Upright Golf Swing: Complete Overview

An upright golf swing is one where the arms move on a steeper plane on the backswing.  At the top of the golf swing, you will notice that the front arm is often higher or above the plane of the back shoulder.  There are advantages and disadvantages to this type of swing.

Update: Many of the greatest golfers of all time had an upright swing: Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus and some great one’s today: Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson. It is worth exploring.

Have you ever asked if you should use a more upright golf swing?

If you attend any PGA Tour event or turn the television on some weekend you will notice many different swings on the tour. 

There is no longer a cookie cutter approach to greatness when it comes to golf.  While there are some similarities at impact, there are fewer and fewer common backswings or positions that can be found in most golfers on tour.

This should be relief for most amateurs trying to get better at the game of golf.  

Stop worrying about if your swing is perfectly symmetrical and looks perfect like some of hte golfers on tour.

Instead, focus on the impact positions and reading your ball flight to make the adjustments necessary.  

Golf is supposed to be a fun game and I hope that this overview of the upright golf swing can help you understand the pros and cons.

I will leave you with some examples, quick assessment, and help you answer this key question. The ultimate is to be able to test and make your own decision based on your situation.

Always remember, golf, much like life, is a journey.  One that should be embraced and enjoyed as frequently as possible!

Regardless of your swing type, make sure you focus on scoring at some point! Own your swing! Learn more about this below!

What is an upright golf swing?

To provide clarity, the upright golf swing is usually seen as the opposite of the flat golf swing.  Here is our definition and some guidance on the flat golf swing.

What is a flat golf swing?

A flat golf swing is one where the arms move on a more shallow place on the backswing.  At the top of the golf swing, you will notice that the frost arm is often level with the back shoulder and many times below the back shoulder.  There are advantages and disadvantages to this type of swing.

Below, I will dive into the following topics:
  • Examples of the upright golf swing (3 Major Champion Winners)
  • The Pros of the upright golf swing
  • The Cons of the upright golf swing
  • Some basic fundamentals and an assessment you can use today
  • Measuring your golf swing!
  • Final Thoughts, Should you use an upright swing?

What are examples of the upright golf swing?

Upright Swing Example #1: Justin Thomas

When I think of the professional golfers and an upright swing, the first one that comes to mind is Justin Thomas.  His powerful swing has led him to be a big time winner on the PGA Tour and even a major champion winner.  His upright swing is one that has been guided by his father over the years and helps him play at a high level.

Check out a Justin Thomas Golf Swing Below:

Notice how high his hands and arms get at the top of the backswing.  Also notice, how he shallows the club on the way down by allowing his arms to drop a bit before turning and coming through.

Upright Swing Example #2: Jack Nicklaus

Arguably, the greatest golfer of all time, Nicklaus utilized the upright swing, especially early in his career to dominate and win many majors.  The 18 time major champion had a classic, powerful swing that generator impressive ball speeds and overall distance.

The arms and the hand went high as he activated his legs for the downswing.  

Check out this classic swing:

Upright Swing Example #3: Dustin Johnson

Another major champion that has an upright swing is Dustin Johnson.  One thing all three of these golfers have in common is some rather impressive distance. 

They have the swing speed to dominate golfer courses and sometimes the field they are competing against.  I would stay way from the left hand position at the top of the golf swing for most amateurs.  It can be a tricky position to try to hit from, but do check out the height of his hands and left arm.

What are the pros of an upright golf swing?

There are several pros to the upright golf swing.  The first being that it is often easier on the body as it takes less turning and twisting.  The second is the ability to hit shots out of the deep rough. 

The steeper swing allows the golfer great access to the golf ball.  The third is the simplicity in the swing and less reliance on the body rotation to hit a shot.  The golfer is able to rely more on the movements of the hands and arms.

What are the cons of an upright golf swing?

Many golfers have now turned to a more rotational based swing, which can reduce the amount of club face rotation through the hitting zone.  Many flatter swings have been taught with the focus on producing more shallow swings to allow for the body rotation and maximizing distance.

Some basic fundamentals and an assessment you can use today!

The Stack and Tilt Instructors said it best when they described what they believed were the fundamentals of golf.  They explained it somewhat similar to this:

  • Fundamental #1: The golfer’s ability to control the bottom of the golf swing.  The best golfers will hit the ground in the intended spot, close to 100% of the time.
  • Fundamental #2: The golfer’s ability to control the curve of the golf ball. The best golfers are able to start the ball to the right or left of the target line and have the ball curve towards the target without the ball over curving past the target.
  • Fundamental #3: The golfer’s ability to have enough power to play the golf course.  This means they are able to hit the ball far enough to play the course in regulation.

Regardless of your swing type these fundamentals and the assessment below should help you determine the type of swing you want to use your game! 

Don’t get trapped into thinking that you have to swing one way or another to be successful.  Instead complete the assessment below and make sure you make your own decisions based on the performance and your capability to consistently producing a quality swing.

