What are good Fundamentals of golf?
I’m not giving away any secrets here, but throughout the history of this game these traits would be found in all good players:
- Aim and alignment
They’re mentally and physically set up to execute the shot they see.
- A functional grip
They can control the club face angle and the weight of the club, and their hands, wrists and arms can function effectively.
- A balanced and athletic stance and posture
Their bodies are in a position that will help them to move athletically and in balance, aiding their ability to deliver a powerful strike to the ball in the appropriate direction.
- Ball position
They position the ball in a spot in relation to themselves that is appropriate for the club they’re using, the lie of the ball, and the shot shape (curve and trajectory) they picture.
And nothing has changed. Since the first instructional books were published over 150 years ago, great players and teachers have been stressing the importance of getting these fundamentals right. Yet many golfers continue to give themselves little chance of improving by ignoring them.
And there is no excuse for it! These traits require no special athletic ability. You can take your time to get them right. You might not be blessed with the athleticism of a Jason Day or Rory McIlroy, but there is no reason why you can’t set up in a similarly sound position as these great players – being disciplined with your aim, stance, posture and ball position, and taking the time to learn a good grip.
For every keen golfer whose game has failed to improve beyond being an 80-something shooter, I would wager that there will be at least one killer flaw in their set ups holding them back from better golf.
If a golfer learns a good set up position, then a good swing is far more likely to develop. In many ways, with sound fundamentals and the right focus, a good swing will largely fall into place. The less you have to think about your swing the better.
Sadly, despite over 150 years of evidence to the contrary, a lot of modern-day instruction pays little regard to these fundamentals. Why?
Firstly, an aspiring coach is not going to gain online following discussing such mundane topics as the grip or alignment or posture or ball position. Golfers have heard that all before. So, we get videos on cool topics like “shallowing the shaft” or using “ground reaction forces” or “creating lag” or whatever else happens to be flavour of the month.
Secondly, given the ubiquitous use of technology, a golfer’s swing can be studied and dissected in minute detail. And with video cameras now standard on mobile phones, golfers don’t have to wait for a lesson to see their swings. Golfers look and see, but they frequently fail to understand that what they see are effects, the causes lie elsewhere – and can nearly always be traced to a faulty set up.
And thirdly, it’s simply human nature to want to turn the page, to search out more and new information.
Many people are trying to reinvent the wheel, but remember golf is an old game; the importance of solid fundamentals, emphasised by great players throughout history, is timeless advice.