Rule 14-1 of the Rules of Golf says the ball “must be fairly struck at with the head of the club." Golfers cannot effectively swing a club the way you might swing a croquet mallet or use a pool cue. They must stand on either the right side or the left side of the ball relative to the target, which means the club head must be shaped for either a right-handed player or a left-handed player. If a right-handed player tries to swing a left-handed club from his normal position, he’ll hit the ball with the back of the club face.
Ask a panel of experts to name the greatest golfer of all time and there’s little doubt that Ben Hogan’s name would be near, or at the top, of their list. Hogan is one of five players to win each of golf’s major championships at least once, and gained six of his nine major victories after recovering from a near-fatal automobile accident.
Phil Mickelson, one of the most successful PGA Tour players of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, is also considered one of the most knowledgeable about golf equipment. For example, he was quoted in a 2009 “Golf” magazine article questioning a manufacturer’s representatives about the tooling used to construct his club shafts. Mickelson has long played clubs from one company -- Callaway -- and he’s used those clubs in a variety of interesting and successful ways throughout his career.
Golf writer Harry Hurt III notes that “the search for the perfect (golf) swing has been going on since the royal and ancient game began.” While he agrees with conventional wisdom that there’s no such thing as the perfect swing, he also believes “you can still find a swing that is ‘perfect’ for you and your own golfing goals.” There are many ways to swing a golf club, but a solid golf swing begins with the correct grip, aim and stance, according to PGA professional Michael Samaniego.
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To generate maximum club head speed -- and, therefore, maximum distance -- on your shots, your hands and forearms must rotate during your golf swing, with your bottom hand (the right, for right-handed players) rotating over your left. As golf teacher Robert Baker puts it, “Maximum acceleration occurs when your hands give in to the force of your downswing and turn over to release your clubhead toe over heel.” In his book "The Complete Golf Manual," Steve Newell notes that without proper hand and arm rotation “you can never deliver the clubface square to the back of the ball with enough speed.” A few drills and tips can help golfers turn their hands over properly during their swings.
Best known for an unusual swing that produces highly consistent results, Jim Furyk lacks the power and classic style of a player such as Tiger Woods. Nevertheless, Furyk's workmanlike approach made him one of the top players on the PGA Tour for about two decades. “I've always been known as a hard worker and someone that's grounded it out,” Furyk said in 2010 while receiving the PGA Tour's "Player of the Year" award.
The angle in which the ball comes off the club face is called the launch angle. Many golfers lose distance with their driver because they hit the ball with too high a launch angle. This causes the ball to float in the air and land with minimal roll. Poor setup and swinging down on the ball can cause golfers to hit drives with a high launch angle. Learning to set up properly and sweep the ball off the tee with the driver will help you lower your launch angle and maximize distance.
Woods are typically easier to hit from a fairway than a comparable iron, because a wood is a more forgiving club. Left-handed PGA Tour pro Mike Weir, the 2003 Masters champion, notes that even many professional golfers prefer hitting fairway woods to long irons. The fundamentals of hitting fairway woods are no different, whether you’re a righty or a lefty. The proper swings are merely mirror images of each other.
The manner in which a player holds the golf club is one of the most important of the game's fundamentals. There are several conventional ways to hold a golf club, but the most traditional style is the overlapping grip, also known as the “Vardon grip,” named after Harry Vardon, who won six British Opens between 1896 and 1914. In a traditional golf grip, the pinkie from the bottom hand overlaps the index finger of the top hand.
Many golfers fail to get maximum distance with their drivers. Amateur golfers commonly hit down with their drivers, like an iron shot. This causes the ball to come off the driver with too much backspin. Hitting a driver with too much backspin will cause the ball to balloon up in the air and land with no roll, resulting in lost distance. A good drive will come off the driver with a low amount of backspin, allowing the ball to roll forward when it hits the fairway. A proper setup, weight shift and swing will help you hit your driver with reduced backspin.
A chip shot, also known as a “chip and run,” is “a low-running shot played around the greens where the ball spends more time on the ground than in the air,” as defined by the PGA.com’s golf glossary. This is in contrast to a pitch, or pitch-and-run, in which the ball remains in the air longer and lands nearer to the pin. A key problem that casual players often have with the chip shot -- according to many professionals and golf instructors -- is taking a backswing that’s too long.