Last week we wrote of an overlooked secret, swinging the club in the direction the body is aligned regardless of the accuracy of your alignment. This week I thought we could share the second part of the secret to better golf shots.
The first priority for all great golfers is to control the rotation of the clubface in the backswing. They all understand that the direction the ball will fly is dominated by the position of the clubface at impact and the only way to insure accuracy at impact is to control the rotation of the clubface in the backswing. There are three directions the clubface can rotate in the backswing. It can close or turn counterclockwise in the backswing, it can open or rotate in a clockwise direction, or it can remain square through the swing. There have been great players who swung the club to each position at the top of their swing. My old employer Arnold Palmer played from a slightly closed clubface position at the top of the swing. From that same era Ben Hogan played from an open position at the top of the swing. In the modern era Tiger Woods is a perfect example of a player who is perfectly square at the top of the swing.
So which is best? This is a subject of great debate, but it is safe to say that a square position is the best place to start the downswing. Johnny Miller, making a swing evaluation during a recent telecast, proclaimed starting the downswing from a square position was the secret to successfully swinging a golf club. The square position requires no manipulation of the clubface during the downswing and it allows you to swing at any speed and still have the face square at impact. The others require specific and sometime inconsistent compensations to get the club to square.
So at this point you are probably thinking this is all well and good, but how can I tell what type of player I am? The easiest way is to swing the club to the top of your swing while watching yourself in a mirror. Position the mirror so you swing the club toward it as you take the club away from the ball. At the top of your swing look at the position of the clubface as it relates to your lead arm (left for the right handed player and right for the left handed). If the club is square the clubface will be exactly parallel to the left arm. If the face is pointed skyward you are closed and if the face is vertical the club face is open. Practice finding a backswing that produces a square face and I promise an improvement in your ball striking skills.