Golf Pre Shot Routine

46

GOLF GRIP TERMS

Don Beatty, PGA Director of Golf, Garden City Country Club, Garden City, New York


We often hear golfers talk about a “strong” or “weak” grip. What are they talking about? The placement of the hands on the handle of the club. The placement of the hands affects every part of the golf swing and the distance the player will hit the ball. In a strong grip, a “V” formed by the thumb and forefingers of both hands will point below the back shoulder. In a weak grip, that “V” will point to your chin. In a neutral grip, that “V” will point to the back ear.

47

WHICH GRIP IS BEST FOR ME?

Don Beatty, PGA Director of Golf, Garden City Country Club, Garden City, New York


A weak grip should be used only by very strong players who tend to hook the ball too much. A strong grip should be used by most players, as the player will easily be able to return the club face squarely to the ball. Many expert players use a strong grip. A neutral grip can be used by advanced players who have no problem slicing the ball.

48

THE VARDON GOLF GRIP

Shawn Baker, PGA Director of Golf, the Greens at Half Hollow, Melville, New York


The Vardon Grip was introduced by the great English player, Harry Vardon. His concept was to somewhat join the hands so they would act more like one unit on the handle of the club. To use this grip, slip the pinky finger of your right hand over the space between the forefinger and middle finger of your left hand. The club is held in the palms and fingers of the left hand and more in the fingers of the right hand. This grip is recommended for players with medium to large hands.

49

KEEP YOUR ELBOWS TOGETHER

Tom Joyce, PGA Pro Emeritus, Glen Oaks Golf Club, Maiden, North Carolina


One of my keys has always been to try to keep my elbows the same distance apart during the swing. If my elbows are four to five inches (10–12.5 centimeters) apart at address, they should be the same distance apart in the takeaway, the top of the backswing, at impact, and in the follow-through. The more the arms can stay that same distance apart, the more consistently I, and my students, will play.

50

CAN I USE THE INTERLOCKING GRIP?

Matthew Guyton, PGA Teaching Pro, Old Westbury Golf & Country Club, Old Westbury, New York


Several great players use the interlocking grip—Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, to name two of the best. To use this grip, place the pinky of the right hand between the forefinger and middle finger of the left hand. The club is held in the palms and fingers of the left hand and more in the fingers of the right hand. This grip is recommended for players with small- to medium-size hands.

51

THE BASEBALL GRIP

Ron McDougal, PGA Director of Golf, Old Westbury Golf & Country Club, Old Westbury, New York


The ten-finger or “baseball” grip puts all your fingers on the club. You simply place the hands close to each other on the club, but they are not joined in any way. This is a good method for players who find the other two grips uncomfortable or who have small hands. Players should try different styles of holding the club, as it is very much a personal preference.

52

THE GOLF GRIP

Ron McDougal, PGA Director of Golf, Old Westbury Golf & Country Club, Old Westbury, New York


The most important part of the golf swing is the proper grip. The grip must be correct so the wrists hinge properly on the backswing and unhinge properly on the forward swing. This hinging is similar to the hinges on a door. As the club face swings on the backswing, the toe of the club appears to open. As the club face hits the ball, the club face will be square. After the ball has been struck, the club face will rotate and appear to close. Holding the handle of the club in the fingers and high in the palm in the top hand will ensure the proper grip and hinging.

53

THE HANDLE MUST LEAD THE CLUB HEAD

Scott Hawkins, PGA Director of Golf, Glen Head Country Club, Glen Head, New York


For solid contact with the golf ball, the handle of the club must be ahead of the club head at impact. Most golfers instinctively try to lift the ball into the air, allowing the club head to pass the ball. The result is a scooping action that is not powerful or consistent. In a good swing, the handle is ahead of the club face, and your body weight is on your front foot when you strike the ball.

54

THE CORRECT GRIP

John Cleanthes, PGA Teaching Pro, Haystack Golf Club, Wilmington, Vermont


Turn the top hand (the left for right-handed players) over a little. This is correct for all golfers and particularly good for players looking to correct a slice. When you take your grip, you should not be able to see the fingernails of your top hand. If the top hand is not over far enough, you will have trouble squaring the club face at impact.

