Category Archives: impact geometry

How to Square up the clubface at impact

For almost two years, I would say, I have been working on a swing principle I discovered that has to do with keeping the clubface square at the start of the swing.

I’m certainly not the first one to have ever discovered it, but I knew from the first moment that it was true and correct.

For all this time I did not know how to extend that startup principle into the whole of my golf swing. I did not know that I was trying to incorporate that principle into a swing that was not designed to accept it.

Which meant I couldn’t tell you about it.

Now I can.

Instruction books show pictures of how the clubhead should be oriented when you have taken the club back to the place where the shaft is parallel to the ground. These pictures show the sole of the club pointing straight up in the air, perpendicular to the ground.

That is entirely incorrect.

At that point in the swing the sole of the club should be parallel to the axis of rotation of the swing, which is the spine angle. The clubhead taken back parallel in this way will be leaning forward a bit. That looks closed, but it is really square.

The pictures in all those books are showing you how to open the clubface at the start of the swing, which might partially explain why so many people slice.

If you want to confirm this for yourself, get into your setup, take the club back to where the shaft is parallel to the ground, and with the sole of the club pointing straight up and down.

Now stand up straight without adjusting your hands. The clubface is open, isn’t it?

A few weeks ago I came across a video by Mike Malaska which (a) confirmed that what I had found was right, and (b) showed me how to integrate that principle into my golf swing.

This next video of his shows you how to practice this technique, starting at 3:40.

For my entire golfing career I could not explain how the clubface got back to the ball as square as it was at address. All I could say was it’s something that just happens, which is no which explanation at all. On some days it happened for me, on other days it didn’t, and I thought, that’s the just way golf is.

Now I can explain how the clubface gets back to the ball square, and now I’m in control of it happening.

You can be, too. It’s really easy.

Solid Golf Shots Depend On Knowing Where the Ground Is

One reason why golf is so much harder than other stick-and-ball sports is that the ball is on the ground, not in the air, when you hit it. There really isn’t any room for error. If the club comes into the ball a half-inch too high or too low, that’s a mis-hit.

Maybe it wouldn’t be noticed if you were off this much while hitting a tennis ball, but in golf a half inch is a lot. It is imperative, then, that you learn how to find where the ground is.

Imagine this. I’ll bet you have done this more than once. You take a practice swing and miss the ground. You take another swing and miss the ground again. Now you know this is not the way to hit the ball, but you say to yourself, “That’s OK, I’ll get it right when I hit the ball.” And you mis-hit the ball.

Why? Because you had no feel for where the ground is.

You might say, “I know where the ground is, I can see it right there in front of me, I’m standing on it and I can feel it with my feet.” True. But when you swing a golf club, can you find the ground with the sole of your golf club?

Hitting into the ground and raising up a big chunk of dirt doesn’t count. That’s finding one inch below the ground. You have to be able to nip the surface of the ground with your swing every time, or at least much more often than not, to play golf well.

In 2006, I saw Paula Creamer at a golf tournament waiting to hit on the tee of a par-3 hole. She was taking loose practice swings, and she hit the ground in the same spot every time, and the hit made the same sound every time.

That sound of her club thumping the ground was the key. The only way she could have made the same sound was for the club to be hitting the ground at the same depth. That’s knowing where the ground is.

Practice this. Practice without a ball. Take easy swings and have the club brush the surface of the ground the same way every time as you swing through where a ball would be.

This is Johnny Miller’s “brush-brush” drill. Practice this so you get the club down to the ground consistently and without having to consciously search for it with your hands as you come into the ball.

On the course, if you take a few practice swings, brushing the ground each time, put the ball in your stance about an inch behind where the brush was at its lowest point. That is the perfect spot for it.

My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at It will change everything about the way you play.