by Donald Crawley, Contributing Golf Writer and Director of Instruction for The Boulders Club
Boulders, AZ (Sports Network) --
When trying to establish a pre-shot routine coupled with the importance of the address position, one must always remember to: grip first, then aim the club before you take your stance and posture.
The length and lie of the club determines your distance from the ball and, therefore, the correct posture and swing plane. Posture is defined as the correct tilt to your spine and knee flex. We often refer to posture as the body and legs angles. Get this right before you swing!
In order to establish this correct posture and body angles, you should approach the ball with a straight and erect spine, with your chin up and out of your chest. Yes, you are going to need to stretch those shoulder, upper back and chest muscles to achieve this. Keeping your spine straight, bend forward from the hips until your arms can hang freely from your shoulders with your fingers hanging directly above your toes. Try this without a club in your hands until you get the procedure and feel of this position. For those who prefer to define themselves as visual learners, those who must "see" it to believe and understand it, practice in front of a mirror or window reflection. Just follow the rules.
At this stage your legs should still be straight and feeling slightly "tight." Relax the leg tension by flexing slightly, not bending your knees as so many are prone to do. Your knees will now be flexed and over the shoe laces if you glance down.
Make sure that the weight of your body is across the balls of your feet. Any weight on the heels means you have too much knee bend. Weight on your toes, conversely, means that you are bent over too much at the waist and your spine is not erect enough. Through it all, keep your chin up!
Ladies, this posture may feel weird and a bit unladylike to you because your "tush," or bottom, will be protruding beyond your heels, sticking out, if you will, just a bit. Not to worry. It is the correct posture and should be adapted if you want to rotate your body and transfer your weight correctly.
One final point: assuming you are a right handed golfer.and your right hand and side is slightly lower than your left, your spine will be tilted to the right of the ball, your body weight feeling as if 60% is on your right foot. In reality, for most, the weight is evenly distributed. Relax, exhale, get rid of the tension in your shoulders and arms, and you are ready to swing.
From this correct posture, your shoulders should rotate around your spine. Do not let the bend at the hips change. If your trunk turns correctly your weight will transfer naturally to your rear leg. The hips are pulled around to some degree, but the angle of your rear leg must not change. Maintain your spine and leg angles throughout the backswing. While sounding like a lot to remember, it is not...this is the natural flow of things and will come naturally to you after some practice.
The arms swing back and up so that, at the top, your hands will be above with the club shaft directly over the right or rear shoulder. The downswing is a reversal of the backswing. In other words swing the arms and club down the same way they came up and unwind the hips ,keeping the spine at the same angle.
Faults to be aware of as you undertake all of this:
1) - If you stand with a posture too erect, a vertical back and bent knees; your shoulders will turn too horizontal or level to the ground and the arms will swing too flat. You will hit tops and shots in the heel of the club.
2) - If you bend over too much at the waist, head down and slumped shoulders, your swing will become too vertical or, as we refer to the plane, too steep. The shoulders tilt rather than turn and you are likely to hit fat shots, tops and more than you would like off the toe of the club..
Get the posture correct before you start and look forward to a swing on plane, one that produces solid crisp contact with both woods and irons. Just remember - set the posture and maintain the spine and leg angles.
Donald Crawley, Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy at the Boulders Resort & Golden Door? Spa in Carefree, Ariz. Crawley, a veteran of 29 years of teaching experience, is the newest contributor to The Sports Network with regular features 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, 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.