Everybody would like to play more consistent golf. And no wonder. The essence of consistency is reliability and predictability. When we have a swing we can rely on to produce predictable results, we play with more confidence, have more fun, and shoot lower scores.
But here’s a little secret: You can’t work on consistency directly.
That means you can’t go to the range and say “I’m going to work on my consistency today” the same way you’d say “I’m going to work on my balance or my or my swing plane.”
Here’s why: Consistency is an outcome.
Consistent golf is what results when you spend time working on a lot of little things that, taken together, add up to big improvements in reliability and predictability.
Now here’s your second big secret: You CAN break down the elements that contribute to consistency, and by improving your skill in these specific areas, you will develop a more reliable swing with more predictable results. In other words, consistency.
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The previous newsletter kicked off a 5-part series on consistency and gave you the first key to consistency: a Pre-Shot Routine. Let’s continue with the second key to consistency – set-up fundamentals: Grip, Alignment, Stance, Posture (otherwise known as GASP).
HOW IMPORTANT ARE SET-UP FUNDAMENTALS?
Jack Nicklaus believed set-up fundamentals were so important that he started every season by having his coach review his grip, alignment, stance, and posture. After working with thousands of amateur golfers I estimate that fully 50% of all errors on the golf course are caused by mistakes in one of these areas. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that these set-up errors are far easier to fix than a golf swing. In fact, a good pre-shot routine will incorporate these set-up fundamentals automatically, ensuring that you are in the best position possible to hit a good shot, before you even initiate your swing. Here are the keys to solid set-up fundamentals:
Grip: One of the most common grip mistakes is positioning the right thumb (for right-handers) on top of the shaft, or at a 12:00 position. Having the right thumb at 12:00 leads to slices on the full swing and skull shots or fat shots around the green. Here are your grip checkpoints: Left thumb at 2:00, right thumb at 10:00, pad of the hand on top. You’ll know you have the correct grip when you can comfortably hinge and form a 90 degree angle between your forearm and the shaft.
Alignment: Everything in the stance is based on squaring up to the club face, so ensuring that the clubface is square to the target is critical. After conducting thousands of on-course lessons my experience is that mis-alignment is THE number one mistake on the course. I spend more time in my pre-shot routine on alignment than any other step, and I don’t know of any pros on the PGA Tour who go more than a couple of practice sessions without checking their alignment. Take time during your pre-shot routine to ensure your club face is square to the target. This single step alone will save you strokes immediately, so it is well worth your time to align correctly and automatically.
Stance: Once your club face is square, take a stance so that your feet are perpendicular to the grooves on the club. Keep your back foot square and open your front foot 20 degrees to the target to facilitate your pivot and allow you to finish with your hips facing the target. Stance width for irons should place your feet under your shoulders, and with the driver just outside the shoulders. Your stance should be wide enough so that you don’t sway or move laterally during the swing, but not so wide that you can’t complete a full weight shift to the front side on the finish.
Posture: The two most important points of posture are to keep the spine straight and to get athletically centered. Since most of your shoulder rotation comes from the thoracic area of the spine (middle/upper part of the spine), keeping the upper back straight will facilitate a bigger, freer turn and give you more distance. Learn to bend from the hips rather than the waist to keep the spine straight. Bending from the hips will also help keep your center of mass over the middle of your feet, getting your athletically centered. When you are athletically centered you should feel as though you could hop straight up and down. Better balance and posture will lead to better ball-striking and greater accuracy.
Now is the perfect time of year to re-evaluate your set-up fundamentals. Why not make an action plan to review GASP and work a few small changes into your routine. They’ll pay off in big dividends in your score.
Do you have a question about Set-Up Fundamentals? Post it in the box below.