The Slingshot Golf Swing

The slingshot golf swing is a pretty new construct. It became really popularized with the success of Dustin Johnson and today we see many players performing it. Victor Hovland, Cameron Young, Cameron Champ and Joaquin Niemann to name a few. Matthew Wolf showcase the extreme form and Colin Morikawa showcase some degrees of it.

My name is Petter Tärbe and I have a history as a decent scratch player, a golf instructor for some years, but first and foremost I’m a huge golf development nerd that loves to pass on what I know.

At the bottom of the article here I have made a list of all the weird terms I use in my writing. Just scroll down if you get stuck.

The General Look

If you freeze frame impact you will see hips open at 60-70 degrees and shoulders that 20-30 degrees open (it looks more “square” because of the tilts). You will also see a detached lead arm where the elbow is pointing towards the target. The trail arm is considerably bent.

From a motion perspective you often see high hands in the backswing and a clubface that is “shut”. You also get more of a swing than a hit feeling from watching the swings.

This is basically the technique that most youtube influencers show off…

Does the slingshot golf swing Fit You?

I’m a big believer in matching your golfing persona to the technique you try to accomplish. (read more about this in my change guide)

This type of swing motion is a good match with golfers that are more swinger/laid back in their personality. It’s also a swing motion that demands exceptional control of your body and overall strength in the top tier category. 

Finally you need to be able to “think” your golf swing when transitioning into this swing. Once you are done you can reduce your conscious thoughts into the pattern. 

If you have performed sports that are slightly similar to this like baseball, ice hockey or general body control centric activities like dancing, this will be a huge advantage to you.

For most golfers, like me, that just have a big old blur in the downswing - this swing isn’t for you. You can drill away but drills only take you that far… 

Technique Explained

Chronological Perspective

I call this a 3 Beat Swing from a timing and chronological perspective.

  1. Beat 1 - In the backswing you make sure to get your hands in and your shaft vertical. You accompany this with high hands, left lateral side bend and centered pelvis. You can already start bowing your lead wrist here (otherwise you need to that in the transition). You make as big of a turn as possible and make sure that your hips are at least 45 degrees open.
  2. Beat 2 - In the downswing (top of backswing to shaft parallel (p6)) you lay down the shaft through rotating your forearms (which rotates your humerus bone and puts your trail shoulder in external rotation and your lead shoulder in internal rotation = turn the steering wheel to the right) and at the same time bowing your lead and cupping your trail wrists. This makes you shallow the shaft and get your hands low enough to do the release move. Already in the early downswing you will start doing a full body rotation (some people lead with their hips from a rotation perspective but this will create too much X-factor that will indeed lead to injury). This rotation accompanied with the arms move will now create a stretch in your muscles = the sling is created. Also here you need to start creating right lateral bend in the swing to reach the ball at all. The last detail of the down swing is that you build pressure down into the ground. This is what is referred to as the squat move. It will be used in the next segment.
  3. Beat 3 - The release is a full body style release that starts from the shaft parallel position to the follow through (a feeling of very early). In the start of the sequence your hands are in their lowest position. Now you start using the built up pressure in the ground to start pushing away from your lead foot and pulling the handlebar up, to the left and behind you. This is what I call the explosion and this builds massive speed through ground forces and the breaking mechanism of the hand path. To perform this full body release you need to add right lateral bend continuously through the release section. (This is why players in the swing style looks so right bent)

Ok, so now you see what I mean with it’s very few people that are made for this swing right?

Power Sources

The big downswing move actually creates a very long club head travel = it gives a lot of starting juice for a solid explosion. The higher the hands, the more power potential (think Cameron Young).

The arms that lag the body in the downswing creates a huge stretch that now wants to revert to its original state. This is a big sling power source.

Finally the explosion style release with its very effective breaking mechanism is maybe the most powerful thing in golf. I normally hit my 7 iron 155 meters. If I just go into a fake release start position (shaft parallel), make a small backswing and explode I can hit it 170 meters easily. And I suck at the explosion compared to the pros.

The hands release is a “non rotational based” slap hinge release which basically means that you do the opposite of Ben Hogan. From the lead hand perspective you go from bowed to cupped after impact. This in itself is a power mechanism and it will help you keep a stable clubface through impact. Yes, you will use some forearm rotation (because that’s how the club is constructed) but it will be maybe half of e.g. Ben Hogan.

The shaft lean fake power comes from that you massively deloft your clubs. You will have a dynamic loft of 15-18 degrees on a 7 iron. So the ball flight just becomes more effective from a penetrative perspective. That’s why DJ can hit a 11 degree driver low ball.

Grip, Arms & Face Closure

Most of these players have strong grips (you see a lot of knuckles) and this is a matchup with the armposition at the freezeframe impact. The lead arm is away from the body which matches with a stronger grip. 

