The fundamentals of golf are some of the only things in this perplexing game that don’t ever change. The fundamentals include:
- Ball Position
The good thing about the fundamentals is that it doesn’t take any athletic ability at all to be able to do these things properly. It is comforting to know that you can set up to the ball correctly every time and give yourself the best chances for success. So let’s get into it. We’ll start with the body’s connection to the club: the grip.
There are two acceptable ways to grip the golf club. A lot of articles online say the 10 finger grip is okay for beginners to use, but do yourself a favor and steer clear. The two best choices for how to grip the club are called the Vardon grip and the interlocking grip. Let’s go into more detail about each one.
The Vardon Grip (also known as the overlapping grip)
For a right-handed player, when using the overlapping grip you will grip the club with your left hand first and then place your right pinky finger in between the gap between your left index finger and middle finger. Then you grip the club normally with the rest of the fingers in your right hand.
The overlapping grip is well suited for players with bigger hands. It is a popular grip used by golfers everywhere. We would guess that the overlap grip is the most popular grip in golf by percentage of golfers who use it. But that is just a guess.
The Interlocking Grip
When using the interlocking grip, a right handed player will grip the club with her left hand first and then “interlock” the pinky of the right hand with the index finger of the left hand. Then place the fingers naturally around the club with the fingers in your right hand.
The interlocking grip is better suited for players with smaller hands. Interestingly, the two best players of all time use the interlocking grip: Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus.
Posture is important because it is how you setup to the ball. How close do you stand to the ball? Am I too far away from the ball? Do I have too much knee flex? Not enough knee flex? These are the types of questions you’ve got to have answers to so that you can play your best.
The general rule of thumb is to:
- Take an athletic stance with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- From there, lean forward slightly from the hips with your upper body.
- Then, let your arms drop down and hang naturally.
This is the ideal posture for the golf swing and doing this every time will give you the best chance of putting a good swing on the ball consistently.
Alignment just means where you are aimed at setup. If your alignment is off, it messes up everything else in your swing, so getting this right is extremely important. Even PGA Tour pros sometimes get off with their alignment and it causes big issues for them, so average players like us definitely need focus on this and get it right.
Setting up square to your target is simple, but not necessarily easy to do. Here is how:
- Set up to the ball and aim your clubface so that it is square to the target.
- Then you want to set your feet and shoulders on a line that is parallel to the target line. Most players want to aim their bodies directly towards the target, but you actually need to have your body pointing slightly left of the target. The best way to think about this is to visualize a train track. The ball and clubface sit on one side of the track that leads straight to the target. Your feet and shoulders are on the rails of the other side of the train track, on line exactly parallel to the target.
Using alignment sticks on the ground while you practice is the best way to train yourself to have good alignment. If you don’t have alignment sticks you can easily use golf clubs for the same purpose. Just lay one stick or club down the target line and another down your foot/shoulder line.
Hit balls this way and you will ingrain the correct alignment in your setup.
Ball position is exactly what it sounds like. It just means where you put the ball in your stance when setting up to the shot. Here is the simple rules of thumb:
- For iron shots: ball goes generally in the middle of your stance
- For driver the fairway woods: ball goes forward in your stance, about in line with your left heel (for a right-handed player)
You can experiment with different ball positions and see what is best for you, but the above guidelines are what is typical in the golf world. There are, however, some very good players who use the same ball position on every shot no matter what club they are hitting.
If you can follow the four fundamentals of golf every time you play, you will set yourself up for success on the golf course. These fundamentals of golf have been the same for decades now and they will not change any time soon. So as a beginner, implement these foundational blocks to your game and it will make your journey in the game a lot easier, you’ll play more consistently and have more fun. Go hit ’em good out there!
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