Basic Golf Principles - Grip, The Secret, Ball Position, Uneven
Lies, Hitting it fat, Alignment and playing in the elements
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Gripping the Golf Club
There are many different ways to grip a golf club. Usually, people grip the club in
a way that feels most comfortable. Sometimes they grip the club the way they
think is the right way to fit their swing and sometimes to try to give them a little
more power. Actually, the golf grip is a little awkward and initially feels unorthodox
So, is there a proper golf grip? Not really, but there should be an established
standard grip for the individual golfer. One that works best for your individual
swing. One way to establish a standard golf grip is, stand at address. For right-
handed golfers, take your left arm with an open hand and point your fingers to
the golf ball, with the back of your hand facing the target. Cup your fingers and
lay the club in the base of this cup. Now close your hand so your thumb rests on
the grip and the forefinger and thumb form a "v" which points up the left arm.
Take the right arm with an open hand, point your fingers at the golf ball, palm
facing the target. Cup your fingers, lay the club in the base of this cup. Overlap,
interlock or place the pinky finger and index finger side by side (Baseball grip),
whichever you prefer or is most comfortable. Close your hand so the thumb lays
slightly across the shaft where the forefinger and thumb forms a "v" pointing up
the right arm. This grip is more of a standard, neutral golf grip, the hands are
neither in a weak or strong position. After determining your ball flight with this
grip, by numerous swings on the practice range, then try to adjust your hands to
find your personal standard grip, if this neutral grip isn’t right for you.
If you feel you need to adjust your grip from this neutral grip, do this one step
and many practice shots at a time.
If you are pushing or slicing the ball - turn your left hand a little clockwise, so you
can see 3 or 4 knuckles on your left hand. This will roll your hands a little more
within your swing to bring the clubface more square at impact. If you are pulling
and hooking the ball - put your left hand like the neutral grip above, then turn
your right hand a little counterclockwise. This will lessen the roll of the hands
within your swing and bring the face of the club more square at impact. Find your
standard comfortable golf grip, but remember, it's the combination of the entire
swing package that produces the great golf shot!
The often overlooked secret to golf
How many times have you heard "you’re looking up", and you think to yourself,
okay, no big deal, just keep your head down. Well, you just took that simple bit of
information way too lightly, when in reality, it is the most important piece of
instruction in golf. 90% of errant shots can be the result of "looking up"
When you look up, you take your eyes off the ball. You can’t hit what you can’t
see, and possibly miss hit the shot. When you look up, it may cause the rest of
your body to follow suit and lift up also, causing you to top the ball. When you
look up, it may cause your right shoulder to dip down, causing you to hit behind
the ball, chunking it. When you look up, it can cause your hips to open up too
early, causing the club face to open and cut across the ball, slicing it. And when
you look up, it can cause your body to open up and your swing to pull across
your body, pulling the shot.
One or maybe all of these have happened to you and you blamed it on
something mechanical in your swing. Looking up prematurely could be the cause
of any errant shot and if overlooked, could be the start of a long frustrating day
trying to figure out the many intricate details of a golf swing.
The bottom line is, if you have a pretty decent swing, trust it. If you hit a couple of
errant shots, stay focussed on keeping your head down and making good solid
contact. This will keep your swing and its mechanics in its proper position. Don’t
try to tinker with your swing and all the ensuing headaches when it the problem
could be as simple as keeping your head down.
Remember, when you look up,……… problems occur.
Ball position, in general, is based on the different length of each golf club, but
normally varies per individual. The general description of ball position is
described as follows:
At a normal stance with longest club (Driver), the ball is positioned around the
back heel of the front foot. As the clubs shorten, the ball position moves toward
your back foot, usually no further back than the middle of your stance.
Keeping the general description in mind, we recommend the following:
To determine where the position of the ball should be, practice swinging the club,
at the range or in your backyard, and see where the bottom of your arc sweeps
the ground. The bottom of your arc is where your divot is. Do this with each club
and place the ball where your divot starts. This is your optimum ball position for
Do not place the ball beyond the middle of your stance unless you are trying a
special shot (low punch, Stinger, etc.). If the bottom of your arc is more backward
than the middle of your stance then you are not shifting your weight forward. To
fix this problem click here and see correction IC1.
