Golf is a popular sport played around the world. It is commonly played in countries such as Scotland, New Zealand, the United States, England, Ireland and Canada. By 2015, the number of golf courses in the United States increased by 45% or 15,372. Other countries followed the increase by 7% in Japan, 7% in Canada, 6% in England and more.
Before getting into golfing, it is important to know and understand golf swing basics such as the rules, the golf course, its history and mechanics. This article discusses all of these details to help you jumpstart playing this sport.
Golf swing basics: the rules
The rules and regulations of this game are governed by the R&A from the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews and by the United States Golf Association (USGA). Therefore, the rules are internationally standardized.
Written at the back of the official rule book is “Play the ball as it lies, play the course as you find it, and if you cannot do either, do what is fair.” This states the underlying principle of the rules: fairness.
Golfers are required to follow the set of guidelines called golf etiquette. It covers all matters of fairness, pace of play, safety and the player’s obligation to protect or conserve the course. While there is no any penalty when etiquette rules are breached, players generally follow the rules to improve the playing experience of everyone.
The golf course
The golf course is a huge piece of ground where golf is played. It is composed of either nine or 18 holes. Each hole has a teeing ground that is set off by two markers, a fairway, rough, and other hazards, a hole, and a green with a flagstick.
Golf courses are owned by public, private, or municipalities that usually feature a pro shop. Most country clubs provide private golf courses. They have special landscape architecture creating a separate field of study called golf course architecture.
History of golf
The ancient history of golf is unclear and has different versions. Some historians believe that it originated from the Roman game called paganica. Paganica is a game in which the participants used a bent stick to hit a stuffed leather ball. It spread throughout Europe during the first century BC when Romans conquered most of the continent. It was played until it became a modern game.
Others assert that it was from the Chinese game called chuiwan which means striking (chui) and small ball (wan) between the periods of the eighth and fourteenth centuries. This is proven by the Ming Dynasty scroll “The Autumn Banquet” which dates from 1368. People assumed that this Chinese game was introduced to Europe during the Middle Ages.
The modern golf game originated from Scotland during the 15th century. In 1457, James II banned the game because he believed that it distracted the students of archery. However, in 1502, James II lifted the ban and he became a golfer. The first clubs date back to 1503-1504. Many changes have developed through the time and more countries adopted have adopted the game of golf.
What is a golf swing?
The golf swing is a stroke mechanic in which the club swings up to the golf ball with the desired path, with club in line with the swing path, and the ball impacts the so called “sweet spot” or center of the clubface. It is alike with other motions such a hitting a baseball or swinging a tool. The golf swing is a fundamental skill for golfers and it takes practice to do it consistently.
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Golf swing basics: how to swing a golf club?
So you have decided to get into golf. If you are a beginner or a player in need of improvement, you must need the following information. This portion shows you the golf swing basics, specifically how to swing a golf club. This is because a good playing experience starts with the golf swing.
Part 1. The first part is mastering the stance. How to do it?
- First, place your foot slightly forward of the ball so that the golf club rests near the center of your body. Left handed players have their right foot nearer to the hole than the ball. Right handed players have their left foot closer to the hole than the ball.
- Second, be close enough to the ball with your stretched arms so that the center of the club face touches the ball. You should not have to bend your elbows to be in this club position. Do not stand too close to the ball. You should also not stand too far that your arms are outstretched. Your body should be relaxed and slightly bent towards the ground.
- Third, examine your alignment. You should check where your feet and shoulders point to. How to check your alignment? Get into your position and put a golf club along your toes on the teeing area. Keep away from the golf club and stare at where it is pointed in. It should point at the hole or at your target.
- Lastly, slightly bend your knees. Bend your knees slightly instead of standing there like a mannequin. It feels unnatural to swing the golf club with your knees straight. Also, allocate your weight equally on both feet so you can shift your weight safely.
Part 2. The second part of golf swing basics is learning the grip.
- There are different kinds of grip and each of the grips require a relaxed hold while the club is being held. Always keep it natural because the harder you try to swing a golf club, the worse it can get.
- The most basic kind of grip is the baseball grip. This means that the club is held the same way as the baseball bat is held.
- Another grip that is easy and secure for beginners is the overlap grip. It provides more stability by overlapping your fingers rather than being disconnected in the baseball grip.
- The most stable of all grips is the interlocking grip. It is used by Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus. How to do it? You begin with a baseball grip. Then, fill in the left index finger in the middle of the joint of the ring fingers and right pinky while you take the right pinky and fit it in between your middle finger and left index finger. You are doing the right grip if your left index and right pinky hold each other with an interlocking X.
- While there are many grips that you can do, test each of them and determine which grip you are most comfortable with. The best grip for you should match your playing skills and body movements.
Part 3. The third part is learning how to swing the golf club.
- You start with the backswing. How to do the backswing? You do it by lifting the golf club from the starting position and bring it up above your head. While you do it, try to rotate your torso. You can rotate your torso by moving weight from your front foot ball to your back foot ball.
- Follow through with your downswing. Try to lock your front arm right before the impact. This will make it straight again, the same way as when you started your backswing. Change your weight to the ball of your front foot from the ball of your back foot. Move your knees toward the target, keeping your front knee bent.
- Guarantee that the shaft is leaning forward toward your target at the moment of the impact.
