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Did you ever try to drive a nail into a board? On the first swing you missed the nail and left a dent in the board. On the next swing you hit the edge of the nail, bent the nail, and left another mark on the board. Now you can claw the nail out and start again. You can also listen to your spouse make jokes and derisive remarks. We don't hit a nail, a baseball or a golf ball. We swing a hammer, a bat or a golf club. Maybe we should learn how to swing and not how to hit.
I want to talk about the very beginning of a golf swing, the alignment You actually have to align two different things. You must align the initial path of the golf ball with some distant target that will allow the ball to curve into the fairway or onto the green and you must align your feet, body, and club with the initial path of the ball.
Almost every good golfer has recognized that every golf shot has some curve in it. The trick is to decide how much curve and in which direction. Once you know the answer, you pick a target line that allows the ball to move towards your real goal, the green.
Let's say you are a right handed beginning golfer, so your shots nearly always move from your left to your right. Pick a distant target 10 yards or more off the left side of the fairway. The target can be anything you can see like a tree, trap, pond, or building. You intend to hit the ball directly at your target and allow your slice to move the ball back into a playable position.
That was easy, now for the hard part, your body. Many teaching methods involve placing several clubs on the ground to show the initial target line, a parallel line for your toes to touch and a perpendicular line for the ball to sit on. Practice this learning to feel comfortable with your body in this stance and learning to be comfortable with what your eyes see when you look down at the ball.
This is very helpful for a training aide, but you can't put clubs down like this on the course. I am not sure, but I doubt that the greens keeper would like you to draw these lines with a stick into the tee box. How are you supposed to get back into this alignment on the course?
Remember the ball is sitting there waiting to be hit and all we do is swing the club. Also please remember what Tina Michelson among others has said: "You swing down to make the ball go up".
Let's talk about irons only for now. We swing down on the ball which allows the club to trap/compress the ball against the ground and allows the club's loft to push the ball into the air. The club will continue forward making a small shallow divot in the ground. Since the lowest point of your swing is almost directly under your nose, assume your stance and look straight down. The ball must be behind this point, back of center. How much depends on the club, so we will get to that in a moment.
The face of the club must be square to the target line. That way the ball will start by flying at the target until it curves.
Now pick your club. Take your grip with your top hand (left) and place the club behind the ball with the club face square to the target. Lean the club shaft forward until the front edge of the club face is touching the ground. Then lean the club shat towards you until the entire front edge of the club is on the ground.
It is this edge that cuts into the ground to make a divot. If this leading or bottom edge does not reach the ground there will be no divot. If the leading edge is not flat on the ground along the entire club face, then the club's toe or heel will be off the ground. This will cause your divot to be deeper on one side than the other. This may cause the club to turn in your hand, missed shots, or weak shots.
I like to feel that the sole of the club is lying flat on the ground from side to side and from front to back.
Place your lower hand (right) on the club and take your grip. The club shaft is leaning toward the target and the grip with your hands is in front of the ball. Without moving the club or your hands take a stance that is comfortable.
You should be in a good position to swing the club into the back of the ball. This happened because your left hand was always on the golf club and because you set the golf club in the proper position behind the golf ball facing the target line. Once you placed the club properly with your hand still on the grip, you body had nowhere else to go but into its proper place.
Notice this isn't about standing in just the right place and then placing the club down. The club hits the ball, so the club plus your grip tells you where to stand.
In general you may use this same method to align yourself with hybrid irons, fairway woods, and the driver. The only difference is that the driver is hit off a tee on the up swing. The ball is placed slightly in front of dead center.
Walter Werner is the father of two adult daughters, an amateur golfer, an internet marketer, and a TQM Deming Master. He is attempting to share his own experiences as a beginning golfer so that you can improve your game more quickly. This is the eighth in a series of articles he has written for beginning golfers. You may see all of them at his blog. Please leave your comments in the space provided below.