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Golf Swing Fundamentals

The fundamentals of a golf swing are an integral part, which need to be taught correctly in order for a golfer to improve. These fundamentals of a golf swing enable the golfer to effectively play better under every given scenario. For instance, if a professional golfer were to hit and land a ball behind a tree on a steep slope, in order to play a good next shot, the golfer will always relate back to the fundamentals they have acquired throughout the years. Therefore it is important to grasp the fundamentals of golf, even if you are a beginner or a low handicapper.

Furthermore the fundamentals of golf provide the basis to every swing and stroke played on a golf course, whether it is a bunker shot or a putt from the fringe. These fundamentals enable the golfer to successfully carry out a desired shot. When the fundamentals are learn't properly, most golfers will make a stroke with minimal effort and thought. In addition to this, the fundamentals of golf not only provides the basis to how a swing or stroke is made; they are sort after when golfers are under stress from pressure situations. For example, when Tiger Woods has a 12ft putt to win a major championship on the 72nd hole, he relates back to the fundamentals of golf in order for him to make a successful putt. Therefore it is vital to learn and grasp the fundamentals of golf in order to improve at the game.

Now that you know why the fundamentals of golf are needed, now let’s discuss what they are and how to we successfully carry out these fundamentals. The fundamentals of golf include; the neutral stance position, body weight transfer, the two cheek position, the ball position and the grip.

The neutral stance position

The stance is of a golfer is the most important part of a golf swing. To enable a correct golf swing, firstly the stance of a golfer must in an accurate position. This position is called the ‘neutral’ or ‘balanced’ position. The neutral position provides the golfer with a basis to start and complete a full golf swing correctly.

To get in a neutral position, the joints of the body (the hip and ankle joint) must be right on top of one another. If the joints of the body don’t line with one another, than the golfer tends to be out of balance. So in order to acquire this neutral balance, the knee caps must be exactly over the shoe laces and the shoulders must be in line with just outside the toes. The golfer must then bend the hips slightly to enable the arms to swing freely around the body. If the above positions of the body are correctly carried out, the arms can form perpendicular with the ground, with the shaft of the club extending towards the ball. The following photo represents a golfer in a neutral position with the knee caps over the shoe laces, the shoulders over the outside of the toes, the hips slight bent, the arms perpendicular to the ground and the shaft of the club angled to the ball.

Within the neutral stance 70% of the weight of the body should be on the balls of the feet, 10-20% of the weight on the hells and the rest of the weight distributed outside the toes. This enables the stance to be slight forward to further allow the arms to swing freely around the body.

Body weight transfer

To successfully conduct a proper golf swing, the body must shift its weight back during the initial part of the swing and forward during the downswing just before impact. The initial weight transfer of the body during the start of the golf swing basically transfers most of the weight of the body into the ball of the right foot, through the movement of the body in a backwards direction. This can be seen in the following picture, as each golfer is seen to shift their body weight backwards until the top of the swing is achieved.

The whole purpose of shifting the weight of the body backwards is to move the centre of gravity of the body towards the right foot. This in combination with a full shoulder turn, and by full shoulder turn I mean the shoulder must be turned so that the belly bottom and chest to point exactly behind you, provides the optimum position for the body to naturally start the downswing motion. The shaft of the club during the backs wing must be in a position that is directly in line with the shoulder, so that the downswing can force the shaft with the natural movement of the body into a correct impact position. The following picture shows the shaft in an optimum position during the back swing (initial body transfer backwards) and while in the downward swing (body transfer forwards and through the ball). Who better to see the optimum position during the initial swing and back swing, than Tiger Woods.

The downward body weight transfer uses the natural movement of the body to enable the un-wind and hence the impact of the golf ball with the club. As stated earlier the shaft position during the downward body weight transfer must intersect with shoulders. The position of the shaft during the downward un-winding of the body will ultimately determine impact angle of the club at address. As the impact angle between the club and ball needs to in line and square with the direction the ball after impact to force the ball to follow this direction, the position of the shaft during the un-winding of the body is essential. It is easy to allow the shaft to correctly follow in line with the shoulders due to the natural un-wind of the body during a golf swing.

It is important that during the two weight shifts of the body, initial (backwards) and downwards (forwards), during a golf swing, that a natural rhythm and relaxed neutral stance be undertaken. This will promote the natural swing of the body during a golf swing and aid to create a swing that will enable you to hit the ball straight.

The two cheek position

The two cheek position is a position that all good players exhibit at the impact between a club and the ball during a golf swing. It doesn’t matter who the golf is or whether they have a flat swing plane, a upright swing plane, a correct swing plane, or have coupled wrists (like Fred Couples), convex wrists (like Lee Trevino), flat wrists (like Jack Nicklaus) and either tight elbows or flying elbows, a two cheeks position must be performed in order for a quality golf shot to be executed. The two cheek position can be seen after a golfer has unwound from the top of the swing to just before the impact between the ball and club. It is important that a player arrives at impact in this two cheeks position to enable the a golfer to be in the best position possible to hit a good golf shot. The following photo represents a golfer in the correct two cheek position at impact.

The correct two cheek position essentially is the visibility of both the two shoulders and two ‘bum’ cheeks at impact. The two cheek position is created from the unwound of the natural swing path of the body from the top of the swing. To put in another way, it is basically shifting of the body weight from the right leg to the left leg during the downswing and arriving at the two cheek position before impact. The following picture represents two golfers, one correctly at the two cheek position at impact (golfer on the right) and the other not in the correct two cheek position at impact (golfer on the left).

