Great Players Have Great Set-ups
Pre-swing fundamentals are important with every facet of the game but perhaps especially with the driver as mistakes are magnified with the longer clubs. Pre-swing fundaments include grip, posture, alignment and ball position.
Grip: To place your hands on the club properly, hold the club in front of you at an upward 45 degree angle with your right hand (left for left-handed players) on the shaft slightly below the grip. Place the left hand on the grip with the heel pad at the base of the little finger on top of the shaft. My preference with the left-hand grip is to see the knuckles of the forefinger and middle finger. For most people this would be a neutral grip. My left thumb is on top of the shaft but to the right of center.
From there, I slide my right hand down so that the left thumb fits into the lifeline pocket of the right hand. There is slight separation between the right forefinger and the middle finger with the grip resting in the middle knuckle of the forefinger. The right thumb rests on top of the shaft but slightly to the left of center.
The “Vs” formed by the thumbs and forefingers of each hand should be parallel to each other and pointing somewhere between the chin and the right shoulder. Obviously everyone is built differently. The player should experiment with this “V” alignment to determine which position enables him or her to return the club face to impact with the with the face perpendicular to the target line.
Last but not least is the issue of grip pressure. To determine the proper pressure, hold the club in front of you with the shaft parallel to the ground. That’s too much pressure. Then the hold the club in front of you with the shaft pointed straight up. That’s too little pressure. When the club is held at a 45 degree angle, the pressure should be proper.
Posture: I remember someone asking Tiger what he thought the most important fundamental was. His response? “Posture.” Proper posture allows your arms to swing freely and also enables your body to rotate at maximum speed. The general rule of thumb is that you should bend from the hips approximately 25-30 degrees. When you do this properly, the shoulders and knees are aligned directly over the insteps of your feet. The lower back is flat in what is referred to as neutral posture. This puts you in a solid position in good balance with your arms hanging softly and ready to swing the club back and through on the proper plane. Always remember that you must remain in this posture until well after impact. If you are moving up or down during the swing you will have to make compensation moves which will always result in inconsistency.
Alignment and ball position: Alignment and ball position are both important factors for any golfer wanting to hit longer, more accurate shots. As part of the pre-shot routine, the player must pick out a very specific target while standing behind the ball and facing the target. Most good players pick out a piece of grass or clump of dirt roughly 12 inches in front of the ball and directly on the target line. This provides a far more effective reference point with which to aim the clubface. When the golfer moves into the address position, all of the body lines (toes, knees, hips, elbows and shoulders) should be on a line that is parallel to the target line. Keep in mind that most right handed, right eye dominant people have a tendency to allow their aiming point to drift to the right. It’s something that needs to be checked constantly.
Most good players position the sand wedge through six-iron at the midpoint between the feet. From the five-iron and up the position gradually moves forward towards the left instep (for right-handers). Incorrect ball position can effect shoulder alignment and can cause off-line shots even with a sound swing.