Lower your golf scores with good tempo

Phil Mickelson hit only five fairways on the weekend at last week’s Safeway Open in Napa, California, but carded a 12-under 276 third place finish, three shots behind the winner Brendan Steele. After hitting only two fairways in the first round, he said his tempo was off.

Having good tempo in your golf swing is mental as well as physical. Along with having good tempo, you also need to have good timing and rhythm to produce consistent shots. It is certainly true that in life and golf, timing is everything.


Tempo is the pace or speed of your golf swing. Good golf swing tempo means maintaining the same even movement in both directions; the backswing through the completion of the follow-through.

It has been proven that there is a three to one ratio in the golf swing. The backswing is slower because it is going back and up against gravity from a stationery position. On the way down the swing is accelerated because it is moving with gravity and centrifugal force.

To maximize your club head speed, your tempo should match your personality. Swing to your own internal clock. If you walk and talk fast, your swing tempo should be fast like Tom Watson or Rickie Fowler. If you move slower, match your swing tempo to someone like Freddy Couples or Ernie Els. It is important to maintain your own personal speed and rhythm throughout your round for consistent hits.

Golfers think they need to swing faster to generate more power and distance. Every club has a distance limit. If you need more distance, take one more club. When you lose your tempo on course, step off to the side and swing with the club only in your right hand to get the feel because then you won’t be able to accelerate too quickly.

If you swing back too fast it is hard for the body to turn to catch up. I you aren’t turning with your core, you are just swinging with your arms and the backswing won’t be completed.

Golfers tend to swing faster as the round progresses either because they are over-confident or fearful of making a mistake. Having a balanced follow-through is an indication of a swing with the proper tempo.


Timing is the most difficult part of the golf swing to learn and execute. The timing of all the moving parts of your body and club must be in the correct sequence. When the timing is in synchronization of your body and club, the result is the perfect impact position for consistent shots.

The swing can’t be too long or too fast which would make it difficult to square the face at impact. Swing at a speed that allows you to consistently hit the ball with the sweet spot of your club.

Feel the pressure of your grip. If your grip is too light or too firm, it will change the synchronization of your body and club and make a smooth swing impossible. Have a grip that allows your wrists to hinge freely so you can feel the club head.

It is important to overcome feelings of rushing through the swing. For the transition at the top of the swing, be patient before starting back down. Most tour players start their downswing with their feet, then the knees, hips, followed by the hands and arms falling into the proper sequence. To do this you have to be relaxed.


Good rhythm is accomplished by having the same tempo on the backswing and the downswing. Golfers tend to swing with uneven rhythm on the longer clubs as there is a longer path to travel. Taking the club back slowly the golfer tends to rush on the downswing. Good rhythm is the same for every club and every swing. Because the driver is longer than the pitching wedge, the club head is moving faster throughout the swing, but the rhythm is the same.

Keys for accessing your tempo, timing and rhythm 

  1. Record your favorite song that is in sync with your personal tempo. Listen to it on the range so you can make rhythmic swings in time with the music.
  2. Swing to the beat of a metronome. Use a metronome or app set to the proper beat for your proper swing.
  3. Use three words to access your timing. Beat 1: BACK, beat 2; AND beat 3; THROUGH.
  4. Control your emotions. The range of emotions in a round of golf can cause you to get out of your natural rhythm. Breathe deeply to relax your mind and body for focusing in the moment.
  5. Take practice swings on course. Immediately after a mishit, step off to the side and swing the club until you find the tempo you wanted to have.
  6. Give yourself affirming messages.
    • I swing with easy, effortless power.
    • I have a smooth, balanced, flowing swing.
    • I swing to my own internal rhythm.
    • I am in tune with my own swing tempo and rhythm.

When you stop thinking about how to swing the club and instead feel the swing, you will access and trust your own perfect swing tempo.

Play “in the zone” with Joan

Entrain Your Heart & Mind for Peak Performances

The imagery on the “Master Your Short Game for Low Scores” CD is designed to instill in your subconscious mind the swing timing and tempo entrained to your own internal rhythm.  Available now to listen in the privacy of your own home, at www.pmi4.com/cart

If you aren’t able to maintain trust and belief in yourself on the golf course, email Joan at pmi4@bellsouth.net or call 828.696.2547 for a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation about developing a new strategy. Learn what is missing in your golf game so you can achieve the success you desire. 

A new mental golf book is available now on www.createspace.com/6307102 and www.amazon.com

All royalties will be donated to Junior Golf!

“THE HEART OF GOLF, Access Your Supreme Intelligence for Peak Performances” explores and explains negative emotions such as fear and performance anxiety, the four Cs of mind blockage, the four progressive stages of learning the supreme intelligence of the heart, and the way to access the zone in competition. It is a player’s guide for developing your true inner self by returning to the joy and love of self instead of seeking praise and rewards from the outside world.



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