plagued by the dreaded slice. So, in this video and article, I’ll present one of my favourite drills that will help you hone a more powerful and efficient move to start the downswing. 

When we see slow-motion videos of some of the best golfers in the world swinging the golf club, one trait they all share is they make a really dynamic move in transition. They've mastered how to rotate your hips for power, allowing them create loads of lag and swing speed where it matters most.

And no matter your age or ability, I think this is something you can all do to add a few more yards to your game. To begin, imagine your body is separated into three sections: your knees and below, your knees to hips, and then everything above. 

When a lot of golfers get to the top, they use their upper bodies, which results in an over the top swing, with the club cutting across the ball at impact. That results in a loss of distance and accuracy.

Instead, here's what I want you to think about. Swing to the top and pause, then move section one so you bring your knees back to where they started. Once you've done that, keep moving your lower half to bring in section two. Finally, section three should slot into place. 

PGA pro Alex Elliott running through a drill to help golfers start the downswing better

Swing to the top and pause before working on the next part of the drill

(Image credit: Future)

It is, of course, easier said than done, and will take some time to implement into your swing, especially if you've been having issues in this area, but it should feel like your arms and hands are staying higher for longer. The last thing you want is them being the driving force behind starting the downswing sequence. Rather, you want them to be pulled down last by the rest of the chain.

The chain works from the ground up. We’ve all heard of using the ground - this is it in action. So, section one goes first, then it’s over to your knees and hips, before the upper body works down into impact. By clearing your lower half first, your hands and arms will have more space and time to square the club up and deliver it efficiently into impact.

PGA pro Alex Elliott demonstrating how starting the downswing better will give golfers more time and space to square the club up at impact

Clearing your lower half better gives you more time and space to square the club up at impact

(Image credit: Future)

With your driver, this will enable you to generate a lot more power and control than before, while you'll be be able to finally master how to compress the golf ball with your irons.

As with most of the best golf drills, it's easier to start slow. Make some practice swings trying to feel each section of the body working as it should. Start off swinging at half speed and then gradually ramp it up as you begin to feel more comfortable. Over time, you'll hone an excellent transition and downswing sequence.

Alex Elliott
Top 50 Coach

Location: Mottram Hall 

Alex spent a great deal of time learning the game from fellow northwest golfer, Andrew Murray, who was a European Tour regular from 1979 to 1995. He spent three years on the European Tour caddying for Andrew’s son, Tom, before taking his PGA qualifications. His passion for the game and personality in front of the camera has helped him to create a thriving social media platform on Instagram and YouTube, where he offers a whole host of tips and advice to help viewers shoot lower scores.

Most significant influences on your teaching:

Mike Bender's book, 'Build The Swing Of A Lifetime', which I read during my PGA qualifications. He uses so many different tools to help students deliver the club better when hitting the golf ball. Andrew Murray, too. He helped form the way I interact with golfers and simplified what can be a complex game for a club golfer.

Advice for practice: 

I like to get students to work in sets of five golf balls – three drills shots to two course shots. The drill shots have no consequence, but with the two course shots, I ask the student to create a green or fairway and go through a full routine.

Greatest success story:

One of my students hadn’t played golf for ten years - he'd lost his love for the game. After watching my online Instagram and YouTube content, he came for several golf lessons and has now joined a local golf club. Knowing I've helped get someone back into golf... you can't beat that.