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Why do you hit the banana ball?
Donald Crawley

Boulders, AZ (Sports Network) -- Certainly not because you have seen every conceivable version of "King Kong" and were really desirous, at the outset, of hitting the ball as far as the big ape could if he were playing golf on that lonely island where they found him. It just happened and, in thinking about it - as you are doing right now, it is really a matter of how you are holding the banana to determine which way your ball is going off the tee, or elsewhere on the fairway.

For right-handed golfers this is the ugly slice. The ball slices when you impart sidespin on it from an open club-face at impact, the one that you do not believe is open, the one that comes across your ball and, in effect, slices at it. In essence, and most commonly, the face is usually open from a faulty grip caused, most of the time, from the club handle being held in the palm rather than the fingers of the left hand. So, we start with the simple postulate of being able to differentiate one's fingers from your palm. How tough can that be?

Aim the club-face square to the target, place the grip in your fingers, rotate your left hand over keeping your thumb on the grip and pressed against the base of your index finger. Got it? Hold it, no pun intended! Pick up the club, any club - but preferably the driver, right now and try it! The V formed between your thumb and finger will point toward your right shoulder and you will see two knuckles on your left hand. This is basic, never to be challenged, questioned, thought about, misconstrued or varied. Grasp the club in the base of your fingers of the right hand, matching a parallel V to your right shoulder, the parallel being with "V" number one of the left hand so stop looking for one on your shoulder. For lefties, just reverse the instructions or hold this page up to a mirror and follow along.

Summary: Finger grip, both V?s pointing to your right shoulder, and light grip pressure. OK, a little more than light will not destroy your intended goal and the club will no longer fly out of your hands and land further down the fairway than the ball.

OK, so now you have a decent grip. Can you stand with your back straight, tipped from the hips, chin out of your chest, and slightly flexed knees? If so, you have a decent posture and are ready to strike the ball.. Simple game. For children.

But (and here is the other shoe hitting the floor), even with the correct grip and a decent posture, you still have to swing the club on an arc in the correct plane and direction. Aha, it just became a difficult game once again. Not to worry, Snoopy, hang tough. Let's just stay focused on getting rid of that banana ball now and we will perfect the swing later.

Tiger Woods
You think Tiger developed his swing overnight?
To allow the grip to keep the face of the club square to the arc of your swing you must keep the grip pressure light - your own version of that, a comfortable one...you know, the bird that cannot fly away but that you do not squeeze until it stops breathing. And, your arms have to be somewhat relaxed but not so much so that they are "rubbery.

I know it looks as if Tiger, et al, have a rigid left arm or right if you're thinking Lefty. On the money with that thought, right? But, that is a subtle play of the words. Think about it! Those tour player boys are not trying to keep their arm straight. The left arm is extended but soft enough to allow you to hinge and un-hinge your wrists naturally. A huge bonus there. Just practice, practice, practice. They hit thousands of balls daily and you want to step up to the first tee on Sunday morning and lace one straight down the fairway? Please!!!!

Take a page out of Tiger?s book, and practice swing with the club as if you are playing kid?s T-ball, meaning that the club head is two feet higher than the tee. Tiger does this to try and match the rotation of his forearms with that of his hip. Don?t quite understand that? Don?t worry, just do it anyway and trust me on this one...it will help you cure that banana ball. Guaranteed.

Mission really accomplished.

Donald Crawley, Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy at the Boulders Resort & Golden Door? Spa in Carefree, AZ, and the President of GolfSimplified. Crawley, a veteran of 29 years of teaching experience, is a regular features contributor to The Sports Network that range from tips on improving your game to etiquette at the course. He has established 40 golf school sites in the United States since 1980, previously as vice president and director of instruction at John Jacobs? Golf Schools, consultant to the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, and presently at the Boulders Golf Resort in Arizona.

Crawley is recognized among the "Top 100 Teachers in America" by Golf Magazine and one of the "Best Teachers in Arizona" by Golf Digest. As both a Class A U.S. PGA member and a British PGA member, Crawley has been recognized for his outstanding teaching abilities. In 2002 and 2005, he won the Southwest Section PGA?s Teacher of the Year Award. He also received the Horton Smith Award for education in 2000. In addition to teaching over 60,000 students, Crawley has co-authored video instruction tapes with John Jacobs and BBC/ABC golf telecaster Peter Alliss.

Comments? Contact Donald Crawley at dcrawley@luxuryresorts.com.


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