Remember, this is at a normal stance. If you have a severe sidehill, downhill or
uphill stance, take a few practice swings to determine your optimum ball position.
Trust what you see and you'll be surprised at the results.
A lot of golfers don’t realize that a ball sitting on some sort of incline will affect a
normal swing and golf shot. A little adjustment must be made in your swing,
thinking and stance in order to handle on a consistent basis, this type of lie.
On a side hill lie with the ball above your feet, your swing plane will definitely be
flatter than normal, similar to a baseball swing. This will cause the ball to hook.
When addressing the ball at this position, take notice of how the bottom of your
club sits in relation to the ground angle. You want the club to rest flat or parallel
to the ground like in a normal stance. This can be done by lowering your hands
and a slight bend in your wrists. This may not be totally possible, pending on the
steepness of the hill, but try to get it as close as possible. If you don’t, you may
hit the ball more on the toe of the club causing the shot to be hit "fat" and usually
short. Always be aware of your weight balance, making sure you have a good
solid stance before you swing and your balance is intact while you are swinging.
This side hill lie will try to make you fall back away from the ball, creating a missed
On a side hill lie with the ball below your feet, will require as much or even more
concentration. Once again, you want the bottom of the club to be as close as
possible to parallel with the ground when swinging. Because of the steepness of
the hill this may not be totally possible. If you don’t, the club’s heel may hit the
ground first before impact with the ball, causing a mis-hit shot. Therefore your
stance and weight balance is extremely crucial. Since the ball is lower than your
feet, you want to bend your knees a little more, do not bend more at the waist. By
bending at the knees, this lowers your center of gravity, building a more stable,
solid stance. In order to get the bottom of the club to come through parallel to the
ground, you will have to lean a little more forward so your weight is more on your
toes. The position of the ball will be closer to your feet. Your swing plane will be a
little more upright than normal causing a little outside-in swing which in turn will
make the ball slice. This side hill lie will try to make you fall forward during your
swing, so be sure to create a good solid stance, and try to keep your balance
under control during your swing.
On an uphill lie, your clubhead will reach the ground a little later in your swing. At
address, position the ball a little closer to the "higher" foot and shift more of your
weight towards that higher foot to offset the normal gravitational pull toward the
downslope. Because of the upward angle of the ground, your shot will be higher
and shorter than normal, so use a little less lofted club. For example, if you hit a 7
iron from 150 yards on a flat lie, an uphill lie will cause that 7 iron to fly higher
and travel maybe 140 yards instead. So you would need to use a 6 iron to get
the 150 yard distance needed.
On a downhill lie, your clubhead will reach the ground a little earlier in your swing.
At address, position the ball a little closer to your back foot or once again the
"higher" foot. Shift more of your weight towards that higher foot to offset the
normal gravitational pull toward the downslope. Because of the downward angle
of the ground and your stance, your shot will come out lower than normal. You
will need to hit a more lofted club for this circumstance. For example, if you hit a 7
iron from 150 yards on a flat lie, a downhill lie will cause that 7 iron to fly at a
lower trajectory and carry 160 yards. So you would need to hit an 8 iron to get
that 150 yard distance needed.
For all of the hilly lies that you may face, think your way through the shot using
the above guidelines, try to remember from previous, similar type of lies the
amount of hook or slice that will occur, ball position at set-up and also distance
control. Just to know how to hit the shot and how the ball is going to react, gives
you a great advantage to improve your personal game.
