There is so much for the beginner to choose from in the ever growing golf industry. The question is, "Where do you start?"
The key to getting started in golf is simplicity! Whatever you do, just keep it simple. When searching for an instructor find one who teaches the basics. You will not be misled. The basics will help you to achieve the golf swing that is right for you.
This is important for the long run. A simple understanding of the golf swing will allow you to produce results. The basics will make things easy for you by giving you a clear understanding of how the golf swing should look and feel.
Remember that there is no right or wrong way to swing the golf club. However, there are universal basics that we all should strive to achieve. Take a look at some of the tour players on T.V. and you will notice that they all have certain basics in common.
Before I introduce the basics, I want to first make you aware of those things that will help explain what golf is all about so you are able to have fun while learning.
When you are on the practice range or on the golf course be sure that no one is near you when you are swinging the golf club. And be sure that no one is ahead of you where your golf ball might hit them.
If someone is in your way then be polite and ask them to move so your golf swing or golf ball does not hit them.
• Be sure that your golf clubs are in good condition.
Do not throw golf clubs.
Be sure to wear a golf glove because your hands will get blistered from the gripping of the golf club.
When using a golf cart be sure that the golf cart is stopped before you get out. And be sure that both of your feet are completely inside the golf cart when the golf cart is moving.
Etiquette is another way of being courteous. The following is a list of some of the things that we all should do when playing the game of golf.
When someone else is hitting their golf ball it is common courtesy to be quiet and still.
Be sure that you are prepared to hit your golf ball when it is your turn. This will help prevent you from being a slow golfer.
If you are playing slow or looking for a lost golf ball, let the group behind you play through.
• When someone on the green has a long putt and they cannot see the hole, then be polite and tend the flagstick for them.
The golfer that is the farthest away from the hole is the one who will hit first.
The golfer who has the lowest score on the previous hole will be the first one to tee off on the next hole. (Referred to as "honor"). To prevent slow play on the golf course it is best to play "Ready Golf". (The golfer who is ready, plays first).
Be sure to rake the sand bunker after you have played from it so the next golfer has a good lie.
Put the flagstick carefully into the hole after putting.
When the golf ball hits the green it will make a mark or depression. Be sure to fix it before you leave the green.
Be sure not to drag or slide your feet on the green.
According to the dictionary, the definition of a sportsman/sportswoman is; "One who abides by the rules and accepts victory or defeat graciously".
On the days that your golf game is not doing so well you should try to maintain a good attitude, not only for the courtesy of others but for yourself as well. It is tough to maintain discipline after a bad round of golf, but if you do your best to do so, you will be rewarded by your positive outlook.
You will gain respect from others and yourself as well. You will also have faced the reality that golf is not a game that has to be perfect all the time. You will have gained more self control, and self control can lead to better golf scores. You will stay on better terms with all of your golf-mates. Remember that golf is a game and even though you are in competition with each other on the golf course you will want to remain good friends off the golf course as well. Maintain your discipline of a positive attitude.
"If you watch a golf tournament, it is fun. If you play it, it is recreation. If you work at it, it is golf!"
Par - Is the number of strokes it should take you to get the golf ball in the hole.
Birdie - Is one stroke less than par. For example, the par on a hole is 4. A birdie would be a 3.
Eagle - Is two strokes less than par. So, a hole that is a par 4, you would have to get the ball in the hole with 2 strokes to make an eagle. Two strokes minus four is two.
The game - You must play the golf course in order, 1 through 18, in the least amount of strokes.
Clubface - Is the part of the golf club that makes direct physical contact with the golf ball.
Loft - The part of the golf club that determines distance and flight of the golf ball ( low or high ).
Divot - A large piece of grass or turf that is loosened by a players golf club when hitting the golf ball.
Fairway - The area of each hole on the golf course, from tee to green, that is mowed.
Sand Bunker - Parts of the golf course that are usually crater-like depressions that are filled with sand. Designated as a hazard according to the rules of golf.
Grass Bunker - Parts of the golf course that are usually crater-like depressions that are lined with grass. Designated as regular part of the golf course. Grass Bunker is not a hazard.
Sportsmanship - The qualities and conduct of a sportsman/sportswoman.
NOTE: Send in your questions.
On to the basics......
UNIVERSAL BASICS FOR BEGINNERS
1) IMPACT ZONE (putting and chipping)
As a beginner you start with putting because its the base or the foundation of your entire swing.
An impact zone is where you keep the face of the putter square on the way back (two feet), keep it square at impact, and keep it square two feet after impact or through the ball. ( Illustration A.)
Practicing the small impact zone with your putter, you will have made a groove for all of your golf clubs to follow. That short line that you groove is the base for the rest of your golf swing. The rest of your golf swing is just an extension of that small impact zone.
