The Master Fundamental
All behavior including your golf swing is about motivation. I’m not talking the kind of inspiration you get from the motivational speaker that lives "in a van down by the river." I’m talking about what motivates a golfer not to release his/her hands during a golf shot, to “scoop” a chip shot or not to turn his/her body properly during the back swing. Too often, golfers are motivated by bad fundamentals.
If I’ve learned one thing in my 35-plus years as a golf instructor, it is that good golf is all about good fundamentals. Sure you’ve heard that before, but it’s often hard to decipher in the detail-laden swing-advice magazines that arrive each month. However, if you strip away all the clutter in the myriad of techniques we’ve all been exposed to, you’ll find that the same fundamentals (or the Webster’s synonym “basics”) keep reappearing. As the word implies, the basics of the golf swing are simple and easy to learn.
Perfecting or even improving your fundamentals of grip, posture and alignment makes the game easier because it eliminates the need for in-swing motion compensations. In fact, it does more than that; it creates in-swing motivations to swing your golf club properly.
First off, a good grip is critical. Your grip is your only connection to the face of the hitting surface. Second, stance is a critical component as well, since you have to be balanced and athletic to properly do the “golf dance.” The third and most important fundamental to your long term success, though, is alignment. I call it the “master fundamental.”
This crazy game that we play is one of the only target-oriented activities in which our body faces 90 degrees from the target instead of facing it head-on. Because of this, alignment in golf is not the least bit intuitive; it is a learned skill. If your alignment is incorrect, your body is motivated to make swing contortions and hand manipulations through the hitting zone to find your target. It makes the entire experience too complicated, and complicated is hard to duplicate (unless you’re Jim Furyk).
This forum doesn’t allow the space for me to go into detail on the three fundamentals that I have listed; that’s the job of your local PGA Professional. One thing you can do yourself, however, when you are hitting practice shots is to put a club or other straight object on the ground to create a line that parallels the direction of your intended target/launch line, and then line your feet up to it. If you’re like most golfers, the first time you do this, it will probably look and feel crooked and wrong to you, even though it isn’t. Check it again, and if it is indeed lined up right, just keep hitting.
Amazingly, you’ll see that your swing will adjust to find the target just like your arm swing would change when you are throwing a dart at a target. Hitting repeatedly from the correct alignment position will motivate your swing to fix itself. I’ve seen it work hundreds of times. It’s very cool.