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The GripPostureBall PositionAlignmentPro Shop

Most poor shots are a result of an improper set-up. That could be due to a bad grip, bad posture and/or ball position or alignment. It is often said that the set-up is a good 80% of the golf swing. What follows are small lessons concentrating on the 'Fundamentals of Golf; The Grip, Posture, Ball Position and Alignment. We hope that you find these sections helpful and successful in improving your golf game. If you have any questions about your golf game or inquiries about lessons, email The Learning Yard Golf Centre.

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The Grip is the most important aspect of the golf swing. The reason for this is that your hands are the only connection between you and the club. With a bad or incorrect grip, invariably the majority of your shots will be off line and/or poorly hit.

There are three types of Grip; ten-finger, overlapping A & B or interlocking.

The only difference is how the little finger of the bottom or right hand interacts with the first finger of the upper or left hand if at all. We urge everyone to try all three when practicing. One is going to fit you better than the others so experiment.

Now, let's get you holding the club correctly. For left-handers the opposite will be true.

The Left Hand
Simply let your left arm hang naturally next to your body, let the end of the club sit in the fingers not in the palm of your left hand and close your hand keeping the thumb close to the body of the hand, like pinching something. In this case it's the club.

Not like holding a baseball bat.

The left thumb should be slightly right of centre on the shaft. Notice two things, one is a close relation between the tip of the thumb and the far most extended part of the first finger or trigger finger, and the second is the "V" created between the thumb and first finger. This "V" is very important and should be pointing towards your right or back ear/shoulder area. More on this a little later.

Now with the right hand holding the butt end of the club, open your left hand so that the palm is facing upwards.

The club should be in a diagonal position so that the back centre of the grip is sitting where the small finger meets the left hand. Use this as the pivot point. The club goes diagonally across your fingers so that the back centre of the grip is right over the crease area of the tip and middle sections of your index finger. From there simply close your hand and the club should be properly positioned in your left hand.

In a SET-UP position you should be able to see, without moving your head or hand, 2 to 2 1/2 knuckles of your left hand. If you don't simply loosen your grip, rotate your hand and re-grip. That's the easiest way to properly insure that the "V" of the left hand is pointed in the right area or in a nice "neutral" position, back ear/shoulder area.

The pressure points in the left hand are the last three fingers and the padded area of your left hand.

The Right Hand
With the left hand properly gripping the club, place your right hand under the grip and have the back/centre of the grip lay where the 1st & 2nd portions of the 3rd finger meet, 4th for the 'ten finger' grip, and again, work it diagonally across your fingers so that the back centre of the grip is right over the crease of the tip and middle sections of your index finger.

Close you hand and let the padded area sit right on top of your left thumb and hold the club in your fingers not your palm.

At this point the lifeline of your right hand should be right up against the right side portion of your left thumb bringing power from behind and not from above. The padded area of your right hand, right on top of your left thumb. You should see a bleeding of the left thumb into the right and basically see one thumb.(\) You should see another "V" created by the thumb and first finger of the right hand, again, a pinching motion between those two fingers is required. Think of throwing a dart or threading a needle with those fingers. The idea is good enough but if your fingers touch no problem.(o) You can also let the first finger separate slightly to a trigger finger position. With all that said, both of those V's should be parallel and pointing in the same direction, back ear/shoulder area.

If those V's are pointed in different directions one of your hands will win over the other at impact, resulting in inconsistent ball striking.

The idea here is to have two hands work as one, so make sure that there are no spaces between your hands and that you start to feel what a good grip feels like.

The pressure points in the right hand are the two middle fingers, I like adding the small finger as well. This will enable you to connect the space between your thumb and index fingers of the left or upper hand, which should be in a relaxed state, to the right hand. So the last 3 fingers of both hands regardless of the grip.

Now picture this...

Think of the spot where the two middle fingers of your right hand join the hand as 'the centre of the universe'. Make sure that's right behind the back/centre of the grip and facing the target. This thought will help you get the club in your fingers and not in your hand as well as align the lower 1st half of your fingers with the back of your right hand. Much like throwing a ball underhand. Look at the position of your first couple of fingers in relation to the back of the hand at point of release.

As far as overall grip pressure, "medium" is best. Hold on to it but don't choke it.

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The posture at address is very important, not only for coiling and uncoiling effectively but for control of both the plane of your swing and your balance.