Every golf club that you use ( from your pitching wedge to your driver ) you will want the face of the golf club to be square at impact. It does not matter how you do this, just as long as the face of the golf club is square at impact. Every tour player that you see on T.V. has this universal basic. Even though they have their own style of swinging the golf club at impact, their golf club is square. It has to be, otherwise, their golf ball would not go as straight as it does. This is pure fact. Physical science has proved it. The golf ball will go toward your target if your club face is square at impact.
As far as the grip is concerned do what feels comfortable to you. You can use a 10-finger grip if you want. You can use an overlap grip. You can use an interlock grip. You can hold it like a baseball bat. You can hold it anyway you like! You can grip the putter anyway you want, just as long as you feel comfortable. The most important thing when you are deciding on which grip to use is to make sure that your hands are opposing each other or facing each other.( Illustration B.)
As far as your stance is concerned, you can stand any way that feels comfortable to you. Do what comes natural. Be different, develop your own style if it feels right!
There are a lot of ways to stroke the putter. The most important thing is that you swing your hands, your arms and your shoulders as one unit, or like the capital letter Y ( Illustration C1). You can swing them all together in a pendulum style, making sure that you do not change the shape of the capital letter Y ( Illustration D1 ). ( Illustration D2).
There are two different techniques for putting: 1) low and slow and follow through to the hole ( like Ben Crenshaw and Phil Mickelson ) and 2) hit through the ball and resist ( like Greg Norman and the majority of the players ).
The first technique - low and slow, requires much more timing and rhythm.
The second technique - hit through the ball and resist, requires that you take the putter back a couple inches outside of your right foot and accelerate through the ball and resist the putter from going past the outside of your left foot.( Illustration D1.) For left handed golfers you would take the putter back a couple of inches outside of your left foot and accelerate through the ball and resist the putter from going past the outside of your right foot. (Illustration D2. )
The beauty of this technique is that you can use the same length of backswing and use the same length on your follow-through and still be able to hit the ball any distance you want, whether it be 2 feet or 30 feet.
Since you are travelling on a shorter line ( from just outside of one foot to just outside of the other foot), you have less room for error. Your feel for distance will greatly increase as well as being able to hit the ball in the center of the putter consistently.
When practicing your putting, make sure that you make putts! Even if you have to stand 1 foot or 2 feet away from the hole to make putts...Just Do It! Why? Because when you make that 1 foot or 2 foot putt while you're practicing, you can hear that putt drop into the cup and that sound will make you feel good and you will build confidence.
Confidence is very important at any level of the game. As a beginner you want to develop the right foundation. Sinking one foot and two foot putts in practice will give you the right foundation that will allow one to advance to the next level. You will find that the short putts that you are practicing ( 1 and 2 feet ) seem to be easy. But that is good because we want to be simple!
Making short simple putts will build the right foundation for your confidence! Keep it simple!
Chipping has the same requirements as putting. You want to make sure that you keep the face of the club square through the impact zone, which is a couple of inches outside of one foot and a couple of inches outside of the other foot. ( Illustration E).
You still swing your hands, arms, and shoulders as one unit ( like the capital letter Y ) and you use a short backswing and short follow-through, just like the putting stroke. The only difference now is that your pitching wedge, sandwedge, nine iron or eight iron is going to lift the ball in the air as you brush the grass.
This brings me to a part about teaching beginners that takes a little time. When beginner golfers try to chip a golf ball, their instinct is to lift the golf ball in the air with their hands rather than hitting down through the ball, brushing the grass and letting the loft of the club do the work.
Why do we try to lift the golf ball in the air? I think the reason is based upon history. In the beginning the golfers had wooden shafts and they used feather golf balls. The only way to get the golf ball in the air was to hit it on the upswing. In order to do that you would have to use your arms and wrists instead of your legs.
Over the years, everyone would copy the golfer who was winning. So it became a habit for those who followed. Now the golfing industry is realizing that the golf swing is a more natural motion like bowling, pitching a softball underhand, stepping with your leading leg and executing a karate punch or throwing horseshoes.
All of these motions are the same, you step with your leading leg, transfer your weight from the back foot to the front foot and as you shift your weight your body will automatically twist the hips. The twisting of the hips is what creates the power. They whip your arms through the hitting area. And everything falls into place.
Gary Player walks forward after he hits the golf ball because it forces him to shift his weight. So, when you chip a golf ball you are beginning to shift your weight. However, a chip shot does not require an obvious weight shift.
A few ways that I have discovered through teaching to help the beginner golfer chip the golf ball are;
Try to make a small divot after the golf ball.
Cheat a little. Lean on your left side or put most of your weight on your left foot. This forces you to go down through the ball. For left handed golfers you would lean on your right side or put most of your weight on your right foot.