- Do not forget to follow through. Even if you release the club correctly, always remember that you should follow through completely. After releasing the club, the club will be at your back, your belt buckle will be facing the target, and your balance will come from your front foot with your back foot balanced on its toe. This finish position should be comfortably held as you watch the ball fly.
- Do not smash the ball with all your strength. Remember that the most important factor in getting direction and distance is form.
The golf swing speed
Another important factor that has a huge impact on your performance on the golf course is golf swing speed. Unfortunately, many amateur golfers have a misconception that swinging wildly out of their shoes will make their swing fast and effective. This is not true.
In fact, doing so will not do any good to the game and even make it worse. That is why many amateur golfers reach a 75 yard slice even when they hit the ball with full body blast.
For many professional golfers, the average golf swing speed is between 110 and 115 mph. Some long drive champions have an amazing golf swing speed of 140 mph, while LPGA players perform 90 to 100 mph. The average golfer, on the other hand, swings only between 80 to 90 mph.
Analyzing golf swing
Analyzing golf swing is the start to improve your golf swing mechanics such as your grip and your speed. It helps you determine which golf swing mechanic is your weakness. It is not only PGA Tour professionals who can analyze their golf swing; you can also see your own swing on a video and examine it.
The tools and equipment
Setting up a camera angle and uploading and analyzing your swing is possible with the help of some equipment and tools. For camera angles, you need a camera and tripod. If you have a smartphone, its camera can be conveniently used. You can also use a traditional video camera but you have to take an extra effort to upload the video to the golf swing analysis software.
The tripod is used to keep the camera still. You may ask a friend to hold the camera but it is difficult for him not to make any movement while recording. Once you are done with recording, you need software that can examine your golf swing.
The camera angles
There are two camera angles which are recommended for golf swing analysis. These are the down the line (DTL) camera angle and the face on view (FO) camera angle. For setting up for the down the line camera angle, place an alignment stick on the ground and point at the target line.
On this target line, put the ball. Then, using another alignment stick, align it parallel left of the first alignment stick directly below your hands. The camera should be at the waist level and point it directly down the second alignment stick’s line. Do not forget that it should be far enough so the camera can capture the entire golf swing.
For the face on view camera angle, the camera should also be at waist level. The camera should be aligned perpendicular to your target line. It is just that simple.
Consistent Golf Swingology
One of them most useful, effective resources for improving golf swing and other golf mechanics is the Consistent Golf Swingology. It is made by the golf expert Jeff Richmond. Through this online source, you can find different golf techniques. It covers the golf swing tempo, timing, rhythm, the transition, downswing, impact, and many more.
The Consistent Golf Swingology website also offers a free PDF that contains golf related information. This is the 7 Shortcuts to Instantly Improve Your Ball Striking that helps you discover how to hit the ball more effectively and control where it goes.
Tips on Improving Your Golf Game
Have you been into golf for a while now but it seems like you’re not improving? This portion discusses some useful tips and techniques on how to improve the different mechanics of golf such as golf swing drills and swing speed.
The drills are done on a practice range to improve shot making skills, golf swing speed, and to have more enjoyable time. The drills help you identify your weaknesses and address these specific flaws to build a more consistent swing. Jeff Richmond, a golf expert, shares some golf swing drills through the Consistent Golf Swingology.
- Reduce tension. One of the factors that causes the swing to fail is tension. It makes you swing too quickly which leads to poor tempo, hence, loss of speed and accuracy.
- Increase the club head speed. How to do it? You don’t need to smash the club head to increase its speed. The weight shift drill helps you practice your club head speed. Most beginners find it difficult to shift their weight from the right to left side on the downswing (for right handed players) which is an important factor in building club head speed. This means that they have too much remaining weight on their right side during the follow through. Practice the weight shift drill regularly to increase your club head speed.
- Align the clubface. The most common mistakes of newbies is improper alignment. They try to align everything including the feet at their target and the shoulders parallel to the target. These are all wrong. Always examine your target from behind the ball. It will give you a whole new perspective of the entire hole and help you aim properly where you want the ball to go.
- Use the right club. Choosing the right club includes factors such as natural shot tendencies, hazards, wind, and hidden dangers. The most appropriate factor to consider is the type of approach the player is to follow.
- Create a good grip. Another thing golf amateurs fail to consider is the grip. A solid grip contributes to a better golf swing. It is what all better golfers have in common.
- Avoid altering your stance. Another misconception of amateurs is to change the stance depending on which type of club they use. Not true. Full shots require keeping a consistent stance in order to become a better ball striker.
- Play with the wind. While beginners panic when there is wind, better golfers take advantage of the wind. The latter understands that whatever type of shot they execute, how the wind blows will change everything. Therefore, you need to make adjustments which include the wind as a contributing factor rather than hitting the ball against it.
- Stack your chips. A chip is not a glamorous shot to hit but it is important. Therefore, play with it with as much seriousness as possible. It can help you make or break par faster than any putt. You do it by focusing on stacking your impact position.
These are all useful tips to become a better golfer. If you want more techniques, refer to the Consistent Golf Swingology to provide you with more effective information about golf and golf mechanics.
They say that there is always room for improvement. Do not be frustrated if you have a poor swing. All you have to do is it keep on practicing the drills to make you a better golfer.
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