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.
There are lots of things you have to do hit a golf ball straight. If there were only a few, everybody could do it, and we know that’s not the case.
I want to talk about just one of those things today, and it’s something I have never read about anywhere.
The clubface is a proxy for the right hand (left hand, for left-handed golfers). The right palm, however it is oriented on the handle, controls the orientation of the clubface throughout the swing.
Try this once. Grip a club and put the right hand loosely against the left, like you probably do now. Without moving the right hand to a new place on the grip, just wiggle it from side to side.
See how loose the right hand is, and how much freedom it has to wiggle in either direction? Notice how that’s enough to get the clubface out of alignment.
If the right hand wiggles a bit to the right (clockwise) during the swing, the clubface opens. If it wiggles a bit to the left (counter-clockwise) during the swing, the clubface closes.
It’s hard to sense the right hand moving this way during the swing, and believe me, once the alignment has been upset, you won’t get it back in place before you hit the ball.
We solve this problem by making sure the right hand cannot wiggle at all, so the clubface stays in its original square orientation.
How do you make sure there’s no right hand wiggling? Easy!
When you place your hands are on the handle, turn the left hand slightly to the right so the left thumb presses gently into the pocket formed by the right palm. Left-handers will press the right thumb into the pocket formed by the left palm.
Or if you want to, you can turn your hands tightly toward each other.
Try that and see how it feels.
Since the right hand feels the pressure, if it relaxes and drifts rightward that release of the pressure lets you know right away something is wrong.
Also, the right hand can’t wiggle leftward because the left hand already will let it go no further.
What we now have is a right hand that’s stuck in place, and that’s what we want.
They key to making this work in the swing is for the light feeling of the hands pressing against each other to be the same, unchanging, throughout the swing. That’s your sign that the right hand is behaving itself.
So now you have this part of hitting the ball straight taken care of.
Whether you have a weak grip, a neutral grip, or a strong grip cannot be determined by reading a book. The choice is based on you musculature and body confirmation, and is individual to you. The exercise shown in this video lets you find out exactly where your hands should lie on the handle.
The key to playing good recreational golf is to hit the ball straight. Distance is fine, but hole in, hole out, straight is the goal. Hit into the fairway, and onto the green, and you can shoot lots of good scores.
Hitting straight is not easy. It takes dedicated practice to become a straight hitter. I want to give you four points to work on that will take you a long way in that direction. If you put these points into your swing, I guarantee good things will happen.