What makes the perfect golf swing?

The quest for perfection

For every keen golfer, finding the perfect swing is the holy grail. Golf swings come in all shapes and sizes, with players spending hours on the practice range in an attempt to find the perfect one.

Jim Furyk, Adam Scott and Bubba Watson are all major winners, yet their swings could not be more different. The key is finding the swing that is right for you. But what components combine to produce perfection? Is power as important as technique, and just how much of a successful swing can be made in the mind?

Four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy is widely considered to have the best swing in the game. So what makes his swing unique and what can amateur golfers learn from Rory? How can you find your perfect swing?

A golf lesson from Rory McIlroy

The golfing superstar demonstrates what makes the perfect swing and offers priceless advice for amateurs.

Ken on the course

BBC Golf commentator Ken Brown highlights what makes Rory's swing so good and offers hope to novice golfers everywhere by explaining how you can learn from it.

Breaking down Rory's swing

Use the arrows to scroll through a slow motion video of the McIlroy action. Ken Brown explains the most important points in a swing he believes "hasn't been surpassed by anyone who has ever played the game".

The science behind the swing

Professional golfers are constantly trying to find an extra edge, and a number increasingly look to scientific analysis to improve the efficiency of their swing.

Professor Eric Wallace and his team in the Sports Institute lab at Ulster University use 3D modelling to examine how biomechanics affect the swing and analyse the data to better understand the entire process.

Numerous cameras pick up markers dotted around a golfer's body and club - there is no hiding place. The movements of both are recorded and analysis provided on the dominant features of a swing, for better and for worse.

Professor Wallace explains the importance of this approach: “Biomechanics are the fundamental building blocks of the swing, and if the mechanics aren’t right, everything else will go awry. As far as golfers are concerned, the mechanics of the swing are about repeatability. The 3D model measures what the naked eye and video are not able to and details every aspect of the swing, allowing players to make specific improvements.”

Getting your head right

As anybody who has played the game can testify, your mood can move from glorious optimism to dark despair with just one poor shot.

In order to meet with golfing triumph and disaster and to treat these twin impostors just the same, mental strength is vital. As the great amateur golfer Bobby Jones quipped: “Golf is a game that is played on a five-inch course — the distance between your ears.”

Ken Brown believes many golfers do the wrong thing when they endure hardships on the course: "Golfers often speed things up, when what they should do is take a moment to compose themselves. At his peak, one of Tiger Woods' many strengths was after he'd hit a bad shot, he would take a breath and move on in his mind from what had just happened and then he was able to hole a pressure putt. Mentally Tiger was very strong."

Rory McIlroy has endured mental trials on the course, most notably in the final round of the Masters in 2011, but he has become one of the mentally strongest players on the tour and fully grasps the importance of this aspect of the golf swing: “I'd say at least 60% of this game is mental, and if you can overcome the mental challenge it makes the physical much easier," he says.

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