Learning the Fundamentals of Golf
So you’re interested in starting to play the game of golf? Or perhaps you took lessons in the past and have forgotten which way of the club is up and down. Maybe you’re wanting to learn so you can go play with your significant other or because you think it will help you get a career boost. Or maybe you just like self-inflicted torture.
Whatever your reason to take up golf, congratulations. You’ve embarked on a journey that will cause you undeniable joy and also moments so frustrating that you’ll question your own sanity.
Growing up I was fortunate enough that my father was a PGA teaching professional and I grew up around the game. I could walk from my house to the first tee in less than fifty steps. My father is a great instructor and knows how to explain the game in a way that is not confusing. From the beginning my dad always instilled in me the importance of the fundamentals of the game: grip, posture, alignment and ball position. These four basics are the foundation of the game. Think of it this way: if the foundation of a house is built on unsteady ground, the house will eventually topple over.
The fundamentals are the most important part of the game. Holding the club improperly can cause too many issues to list. Standing at the ball incorrectly can not only cause back issues, but also the inability to hit the golf ball at all.
In this article, I will go over the basics so that when you go to the course you won’t be completely confused or hold the club backwards.
Grip: First things first. You need to hold the club in order to swing it. For right hander the left hand will go beneath the right hand. First hold the club in your left hand towards the top of the grip and with the thumb going straight down the grip and your fingers wrapped around. Then, place your right hand over your left with the right thumb slightly touching your right index finger. This is a neutral grip. You want to hold the club just strong enough that it won’t slip from your hands, but not so tight that you feel like you’re choking the club to death.
Posture: Now that you know how to hold the club, you need to know how to stand at the ball. The easiest way to see which posture is best for you is this: slightly bend at your hips with your spine slightly tilted over, but straight. Then take a slight bend in your knees with your feet shoulder width apart. Your weight should feel a little more in your heels like it would if you were to squat. Now, without a club drop your arms beneath your chest and see where they naturally fall. That is where your natural arm position will be. Your arms should feel light as well when holding the club.
Alignment: if you’re going to get the ball to go where you want, alignment is obviously an important factor. What you’ll want to do first is line the club head towards your target. If you’re right handed, the shoulders and feet need to be in line with each other and will appear to be aiming just slightly left of your target line. The opposite goes for the lefties. To help with aim, you can set down a yardstick to line your feet and shoulders to. Shoulder and feet alignment is important because that is the path in which you’ll take your club back and through. If your feet are aimed left, your shoulders are aimed right, and your club head aimed straight then your body won’t know which way you want it to go and you could end up searching for your ball in a different area code.
Ball position: Depending on the club it will change your ball position. With the pitching wedge through the 7 iron the position of the ball will remain the same, which is in the middle of your stance. With the longer irons, you’ll move the ball half a ball to a full ball up in your stance. With your driver, you’ll place the ball just off the inside of your front heel. If the ball is in the wrong position at the start of the swing, even if you swing it perfectly it can cause you to hit the ball poorly. I could go into all the technical reasons for it, but my advice is to just listen to me and you’ll be happy you did.
Before going to a range you can always practice the fundamentals in your home. Standing in front of a mirror to check your posture and ball position is an easy way to see if you’re doing it right. When you get comfortable to setting up to the ball properly you can then head to the range and start embarking on this journey that will be sure to give you headaches and lots of joy.