The four pre-swing fundamentals of the golf swing are grip, stance, alignment and ball position. The pre-swing fundamentals are the most important elements to becoming a better golfer. There are a million different ways to swing the club and make the golf ball go towards the target, however correct pre-swing fundamentals are universal.
Bad fundamentals lead to bad habits in the golf swing. I teach golfers who aim 30 yards right of their target. The student will hit the first shot 30 yards right of their target, turn to me and say, “See, I told you. I always go to the right. What I am doing to hit it there.” This is the best lesson, I can change their golf game without changing the students swing. Conversely, if they tried to fix the problem themselves they would have tried a million different swings get the ball to fly 30 yards left of their alignment. Solid fundamentals, such as alignment, are key to a golfer’s progression. The next four editions we will discuss the four pre-swing fundamentals.
The first pre-swing fundamental discussed will be the grip. Start putting on the grip by holding the golf club with the right hand in the middle of the golf club shaft. The golf club should be level to the ground and waist height. The club face should be perpendicular to the body. This starts the process of putting on the grip with a square club face. Open the left hand and then lay the grip in the left hand. The bottom of the grip will go where the fingers start on the left hand. The index finger and thumb should be very close together. The index finger and thumb will make a V, as shown in exhibit A. This V in the left hand should point between the chin and right shoulder.
Now, place the grip into the beginning of the fingers of the right hand. Place the pad of the thumb on the right hand on top of the left thumb. Put the right thumb and right index finger against one another. This should make a V that will point in-between the chin and the right shoulder. There should be just enough tension in the hands to hang onto the golf club. The grip described should look like the grip that is shown in exhibit A, the middle picture. This is considered a neutral grip, and recommended for most golfers. To finish putting the grip on the golf club we connect the hands, as shown in exhibit B.
I recommend the 10 finger grip for juniors and elderly golfers who do not have the strength to hold a club in the air effortlessly. All other golfer should pick between the overlap and interlock grip. I use the overlap grip.
Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, you may have heard there names, use the interlock grip. The grip to use is a matter of preference. The overlap grip is achieved by taking the pinky finger on the right hand and putting in-between the index and middle finger of the left hand. The interlock grip is the pinky of the right hand the index finger of the left hand interlocking, as seen in exhibit B.
The golfer’s grip represents the club face of the golf club. As seen in exhibit A, rotating the hands left and right can change the face at impact. The club face has the biggest impact on the direction the ball travels. The path of the club is the biggest reason the ball turns a certain direction. A huge myth is that a slice is caused by an open club face. Untrue, a slice is caused by an over the top or out to in downswing. The club face is usually aimed left at impact, for right handed golfer. This helps a golfer who slices, left to right ball flight, keep the golf ball in play.
As a teacher, if I want to change the direction the golf ball after impact I will change the placement of the hands on the golf club. However, the grip is the most difficult pre-swing fundamental to change, because the golfer has a comfort level with their grip.
When tinkering with your own swing be aware of the causes of ball flight. The club face at impact is the direction the ball takes off, and the club path is the main cause of the direction the golf ball turns in the air. Go see your local PGA professional to find the golf grip that works best for your swing.
Todd Elliott is the PGA Head Golf Professional for Hideaway Beach. Todd is TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Certified as a golf professional. This gives him the ability to give golf specific physical screening to detect any physical limitation that might affect the golf swing. Todd is an active Student Mentor at FGCU; a volunteer with the First Tee program and was presented the 2010 and 2011 PGA’s President Council Awards on “Growing the Game.”