It don't mean a thing if you ain't got that swing! And, the swing is where all good golf games begin.
Take a tip, or several, from a golf pro who can help you make that hole without digging yourself into one...
TO START - GRIP AND POSTURE While
this may be obvious to some you would be surprised by the number
of people that work on their swing without starting with their
grip. There is a neutral grip for any golfer! That grip is where
YOUR arm hangs down from the shoulder socket and the angle of
YOUR target side hand. It makes no difference whether you use
an overlapping, interlocking, and ten-finger (baseball) grip.
What IS critical is the angle the club lies in your hand.
To find YOUR
neutral grip, first take your address position, but without a
club, and let both arms hang downward from the shoulder sockets
with NO TENSION. Most golfers will find that their target side
arm hangs somewhere between the middle of the target side thigh
to the inside of the thigh (depending on the width of stance and/or
the width of the chest). As you look down at your target side
hand pay attention to the angle it hangs. Some of you will see
two knuckles of the hand, some will see three, and some may even
see four. It doesn't matter how many you see! Whatever the number,
this is YOUR bodies way of telling you its natural tendency and
that is the neutral angle for YOUR grip! When you place your target
side hand on the club it should be at the same angle you just
The club then
runs diagonally from between the first and second joint of the
index finger to the base of the pinkie finger. Close the fingers
and then close the hand with the heel pad on top of the shaft
with the thumb to the backside of the shaft. This supplies pressure
from the heel pad downward and the last three fingers exert pressure
upward. Then take the lifeline of the trailing hand, located between
the thumb and heel pads, and place it on the thumb of the target
side hand. The lifeline against the thumb exerts the pressure
here; the right forefinger should be separated, in a "triggering
position", but with no pressure.
It is important
to understand that the forefinger and target side thumb both be
on the same side and angle of the shaft for the best support.
The trailing thumb should be on the target side of the shaft.
You never want the thumbs to exert any pressure. Finally, in order
for the hands to work together, they must be parallel to each
of the player's level of golf anyone can get into a posture that
looks as good as any Tour Player, it takes no athletic ability
to get into a proper posture! For full swing shots, other than
a Driver, the inside of the heels should be as wide as the outside
of the hips (for a Driver the inside of the heels as wide as the
outside of the shoulders). Push the hips sockets back and up so
that the pelvis is at an angle, not horizontal to the ground.
As you push the hips back, and up, this will lower the chest and
place the weight toward the back of the arch of the foot. Simply
unlock your knees, you'll feel a little pressure above the kneecaps,
and let the arms hang limply downward from the shoulder socket.
There should be NO TENSION in the arms or shoulders. Some players
like to tilt their upper bodies slightly away from target as the
final set-up adjustment and just because your trailing hand is
lower than the target side hand this is acceptable, just don't
overdue it. Now you have YOUR grip and posture.
position is the most misunderstood portion of the entire set-up.
There have been many opinions about ball position. Some say one
position for every shot, others say move it around depending on
the club. All of the guesswork is taken out however if the golfer
would set the club at address as the manufacturer designed it.
All clubs, except for the Driver, are designed so that the grip
end of the club is ahead of the clubhead if soled properly, this
means the shaft leans forward, not vertical or backwards! If you
address the ball, with say a 5 iron, and the shaft is vertical
then even before you swing you've added loft and turned it into
a seven iron!
5 iron is designed to have approximately 8 degrees of forward
lean at address. The best players in the world, using that same
5 iron, have upwards of 15 degrees at Impact! This turns it into
a 3 iron! Having said that you have the option of setting up to
the ball with the shaft vertical as long as you can get into the
proper Impact position?the shaft leans forward at Impact!
also has the "option" of starting with the shaft, and
hands, at a mid-body position. We also need to cover where the
ball is located in relation to the player's upper body, not the
feet. The width of the stance changes during the course of a round
but the width of the upper body does not. In addition, the target
side shoulder socket is the low point of the arc and the fulcrum
of the target side arm swing. Therefore the ball with a wedge
will be in the center of the chest, in line with the sternum,
for full swing shots, the 5 iron under the target side of the
chest, and the Driver at the low point, which is the shoulder
vary depending on whether the player has exceptionally wide shoulders,
but for the most part these locations will be fine for irons but
the target side shoulder socket IS the LOW POINT and the Driver
MUST be played at this location for straight shots!
Back of this
location produces a fade, with no manipulation, and forward of
this location produces a draw, with no manipulation. You may see
some players playing the ball back, or forward, of the target
side shoulder socket but these players must either change the
shoulder location at Impact, by leaning backward with the upper
body, or must manipulate the clubface to hit a straight shot.
AIM and ALIGNMENT As you take
your grip you must be sure the leading edge of the clubface square.
The leading edge is the edge closest to the ball. Always set the
clubface first, perpendicular to the target line, then set your
feet, knees, hips, eyes, and shoulders parallel to the target
ARE PARALLEL TO EACH OTHER! NEVER AIM YOUR BODY AT THE TARGET!
