Golf Swing vs. Baseball Swing

Tue, 01/19/2010 - 13:00 -- Don Trahan

I actually hear this question or some variation of it where a golfer feels that their baseball swing is hurting their golf swing.‚  I most often hear it from the parents of junior golfers I teach.‚  They say that the baseball coach wants them to quit golf as the golf swing will ruin their baseball swing.‚  Tim, in his question below is concerned his '€œbaseball swing'€ is hurting his golf swing.

Tim Cogswell says:
How can I get rid of my baseball swing?‚  I don'€™t take much of a backswing, especially with my driver. My hands are always ahead of my club face and then I slice.

The Surge says:
I will get to the point and answer in one quick statement.‚  The golf swing and baseball swing are quite similar and one does not hurt the other.‚  In fact, they are similar in that the same arm, hand and swing motion produces the same ball flight for both.

Regarding baseball coaches wanting junior golfers to stop playing golf because it ruins their baseball swing: in my opinion and experience, that'€™s BUNK.‚  I coached DJ in Dixie Youth Baseball in Hilton Head for 6 years and he always batted well over 600 percent, and with power.‚  I often had other members on the team like DJ who also played golf.‚  The good news is their golf swing was not compromised by their batting swing, and their batting swing did not cause problems with their golf swing.‚  I applied the exact same swing theory to swinging a bat as to swinging a golf club and it worked for both.

The only major differences are the baseball is moving and in the air when hit, so the swing is closer to parallel to the ground.‚  The golf ball is stationary, on the ground and the swing is more diagonal or on a tilted plane to the ground.

Both swings are similar in that the baseball player waiting for the pitch is already loaded on the back foot waiting for the pitch.‚  Golfers swing back to the top of the backswing to load onto the back foot. With the PPGS limited turn it'€™s basically the same as the batter.‚  That is, both have a limited turn and the bat and club are above the hands and both are looking at the ball.

They are also similar in that the forward swing to hit the ball starts with the lower body leading the weight transfer.‚  The real similarity is that both swings involve arm rotation to impact and through, with both arms fully extended after impact.

The last similarity is that the same variations in the release to impact cause the same ball flight.‚  Tim mentions that he has a short backswing, which I like.‚  He adds that especially with his driver his hands are always ahead of his clubface and he slices.

The first point to make here for golf is that the hands must always win the race to impact beating the club.‚  The key is that in golf, the rotation of the arms and club have to release properly to square the face to the aiming line to hit it straight.‚ ‚  So, since Tim is slicing, his clubface is open at impact.‚  This would be exactly the same as a right handed hitter'€™s bat facing between second to first base at impact.‚  This will send the ball toward right field rather than straight over the pitcher and second base into dead center field.

So, a right handed hitter holding on and keeping the bat open hits the ball to right field where the bat is facing just as a golfer, and in this case, Tim slices.‚  Adding more release, squaring the bat to center field, hits the ball straight over second base into center field, just as squaring the club face to the aiming line hits the ball straight down the line.‚  Likewise, over releasing, that is the bottom hand releases to palm downward will, for a right handed batter, send the ball into left field. It will likely have a hook curve and the golfer doing the same hits pulls and hooks.

One point that needs to be addressed here is that it is obvious that slices and hooks hit with a baseball bat are much less than the curve golfers can apply to a golf ball with a golf club.‚  Baseball curves are less in degree, yet the ball field is a much wider margin of error.‚  And, the rules give a free re-do for the first 2 strikes.‚  Golf, on the other hand, is best played keeping the ball on the straight and narrow.‚  In golf, all our re-do'€™s or re-loads, as some call it ,are expensive.‚  We have to add on penalty strokes to our score.

The last question to examine is why do baseballs curve less than golf balls?‚  It is because a baseball bat is round and a golf club face is flat.‚  A flat hitting area under and over rotating at impact will impart more spin and curve to the ball flight than will a curved or round bat.‚  Add to that our little golf balls go a lot farther than baseballs.‚  Having to hit it straighter increases the importance of squaring up the club face to the aiming line at impact.

Baseball and golf swings, although swung on different planes, have a lot in common.‚  Where the bat faces at impact, like the golf club, is where the ball goes.‚  We can add tennis rackets, ping pong paddles and even hand ball to this equation.‚  Where the face faces at impact is where the ball goes.‚  And the flatter the face, a cut across impact and face opening or over rotation closing the club face at impacts, adds a lot more spin and curve to the ball and sends it a lot more off line.

The real important issue here is presently playing or having played baseball, I believe from my own experience as well as with coaching DJ, does not hurt or ruin a golf swing. They have a lot in common.

The Surge!

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Tmail_usa's picture

Submitted by Tmail_usa (not verified) on

I recently griped out a driver with one of the new ergonomically shaped golf grips (that looks a lot like a miniature baseball bat) and now use a basic full10 fingered hands " baseball" hands position with of course no interlock or overlapping. The results, for me at least have been startling in that I now have the same confident feeling of left side control in the down swing that I always had in baseball when swinging into a pitch. For me now there does not seem to be much difference. It has occurred to me that both baseball and golf swings get the best results when they are more or less a rotation in one plane and Pujols makes his money rotating with all ten fingers.