Back to Basics

John Stahlschmidt
PGA Director of Instruction
JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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Have you ever felt as if you were lost and in a constant mode of searching for that next best golf swing?  Maybe you have been putting in the work, but not seeing the results. This is a tough position to be in and can be very demoralizing. Oftentimes when this occurs, we as golfers over complicate things. We go directly to the golf swing and attempt to work on some complex swing change. Have you ever considered getting back to the basics and recommit to increasing your GPA?

At the TOURAcademy, we refer to GPA as Grip, Posture and Alignment. This is the foundation to our full swing building block approach. The reality is that these three components really set the stage for what is going to happen next in the swing. When setting up with a poor grip, bad posture and faulty alignment, it will be challenging at best to execute a proper golf swing.

The Grip-As I have mentioned in previous columns, the grip is the only physical connection we have with the golf club and has the single most influence on the club face. The club face determines the ball’s initial starting direction and influences the curve of the shot. It is common that over time the grip can start to change. When this occurs, the likelihood of errant shots increases. Go ahead and be conscious of your grip as this could be a reason for inconsistent results.

Posture–Have you ever been told to keep your head down? Keeping your head down is one of those clichés that we hear all the time on the lesson tee. Trust me when I say, “You don’t hit poor shots because you look up at impact”. In fact, this advice tends to lend itself to poor posture. When setting up to the ball, it is important to have a neutral spine angle with the chin slightly raised. This allows for the correct pivot motion during the swing. If slouched over with a low chin, it is very difficult to turn properly in the backswing. Work on that posture and it will help produce better swings.

Alignment–There are really two key factors when it comes to alignment. The first step in all our shots should be aiming the club face. The goal should be to aim the club face where you want the ball to start. Secondary to this, align the body parallel left of that spot. This is called a square position and gives golfers the best chance to hit the ball straight. Oftentimes, it is easy to have the feet pointing one direction and the arms and shoulders point another direction. These contradictory lines will make it very challenging to be a consistent ball striker. Make sure the feet, knees, arms, shoulders and eyes are all parallel for better results.

If you have been struggling on the golf course or during your practice sessions, my recommendation is simple. Recommit to the basics and increase your golf GPA. I promise it will help and you will be on your way to better golf.

John Stahlschmidt, PGA is the Director of Operations for the TOURAcademy and teaches at TPC Sawgrass, home of the Players Championship. To comment, please email John at