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The Six Basic Fundamentals of Golf

The Six Basic Fundamentals of Golf

1. Grip is how you hold the club. Your hands should be fixed on the club; they don't move. Their only job is to hold on, like clamps. They don't manipulate it by snapping the wrist or forcing the club.

A grip that's too strong is when the hands are turned to the right too much. If the hands are turned to the left too much, the grip's too weak.

If you develop blisters, it's probably not because you're holding the club too tightly or too loosely, but because you have a problem with the quality of your grip.

The grip is something you should evaluate right off the bat. Make sure you have a proper grip, and then check it every time you set up to the ball.

2. Posture is how you set up to the ball. Everything is built on this foundation. If you have a problem here, it'll show up later in your swing, possibly disguised as something else. This, like your grip, is one of the first things you think about when you set up to the ball.

Posture isn't negotiable. It's a requirement to being able to make a good swing. Without it, you'll always be coming back to that and never be able to move on and progress. It's basic from a physical stand point, protecting your back, and from a motion stand point, being able to make a good swing.

Nothing good can come from poor posture. Good posture protects the back and puts the body in the right position to make a good swing.

3. Pivot is how you move your body. It's how you move from your head to your toes without using your hands and arms, so pretend your arms are invisible for a moment.

The pivot moves every muscle in your body, and all this happens in less than two seconds. The elbow drill slows everything down so you have time to think, and train your muscles.

Elbow Drill

Position 1 - Address:

* Place something on the ground to represent the ball.

* Put the golf club behind your back and through your elbows. The golf club will help with your posture. It keeps your shoulders back, insures you'll bend from the hips, and not slouch from the shoulders.

* Spread your feet about shoulder width.

* Equal weight distribution front to back and right to left.

* Bend from your hip sockets keeping your back nice and flat, with knees slightly flexed.

Position 2 - Back Swing:

* Shift your weight to your right foot.

* At the same time, tilt your shoulders vertically so that the left shoulder points down, and the right shoulder points up. The left end of the club will be pointing approximately at or behind the ball position.

* As you're shifting your weight to your right foot, release to the instep of your left foot, so you can get "behind" the ball.

* Your head does not move up in the back swing, just to the right.

* Check to see if your right foot, right hip, and head are in a vertical line.

* If you drew a line from the ball up, you'd be behind the ball now.

Position 3 - Impact

* Start with your hips.

* Shift your weight to your left foot, by leading with your hips in a slight lateral motion.

* Point the club end in your right elbow down at your right foot.

* At the same time, release to the instep of your right foot.

* You now have 90 percent of your weight on your left foot.

Position 4 - Follow Through, Post Impact

* To finish the drill, release your hips by rotating them through, so your hips, belly button, and shoulders are facing the target.

* Almost all your weight is on your left foot; your right toe is simply balancing you, it isn't actually supporting any weight.

* Your eyes are looking down the target line, not down at the ground.

If you can make a proper elbow drill, you're pivoting correctly. Now you need to learn to pivot with the club in your hand, and not behind your back.

4. Hand and arm relationship is based on proper grip, posture, and pivot.

At address, the left arm is straight, the right arm is slightly bent, the elbows are close together. You don't want your elbows to look like they are bowlegged. You want the elbows to be turned in.

At the top of the back swing, the left arm will be as extended as possible. The right elbow will be bent in and pointing down at the ground. Similar to a waiter's arm when he carries a tray.

The arms will go back as far as the tilting of your shoulders will allow. It is different for every person depending on the size of their chest and the length of their arms.

At the top of the back swing, the club and your left arm are at a 90 degree angle. In order to reach your maximum club head velocity, you need to maintain that angle as deep into your down swing as possible.

The club is automatically released as a result of the combination of the angle your arm retains and the power caused by centrifugal force. You don't have to force the club to release, or catch up with your arm, the motion your body is making forces it to do so.

From Impact to Finish

At impact, the left arm is straight, and the right arm is almost straight. The hands are slightly in front of the ball.

Both arms stay straight about one-quarter of the way up in the forward swing. Then the left arm starts to imitate what the right arm did in the back swing. It will start to hinge, and the right arm will hinge with it.

* First - make a swing and stop at a quarter position going back. Focus on the change you want to make. Then start your down swing by shifting through to the left, letting the club brush the ground. Continue in a forward swing coming to a stop at a quarter position. The toe of the club is up, and the weight is on your left foot.