Walk towards your target after you chip the golf ball. Remember, when you chip the golf ball you don't want to break your wrists. You want to keep your hands, arms and shoulders as one unit ( the capital letter Y ). If you hit down on the ball, the loft of the golf club will lift it in the air. But if you try to lift it in the air by breaking your wrists, the club will go in the air, but the ball will skip across the green.
A good way to visually execute the chip shot and to gauge different distances, is to pretend that you have a big clock behind you. Up above your head is 12 o'clock, by your feet is 6 o'clock. Waist high to your right is 9 o'clock and waist high to your left is 3 o'clock. ( Illustration F1).
If you want to hit the golf ball 20 yards, swing from 7 o'clock to 5 o'clock. If you want to hit the golf ball 30 yards, swing from 8 o'clock to 4 o'clock. If you want to hit the golf ball 40 or 50 yards, swing from 9 o'clock to 3 o'clock. ( Illustration F2 ).
For left handed golfers, to hit the golf ball 20 yards, swing from 5 o'clock to 7 o'clock. To hit the golf ball 30 yards, swing from 4 o'clock to 8 o'clock. To hit the golf ball 40 or 50 yards, swing from 3 o'clock 9 o'clock.
The most important thing about putting and chipping is the fact that you keep the club face square through the impact zone. The more you practice putting and chipping, the more you are grooving that impact zone and the stronger your foundation becomes.
2) ALIGNMENT (full swing)
Before you try a full swing be sure your body and the golf club is properly aligned. To do this you will need to put on the ground in front of you two golf clubs that are parallel to each other. The first golf club is next to the golf ball and the other golf club is right in front of your feet.A good way to picture this alignment is to visualize a set of railroad tracks. The railroad tracks never meet. They stay parallel to each other all the time.
The line or golf club that is next to your golf ball is called the target line. This is the direction that you want your clubface to line up with and it is the direction that you want the golf ball to go towards....the target.
The other golf club or line that is in front of your feet is called your body alignment line. This is the direction your body is aligned with. This is the line that you line up your feet, hips and shoulders to.
For a right-handed beginner your body will always line up left of the target. Your feet, hips and shoulders never line up with the target. They always stay left of the target.
For a left-handed beginner your body will always line up right of the target. Your feet, hips and shoulders never line up with the target. They always stay right of the target.
Having the correct alignment will allow your body to swing naturally. You will feel comfortable when your body is lined up towards your target. Alignment will help the full swing feel easier.
The full swing is simple! It is just an extension of your impact zone that you use in your putting and chipping. You can get involved with all kinds of theories and all kinds of golf instruction on how the club should be on your backswing and follow-through. Or you can just let your body do what comes natural. Remember, keep it simple.
There is no right or wrong way to swing a golf club. You swing it the way you feel comfortable or else you will be spending a lot of money and time trying to find that perfect golf swing that only exists on the computer.
The reason why there is no perfect swing is because everyone's physique or body structure is different and not everyone thinks on the same level. But like the perfect swing model we can learn how to incorporate the universal basics. Just remember to keep it simple because the whole objective of the game is to get the golf ball in the hole. And it does not matter how you do that.
At the end of your round of golf your score keeper is only going to write down the score that you made on that certain hole. The score card isnt going to say that David A. Ruvolo made an eagle on the 18th hole while hitting the golf ball off of his knees.
So dont spend so much time on finding the perfect golf swing. If you spend your time and energy thinking about all the different mechanical parts of a golf swing, you have taken away your focus or your concentration or your energy from getting the golf ball in the hole.
It is better to focus on the target. Golf, believe it or not, like most other sports, is a target-oriented game. You let your body react to the target. When you focus your eyes on the target your body has this magical power of finding a way to get to there.
One of the golf lessons I had from the 1935 PGA Champion - Johnny Revolta about reacting to the target was as follows. (Keep in mind, back in his time when golf first began, they did not have the technology nor the education to do so much thinking. They played by feel!) Mr. Revolta told me, when I was hitting out of the sand bunker, to pick out a spot on the green...stare at it...and my eyes will tell my muscles how to get there. He was showing me how to let my body react to the target. It was a great lesson from a great player!
Two other examples of how your body reacts to the target are:
1) When you shoot a basketball you're not looking at the basketball as it leaves your hands and flies through the air. Your eyes are staring at the basketball hoop as your muscles are figuring out a way to get there. You are reacting to the target.
2) When a hockey player is skating down the ice and getting ready to shoot the puck at the goal, he is not looking down at the puck and his stick, because if he did someone would attack him! Instead his head is up, looking for a space between the goalies legs or arms that he can score through. Reacting to the target!
So as a beginner, practice the impact zone with your putting and chipping. Then let your full swing develop on its own by aligning your body correctly. And just react to your target.
3) BALANCED FOLLOW-THROUGH
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