If your golf season has been hampered by winter weather, no doubt you are excited to get back out on the golf course. Start by looking at and reviewing your fundamentals before you head to the practice facility or for that first round of the season. Reviewing and practicing your fundamentals is the best way to improve.
Posture – how you stand to address the golf ball is important in your golf swing. It determines the path of the club so it’s important to work on your posture (even without a golf club.) You can work on your posture inside, outside, at the gym, the office or wherever you are comfortable. Stand with a slight bend in your knees (so you can see the laces in your shoes – with a slight knee flex.) With your arms hanging at your side, place your hands just above your knees. This creates a perfect position for your golf posture – now let your arms hang again – move them in front of you like you are gripping a club. Practice this a few times a day and when you head out to play, you will feel comfortable and have great posture.
Grip – how you hold the club in your hand. As Ben Hogan once said, “Good golf begins with a good grip.” The grip choice (interlock, overlap or baseball) is personal preference but reviewing the basic fundamentals will help. Take your normal grip and check to see if your right hand covers your left thumb (for a right-handed player). A favorite drill of mine is to take two golf tees and put one in each hand, right between your thumb and index finger. Then take your grip and see if the golf tees line up or are pointed in opposite directions. Ideally you want the golf tees lined up, so work on adjusting your hands on the club until they line up with the shaft of the club.
Aim – lining your body and club to the desired target. Get in the habit of standing behind your ball and looking at your target. Then pick a spot (grass, divot, broken tee, discolored grass or weed, etc.) that is about a foot in front of the ball. As you take your stance, aim the clubface at the spot, then align your body with the clubface. This is a great pre-shot routine that can be used with every swing and will help you line up toward your target and not setting up to the right or left. Most amateur golfers tend to line up to the right of their intended target but think they are fading or slicing the ball to the right, when in fact are hitting it straight, but just lining up incorrectly. Practicing with an alignment rod (or a golf club) at your feet helps with aim.
Ball Position – where the ball is in your stance. There are two locations for ball position – moving the ball forward and back in your stance and how close or far the ball is from your body. Most Professionals will teach ball position for the driver and woods as being just inside the heel of your forward foot. As you move to irons, it’s usually accepted to play irons from the middle of your stance or where the golf club is at the lowest point of the swing. As far as how close to stand to the golf ball, a simple check-point is to take your grip with the club and hold your golf club straight in front of your body (parallel to the ground.) Now move back to your set-up position and where the club makes contact with the ground is where the ball should be in your stance. As the club length increases, you will stand a bit farther from the ball.
Practice your golf fundamentals so they become comfortable and you’ll be on your way to hitting better shots and lowering your scores.