Golf Fundamentals: What You Need to Know

With the first semester quickly coming to a close, I’ve been reflecting on my classes and what I will takeaway from each course. Golf Fundamentals is no different. Here’s just a sample of what I’ve learned:

Golf is about solving the logistical problems of distance and direction.

There are five Ball Flight Laws that influence either distance or direction.

There are five Ball Flight Laws – position of the clubface, clubhead path, clubhead speed, centeredness of contact, and angle of approach. Clubface and club path primarily influence direction. Speed, centeredness, and angle of approach primarily influence distance. The angle of approach is different for every club.

When the clubface is open to the club path, the ball cuts or fades. The clubface will be closed to the target line.

When the clubface is closed to the club path, the ball hooks or draws. The clubface will be open to the target line.

There are 14 Swing Principles:
Grip = controls direction. The grip is made up of the four P’s – placement (overlap, interlock, ten-finger), positioning (clockwise, neutral, counter clockwise), pressure (how firm or how soft), and precision (the same way each time). A good grip is a grip that allows a player to hit the most good golf shots. Function over form.

Aim/Alignment = controls direction. Aim is the arrangement of the player’s clubface and body in relation to the target. For a right-handed player, this would be parallel left of the target. Aim has the most influence on the path of the golf swing.

Set-Up = is responsible for distance and direction. The set-up is the player’s posture in preparing to play a golf shot and includes posture and body alignment. The preferred weight distribution at set-up is toward the balls of the feet, but a narrow stance makes it easier to place the weight toward the leading side.

Swing Center = distance and direction. The swing center is the point between the base of the neck and the top of the spine near the sternum.

Dynamic Balance = distance and direction. Dynamic balance is the balance of the player during the swing.

Swing Plane = direction. The swing plane is the tilt and direction of travel of the inclined plane made by the shaft as the club moves through the swing.

Width of Arc = distance. Width of arc is the amount of extension of the hands and arms away from the center of rotation during the swing. This is a God-given gift. Some people have longer arms than others and can therefore generate more distance by virtue of the width of the arc they create during the backswing.

Length of Arc = distance. The longer the clubhead travels throughout the swing, the more speed that can be generated. Speed equals distance.

At the top of his swing, Dustin Johnson's positioning is bowed.
At the top of his swing, notice the position of Dustin Johnson’s wrists – bowed.

Position = direction. Position refers to the relationship of the back of the leading hand and the forearm. This is more commonly understood as flat (preferred), cupped, or bowed.

Lever System = distance. The lever system is the leading shoulder, arm hinge, and wrist hinge formed by the leading arm and the club during the backswing. It is an L-shape.

Connection = distance/direction. Connection means keeping the various parts of the body in appropriate proximity to one another before and during the swing to produce proper sequential movement.

Timing = distance/direction. Timing is the combined sequence of the movement of the body and the club to produce an efficient result.

Release = direction. Release is the return of the body, arms, and clubhead to a position that is similar but not identical to their starting position at address.

Impact = distance/direction. Impact is the “moment of truth” in the golf swing.

Backspin is the backward rotation of the golf ball on a horizontal axis. There is no such thing as sidespin.

There are nine ball flights, 14 swing principles, and five ball flight laws
There are nine ball flights. The greater the mismatch between the club face and the club path, the more the ball curves.

There are nine ball flights – pull, straight, push, pull hook, hook, push hook, pull slice, slice, and push slice. The greater the mismatch between the clubface and the club path, the greater the curvature of the golf ball in the air.

The golf swing closely resembles a circle on an inclined plane around a fixed axis.

Why is it so hard to make swing changes? Because your brain is constantly working to retain any old patterns you may have automatically, and you have no control over this process.

Leave a Reply