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Golf Grip and Swing: Player Q&A;:

Question: Golf Grip and Swing

I want to put spin on the ball consistently. I want to strike the ball more purely. I think I need to better understand my grip position and my grip pressure.

Answer:

Wow! I am been certainly getting some great questions lately. Here is another great question regarding the fundamentals on the golf grip and swing. It is great to see the recognition that we need to have a great grip in order to have great ball contact. A poor grip leads to glancing blows on the golf ball. In order to maximize spin you need pure contact.

When it comes to the grip and how it affects ball contact we need to look at placement and pressure. How we place our hands on our golf club affects how much rotation we get during our golf swing, while pressure affects club head speed. Both are key ingredients to better ball striking, while better ball striking leads to increased spin rates.

Placing Our Hands on Club

If we start with proper placement please refer to the grip lesson at Golf Grip Lessons. You will find that I designed the lesson in a series of steps in order to facilitate the routine.

The key to the grip routine is consistency and placement of the top hand. If you can get your top hand in the right place, then you are close to having a great golf grip and swing. There are a couple of things to always remember:

  • The line formed by your hand and thumb should point down to the golf ball in your address position. If it is too far ahead or points behind, then you will create too much forearm rotation in your golf swing. Too much rotation makes it harder to time it perfectly at impact, and therefore contact is not as pure. Without pure contact you will not get great backspin.
  • The line formed by your bottom hand should run parallel to your top hand. This will have your hands working together. When the lines are not parallel the hands fight each other. They will not move in the same direction during the swing, which make contact more difficult.

Proper Grip Pressure

Grip pressure is key to everything in the golf grip and swing. It is difficult to have a great golf grip and swing when you have tension. Tension starts in the hands. If you grip the club too hard you create tension in your hands and wrists. That tension will creep up your arms and into your shoulders. When you have tension in your shoulders you can’t generate the same power as a free flowing, tension free, golf swing.

Backspin comes with club head speed. You don’t have to generate the same speed as Bubba and Tiger, but you also can’t expect a lot of backspin with limited club head speed either.

Make sure your hands are relaxed in your golf grip and swing. In fact, try taking your club with the loosest grip possible. Your hands should feel like they are barely on the golf club. Now start turning your shoulders back and forth letting your arms dangle from your shoulders. This is the kind of tension free feeling you want in your hands and arms. You want just enough pressure to hang on to your golf club. This will help increase club head speed and backspin.

There has been a tip used for years to describe the proper grip pressure to enhance the golf grip and swing. It was even featured in the movie “The Greatest Game Ever Played”. When Francis Ouimet meets his idol, Harry Vardon, at a store in Boston, he becomes a volunteer to hit shots in front of the crowd. His first attempt is not very good but Mr. Vardon changes his grip and asks Francis if he has ever held a live bird. Francis nods, and Vardon continues to say “tight enough to not let him fly away, but light enough as not to hurt him.” Francis of course, has a “bash”, and hits a nice shot.

It is a great analogy, and was used beautifully in the movie. However, how many people hold live birds regularly? I love the image of holding a live bird, and if that image works for you, then please use it to its full extent. There are a couple of others images that I like to use as most people do them on a regular basis, so the feeling is more familiar.

  • Driving a Car – picture yourself on a Sunday drive in the country. No meetings to get to…no kids yelling…no traffic…no pressure to be anywhere. How hard are you holding that steering wheel? Probably very loosely. In fact you are probably only holding it with one hand. Now, I don’t suggest one handed for hitting golf shots but that is the same type of grip pressure you want to use…just enough to control the car.
  • The same goes for a bicycle. If you are on a casual bike ride then you are not gripping the handle bars really tight. In fact the tighter you grip the less control you have on the bicycle. The same holds true for the golf grip and swing.

Condition of Your Clubs

Before we finish this segment on golf grip and swing, how are the grips and grooves of your golf clubs? This is a key question to hitting the ball with maximum spin. New grips are easier to hold with lighter grip pressure. Tension in the hands and wrists kills club head spin, and therefore kills the amount of backspin you can impart on the ball. While anything that gets in between the ball and the grooves at impact will also reduce spin.

Grips should be changed regularly. Now I often get asked what regularly means…which is a good question. It all depends on how much you play. If you play 100+ rounds a year, you would probably want to change them every year. If you play less than ten times a year then you can probably wait 5 years. You can certainly get more life out of your grips with proper care. Washing your grips does help. It will help bring back some of the tackiness.

