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Teaching Golf To Beginners: A Simplified Approach

A typical golf instructor might use the following commands when teaching golf to beginners: “Keep your head down! Keep your left arm straight! Don't look up! Swing easy!” This approach can lead to an information overload, and is therefore a typical mistake instructors make. Many golf instructors using this approach cloud their students' minds and bring about a level of paralysis by analysis. Beginners in the sport of golf learn most quickly when they limit their focus to the most important aspects of the golf swing; that is, the grip, the stance, the takeaway, and the downswing. Gripping the golf club is the foremost component of the swing that beginning golfers must grasp. To identify the top hand position, a golfer has to let his/ her hand hang down to allow a natural position to form. The club must then be gripped in this position, and the golfer must mirror the position with the bottom hand.

Turner, a professional golfer has said, “for a good shot to occur, the grip must support the club at the top of the swing and rotate the clubface back to square at impact.” A natural position will duly accomplish this. A golfer may overlap, interlock, or grip with all ten fingers, but he/ she should make sure the grip is not in the palm of the hand and that the grip pressure is moderate.

The second focus that is essential to a good swing is a balanced, steady stance. The golf swing must start with a solid base of support with the feet shoulder-width apart, and weight evenly distributed with slight flexion in the knees. The upper body posture is central. The back ought to be fairly straight with the arms hanging naturally from the shoulders. The chin should be held up. Tiger Woods advises the beginning golfer to “avoid burying your chin in your chest. When your chin goes down, your back tends to bow and your weight slips back on your heels, making an in-balance swing difficult at best.” The backswing and the downswing must be focused on next. The correct backswing starts with a proper takeaway. Emphasis must be placed on pushing the club with the arms and hands at the start of the backswing.

There should be virtually no movement of the lower body until the shaft of the club is parallel to the ground. Once again, it is critical to keep flexion in the back knee. This will create a wide, level shoulder turn that generates tremendous power. According to professional golfer Hal Sutton, “the hands should remain in front of the chest all the way to the top of the backswing.” When properly executed, the upper body will turn ninety degrees, and the lower body will resist by turning only forty five degrees. The last point of emphasis for beginners is to hit down on the ball. The beginning golfer should swing the club so it travels slightly downward at the point of impact. By mastering a downward swing, where the bottom hand delivers the club face in a palm-down position, golfers learn how to trap the ball against the club face to produce powerful, accurate shots. This movement is initiated by letting the arms and hands drop naturally with a quiet lower body. Once the hands drop below the waist, the lower body will have a more active role.

When starting out, beginning golfers can go a long way with a good grip and setup, focusing only on the takeaway and hitting down and through the ball. This limited focus allows students to develop a swing rhythm that is not easily influenced by an over-analysis of all aspects of the swing by an over-zealous instructor.


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