Exactly how strong the grip is depends on how much you rotate (the more rotation the stronger), and you can even see the effect of the sling here. E.g. Victor Hovland has a bent left arm at impact.

The closing of the face happens with some forearm rotation (to the left) but mostly with the cupping/bowing of the wrists (hence, you can’t slap too early because then the ball is going to the right).

Key Drivers for the slingshot swing

The most prominent factor is that you NEED to fit from a personality perspective with this swing. It’s not backswing and hit the ball. It’s backswing and a downswing that feels like a lifetime and then the very satisfying body release. It’s a 3 beat swing and giving you the mental space in beat 2 (the downswing) is paramount for your success.

To be able to rotate your body from a centered position you need to create a left pelvic tilt on top of your backswing. Without this nothing works.

You need to be relaxed in your body and your arms for the sling to work properly. If you like to grip the club tightly, just look for another technique.

Once you are into the pattern it starts to feel good fluidity will be a major factor for your success. This dance of a swing is (sorry for broken record) in 3 beats and you need to be fluid.

Transition into Basic Motion

Study the three different parts of the swing with experts (I share them after this section).

Start with the beat. Start with counting 1, 2 and 3 while you are swinging because again, the whole swing is based on that the second beat really fits. No golf ball. You can even use a towel or something as a replacement for the club.

Once you are ok with the tempo I train the individual beats separately and then I tie them together. I do this completely without a golf ball.

This will take you 2-3 days (of loads of small sessions) just to get the feeling for it.

Now introduce the ball and accept fully that the ball will fly all over the place. You learn to build the power source. Power first. Aim second.

Likely you’ll miss heavily to the right. Now introduce the bowing lead/cupping the trail of the wrists in the downswing. Hit balls at all times and work with the beat.

Once you are decently straight you just work on fluidity to start timing it. Now your task is to take your swing thoughts and simplify them.

Congratulations. This is the baseline of this swing. You are one of maybe 4-5% of golfers that can actually achieve this.

Experts with Deeper Information

George Gankas, who is pretty much the lifelong coach of  Matthew Wolff,  teaches this

Milo Lines explains the technique very clearly on his Youtube channel

Kelvin Miyahira. Mentioning this sub-legend of the training world is needed when covering this technique. He was active up to 2016 and you can find loads of articles on his website. Disclaimer - This is as heavy of a read as you can find and it likely leads you into a rabbit hole where years go by. Website:

Not your style of swing? Read more about other frameworks:

Interested in the deeper dynamics of how you actually go about and change your swing? Go into my How to change your golf swing guide here.

The Hogan Golf Swing - Ben Hogan's foundations used by Tiger, Rory and many many others.

The Old School Swinger Golf Swing. This would be more Bobby Jones, Nicklaus or Scheffler.

The MORAD 86 Golf Swing. One of the best swings ever of course by Mac O'Grady.

Or by all means - just go to the main page for much more heavily researched golf information.

Terminology used in Article

Left & right lateral bend = stand straight up and contract your lats (latissimus dorsi) to create a side bend. The bend happens in the chest region from a vertical perspective and shouldn’t be confused with the side bend which starts from the waist.

Left Pelvic Tilt = This basically means that you lower your left side more than your right side of your pelvis in the squat move that is needed in the downswing. This opens up the hip and makes rotation possible.

Cupping & Bowing = Bowing is Dustin Johnson's left hand on top of the backswing. Cupping is the opposite. Hold your right arm straight out in front of you with your thumb pointing straight up. Hinge to the right = cupping (or extension). Hinge to the left = bowing (or flexion)

P6 = Shaft parallel to the ground in the downswing. It’s a Mac O Grady term.

Humerus bone = The bone inside of your biceps and triceps

Shoulder external and internal = Take your right arm and hold it straight out in front of you with thumb straight up. Rotate your entire arm to make the thumb go 90 degrees to the right. This puts your right shoulder in external rotation. The opposite is internal.

X-factor = Come to a huge turn in the backswing with 45 degrees rotated hips and 90-110 degrees rotated shoulders. Start the downswing with just spinning the hips before the chest. This is called X-factor and it demolishes your body.

Breaking mechanism = For the club to fully release you need to create a deceleration of the hand path in relation to where they came from. In this pattern the hands come from the inside from a low position and the break is that you switch around the path up and left. This triggers the club to release.

Squat move = exactly what it sounds like. Go to the top backswing position and sink into the ground like you are performing a squat on the gym.

Club head travel = the path that the clubhead takes in a swing. If the path is long in the downswing it has more room to accelerate.

Slap hinge release = it basically means that you are using trail hand cup to bowl (hinge motions) and lead hand bowl to cup (hinge motions) as a power mechanism. You basically “slap” with your hinging motions

Shaft lean = how many degrees does the shaft lean in a face on camera angle of a freeze frame impact position. Nothing more to it than that.

Dynamic loft = the actual loft that the ball is launching at which is a result of your clubs loft and the amount of shaft lean you have.