Golf Tempo – Important or Not?

My recent roller-coaster ride on the course was a bit of a quandary until this morning. Over the past two weeks my scores have been all over the place.  Shooting as low as 76 and as high as….well really high! It always feels like I have the same swing until I was discussing my challenges with Rick Williams from mindbodygolf and he was questioning the erratic nature of my game. After taking time to actually think about what is going on I believe I have found the solution to my woes.

Glen Abbey (23)Golf Tempo! Immediately everyone starts to visualize their drawback for the club head, the slight pause at the top, and the downward swing to a high follow through.  (I posted my swing on my YouTube channel) As I reviewed my swing, I realized my tempo was a bit quick.  Not sure if that was because of the video; ultimately it makes no difference it was a bit quick.

Zepp labs state that “tempo is the ratio of the measured time in seconds it takes to make a back swing, versus the measured rate of time in seconds it takes to make your – until impact.  This ideal ratio is 3:1.”  Their definition makes complete sense to me. Although I have never measured my swing, I notice the difference in the good shots as they are comfortable, balanced, and in control throughout the entire swing process.

The 3:1 ratio of a golf swing seems to be the accepted norm. Deb Vangellow, LPGA Master Professional, explains that the best way to attain this magical tempo is by use of a  cadence counter/metronome. I recommend using it on the range because of the potential difficulty that changing your tempo might cause. This is something I have never tried, but it seems time to do so with my Regional Golf tournament coming up in 2 weeks.

One other point about tempo that is often overlooked is how fast a player plays. This topic covers walking to their ball, pre-shot routine, how they play on the greens and how quickly a player moves from green to tee.

  • I find that if I walk slightly quicker than my normal saunter it works well for my game. This pace keeps me mentally attuned to what is happening around me, it allows for the proper amount of pre-shot preparation, and ensures I have enough gas in the tank going done the 18th fairway.
  • My pre-shot routine must stay the same. Sometimes, I actually change my routine for no reason. I know, that is crazy, but it happens.
  • On the greens, it is important to look at the break, the grain, the wind, and your line. All of these are important and should not take very long. Usually, the green is not an issue. However, it is important that I putt out everything! Sometimes I get lazy.
  • It is important for good tempo to move from the green to the tee with intent. I am not suggesting that players sprint, but getting ready to play the next hole without taking too much time helps keep the tempo (flow) of the game.

Tempo on the course and during your swing is very important. At this time, tempo appears to be a challenge of mine. Playing well on most holes demonstrates all the pieces are there, I just need to put it all together as a package.

I am off to put my new theory to work!

I am a grateful golfer!  See you on the links.


16 thoughts on “Golf Tempo – Important or Not?

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  4. Great write up, Jim! I think tempo for all golfers is important, although ideal tempos from golfer to golfer will certainly vary. Particularly when I’m under pressure or nervous the only swing thought I have is slow and smooth tempo to try and offset the natural tendency to become quick when nervous.

    Keep up the good work!



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  6. I never realized how important tempo was until I was playing a round with a (“seasoned”) buddy for the first time who has been around the game his entire life. He noticed right off the bat that I was too quick, especially on the take away.

    It took three range sessions and two rounds to finally find my ideal tempo, and since I found it, it’s been a real challenge not to regress. Best of luck, Jim.


  7. Jim, I looked at your video and while your swing tempo is a little quick, you are making a smooth transition; seems fine to me. Some players are naturally faster swingers than others. Lanny Wadkins comes to mind as one of the fastest, Kenny Perry, on the other hand has very deliberate tempo. Ultimately, I think your tempo has to match your personality. If it doesn’t then maybe look to modify.

    What has been the shot shape of your inconsistent swings? My only observation: It does look a little like you are starting that swing with your upper body and coming over the top a bit which could cause a pull/thin shot. Otherwise, your swing looks pretty sound. Good luck! Brian


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