#1 Grip it right
This is the alternative “GIR” – Grip it Right – and the ultimate cause and effect. Your hands are the only part of your body that come into direct contact with the golf club, so it’s patently obvious they will have a significant outcome on every shot you hit. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or even a golf coach to work that out – yet I see the most amazing array of ways to ‘grip’ a club by amateur golfers! Grip the club incorrectly and you’ve already made your first mistake… and will spend the next two seconds (the duration of the swing) and the rest of your golfing life, making compensations for it.
#2 Nail your posture
Posture is something amateur golfers frequently get badly wrong and suffer with bad backs as a result. Getting into correct posture will help with many aspects of the swing, not least in setting you up to produce a more efficient and powerful move AND reducing the risk of injury. We want to be ready to produce a fluid action that efficiently transfers all the energy we put into the swing and through the ball.
#3 Fix the ball position
You can have the best-looking swing in the world, but if the ball is in the wrong position to start with, all that hard work you put in perfecting your backswing will be wasted. I would imagine most of you reading this will know that the general rule of thumb is that the longer the club, the further forward you position the ball in your stance. Ball position is all about giving yourself the best chance of hitting the middle of the ball with the middle of the clubface; the satisfying “pure” strike. The type of shot you want to hit – high or low, fade or draw – will obviously determine where you position the ball in your stance, but we are talking about fundamentals here, so let’s keep it simple. The best way to find out the correct ball position for you is to experiment, ideally under the watchful eye of a good golf coach and preferably one who has access to Trackman. Getting this correct gives you a much better chance of striking the ball sweetly. Get it wrong and you’re fighting your swing before the clubhead has even moved an inch.
#4 Pre-shot routine
Hitting a golf shot is like making a cup of tea. It’s basically a pretty straightforward process and if you repeatedly stick to that process, guess what – you get pretty good at it. Every one of the world’s best golfers have – and always have had – a pre-shot routine or process. They have one because it helps them focus on the job in hand, keeps them in the present and takes them out of the “situation”. The process will not vary whether it’s the first tee shot of the tournament or standing on the 18th tee on Sunday afternoon.
To those worried about the pace of play, fear not. I am not advocating some kind of complicated and lengthy pre-shot routine that will have groups backed up behind you on the tee. Quite the opposite. Be ready to play when it’s your turn and this will not make you a slow player one little bit. In fact, it will speed play up because you will hit straighter shots and won’t spend five minutes searching for your ball in the rough or the trees! My big emphasis with regards to routine is that we should all build our stance around the clubface, ensuring we have the centre of the face pointing where we want the ball to start.
What most people do habitually is get their feet, hips and shoulders aligned... then the last thing they put down is the club. You may already build your putting stance in the way I am advocating, but I see very few golfers adopt the same process with their full shots. Most amateur golfers get it the wrong way round. I am a great believer in putting the clubhead down then building your stance around that. The best players in the world do it and they do it for a reason. It makes perfect sense and enables you to aim the club where you want the ball to start its journey.