Let’s Get Back to Basics

Greg Ellis
Great Golf Academy
Goodyear, AZ

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As the PGA Tour has started the new season and the Champions, Web.com and LPGA Tours have wrapped up, this is a great time to find your “A-Game”. Even though the Tour players take a brief vacation from the game, they all prepare right now for the upcoming season. Each player has his or her own way to prepare. I remember visiting, a long time ago, with Mr. Jack Nicklaus and discussing his pre-season schedule.  He told me that he would always start out the season by going back to his instructor, Jack Grout, ‘For a tune up’.  “That tune up began by reviewing the fundamentals of the golf swing.  Once the fundamentals were checked, we would work on the swing,”  stated Nicklaus.
Therefore, if the greatest golfer to ever play the game can start at “square one” each year, I feel that this should be a great starting point for you.  The following information should be a great tune up program to get your game in shape.

Pre-shot Routine – If you don’t have a consistent pre-shot routine – develop one that fits your personality, immediately.  The pre-shot routine is the catalyst that will insure a greater opportunity of making a good golf shot.   
First, begin by visualizing your target, by standing behind the golf ball.  From this moment until the golf shot is complete, your main focus is the target, not the ball or how to hit the ball.  Visualize “where…not how.”  Choose a spot between the intended target and the ball that is about six inches ahead of the ball.  Use this spot to assist with all of your alignment procedures.

Grip – How you place your hands on the club is very important.  There are three styles of gripping the golf club, overlapping, interlocking or baseball style.  The golf club should be gripped in your fingers not the palms of your hands.  This is a game of feel not strength.  The left hand (as if you are a right-handed golfer) will be placed on the club first near burr end of the club. Lay the club across the last set of knuckles with the toe of the club pointing straight up.  Wrap your fingertips around the grip of the club.  The palm of your hand is still open. Place your right hand, in the middle and ring fingers, between the first and second knuckles.   Again, wrap your fingertips around the club.  At this point you will overlap the right pinky finger between the index and ring finger or interlock the right pinky finger or place all ten fingers on the grip with no gap between the two hands. Once the fingers are positioned properly on the club, close the left down onto the club creating a “V” between your thumb and index finger.  Next, you will close your right hand down onto the golf club and left hand, again, creating a “V” between that thumb and index finger. With both hands on the golf club and the toe of the club still pointing up, the two “V’s” should be pointing toward your right shoulder.

Alignment – The alignment of your body to hit the golf ball toward your target is equally important.  Lay a golf club on the ground to develop your proper alignment.  The golf club should point slightly to the left of your target.  This will insure that your feet are aligned properly.  Your hips and shoulders should be slightly closed to the feet alignment.  This alignment will promote a proper takeaway.

Set-up – Or, addressing the ball is the most important fundamental to make as automatic as possible in the pre-shot routine.  Once your feet and body are properly aligned, you will want to position your body over the golf ball, to maximize positive results.  Set your feet approximately shoulder width apart.   Flex your knees just enough so that you know they are not locked.  Next, you will tilt over at the waist far enough that your arms can hang directly below your shoulders and approximately a fist to six inches away from your body.  This will create a large enough space between your arms and body to allow the club to be swung around your body properly.  Your weight should be 55% on your right side and 45% on your left side at address.  The ball position will vary with each club, however, the ball position shall be ahead of the center of your stance for normal golf shots.  Therefore, this means that your swing center will be behind the ball, too.  All that is left to do now is swing through the ball to your target. 
Have fun and remember, if you need help with this tip or any other, feel free to email Greg at greg.ellis@trilogygolfclub.com or call him for a lesson at 623.328.5107.

Be sure to tune in to the Bunker to Bunker Golf Show every Saturday morning from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. or on ArizonaSports620 or on the internet at www.arizonasports.com for more tips and updates on all of the week’s golfing news in the Valley and around the world. Join Greg, Jim Hill, and Marty Monaghan for a comprehensive look at the golf world for the week.