What is the object of golf? To get the ball in the hole with the
fewest strokes as possible! To aid in alignment it is imperative
that you utilize a procedure called an "Intermediate Target".
The intermediate target is something between the ball and the
target. It could be a piece of discolored grass, an edge of a
divot, a broken tee, etc. It should be within your peripheral
vision, so that you don't have to lift your head.
CLUB Because we
play golf on an Inclined Plane this dictates that the club MUST
move on an arc. That means the club head is only on the base on
the Plane Line approximately 2 inches during the swing! It also
means that the club always moves in 3 dimensions.
dimension is backward, upward, and inward all simultaneously and
On Plane. The keyword for Backstroke is "BACK". The
hands and arms control the backward and upward movement of the
club. Therefore, if you did not make a shoulder turn the clubhead
WOULD NOT move inside the baseline. The shoulder turn moves the
club inward, NOT back and up. So if the player just turned their
shoulders, without any hand or arm movement, then the club would
be inside but not back and up.
movements MUST work together to achieve the proper sequence. The
trailing forearm moves the club on Plane by "tracing"
the Plane. The bending, and folding of the trailing elbow also
raises and lowers the club and cocks and uncocks the target side
raise the arms and club by lifting from the shoulders sockets!
The Downstroke dimension is downward, outward, and forward. Once the player has reached full extension (follow-through) then the club moves again upward, inward, and backward. This completes the 3 dimensional swing.
LENGTH OF ARC What does this term mean? Simply put, length of arc means how far back YOU can take the club. Some players may be able to take their hands high above their heads in the backswing while others can only get their hands to shoulder height, or less. It doesn't matter! However far you can take the club and still maintain structure is the end of YOUR swing! You can increase your length of arc by increasing your range of motion. (see your local physical therapist for exercises to increase your range of motion).
LET'S GET STARTED Before every shot you play there must be a sequential order of events. First of course we have to find our golf ball. Once the ball is located we then must examine the type of lie we have, the distance to the target, the shot shape desired, the wind conditions (if any), how we're feeling that particular day, whether to play aggressively or conservatively or somewhere in between (this depends on our style), and finally choosing the correct club for the type of shot.
We can't call this a "pre-shot routine" because there is nothing routine about a golf shot! There are always factors to be decided and these factors constantly change. So we would encourage you to use the phrase "PRE-SHOT". Pre-shot may or may not include a dress rehearsal of the swing, a practice swing. During the practice swing you're getting a feel for the mechanics involved in hitting the shot and visualizing the ball flight.
ADDRESS AND SET-UP Once we have gone through our pre-shot we now start the initial mechanical and mental programming procedures. Approach the ball from behind and follow this order for success. Verify these six Impact Alignments.
Clubface to Target Line Grip to Clubface Hands to Ball the Plane Angle Pressure Points Position of the Trailing Forearm Balance, Grip, and Plane Line MUST be verified before EVERY shot!
Now we're ready to start the backstroke.
Once address is completed we can start the backstroke. As discussed earlier, this involves two separate movements. These movements are controlled from the waist up. The lower body should be moved by the upper body if the player is flexible enough, if not, then allow it to move freely in both directions. The hands and arms = the vertical plane. The shoulders = the horizontal or inclined plane
At this point we would like to remind you that Address and Impact are NOT THE SAME! The only thing that has not changed is the ball position.
You may use any backstroke procedure you choose and there are basically three to choose from.
A one piece takeaway: Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods
A two piece takeaway: Ernie Els, David Duval, Karrie Webb, Anika Sorenstam
A three piece takeaway: Raymond Floyd, Nancy Lopez Choose any one you wish that feels comfortable and natural.
the backstroke? Ask ten different instructors and you will get
ten different answers.
Some player's feel it starts with turning
the shoulders, some feel it may be the hips, and still others
think and feel it's the hands.
We believe it is a combination
of the hands, trailing forearm, AND shoulder turn that start the
backstroke. Earlier we talked about the role of the hands, arms,
and shoulders during the backstroke. They absolutely must work
together and synchronous if the club is to stay on plane!
As the club
starts back the clubhead must point at the base of the plane line
until the clubshaft reaches parallel to the plane line and horizontal
to the ground. As the club starts upward then the butt of the
club must point at an extension of the base of the plane until
it reaches the top of the swing. If you can't get the clubshaft
to parallel, then the butt of the club MUST point to the base
of the plane line. If you are one of the few that can get the
shaft to parallel, then it should be parallel to the base of the
The hip sequence
(how the hips move) for full swing shots is always the same. They
Turn, Slide, Turn. A great majority of players think the hips
slide in the backstroke (shifting weight). While this certainly
is an option it eliminates creating any rotating force of the
body. A better procedure would be the one described above and
is the option that the majority of the world's best players use.