After a golfer has performed about 70% of the golf swing and has ended up at the two cheek position, it is vital that they continue to follow through the ball and to the final golf swing position. The follow through of the golf swing must force the club to be on plane and either bet at or below the top of the left shoulder in the position shown in the below left picture. If the club is in this position, it means that a correct two cheek position and body weight transfer (from the right leg to the left) was carried out during a golf swing.

The final position of the golf swing should resemble the above right picture, whereby the club is seen to intersect with the middle of the head. Golf professionals call this the Steve Martin position, as the comic Steve Martin wore a hat with an arrow through it, which resembles the final position of a golf swing, during comedy acts. The natural swing of the body will force the club to be in this Steve Martin position after the correct unwinding of the body during the a golf swing. Whilst in this position and depending on if you have correctly performed the aforementioned golf swing fundamentals, you should be viewing a golf ball that is traveling straight down the fairway.

The ball position

A famous quote by the all time greatest golfer, Jack Nicklaus, “The more things you can do right before you swing the golf club, the easier the game of golf becomes”. The ball position in a golfer’s stance in another golf swing fundamental that needs to be correct in order to consistently perform quality golf shots. The optimum place to strike the golf ball is just inside the heel of the left foot. This is because during a golf swing, the place inside the left heel is exactly the place where the golf club returns square to the target direction. It is also believed that the place inside the left heel is the place just before the bottom of the arc of the golf swing, which means that the golf ball is caught before the turf. With these two elements in mind, the optimum ball position of a ball in a stance in inside the heel of the left foot. This can be seen in the following picture, where the golf ball position 1 represents the optimum ball position.

In the above photo, it can be seen that Tiger Woods has the ball placed inside the heel of the left foot , but more towards the centre of his stance. The main reason for this is to enable a lower ball trajectory of a resulting golf swing and sometimes makes it easier to put a draw on the golf ball. Typically Tiger Woods places the golf ball around the inside of his left foot, even when using different golf clubs. The golf ball position 2 (seen in the above picture) can be located here to enable spin to be put on the golf ball. Spin on the golf ball eventuates, as the ball is placed further back in the golf swing arc and hence the golf ball is hit more sweetly before the turf compared to the location of the ball inside the left heel. The placing of the golf ball back in the stance may also enable a low ball trajectory to be hit and also provide workability for draw type swings.

Therefore, it has been proven that the most effective place to position the golf ball within the stance is just inside the heel of the left foot. However, the ball position may be manipulated towards the right foot, to encourage the golf ball to spin and to ease in the workability of a draw.

The Grip

The grip of the golf club is the last golf swing fundamental that will need to be learned. The grip of the golf club is important, as nothing else will directly affect the path of the club and club face and hence the ball flight more than the grip of the club. When reviewing Jack Nicklaus's famous quote “The more things you can do right before you swing the golf club, the easier the game of golf becomes”. Thus if the grip of the club is correct before the golf swing, this provides the basis for a correctly performed a quality golf shot.

To ensure that a correct grip is performed, a couple of fundamental elements must be stated. The first element is in regard to the tightness of the grip. Both hands need to grip the club with a moderate pressure. If the grip pressure is to strong, the club face tends to open up during the swing and hence a slice is observed. It is advised to grip a club at about the same pressure you would hold an opened tube of toothpaste to ensure that no toothpaste will come out. This will enable the golf club to swing freely in your hands. Another fundamental element of the golf grip is that the club must be gripped by the fingers in the hand, not the palms. This will make sure that the club will be in the most optimum impact position during a golf swing.

To aid in the demonstration of the correct grip, I have added some red symbols and lines to my golf glove. You can do the same by drawing a line from the first grove of the pinky (inside) to the second groove on the index finger (inside), writing an ‘R’ on the topside of the thumb, drawing a circle with a dot on the inner side of the palm and drawing two dots on the knuckles of the index and middle fingers (top side of the glove).

I will now go through the process of setting up the correct grip of the golf club.

Step 1:
Firstly take a golf club and place it on the ground and point it in the direction that you want the ball to travel. It is essential that when setting up your grip, that the club remain touching the ground and facing towards your target. Next place the golf club in the fingers of your left hand (a finger length from the end of the club) with approximately a width of the club grip separating the club and the red line on the glove (the line is from the first groove of the pinky (inside) to the second groove on the index finger (inside)). This step can be seen in the picture below, were step 1 is labeled.

Step 2:
Curl your left hand over the club so that the red circle with the red dot on the glove overlaps the green circle with the green dot on the golf club. You must place the thumb of your left hand so that it is on the right side on the golf club. If the above process is performed correctly, you should be able to see the two dots on the gloves in the location of the knuckles of the index and middle fingers. If you can't see the two dots on the knuckles, it means that you need to place the club more in your fingers. This step can be seen in the picture above, were step 2 is labeled.

Step 3:
Now place your right hand on the golf club, ensuring that the thumb is located to the left of the club. The thumb must be in line with the direction of the forearm. The inside groove in the palm of the right hand should easily fit over the thumb of the left hand. The location of the right hand fingers on the underneath of the club can be either of an interlocking grip or an overlapping grip (these will be discussed soon). This step can be seen in the picture below. And just remember to grip the club lightly and that the club needs to be in the fingers on the hands not the palms.

There are numerous types of golf grips, but the two most common are the interlocking grip and the overlapping grip. The interlocking grip has been made most famous by Tiger Woods, but the overlapping grip is by far the most popular grip used in golf professional. Either one of the grips aren’t superior to one another as they both allow the grip to come mostly from the fingers of the hands. The choice of which grip to use all comes down to personal feel and comfort. Try out both methods and if either the interlocking grip or the overlapping grip feels better than the other for you, then adopted that grip method. Both the interlocking grip and the overlapping grip can be seen in the picture below.


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