Welcome to this first in a series of Gorilla Golf Improvers articles which will help beginner golfers brush up on key aspects of their game. We will use the collective expertise of the GGB team, along with some useful YouTube videos to outline the key points made in each article, often featuring some of the biggest names in world golf.
In this first article of the series, we examine the crucial fundamentals of the game; the set up and we’ll begin by taking some advice from the current World Number One; Luke Donald
This video emphasises just how important having a good set up is before you even begin the golf swing. Indeed, in the video Donald admits that most of the time with his coaches, he is working on very small adjustments in these fundamental aspects of the game, believing that if he can get these right, then the swing will take care of itself.
Given his position in the world rankings, it is tough to argue against that logic.
So what entails the set up in golf? What particular issues are we looking at? In short, there are two things that comprise the set up, your grip on the golf club and the stance you take when you address the ball, prior to your swing.
One of the most often disregarded aspects of golf is the grip you have on your club. Quite simply, this is as fundamental to your long term success on the golf course as your clubs, balls and time spent with the tutor. Sam Snead once remarked that “if a lot of people grupped a knife and fork the way they do a golf club, they’d starve to death” and though the comment was made in jest, he was absolutely right.
There are three widely accepted forms of grip in golf, the baseball grip, interlocking grip and overlapping grip and players from all over the globe tend to use either one or a slight variation of these. Yet fundamental to each is the placement of the left hand (assuming you are a right handed golfer).
It is imperative to work hard to ensure your left hand placement is key because the rest of the grip, whichever grip you elect to play, is built around this fundamental hold on the club. If the left hand position is too strong or too weak, then the grip you have on the club will never be effective.
Which grip is the best to use?
How long is a piece of string? The truth is, the best grip you should use is the one that feels most comfortable and which affords you the best results out on the course. What determines that is many things, your hand, arm and finger strength, the ‘feel’ of the club and of course, the results you achieve when comparing each type of grip.
By all means, try out each form of grip on the range as a beginner (they are outlined in detail this superb new instructional booklet) but in the end it is the grip that feels most comfortable to you and achieves the best results which is the right choice for you.
Once you have achieved a great grip on the ball you need to consider your posture. How you position your body, head and clubhead around the position of the ball is crucial to achieving a good, consistent swing. For a good golf swing you need to have good balance and weight distribution through the legs and feet, your head needs to be upright, rather than tucked in, knees flexed and your shoulders and feet aligned with where you are aiming.
Remember, a good swing should always feel athletic!
Of course, there are many common faults beginners make when setting up to take a shot. Careful analysis of these on video, and by using useful reference material or the experience of a tutor can help a beginner eradicate many of these mistakes.
3. Ball Position
One of the most common mistakes golf beginners make is to play the ball in each shot from the same position. Take a quick look at the clubs in your bag, what you should notice is that each club, from a wedges through to a driver, is successively longer. Logic dictates that if you are to play the ball successfully with each shot, then the longer the shaft the club then the further away from you the golf ball must be.
However, there is another factor to consider. With golf clubs like drivers, fairway woods and longer irons, the golfer usually wants to achieve distance and will tend to play a more sweeping stroke. As a result, the ball needs to be positioned slightly further forward in the stance. For example, as Luke Donald shows on his video, when using the driver, he positions the ball just inside the toe of his left foot.
As Donald progresses through his bag, the position of the ball in the swing will alter slightly, moving slightly towards his right foot and also slightly closer to Donald to compensate for the smaller shaft, until you reach a Pitching Wedge or similar, where the ball should be positioned centrally in the stance, equidistant between the right and left feet and closer to the body.
Get the basics right and you put yourself in the perfect position to execute the golf skill that we will look at in our next article and which forms the basis of your golf game, and will determine your success or failure; the golf swing.
Images Courtesy of GorillaGolf, Keith Allison