Instant Bogey Golf: The “thumbs-up/one-legged” swing

Hitting the ball solidly and making it go where you want it to go is far more important than making a traditional classic golf swing. Nevertheless there are times when golfers simply don’t have any idea how to swing a golf club. For those golfers I recommend the “thumbs-up/one-legged” swing.

The first key to the golf swing is to hit the ball, not the ground behind the ball; and not the top of the ball as the golfer attempts to swing under it and comes up too quickly only to catch the top half. As stated in the previous article, our clubs are designed to hit the ball and then the ground. If we don’t use the clubs the way they were designed then we shouldn’t expect anything but poor results.

The following is the simplest swing I have ever seen. It is simple and repeatable because it has a minimum amount of moving parts and the fewer moving parts in anything the few things there are to go wrong.

Grip the club any way that feels comfortable. Most instructors suggest gripping the club in your fingers, but Natural Golf recommends gripping the club in the palm of your trailing hand - I have found either grip will work. Bow to the ball and set the club on the ground behind the ball. Put an ever-so-slight bend in your knees. Place all your weight on your front leg and leave it there; on the down swing you are going to turn around that front leg.

Start the back swing by pointing your thumbs up towards the sky. Don’t worry about making a shoulder turn or shifting your weight to your back foot. Now that your thumbs are pointing towards the sky and the club shaft is looking towards the sky like an umbrella, start the down swing. This should feel as though you are pulling the club head down towards the ball with your front arm (left arm for right handed golfers). Or, you may feel you are throwing the club head at the ball using your left arm and hand, much like you would throw a Frisbee with your left hand. It could also be described as if you are swinging the club head towards the ball using your lead arm and hand. Anyone of these three feelings will work.

What you can’t do is feel like you are “hitting the ball” using your trailing hand, which for a right-handed golfer is the right hand. The major problem with almost any golfer’s swing is they aren’t able to keep the trailing hand out of the stroke; thus when the trailing hand becomes active during the swing it interferes with the centrifugal force and makes it almost impossible to find the golf ball. To prove this point put a short tee in the ground without a ball. If you are at a range you can just swing at one of the short rubber tees. As you strike the tee, take the trailing hand off the club and continue to swing with only the lead arm. After you have made a few successful attempts at the tee, place a ball on the tee and make the same swing (that is, you let the trailing hand drop off the club as you strike the tee, if you strike the tee you will have also struck the ball). You will be surprised how solidly, how far and how straight you hit the ball. This little exercise should prove to you that when you make a poor swing it is because you weren’t successful in keeping the trailing hand out of the stroke.

The last part of the swing is to swing around your front leg. By keeping the weight on the front leg throughout the swing, you should find yourself able to have a stable body throughout. Golfers who shift their weight to their back leg on the back swing and then to the front leg on the down swing run the risk of swaying off the ball or not getting the timing of all that movement down perfectly. Either error will produce a miss-hit.

I repeat: The beauty of the “thumbs-up/one-legged” swing is that it is reliable and repeatable because it has so few moving parts to get the swing out of sync. If you aren’t happy with your swing, you might want to give it a try.

Ron Curran, author of “Instant Golf” and “Instant Bogey Golf” instructor, shares his golf tips with you from time to time here at If you have a question about how you can improve your game, email him at For more info on Ron’s teaching and availability in your area, visit

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  • Larry said:

    I printed this out and took it to the range… I’m not sure I’m doing it quite right. Have you guys ever thought of doing video tutorials?

  • Bill said:

    Larry, Thanks for the visit. You might want to e-mail Ron for some clarification. Jacob is taking his 2nd lesson with Ron today so watch for the follow up article. Jacob and I have discussed taking some action videos and as I have some physical problems affecting my swing, Ron has recommended trying a variation of the ‘one-legged swing’. We will certainly try to show some of that attempt. Bill


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