Hitting it fat
First, understand what causes a fat shot. When the club is near impact, the face
is wide open or, you’re hitting way behind the ball. There are a lot of causes that
can make these two things happen but the many causes are related to controlling
the golf swing. When you slow your swing down and try to be smooth, you hit the
ball more solid because you're in control of your swing. When one tries to kill the
ball, most times it throws tempo and timing right out the door. Trying to kill the ball
most often results in a lunge, down and hard at the ball, which opens the hips
way too early to get out of the way of the arms and hands, thus opening the
clubface. Or by lunging down at the ball, the head and body drop, causing you to
hit behind the ball. Also by trying to kill the ball, on the downswing the dominant
hand will take over and instead of rolling over naturally, the dominant hand will
slide under, opening the clubface. Looking up to see where that crushed shot
goes can also cause the back shoulder to dip down causing you to hit way
behind the ball. Refer to the insert on "looking up" in basic golf.
The bottom line is, the ball will go just as far and more consistent if you stay
within yourself and take a nice smooth swing making good solid contact, rather
than trying to kill the ball. If you want to try to kill the ball, which is a plague that
overcomes most everyone, concentrate on staying down and focussing on
making solid contact, keeping yourself and the clubface square at impact.
To get aligned perfectly every time, get a mental image of railroad tracks. Your
club face should represent the outer rail and your stance should represent the
inner rail. Walk in and set your club face on your target line, then build your
stance on the inner "rail". Use this to align yourself on every shot.
If you are unable to picture railroad tracks, another way to align your body up
properly in the direction you want to hit the ball, can be done in your pre-shot
routine. Stand behind the ball, looking at the ball and your target line. Pick a spot
one or two feet in front of your ball in line with your target. Now come back
around and address your ball keeping your eye on that spot and your golf ball.
Draw an imaginary line from the spot to your ball and set your feet up parallel to
your imaginary line. Since the imaginary line is on line with your target, your feet
and your body are also now in line with your target. Hit 'em straight!
Playing in the elements
How often are you short, long, left, or right because of ……? Most golfers really
don’t take their surroundings into consideration or else they just don’t know how
to. One of the nicest challenges in golf is that the environment has an extreme
role in your score. Whether it’s hot, cold, dry, wet, raining, high rough, hard pan,
bermuda grass, blue grass, big oaks, pines, etc., you’re right smack in the middle
of mother nature and she‘s definitely going to test your game!
The keys to playing in the wind are, you have to know your swing, more
importantly, you have to know the shot you are going to hit, and you have to
have a very creative imagination. The first thing to do is to determine the strength
of the wind. Hitting into the wind, will it affect your distance by one club, two or
more? Hitting with the wind, how much further will the ball travel? The next thing
to decide is what type of shot are you going to hit. A straight shot, fade, slice,
draw, or hook. The same wind will affect all these shots differently.
For example, you’re a right handed golfer with about a one club wind blowing
right to left, 150 yard shot, normally a 7-iron. Here is where your creativity and
imagination must shine. If you hit a straight shot, the wind will make the ball drift
about 20 feet to the left, still traveling about 150 yards. If you hit a fade, the one
club cross wind will fight the fade spin , holding the shot straight, but cutting the
distance to approximately 140 yards. The same with a slice, the cross wind will
fight the slice spin, turning it into more of a fade, also cutting the distance to
approximately 140 yards. If you hit a draw normally about 20 feet right to left, the
one club cross wind will push the draw another 20 feet left and about 10 yards
further. And if you hit a hook, the ball will travel about the same as a draw, but a
lot more left than normal.
This was just one example of a certain shot and wind strength and direction.
There are other factors that can come into play like how high or low you hit the
ball, a lower ball flight won’t be affected as much as a higher shot. Swirling winds,
varying strengths, gusts and so on. So as you can see, the more creative your
mind is, the better wind player you’ll be. Remember, you have to know the type of
shot you’re going to hit, and then picture the ball flight and spin and how the wind’
s strength and direction on the ball, will affect it’s flight.
With all this great golf advice don't forget your spouse and your family. As
advised in Ephesians 5:22-33 Husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the
church and gave himself up for her.... each one of you also must love his wife as
he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Treating your family
best of all will pay dividends in life and in golf!
If you find our method of instruction helpful, but need more direct golf instruction
for further improvement - consider a Personal Services Membership. With this
type of Membership we act as your personal golf coach - coaching you through
whatever golf problems you need help with. Click here to learn more about
Personal Services memberships.
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