If you watch golf on TV then you have probably noticed how much the caddy cleans the clubs during the round. They will clean every club, after each shot. Why? Simply to keep the face and grooves clean. They keep the face clean so that no debris gets in between the club face and the ball at impact. If there is dirt and grass on the face it will reduce the amount of spin you can put on the ball. Now I am not talking about clumps of grass and dirt. I am talking about an ultra thin layer that can get caked on if left on the club face.

It is also important that the grooves remain clean. If debris gets in the grooves then they won’t grab the ball as well. It is the grooves grabbing the ball that helps create more backspin. If you hit shots with lots of dirt in the grooves, it will wear down the grooves. They won’t be as sharp and they will not be able to grab the ball effectively. In fact you will be hitting ‘flyers’ almost all the time. A flyer is when a couple of blades of grass get between the club face and ball at impact. This affects the amount of back spin and distance the shots will fly. The ball will fly farther but with much less spin. It makes your shots much harder to control.

Golf Ball

What type of golf ball do you play? If you are trying to maximize spin then you will want a urethane cover golf ball. They tend to be a little more expensive but their technology increases their spin rate over other golf balls. However, they not only increase backspin…if you have accuracy issues, particularly off the tee,where you hit slices or hooks, then this type of ball will only increase that shot shape.

Thank you for sending in such a great question. I hope you found the answer helpful in making the proper golf grip and swing to create more backspin. Good luck with your practicing and playing. I hope you reach your golf goals sooner with the help of www.free-golf-lessons.com.

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Swing Sequence: Key to a Great Golf Swing

Question: Golf Swing Sequence

I’m left handed. When I play well I can shoot some good scores (mid 70s) but I am very hit and miss. My problem is pull and duck hooks with most clubs.  My grip is neutral and alignment is ok but from the top of my swing I have to make an almighty effort to stop my hands flipping over and causing hooks and pulls. Even good shots by me start slightly right of target and bad shots then go further right. My divot is pretty ok (pointing ever so slightly right but not bad). Even though I hook the ball I can’t ever seem to start it to the left and draw it back to target. Even by quarter way down in my downswing I can feel my wrists rolling and have to hang on for dear life. I have a slight over swing (caused I think by right elbow bending at the top) and I have been told that I seem to be on my back (left) foot at impact. Do you think these could be causes of my overactive hands in the downswing.  Any thoughts you might have on this would be appreciated as it is driving me mad and I can’t seem to stop it. Thanks for listening.

Regards John (Ireland)

Answer: Golf Swing Sequence

Thank you so much for sending in this great question. This is a great example a player looking to take his game to the next level. As your game improves, the harder it is to shed strokes off your score. It is easier to reduce your score from 120 to 100 than it is to consistently go from 75 to 72. The most important thing will be to commit to the change and understand that the scores will likely go backwards at the start. This can be mitigated by a great short game. So please don’t forget to practice your short game even though you are making changes to your long game.

In reading your description above, it sounds like a sequencing issue. I would say that you make a lot of the right moves, however, they may not be in the right order. When we are not in the proper swing sequence it can impact our positioning through our golf swing. In your case, it is causing you to come slightly over the top and hang back on your left foot at impact. Let’s take a look at the swing sequence first, and then how a couple of positions are preventing you from scoring in the low 70s.

The instruction in this lesson is geared for any level of player who is looking to understand and improve their swing sequence.

Ball Flight Laws

As it has been described above, this player pulls the ball and creates hook spin on his shots. The club face through impact determines the line the ball starts on. The path relative to that face angle determines spin (hook/slice).

Therefore we can determine that this player’s club face is slightly closed at impact, The path is anywhere from slightly over the top to square to slightly inside out, depending on how much he is hooking the ball. The more hook the more square to inside out the swing path.

This is primarily caused by the miss timing of the swing sequencing. When we start the down swing we want to make sure it is initiated by the lower body. If not it can lead to too much of our lower body weight being too much on our back foot at impact. If our weight is too far back through impact then our hands and arms will rotate too much through the ball and create a closed cub face (pull).