55

GRIP PRESSURE

Jay Morelli, Director of the Original Golf School, Mount Snow, Vermont


How tightly you hold on to the club can certainly affect the flight of the ball. Hooking, slicing, and straight shots can be created by different grip pressure. Soft grip pressure will promote a normal release and rotation of the club. The resulting shot will be a draw. Tighter grip pressure will reduce the amount of release and promote a straight shot or a slice. A very tight grip will restrict the release, which will produce a slice. At no time should the club be held very tightly.

56

GRIP IT IN THE FINGERS

Mary Slinkard-Scott, PGA/LPGA Teaching Pro, the Plantation Golf Resort, Crystal River, Florida


Grip the handle of the golf club in the fingers for straighter and longer shots. Many golfers hold the handle in the palm of the top hand. This is a weak position and results in a slice and a lack of power. To get the proper feel of finger and palm, turn your club upside down so you are holding the shaft. Take your hand on and off the shaft a number of times until holding the club in your fingers begins to feel comfortable.

57

PERFECT POSTURE

Erik Sorensen, PGA Director of Golf, Dorset Field Club, Dorset, Vermont


The starting position in golf is crucial to establishing a strong, repeating swing. To attain the correct posture, stand straight, holding the club waist-high in front of you. Now tilt or bow from the hips. To balance the tilt, stick out your tailbone. Wherever the club touches the ground indicates the correct distance from the ball. Your spine should be straight but at an angle established by the tilt. (If you tilt from the hips and don’t stick out your tailbone, your body weight will go to your toes and you will start the swing out of balance.) A good test is that you should be able to wiggle your toes in your shoes. That will show that your body weight is in the middle of your feet, where it should be.

58

YOUR KNEES AND YOUR GOLF SWING

Shawn Baker, PGA Director of Golf, the Greens at Half Hollow, Melville, New York


What happens to your knees while you’re swinging the club will determine what type of shot you hit. Your back knee will straighten during your backswing (for some players, only a little; for others, a lot). Your front knee will bend on your backswing. What your knees do on the downswing will determine the contact you make with the ball and the ground, as well as what path your club will travel on the downswing. Here’s how it breaks down:

  1. The left knee should remain flexed. It has to move toward the target, eventually getting ahead of your left foot.
  2. The right knee will regain the flex it had at address.
  3. The left knee will begin to straighten on the downswing but remain slightly flexed until after impact. Then it will straighten.
  4. The right knee will pivot toward the target.

59

THE CORRECT KNEE ACTION TO BETTER GOLF SHOTS

Douglas Miller, PGA Professional, Gold Coast Golf Center, Woodbury, New York


You can work on having the correct knee action to cure poor ball striking. Right-handed golfers who straighten the left leg and knee too soon will tend not to transfer their weight, creating an outside-to-inside swing, resulting in a high, weak slice. Strong players who tend to hook the ball too much would benefit from straightening the left leg sooner. Most average players would benefit from keeping the front knee bent as long as they possibly can in their swing.

60

THE BACK KNEE IS THE KEY

Douglas Miller, PGA Professional, Gold Coast Golf Center, Woodbury, New York


Some of the most common problems I see on the lesson tee include:

  1. Topping the ball.
  2. Failing to transfer weight to the forward foot.
  3. Swaying during the swing.

The key is to focus on the right knee (the left knee for my left-handed friends). At the address position, both knees should be slightly flexed. Throughout the swing, think of the right knee and shin as a solid post—they will act as a stable base. This will make it much easier to move your left side during the downswing and will eliminate both the sway and the topped shot.

61

GOOD TEMPO

David Burnell, PGA Teaching Pro, Burlington Country Club, Burlington, Vermont


Good tempo is very important to great golf and low scores. There are keys to achieving the smoothest swing possible. Remember to relax everything—hands, arms, and shoulders. Breathe deeply. Stay in balance.

62

HIP, HIP, HOORAY!

Don Beatty, PGA Director of Golf, Garden City Country Club, Garden City, New York


Many errors in the golf swing are attributed to an incorrect rotation of the hips on the backswing. Many either sway the hips or don’t allow them to turn at all. When you begin your backswing, allow your right hip (for right-handed players) to turn back. This will allow your shoulders to turn, which, in turn, will shift your weight to your back leg. At the top of your backswing, you should feel your weight on the inside of your back foot, and your back knee should be slightly bent. From this position, simply turn your right hip back into the shot.

