Beginner's Golf Tutorial

By Mike Southern
Holding the club properly is one of the building blocks of the golf swing.
Holding the club properly is one of the building blocks of the golf swing.

There are as many ways to swing a golf club as there are players and teachers, and this is a constant source of confusion to new players. But regardless of how many different techniques you may come across, all good swings share certain basic fundamentals that are not difficult to learn.

Grip

Ben Hogan wrote that the grip is the first building block of the swing. There are several different types of grips, but the most important aspect is how “strong” the grip is. In a neutral grip, the thumbs are both on top of the club’s cushioned grip; a strong grip rotates the thumbs slightly away from the target. You want to keep your forearms as relaxed as possible without losing control of the club--this makes it easier to develop power during the takeaway.

Address & Alignment

Annika Sorenstam spent many pages in her book, “Golf Annika’s Way,” teaching proper address and alignment. How you address the ball and align your body does much to determine where the ball goes when you hit it. Your knees are flexed and your body bent forward slightly from the waist, with your weight over the balls of your feet. Imagine a line running through the golf ball to your target (your target line); for a normal shot you want imaginary lines running through your feet, knees, hips and shoulders to be parallel to that line.

Takeaway

The takeaway is the critical start of the swing, and teachers such as Manuel de la Torre spend a great deal of time on it. Rather than just lifting up your hands and the club, you want to turn your shoulders to swing them away from the ball. This “upper body coil” is critical to developing power in the swing, as well as getting your arms, hands and club on a good swing path or “plane.” At the top of the swing, your shoulders are turned nearly perpendicular to the target line.

Change of Direction

The change of direction is where you find the most differences among teachers. However, a good way to start down properly is to feel that your coiled shoulders and hips start the downswing at the same time. (The hips actually start first, but feeling as if they start together prevents many swing problems before they start.) Your spine angle remains fairly constant--you do not bob up and down as you swing--and starting down completes your wrist cock. It feels as if your weight moves from your back foot to your front foot as you start down.

Impact and Finish

As the club reaches the ball, your wrists uncock with a snapping motion (think of how a flyswatter smacks a fly) and send the ball flying toward the target. Then the momentum of the swing and the weight of the club cause your body to continue turning until your navel is facing the target and the club swings around, causing your arms to fold the club over your shoulder in the familiar finish position.

About the Author

North Carolina native Mike Southern has been writing since 1979. He is the author of the instructional golf book "Ruthless Putting" and edited a collection of swashbuckling novels. Southern was trained in electronics at Forsyth Technical Community College and is also an occasional woodworker.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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