Boulders, AZ (Sports Network) --
I am not talking about our aptitude and natural tendencies when socializing with one another but only as it regards all that I am about to put forth to you. That being said, on to our favorite subject, golf. There is an expectant proficiency and perspicacity for the game, a genuine and authentic disposition. Therefore, thinking about we want, "to be square" comes to mind and not necessarily hip and chic. Be square on the golf course and as wild as you wish when you get to the 19th hole, just short of being asked to leave quietly of course.
We hear so much about standing ?square? to the ball, a notable, acceptable and very important aspect of the set-up. To be square means that your shoulders should be aligned parallel to the target line, and your feet have to follow suit. Let me repeat because it bears repeating, your shoulders should be square, or aimed, in the same direction as your stance.
In most cases golfers will aim the club and their feet first, then turn their head and look at the target over their shoulder. Yes, for those of you scratching your heads...the one on the fairway side of things. Unbeknownst to them, and seemingly undetected, unless so noted by a playing companion, their shoulders ?opened? in the process and are now aligned well left of the intended target line. You will have to take this one of faith or get out the video camera and discover the truthfulness of it for yourself. Although the head turns back to look at the ball, the shoulders are still usually left open. The result is inevitably a pull or a slice. Sound familiar?
|Darren Clarke seen here giving instruction to a young golfer.|
Put this correction into your pre-shot routine. After you have taken that last look at the target, make sure you can see your left shoulder. Try to look along and past your left shoulder as you zoom in on the intended target and remember that the target need not be the distant hole, the flag you can barely see. It is the target that you have established as the first stop on your journey to the green. If you have a clear and unobstructed view of that mark, your shoulders are open. Push your left shoulder forward and close to pointing at the flag or other destination, pulling your right shoulder back at the same time. Your shoulders may feel ?closed? but the result will be a correct and square alignment. One word of warning here...often, as I square the students' shoulders they want to twist their hips, thereby distorting the weight distribution. If the hips feel ?cock-eyed? they probably are and should not be! Start all over and pick up your shoulders, lifting your left arm and left shoulder until you get that obstructed look of the target. Your weight should stay evenly distributed, 50/50 on each foot.
If you open your stance for a short pitch, open your foot line as well but keep your shoulders square to the target line. If you open your stance for a sand shot, open your shoulders to the target but keep them aligned square to the stance.
Opening your stance can be just a slight flaring out of your toes. Do not overdo it. If you are of this particular era, think of Charlie Chaplin?s stance, but not, for the more youthful set, that exaggerated. Michael Jordan pigeon-toed walk, the one that will need to be opened, flared out toes, particularly the left foot at address. This will assist in the clearing of hips through the impact area. That is why we ?open? our stance but keep your shoulders ?square? when hitting those soft delicate pitches around the green. Aligning your foot line to the left should be moderate and only a few degrees. We are speaking of a game of inches at address, one that turns into feet and yards when the ball takes flight. Lee Trevino may be the only champion golfer who truly adapted an ?open stance.'
|Besides basketball, Golf is one of Michael Jordan's strongest passions.|
If you want to draw the ball, close your shoulders not your stance. If you drop the right foot back at address, all that does is aim you to the right of the target line. To draw the ball the clubface has to be closing through impact. Closing your shoulders at address can help you swing more on an inside path in the downswing. If you will cross over your forearms on this inside path, you are well on the way to learning to close the face and give yourself the desired draw.
When you stand square, your right shoulder will be lower than your left shoulder. Often, a good feeling of being square is to feel your right shoulder back and down. This helps tilt the spine slightly to the right and sets your head behind the ball, where it should be. This is especially a good feeling when driving the ball. Setting the spine tilted and to the right creates a natural launch pad at address. Tee that ball high and try to hit up on the ball, not down, returning to the same tilt and ?square ness? of shoulders through impact. It works but it takes practice, not rushing up to the first tee on Sunday morning and wondering what went wrong.
Be square, hit it straight. You're going to love the result.
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.