One way to help with the proper swing sequence it to find a lower body downswing trigger. This means that when you get to the top of your backswing you use something on your lower body to start your downswing action. There are many different ways to do this, and sometimes the hardest part is picking the one that works best for you. For example:

  • Jack Nicklaus would raise his front heel on his backswing and his downswing trigger was to replace this heel on the ground. Thus shifting his lower body weight first.
  • Nick Faldo was on the Golf Channel taking about pulling his front knee towards the target.
  • I have also heard of players putting their scorecard in their rear pocket closest to the target. This is a reminder to start their downswing by moving the scorecard to the target.

I would suggest practicing with these different concepts. Start with the one that makes the most sense to you and see how it feels. Anyone of them will work and there are plenty of others, probably even a couple that are undiscovered. This will help get your lower body weight to be even or slightly ahead of the golf ball at impact. This is key to a solid strike.

Now that we have discussed the swing sequence it is time to discuss a little golf swing theory. A lot of time players have heard they should stay behind the ball at impact. This can be a little miss leading. When I teach I like to separate our upper body weight and lower body weight. I find that when our weight is discussed as one piece their proper distributions get confusing. For example, on the backswing players are told to shift their weight onto their back foot. I prefer to explain that we want to shift our upper body weight onto our back foot. When people shift their whole weight they tend to slide their hips on their back swing getting them out of position.

The same concept holds true for the downswing. We want our head to stay behind the ball but not our lower body. If we don’t follow the swing sequence as described above and keep our lower body weight behind the golf ball then our shoulders will pull our club into an over the top position. This will cause the pull, and keeping our lower body weight on our back foot will force the arms to over rotate through impact. This over rotation will likely create a closed club face at impact and impart hook spin on the golf ball. This means for this left handed player that his shots will start right and go more right of his target.

This is not to say that this type of swing sequence will not work. It is just harder to have consistently great timing. One day you might be “on” and hit a lot of great shots to shoot a low score. However the next day you are all over the place. Excessive rotation can cause this inconsistency.

In order to get a sense for how your weight should feel at impact start in your setup position. Now turn your hips towards your ‘target’ without moving anything else. Keep your head steady and don’t move your golf club. Try to get your belly button to point towards the butt end of your golf club (that is assuming you started in strong setup position and your hands were ahead of your golf ball). Now hold this position.

Take special note of where you feel your lower body weight. It should be primarily on your front foot (target side). You will also see how it is mostly on the heel of that foot. That is a great sign that the lower body has rotated properly and cleared the hips out of the way for the arms at impact.

Now let’s tie this into the arms rotating properly through impact. Maintaining this position with your belly button pointed at the butt end of the club and your weight to the heel of the target side foot. Now turn your chest and shoulders towards your ‘target’ so that arms are fully extended and pointing at the ‘target’. Take careful note of how your arms rotate at almost the same rate as your shoulders are turning.

Now try the opposite. Start in your setup position and shift most of your lower body weight onto your back foot, while keeping everything else still. Now try and turn your chest and shoulders and feel how much quicker your arms rotate. This type of rotation is the kind that is very hard to keep consistent.

So, remember, for consistent ball ball striking, find a trigger that will start the downswing sequence with the lower body and have the lower body weight move to your front foot through and beyond impact.

I hope you found this lesson helpful. Good luck with your practicing and playing. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Kris Ruiter

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Online Golf Instruction: Questions and Answers

Please find below my online golf instruction in the most recent questions sent in from players all around the world and the answers i provide to those questions.

I created www.free-golf-lessons.com as a resource to provide online golf instruction to players all over the world. The mission statement for my website is to:

“Provide access to high quality golf instruction and information to players, of all levels, all around the world.”

In the last few years I have received many emails about all aspects of the game of golf. I have been asked by players all around the world about my teaching and helping them reach their golf dreams.

For example, I have received emails from the United States, Great Britain, China, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong, Namibia, Bahamas, Vietnam, Iceland, and Seychelles. I am so proud to be accomplishing my mission statement.

This section of my site is to provide access to all the questions players send in and the answers I provide back to them. It is a repository of of golf information that players are currently asking about.

If you have a question please feel free to contact me. If you have a questions about the golf swing, short game, rules, equipment or anything else golf related that comes to mind please click here…

Send a Question/Comment to Free-Golf-Lessons.com

I am also very appreciative of the players who have taken time out of their day to send me a kind note and comment about how much they like my site and how it is helped their game development.

If you would like to read some of their comments you can click on the player testimonials link below. If you would like to comment on my site or instruction please click on the link above.