Your feet should be about shoulder width apart, and your knees slightly flexed. Think of a short-stop in baseball. Good solid base with some knee flex. Bend forward from the hips: butt out, head forward with a nice comfortable straight back, stand tall, be proud... you're a Golfer!! This will let the club head fall slightly and increase the angle at which the shaft of the club lies in relation to the ground, or the "PLANE" of your swing. More importantly, this will enhance how nice and natural the right hand should sit and fit onto the left hand.

The arms should be hanging naturally so that the hands, at address, are about 1 1/2 to 2 widths of your fist between the butt end of the club and your body. If you feel like you need to bend over to get the club on the ground, flex your legs and keep the back nice and straight.

An easy way to check if your hands are the correct distance from your body, at address let your right hand off the club. If it hangs parallel to where it was on the club, perfect, if it hangs back then your hands are too far away from your body, and if it hangs ahead then your hands are too close to your body.

To check if your balance is good, simply rock lightly back and forth from heal to toe. If you're able to do that, you're well balanced, if not, your balance is off. Once again, like the short-stop in baseball, able to move in any direction at anytime.

At address, with your weight distributed something like 60/40 (60% back foot, 40% front foot) for the long clubs and 55/45 for the middle to short clubs, think of keeping your head behind a line drawn straight up from the ball. Regardless of the club, the line from the ball should never be leaning towards the target, perpendicular or away from the target, placing your head behind the ball, if not your weight will be too centred over the ball. For the short clubs, (8 thru wedges), that line is straight up and your hands slightly ahead of it. For the middle clubs, (4 thru 7 irons) that line is leaning slightly away from the target and your hands equal to it, and for the long clubs, (driver thru 3 iron) you guessed it, the line is leaning further from the target and the hands slightly behind it. The reason for this is, not only are the clubs getting longer and the ball getting closer to the front foot, but when the clubs get longer there is a desire to want to sweep the ball off the grass/tee. Therefore the head gets further behind he ball. Things may vary somewhat but these are great benchmarks, and again, keep your head behind the ball. (pics: Pitching Wedge, 5 iron and Driver)

To insure a solid One Piece Take-Away and to help keep the left arm straight throughout the backswing, firm up the left side via the Pressure Points of the left hand and relax the right side from your shoulder down. The right shoulder is already lower due to the right hand being lower on the grip, but this will also let your right shoulder fall back slightly letting your left side the freedom to firm up and square up to the target line. This will help in getting away from the dreaded 'over the top' move which is a result of a couple of things one being, poor shoulder alignment, and it will put your right side "behind" your left, not "in front" of it, which would lead to improper shoulder alignment. This is a very powerful position. Ready to load up the backside and fire through the ball sending it DEEP!!!!

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There are two schools of thought in regards to ball position. One is that the ball stays in the same spot in your stance and the width of your stance is what changes. That ball position is 'forward centre', a position that is somewhere slightly in from your left heel. The stance gets wider as the clubs get longer. The driver would have the wider stance, as it should, and pitching wedge/sand wedge would require a narrower stance. Basically the position of the ball in relation to the front foot stays constant and your back foot is what moves. First picture: 5 iron, second: pitching wedge.

The other is basically the opposite, the feet don't move, the ball does. For the longer clubs, (driver, 3-5 woods, 2-3 irons) the ball is played off of the left heel and slightly in from that. For the middle clubs, (4 through 7 irons) the ball is placed slightly closer to the middle of your stance, and the short clubs, (8-9 irons, pitching and sand wedges) the ball is played in the middle of your stance. Basically the longest club is off of the left heel, first method included, and work your way to the middle of your stance for your shortest clubs. Now this is for most shots on flat terrain, specialty shots is a whole new ball game. Again, we urge you to try both when practicing to find which one works best for you. First picture: 5 iron, second: pitching wedge.

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When talking about alignment, we must first start by taking a step back. Exactly, just like the pros. Before setting yourself up to the ball, take a step back and look at the target from behind the ball. Pick a secondary target, (leaf, blade of grass, divot, whatever sticks out at you) that is in front of the ball, and line up to that. In this case (circled tee) it's a divot. It's much easier to line yourself up to something that is only a few feet away, rather then 150 yards away.

Now with that said, first things first. Start your setup routine by placing the club down and squaring up the clubface to the secondary target, then take your stance.

The thought you should have is one of a railroad track. Your feet, hips and shoulders should all be square and parallel to the target line. If you're going to change something for the purpose of shaping a shot, remember that the railroad track stays the same, your feet, hips and shoulders still have to remain parallel to each other whether you're set-up open or closed to the target. If one is off slightly it could make a very big difference in where your ball lands up.

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