The Grande Prairie Golf & Country Club...
It's more than a game...
It's your neighbourhood

 

Tips From The Pro

Golf Drills:

Drill #1:  Learning to G.A.S.P.

A correct and consistent set-up position is the first step to improving your golf game.  If we expect to play golf well and consistently, we must set up in the best mechanical position to make a swing.  Not only will you find golf much more difficult with a poor set-up position, but you put yourself at risk for injury.  For this drill, read through each of the following sections and practice them individually.

 

When setting up you must consider four key areas.

Grip       Alignment       Stance       Posture

 

Grip:         

The grip is the first step to a good set-up position.  The grip is your only contact with the club which controls the height, length, and direction of your shots and can make or break your game.  The first step, before you grip the club, is to lay the club head on the ground so the leading edge of the club face is aimed at your target.  The next step is to place the left hand on the grip (for right handed golfers) making sure of the following:

 

1) The left thumb is slightly off center to the right
2) The back of your hand faces your target
3) The heal pad of your left hand rests on top of the golf grip


The right hand can be placed in one of three ways:

Overhand Grip (Vardon Grip)


Interlock Grip


Baseball Grip


 

Whichever grip you chose, we are looking for the following things from your right hand:

  • The palm of your hand faces the target
  • The grip rests in the fingers, not the palm
  • The thumb and index finger make a “V” pointing to the right shoulder
  • The groove at the base of the right palm covers the left thumb


Other important aspects that we look for in the proper grip are:

  • Grip pressure should not be too tight so there is tension in your hands or forearms, simply firm enough to control the club during the swing. 
  • The hands should oppose one another
  • The hands should be compact on the grip with no spaces between the fingers.


Common errors:

Gripping too tight and trying to force the ball to go straight.
Hands do not oppose one another and do not face target.
Left hand extends over the end of the grip causing a loose grip.


 

Alignment:

Alignment is a very important aspect of the set-up position as it is the leading reason for the ball to go toward the target or in some other direction.  Proper alignment consists of aiming the entire body and the club square to the target.  The first step in alignment is setting the club down square to the target while taking your grip.  Even with a perfect grip, if you have the club face positioned at an angle that is not square to the target, the ball will not go where you want it to.  If positioned properly, the leading edge (not the top edge) of the club will be square to the target line and will draw a straight line out in front of you.

 

Closed Stance


Open Stance


Square Stance


The next step in proper alignment is to position your body parallel to the target line.  Your shoulders, hips, knees, and your feet should all be parallel to the target line. 

Common errors:

Aiming in the wrong direction without realizing it
Open body and/or club face causing a slice
Closed body and/or club face causing a hook
 

Stance:
The third aspect of set-up is the stance.  The stance basically forms the foundation for the golfer in order to maintain balance.  With proper positioning of the ball within the stance, the golfer can create the proper direction of shots as well as the proper impact angle on the ball with each club.

The basic stance should begin with the feet shoulder width apart.  The back foot should be square or 90 degrees and front foot should be turned outward slightly to accommodate the finish position.  For longer clubs (woods) the stance should be slightly wider.
Ball position should start in the center of your stance and move progressively forward as the clubs get longer to a maximum forward adjacent to your front toe for the driver.  Weight should be evenly distributed on the balls of both feet.

Common errors:

Feet too close together or too far apart
Back foot turned outward
Ball position incorrect for different clubs


Posture:
Posture is probably the most important aspect of the set-up that will allow a golf swing to function properly and effortlessly.  Improper posture not only makes the swing awkward, it makes the golfer make swing compensations that are inefficient and can cause injury. 

The proper postural position during the set-up has the following characteristics:

  • Bend forward from the hips to create angle of spine
  • Knees slightly cracked
  • Arms hanging in front of body
  • Head erect
  • Hands positioned adjacent to inside of left thigh



Common errors:

Bending forward from the waist - hunch back
knees bent too much and back vertical - sitting position
Reaching out with the arms




Drill #2:  Building a Set-up Routine:
Once you have practiced each individual component separately, you can now put them all together in a set-up routine.  Because the set-up is so important in creating good shots in golf, we must try to do it properly every time we hit the ball.  If we are going to demand consistency from our golf shots, we must demand consistency from our set-up position and in order to build a consistent set-up, we must practice it the same way over and over again.  Each and every time we simulate a golf swing or hit a golf ball, whether it is in your living room, a practice shot on the driving range or a real shot on the course, you should follow the same routine to get into your set-up position.

How to practice your set-up routine:
Practice your set-up routine by putting together all the individual components (Grip, Alignment, Stance and Posture) the same way each time.

Always start from scratch by letting go of your club, stepping back and approaching the shot as if it were a real shot on the course.  Every time, make sure that you pick a specific target that you are aiming at and align yourself to that target.  Next take your grip making sure that the clubface is also aligned properly to the target.  Check your stance, making sure that your feet are positioned properly and the ball position is correct for the club that you have in your hand.  Last of all, ensure that your posture is correct and you are relaxed.  One good way to help you with your set-up is to practice in front of a large mirror where you can see what you look like and whether you are doing the positions properly.  After you are satisfied with your set-up position, take a simple and relaxed golf swing.  Repeat this exercise 10 times, but remember to let go of your club, step back and start right from the beginning.  

When you are practicing your set up on the driving range, you should stay focused on the shot you want to play and pay special attention to your alignment.  If you ever feel tension, you may want to waggle the club and move your body around slightly to loosen up while you are getting prepared to make your shot.  Repeat the method above making sure to start from scratch each time and pay attention to all the components each time.  By practicing your set-up routine you will soon see how useful a tool it is for consistent golf.

In addition to your set-up routine, you must also follow your pre-shot routine that is discussed in the mental exercises portion of this manual.  Your pre-shot routine should include time to think of the shot you want to hit, a moment to control your tension, visualization of a positive result, a practice swing or two to feel the desired swing, and then beginning your set-up routine and hitting your shot.