Quick Assessment:

  • Fundamental #1: How many times can you strike the ground in the spot where you want out of 20 attempts.
  • Fundamental #2: Can you start the ball at your intended target 7 times out of 10?
  • Fundamental #3: Does your swing provide enough power to play the course you play?

Use these fundamentals and this assessment tool to figure out which swing is best for you!

You can revisit these three fundamentals frequently to measure your growth and to keep you on the right track towards reaching your goals.

Measuring your golf swing!

I would recommend the following next steps for you in your journey of golf.

  • Go ahead and complete the assessment on the three fundamentals listed above.
  • Explore and experiment with a more upright swing.
  • Stick with your adjustments for at least 2-4 weeks and monitor your progress with the assessment and make sure you check your ball flight numbers.
  • Measure your ball flight numbers on a launch monitor.  It helps if you have before and after data on clubhead speed, ball speed, launch angle, spin axis, etc.  
I would recommend one of the three launch monitors listed below:

I personally used the SkyTrak Launch Monitor and am able to use it in my golf simulator setup in my garage and take to the driving range or course.  The real time data on ball speed, spin rates and spin axis gives me the feedback I know to test out different clubs and setups on my drivers or what clubs I am hitting the best.

The affordability of these products is rather impressive and if you are serious about improving your game, you have to check these out!

There are many options on the market today. Check out our three recommendations above.

Final Thoughts, Should I use an upright golf swing?

I have played a lot of golf with many different types of golf swings.  I have seen people swing it flat and others swing it steep.  I have seen a lot of body movement and very little body movement.  The main commonality among all of these golfers is that they could all shoot some rather impressive scores.  

The key here is to be able to measure your swing changes.  Utilize your camera on your smartphone, the assessment above and truly consider investing in a launch monitor to give you the immediate feedback on your most important information related to your golf swing!

Check out our post on the weirdest golf swings of all time

This could help you answer this question for your game!  I don’t want to ruin it for you, but you will see all types of swings that produced great golf shots on a consistent basis.

Find your swing in your golf journey and go with it.  Understand what causes your good shots and your poor shots and find the way to complete drills to help you hit your better shots more often!

BONUS DRILL: Increase your swing speed through overspeed training

  • Check out SuperSpeed Overspeed Training Protocols
  • Train every other day for 10-15 minutes.
  • See a 4-6% increase in swing speed as early as the first training protocol.

The number one thing that has helped me gain significant distance is the SuperSpeed Training System.  This overspeed based system where you train every other day for about 10-15 minutes with different swing sticks can help you increase your swing speed by 5-8% which can be 20-30 yards.  Who wouldn’t want an extra 20-30 yards.  Plus it helps improve your mechanics.

SuperSpeed Golf – Use Discount Code Golfjourney365 for some savings!

The analytics are pretty clear on the importance of speed in the game of golf.  Would you rather hit your approach shot from 130 yards of 160 yards? 

The answer is pretty simple!  We know that over the course of time, we will hit shots from 130 yards much closer than from 160 yards, whether we are an average amateur golfer, a scratch golfer, or a PGA Tour member!  

The key is having shorter approach shots, so we can hit the ball closer to the hole and then make more putts!  Speed is king in the game of golf!  Make sure you check out SuperSpeed Golf!

My Secret To Golf Improvement

Let’s face it, in order to get really good at golf, we must practice frequently.  About three years ago, I made the leap and invested in a golf simulator build for my garage. 

I went with a SkyTrak Launch Monitor and the TGC software and can now play over 100,000 courses including Augusta, Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black, Whistling Straits. St. Andrews and many other of the top 100 courses in the world.

This golf simulator setup, which is more affordable that you might imagine, has been a game changer.  I can now play golf everyday of the year regardless of rain, snow, cold weather or time of day.  I can practice or play rounds of golf. 

I can stand in the 11th fairway at Augusta and with the auto-rewind feature I am able to practice my approach shots from various differences.

It is worth checking out through Rain or Shine Golf as they offer some incredible packages along with financing offers that are difficult to beat.

Some direct links to Rain or Shine Golf for pricing and financing:

Take Action – What You Can Do Today to Get Better

What does this mean for you?  I believe in the following recipe to get better:

1 – Improve your motion in the golf swing by identifying a golf instructor.  Here are some options:

Here is a list of golf instructors that we have reviewed:

2 – Train to swing faster and improve your swing speed.  Here are some options:

Looking to gain more Speed and Distance in your swing. Two Options:

3 – Understand course strategy and work to break through your next barrier.  Here is a series on breaking through:

We have provided guides on how to break 100, 90, 80 and 70. Check out more below, if interested.

4 – Practice Frequently

Did you know that I build a golf simulator in my garage and have played over 500 rounds of golf on my SkyTrak system?  It has been a game changer and one worth checking out. Here are some of my other posts on golf simulators frequently asked questions:

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