Without question good tempo, timing and rhythm is key to having a consistent and reliable golf swing. So much so that I devoted a whole chapter to the subject in the second edition of my book “Triangulate Your Golf Swing.” Now, new information on tempo has come to light since the book was published. In the April, 2012 issue of Golf magazine the subject of tempo was discussed as it relates to professional as well as amateur golfers. The author of the article started studying video clips of every PGA and LPGA golfer that could be found. By counting frames it was discovered that professionals swing at a 3 to 1 ratio. That is, they take 3 times as long to complete their backswing as it does to complete their downswing. This held true even when actual cadences varied for different golfers. For instance, some swung faster at say a 18/6 frame ratio while others swung at 30/10 and others somewhere in between. The common factor was that nearly every tour player timed out at a 3-1 ratio. They also studied amateur golfers and found that the ratios were more like 3.5/1 and higher. They also viewed some not so stellar shots of professionals and found that in many cases they failed to maintain the 3 -1 ratio. To substantiate the findings, the data was submitted to independent researchers at the Yale University Department of Applied physics.
To find out what your own swing ratio is, Golf magazine suggests that you have someone take a video of your swing. Then count the frames using a computer program that shows videos frame by frame. Once you determine the ratio, you can take steps to develop it into a 3-1 ratio like the pros. Although the article gave some ideas on how to do that, I found them to be impractical in practice.
What I finally came up with is the idea of counting as you swing. That is, count 123 to the top of your backswing and 4 on the downswing. The goal is to keep the cadence smooth (1234 or 1-2-3-4 or 1–2–3–4). Try different speeds until you find the one the suits you best. This may take a few practice sessions, but eventually you will start to groove your swing.
The best way to put your improved tempo to use on the course is to continue using the count method above. At least until it is built into your muscle memory and subconscious. You will discover two things when you do this. First, you will not think about swing mechanics and second you will not force your downswing. In fact, if any part of your swing goes out of cadence you will instantly know it.
Don’t forget your putting and chipping. Good tempo counts just as much around the greens. Professionals use either and 2-1 or a 1-1 cadence for putting. You will have to experiment to see what works best for you. When just off the green try 2-1 for chipping.
I encourage you to try the above methods as I have seen some very positive results in people’s games when using them.