63

SWING LIKE A SWAN

Amanda Arciero, PGA/LPGA Teaching Pro, Fresh Meadow Country Club, Lake Success, New York


Years ago, I watched Ernie Els hit a 225-yard (206-meter) iron shot to the fifteenth green at the Masters. He swung so easily I thought he was laying up, yet the ball landed on the green! Ernie swings the club with effortless grace and style—a model for all of us. His rhythm and tempo on the backswing create stored power that is released at the bottom of his downswing. Most of us have the urge to start the backswing quickly, which will invariably make the start of the downswing fast. This quick start to the backswing and downswing will actually make the club head move more slowly through impact! Try to mimic the tempos of Ernie Els, Fred Couples, or Annika Sörenstam. They know how to swing like a swan, not a duck, and they look great!

64

OBLIVIOUS TO THE OBVIOUS

Don Beatty, PGA Director of Golf, Garden City Country Club, Garden City, New York


All golfers should check their clubs for the wear patterns. Many golfers are unaware of where they are mis-hitting the ball. Look carefully at the faces of your clubs, particularly the short irons, to see where most of the contact is made. Off-center hits rob you of distance and accuracy. If you do see a wear pattern, simply do the opposite. If you tend to hit the ball off the toe of the club, address the ball in the heel. If you tend to hit the ball on the heel, address it on the toe. Golf is a game of opposites.

65

START THE SWING TOGETHER

Ron McDougal, PGA Director of Golf, Old Westbury Golf & Country Club, Old Westbury, New York


Years ago, I had the pleasure of playing with Tommy Bolt. He was one of the best ball strikers ever. I asked him what his key was in starting the swing. He said that everything simply went back together. Modern teachers would call this a connectedswing. The club head, hands, arms, and center of the body stay together in the takeaway, and then throughout the swing.

66

BALANCE

Kevin Harrington, PGA Head Professional, Mount Snow Golf Club, West Dover, Vermont


If your drives aren’t going well, remember that your balance is one of the biggest indicators of a proper swing. Good drivers of the ball finish standing tall, with weight on their forward foot, and with their belt buckle and the center of their body facing the target. If you can’t hold this position until the ball hits the ground, you are out of balance. If you’re having difficulty with your balance, try a balance rod. It will show you where your weight is distributed during your shot and quickly help you correct any imbalances.

67

WHAT DO YOU SWING AT?

Dick Capasso, PGA Teaching Pro, Augusta, Georgia


Most of my students say they swing at the ball. And most of them do. Good players swing at the target and just let the ball get in the way of the swing. Swinging at the ball creates a choppy swing with no follow-through. Swinging at the target creates a fluid swing with a full follow-through.

68

ALIGNMENT

Ron McDougal, PGA Director of Golf, Old Westbury Golf & Country Club, Old Westbury, New York


To play well, you have to be aligned properly. The feet, hips, and shoulders are all aligned parallel to the line of flight. An experienced player can line all parts open, as Lee Trevino did. Sam Snead lined all parts closed. Most professional players today line feet, hips, and shoulders parallel to the target. It is very difficult to play if the feet are closed and the shoulders are open, or vice versa. It’s like the transmission of a car. The gears must be lined up so all the parts work together smoothly.

69

THE TRANSITION

Tom Herzog, PGA Teaching Pro, the Champions Course, CedarBrook Country Club, Old Brookville, New York


At the top of the swing, the backswing is completed and we start the downswing. That transition from backswing to downswing must be smooth. The tendency is to make too hard a move from the top. This will ruin any chance of a powerful, repeatable swing. Soft grip pressure will also help you make that smooth transition.

70

IRON PLAY

Amanda Arciero, PGA/LPGA Teaching Pro, Fresh Meadow Country Club, Lake Success, New York


When hitting irons, your focus should be on having the leading edge of the club contact the bottom or base of the ball. Many players look at the whole ball or at the top of the ball, resulting in topped, or thin, shots. Focusing on having the leading edge of the club meet the bottom of the ball will help ensure solid contact.

71

LESS IS MORE

Dick Capasso, PGA Teaching Pro, Augusta, Georgia


We all know that feeling of the “easy” hit, when a smooth swing produces our best shot. One key to those shots is the smooth, unforced backswing. Remember that “less is more” on the backswing. You can’t hit it on the backswing, so a smooth backswing will give you more control as you ease into the downswing. It will also set you up to make a strong, effective, and powerful downswing.

72

TRUST THE LOFT

Paul Glut, PGA Director of Golf, Woodside Acres Country Club, Syosset, New York


We often use the driver to try to “help” get the ball in the air. The most effective way to hit with the driver is to swing the club head low on the backswing. This should help create a shallow path on the downswing. If you do that, the loft of the driver will get the ball airborne. It’s a matter of trusting the loft of the club.

