Beginner Golf swing instruction

The beginning golfer has no reason to expect consistency, because there has been no learning period. The established golfer who has a history of inconsistency shows evidence of a learning period that was either too short, incomplete, or did not include sound basic fundamentals. .

There are many aspects of golf that could be termed basic. However, in the interest of simplification and clarity, I feel there are only three basic fundamentals of great importance. The Grip, The Stance or Address, and The Swing Plane, and it is these three which we shall discuss.

In the order in which they are accomplished, but not necessarily in the order of their importance, we will first take up the grip, then the stance, and finally the swing plane.

The Grip

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The proper placement of the hands on the club, besides securing the club against slippage, allows for the greatest degree of mobility in the wrists and, at the same time, provides the best combination of speed of clubhead, and control of face alignment, both so important in acquiring power and directional control.

For right-handed players, the left hand is first placed with the bell-like end of the clubs grip snuggling under the fat heel of the hand. The clubs grip then runs diagonally across the palm, touching the last joint of the middle finger and thence across the middle joint of the first finger (Picture #1).

The left hand is then turned over the top of the shaft until the inverted “V”, formed by the thumb and forefinger points diagonally across the body toward the right shoulder (Picture #2). Strong players, those with exceptional hand action, may point the “V”, between the right shoulder and the right cheek.

Runyan 1 & 2 ThumbThe thumb of the left hand acts as a set screw, pressing against the shaft at an angle of about 300 behind the top of the shaft.

With the left hand in the proper position, we now place the right hand against the back side of the shaft in a vertical position (Picture #3).

Twine the right-hand fingers around the shaft so that the shaft crosses each finger at the middle joint (refer to Picture #3). The little finger of the right hand should overlap the first finger of the left hand, but not hook completely. This is called The Vardon, or overlapping, grip.

For weak-handed women, and the occasional narrow-handed man, a grip in which all eight fingers are on the shaft (Picture #4) may be advisable.

In either grip, the inverted �N�s� of both hands should be closed to prevent the club from slipping toward the palm of the hands during the swing. In other words, the thumbs should act as set screws against which the fingers can securely pull the shaft of the club.

The Stance or Address

In the stance or address position, we are attempting to encourage two fundamentals.

First and most important, the address position should provide a �suspension point� that remains constant during the swing. This �suspen�sion point� is found at the base of the player�s neck. It represents the center of the swing arc, the radius of this arc equalling the length of arm and club shaft.

Second, the stance or address position provides the distance the player�s head is situated from an imaginary line that extends upward vertically from the ball.

The taller and thinner the player, the closer his head will be to this imaginary vertical line. The shorter and stouter the player, the farther away his head would be. Also the head�s position, either behind or in front of the ball, is influenced by the stance or address. This makes it possible for the player to either pinch or lob the shot as the need arises.

With a driver you play the ball opposite the inside of the left heel with the weight evenly balanced on the insides of the feet. Thus, the head is positioned somewhat behind the ball (Picture #5). This is correct be�cause with the ball teed, the player will strike it about two to three inches after the clubhead reaches the bottom of its arc. This reduces the backspin on the ball to provide maximum distance.

When the ball is lying on the turf as in the case of the 2- 3- and 4-woods, it is advisable to strike the ball nearer the bottom of the swing�s arc. If fairway woods were to strike the ball well after reaching the bot�tom of the arc, as with a driver, a portion of the ball would be below the bottom edge of the clubface. The result would be that full compression of the ball could not be obtained and some power would be lost.
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If the ball is played about even with the left heel on the drive, the bottom of the swing�s arc comes at a point about two to three inches behind the baIl. Thus if we moved the ball back toward the center of the stance by about two inches, this should cause the bottom of the arc to come directly at the ball. This is what we want with the fairway woods, (Picture #6) with the 3- and 4-woods being fractionally farther back in that order.

The long irons are almost as straight of face as the 3- and 4-woods. However, these irons do not generate the same velocity of propulsion on the ball as do the woods. It is not easy for most light hitters to get the ball airborne with long irons as readily as with fairway woods. There�fore, it is inadvisable to play long irons any farther back toward the center of the stance than the fairway woods unless the player desires a very low, hard-flying type of shot.

I advise that the 2-iron be played about two inches inside the left heel with the weight fractionally more on the left foot than on the right. Then each succeeding iron from the 3 to the 9 should be played slightly farther toward the center of the stance until, with the 9-iron for an ordi�nary type shot, we would find the ball at about the very center of the stance with the weight remaining fractionally more on the left foot than on the right (Picture #7).

If the player desires an unusually high-flying shot for any of the irons, he should move the ball farther forward toward the left foot, keeping the weight evenly balanced between the left and right foot. In this way the ball is swept up off the turf in what is known as a lob shot. Generally, this type~ of shot requires a reasonably good lie (Picture #8).

One must keep in mind that these high flying lob shots have relatively little reverse spin and therefore do not stop well unless the greens are of sufficient softness for the ball�s high flight to bite into the turf.

On the other hand, should a lower-than-average flight of the irons be desired, the ball should be played back toward the center of the stance, with the weight slightly more on the left foot than usual. Then the ball is pinched more into the turf, giving a lower flight with more backspin (Pic�ture #9). One advantage of this type shot is that it works well from a great variety of lies off almost any type of turf from the soft-lush to the hard-packed.