As golfers we are always in search of the newest, shiniest, and best new stuff. This goes for golf clubs, golf courses, and unfortunately for many golfers, swing thoughts. We’re just starting to see what technology can do for the golf swing. There are many new gadgets that provide great data about what is really happening in the swing. This data is useful in the hands of qualified instructors, as it provides a better look at how to diagnose the golf swing. Unfortunately for many golfers this kind of information can be overwhelming and difficult to understand on their own. This often leads to players coming away in worse shape than when they started. If this sounds familiar and your brain is overwhelmed with swing thoughts, step back and look at the basics. Most swing issues usually start from a faulty setup, so improving it is one of the quickest ways to find success. Here are a few simple things to look at with your setup:
GripThe grip is at the top of the list when it comes to what matters in the golf swing. It determines what happens with the clubface, which determines where the golf ball starts and how it curves. If your grip is weak you’re setting the clubface in an open position and will have to use a lot of hand action to square the clubface at impact. This could result in slicing or inconsistent hooks. If your grip is too strong you’re setting the clubface in a closed position. This could result in hooks and pulls. A good rule of thumb is to set your grip in a neutral position. To do this get the crease formed between the thumb and index finger of your left hand to point to your right shoulder. Do the same with the crease in your right hand. If both of these point to your right shoulder you grip will relatively neutral and it will be easier to get the clubface square.
Ball PositionBall position plays a big role in the golf swing as it affects the angle that the club approaches the ball. This in turn affects how solidly we hit the ball and at what trajectory it flies on. If the golf ball is too far back in the stance, the swing will tend to be steep. With a steep swing it becomes easy to hit behind the ball and the trajectory will be lower. If the golf ball is positioned too far forward the swing will tend to be shallow. This could lead to hitting the ball thin, or behind, and the trajectory may be too high. A good rule of thumb for ball position is to break it into three clubs, the wedge, seven iron, and driver. For the wedge the ball should positioned even with the middle of your body. Use the belt buckle or zipper as a guide for this. Ball position for the driver should be even with the left armpit. This allows you to hit up on the ball. Ball position for the seven iron should be in between the two. Use the center of the logo on your shirt as a guide for the seven iron. The ball position for the rest of your clubs should be based on small variations of the three. This gives you the best opportunity to make solid contact.
AimThe reason aim is important should be rather self-explanatory. If you want to hit the ball at particular target, the best way to do it is to aim at that target. You can hit good shots aiming away from the target, but some swing manipulation will be required. In fact, a lot of swing faults start because a player is aiming left or right without realizing it. Subconsciously the golf swing will try to move the ball back to the target. A good way to practice aim is to use an alignment stick or a club. Place the stick on the ground and have it aim slightly left of the target. Now place the golf ball on the side of the stick so that the stick is between your feet and the ball. Having the stick point slightly left of the target accounts for the fact that it’s not on the same line as the golf ball. After practicing with an alignment stick, you will train your eyes to what is square and will find it much easier to aim properly on the golf course.
Alignment and aim go hand in hand but are not quite the same. Alignment refers to how your body is aligned in reference to where you are aimed. This means where your feet, knees, hips, and shoulders are pointed at address. If your body is set open to the target line you may struggle with a slice. If your body is set closed to the target line your swing path may be too much in to out. These are things that can make a big difference in how your swing performs on the golf course. A good rule of thumb is to setup square to the target. Use a club or alignment stick to check your feet and have a friend or playing partner look at your shoulder alignment. The more consistently you can setup square the easier it will be to hit solid shots. If you're overwhelmed with swing thoughts, take a step back and focus on the basics. Your swing and your brain will thank you.
Clay Hood is PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder/Marketing Director for Precision Pro Golf. Clay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org