The Importance of The Basics

I’m a huge believer that a solid golf swing can be built by anyone who is reasonably physically able to move and who will take the time to do it. And, just like building a house, the golf swing is built on a solid foundation.

Ben Hogan dedicated the first two chapters of his best-seller, “Five Lessons – The Modern Fundamentals of Golf” to learning how to develop a sound grip, and then a sound posture and set-up. I’m amazed by how many golfers I see who love the game but will not . . . or at least have not . . . taken the time to build this solid foundation. A friend once described a fellow workers hold on the golf club as “like he was holding a ham sandwich”, which wasn’t far from the truth for that guy.

And I see so many golfers who are so contorted and mis-aligned at address that they have no chance of making a sound and functional golf swing. Like any other athletic activity, the correct starting posture puts you in position to perform your best. We see it in football, baseball, tennis, archery, shooting . . . every sporting activity has the optimum starting position as the foundation.

So here’s my own personal story of how much attention you have to give to these basics.

ONE. I have been trying to modify my driver shot pattern from a slight power fade to a draw, simply because our course plays better with a right-to-left pattern off the tee. After working without success, I finally did the most basic thing – I have rotated my hold on the golf club slightly to the right – stronger – to help me close the face, and I have closed my stance slightly to promote a more inside approach to the ball. VOILA – I hit pretty draws the past two rounds with great consistency.

TWO. Two weeks ago, we played our Member-Member tournament. On Saturday, I was deadly, hitting six approach shots within 5 feet of the hole. I missed only one fairway and three greens. My partner and I rode that and his steady play to a five stroke lead after the first day.

But Sunday I was a different guy altogether. I broke my cardinal rule of never hitting balls without my alignment sticks in place. I hit skinky shot after skinky shot, losing my confidence quickly. In short, I stunk it up badly and we lost our lead, finishing second. I was no help to my partner at all. I went back out for a practice session one afternoon that week and discovered that I had just been setting up closed all day and that threw everything out of sync.

You only have an effective hitting area of about one square inch on the face of any golf club, so if you are even ½ inch off in your set-up and posture, you have cut that in half. Think about that.

The most learned skill you can master to give yourself a chance to play consistent golf . . . is to learn how to set up with exact precision to each shot. That’s the only way your learned and repeatable swing can be effective.

Think about that for a while. For those of you who are looking at lots of days inside before you hit the links again, you can learn a new and better grip and a solid and repeating set-up in the comfort of your own home!!!