* Second - make a quarter swing where you don't stop. Go back and through, without hitting a ball, thinking about the change you want to make.

* Third - Step up to the ball, make the swing and hit the ball.

First, you're stopping the action, and consciously thinking about it. Second, you're trying to reproduce that sensation in a continuous motion. Third, you're adding the ball. This keeps the ball from becoming so intimidating.

In the back swing, think of your back. It connects your hips, torso, and shoulders. It allows you to make a one-piece motion when you shift your weight, and tilt your shoulders to get to the top of your back swing. Your back has the large muscles that allow you to raise the club with minimal force from your arms, which have smaller muscles.

Pivot and weight shift happen and work together. In one motion, you need to:

* Shift your weight with your hips and back directly over your right hip and foot, not beyond them. This is a slight lateral motion from left to right. If your hips or head go anywhere outside your right foot, it's considered a sway, and it wasn't a slight motion, you went too far.

* Tilt your back (which is still flat), so that the right shoulder points up and the left shoulder points down. Your flat back will actually now be behind the ball.

* Don't come out of your posture by raising your head when you move into your back swing. Your head moves horizontally as your shoulders are tilting.

* Your hips and back move together. Rotate your left hip down, forward, and to the right, so that it moves with your back.

* Don't over rotate your hips, or twist them too much. If you don't force it, it's likely to come naturally. If you keep your back flat, when you tilt your shoulders, your hips and shoulders will move together.

Your hips start the forward swing. Your left hip shifts all your weight directly over your left foot. This produces a whip-like effect, where your hips are pulling your shoulders, which pull your arms, and finally the club. As a result, the club head is moving much more rapidly than your hips, arms, or hands.

Your shoulders follow your hips, and your arms follow your shoulders. Follow means they come behind. Never push with your hands or arms. The arms must come behind the hips and shoulders to reach their maximum velocity. Maximum club head velocity is good, very good. Because this is where you get distance.

At impact your back and legs look like a letter "K." The left side of your body is straight, and the right side is angled in.

After impact, your hips will continue to rotate toward the target, your shoulders and arms will follow. About 95 percent of your weight will be on the left side of your body now. Your hips, belly button, shoulders, and eyes are facing the target.

The Head: Fact versus Fiction

The head does move, and has to in order for you to shift your weight. Power comes from thrust. Thrust is shifting your weight from your right side to your left side. Therefore, your body has to move. If your body is going to move, your head has to move also.

The average pro's head moves approximately two inches to the right to get to the top of the backswing. Then at the start of the forward swing, it moves an additional inch to the right. It then moves three inches down, and eleven inches forward through the forward swing.

5. Alignment is how you line up to your target. It's important in achieving your goals, because a great swing and poor alignment does not make for a happy golfer. In putting, it's particularly important, and the better you get, the more crucial it becomes.

When you're setting up to make your shot, make sure you're focusing on your target, not a distraction, such as a water hazard or sand bunker. If you're thinking about a hazard, your body is naturally going to focus on that point. Acknowledge the hazard, but focus on your target.

There are a lot of ways you can properly align yourself to your target. When you look at the target and away from the ball, you loose all your orientation. So use an intermediate target. Something between the ball and your target. Make sure you can see it when you're looking at the ball. It'll usually be a discolored blade of grass, a twig, a clover, anything that stands out. It must be something that's already there; you can't place something on the ground to help.That's illegal!

To pick your intermediate target, stand behind the ball and look through it at your target. Pick something you'll be able to see when you're looking at the ball. It should be about six to twelve inches away from the ball.

Keeping your eyes on your intermediate target, move to the ball. Set your club directly behind the ball, with the club face pointing at the ball and your intermediate target. Take your stance with your feet, hips, and shoulders parallel to the target line.

6. Mental: The Ability to Play Without Thinking About it

True confidence comes from knowledge and experience. Think of something you do very well, basketball, snow skiing, tennis, playing the piano, using a computer, anything. You have confidence in your ability because you know what you're doing, and you've had lots of experience! You can achieve the same thing with your golf swing.

Quality practice will give you confidence out on the course, and it doesn't require "hard" practice. It's working smart, not hard, that counts in your practice time.

Golf needs to be something you enjoy. Five or ten minutes of quality time is much more valuable than an hour of poor practice!
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