73

POSITION OF THE RIGHT LEG AND FOOT

Shawn Baker, PGA Director of Golf, the Greens at Half Hollow, Melville, New York


When Ben Hogan won the British Open at Carnoustie in 1953, he told his caddie he played well because his right knee never moves. The position of the right leg and knee (for right-handers) is crucial to good shots. The right foot should be perpendicular to the line of flight. The right knee should be flexed and pointed slightly inward. In the perfect swing, the body will wind up and actually coil around the right knee. It should stay flexed and stable throughout the swing. In the follow-through, the right foot is released and you finish on the right toe.

74

RELAX FOR BETTER GOLF

Jay Morelli, Director of the Original Golf School, Mount Snow, Vermont


It is important to relax when you address the golf ball. The correct grip and posture are the keys to good golf, and they can only be attained by first relaxing. Players tend to get a death grip on the club. It’s just human nature. The best way to relax is to start by holding the handle of the club softly. Staying relaxed and soft in the grip is the only way you can be in position to make a smooth swing at the target. After you have established a good, relaxed grip and posture, focus on the target and make a good swing.

75

HITTING THE BALL ON THE DOWNBEAT

Shawn Baker, PGA Director of Golf, the Greens at Half Hollow, Melville, New York


To be a good iron player, particularly with the short irons, you must hit the ball on the downbeat. The club face should solidly hit the ball and then take a long, shallow divot. This can only be done properly if the handle is ahead of the club face at contact. Most players try to scoop the ball into the air, letting the club head get ahead of the handle. This error will result in hitting behind or topping the ball. A good weight transfer and a good finish position will keep the handle in front of the club head and ensure solid contact.

76

HOW TO PLAY THE HYBRID

Joe Rehor, PGA Director of Golf, Bethpage State Park, Farmingdale, New York


The widespread use of hybrid clubs has certainly made a difference in the game. A good question is this: Should I play them like an iron or like a metal wood? For best results, play the hybrid as you would an iron. The ball should be just about dead center in the stance. While you do not take a divot with the hybrid, you should at least brush the grass when you swing to make sure the middle of the club gets down to the middle of the ball. Also, for best results, do not position the ball forward with the hybrid as you would with a metal wood, but position it in the middle of your stance.

77

IT’S HIP TO BE SQUARE

Jeff Pratt, PGA Teaching Pro, Tam O’Shanter Club, Brookville, New York


Here’s a little exercise to help you set up properly. Go to the kitchen with golf club in hand and set up on your tile floor. (You, of course, can also do this exercise on the golf course.) Place your feet on one parallel line, put the club face perpendicular to a target line that is parallel to your stance, and now you are officially square. Being square gives you a better chance of hitting the ball solidly and straight with your feet in the correct position, and your shoulders, arms, hips, and club face square to the target. Now the fun begins!

78

HOLD THE FINISH

Amanda Arciero, PGA/LPGA Teaching Pro, Fresh Meadow Country Club, Lake Success, New York


If your balance is good at address and throughout the swing, you will be able to hold your finish at the end of the swing. We all know that balance is the real key to consistent golf. Try to hold your finish after every shot. If you’re having trouble maintaining your balance, check your starting position and the distance you stand from the ball. You must start in good balance to be able to finish in balance.

79

SWING A BASKETBALL

Michael T. Wanser, PGA Teaching Pro, Cherry Valley Club, Garden City, New York


Connection between the arms and the body is a very important aspect in a repetitive, efficient golf swing. Swinging a basketball is a great way to feel the proper connection and sequence during a golf swing motion. Assume your golf posture and hold a basketball. Swing the ball away, using your arms and body together as you make your backswing. Having the ball in your hands establishes the connection between your arms and your body. Then simply imagine throwing the ball down the fairway as you swing through. This action will provide the correct sequence of motion, with your lower body leading the way.

80

LAUNCH ANGLE

Matthew Guyton, PGA Teaching Pro, Old Westbury Golf & Country Club, Old Westbury, New York


To maximize your distance with the driver, you should have the correct “launch angle” as the ball leaves the face of the driver. This launch angle will vary from player to player, depending on strength and club head speed. This angle is determined by a launch monitor, which is best used by a trained professional. It is worth the investment in time and money to find the driver that fits you best.

 


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