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My Golf Tips on Video

Some work, some don’t. Even if the tip does work, most of the time it only works for a short period of time. It is tough to improve as a player when we are scrambling from tip to tip, hoping that the next one will work long enough to play a few career games.

Golf Instruction That Helps You Practice

I only like to use and offer “Tips” that are designed to help you practice to truly improve your game. My tips are really drills that coincide with the lessons that our posted on free-golf-lessons.com.

Pictures vs Video

I must admit that I did not use video swing analysis with my students very often. Most of my players had not seen themselves on video before. It can be quite a shock to the system to see it for the first time. I always prefer to teach through drills and feel. I believe you can’t get feel from watching yourself on video. However, when a player knows his own swing really well or has an analytical/technical mind for learning then video is essential.

The videos in this section allow me to teach the various golf skills in the same way that I teach my students on the driving range. It gives me the opportunity to repeat what I think is important and truly demonstrate what you want to do when you are practicing.

The still picture drills and lessons allow you to really see the the different positions you want your body to get into when you are practicing. It lets you slow down the lesson to whatever pace you are able to learn at.

The combination of video and still pictures provides a more complete learning environment to help a player reach their golf goals sooner.

More Golf Drills

If you are looking for more of my golf drills then please have a look at the Golf Drills section of my site. It has drills for the full swing, short game and putting. You can find them by clicking the link below.

More Golf Drills to Reach Your Golf Goals

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Our Free Online Golf Lessons Cover All The Basics

Free Online Golf Lessons

Try My Free Online Golf Lessons!

Free Online Golf Lessons? Really?  Yes, really!  Why? To help grow the game.  I love to teach and I love to help people.  I want everyone to get as much enjoyment out of golf as possible.  It can and should be a lifelong journey of learning and enjoyment.

My Mission is:

“To grow the game of golf with knowledge and passion.”

My Goal is:

“To help everyone seeking improvement.”

Do you want help with your game? Then you have come to the right place.  Try any of the following options will work for you or please suggest another way I can reach more players.

 Twitter

Are you looking for a quick tip?  Then ask me through Twitter.  Tweet me a question, a picture or video.  Then follow me on Twitter @RuiterGolf for more tips, analysis and other golf related tweets.

 Apple Shared Stream/Google Photos

Are you looking for more in depth and continuous lessons?  Are you looking for a way to keep the tips and lessons all in one place and at your finger tips at all times?

Then invite me to a shared album through Apple Shared Stream or Google Photos.  This way you can upload videos or pictures of your swing for me to analyze.  I can then attach comments to your videos and pictures, and I can even upload some of my own pictures and videos to help your game.

Send your invitation to:

kris.ruiter@free-golf-lessons.com

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Free Golf Lessons To Make You A Better Golfer

It has always been my objective as a teacher to increase the level of enjoyment and passion players have for this great game.   The free golf lessons you will find here on my website are designed to accomplish that objective. I have taken my teachings and made them accessible for as many players as possible worldwide.

Hi, my name is Kris Ruiter and I am a personal golf coach.  Golf has been a part of my life for over 30 years, with 15 years of those dedicated to teaching. I have enjoyed teaching golf in both Canada and the U.S.A. I have worked with the aspiring playing professional to the new player who has never touched a club in their life.  I love the challenge and the fun of working with players of all levels. One of my favorite teaching days of all time was back to back lessons with a 12 year old girl then an 82 year old man.  Neither of them had ever touched a club before. It was such a fun day…as was the day when one of my competitive players made a career best 9 birdies in a competitive round.

If you are interested in my free golf lessons and would like to learn more about me and my teaching style then please click on the link below…

Learn more about Kris Ruiter…

Now for the most important question…What are your golf goals?

My 15 years of teaching golf has certainly shown me that the golf goals are different for every player.  In fact, many players don’t have any goals, which is why that question is so important.  Please pause and take some time to know and understand your goal and objective.  In fact, I recommend that you write it/them down in a book.  This will help focus your learning, practice and development as a player.  Also, in writing down your goals you will likely take a hard look at the current state of your game and help you understand where you need to focus your attention.

The main purpose of free-golf-lessons.com is to help the widest variety of players achieve their personal golf goals.  Therefore, no matter if your golf goal is to shoot lower scores or learn how to play a particular shot then my free golf lessons should help you on your way to success.

How to get the most out of my Free Golf Lessons?