I heard a saying a few years ago that really struck a chord with me: “There is no such thing as advanced, only knowing the basics in more detail!”
The more I thought about this in relation to golf, the more power I realised this simple statement held. I am going to elaborate and share what I hope will be a vital lesson for you, one that will get you paying attention to the really important things plus give you more confidence in yourself and your ability to improve your golf.
The basics in golf include creating a good set up position, posture, alignment, grip, etc. Most golfers are aware of them, but how often do you go back and check them? It is inevitable that some of your basics will slip from time to time, but if left unchecked, you might have started a chain reaction that ends up with a bad move in your golf swing.
For example, your swing might become long and loose; you might start swinging across the line too much, or you might have started to sway your body weight. These are just a few of the possibilities that might appear in your golf swing.
Before you go ahead and start trying to fix these ‘problems’ in your swing, I want to encourage you to check your basics. Your basics represent the start of your golf swing chain, just a few millimetres out here, and it will influence everything that follows!
That could mean, if your grip has moved position slightly, it might change the position of your clubface during the swing; if your posture has moved slightly, it might affect your ability to rotate. The list goes on …
The great thing about getting your basics right is it can save you having to think about other things in the golf swing that you previously thought were a problem. So, in other words, a little dedication to the basics could save you time and energy in the future.
I guess that’s why the great Jack Nicklaus visited his coach Jack Grout before the start of each season to check his basics. If it is good enough for the 18-time major winner, maybe it’s good enough for you!
In today’s lesson, I am going to focus on one area of the basics – your posture.
Why it is better to build posture from the ground up!
Nothing works in isolation in the golf swing – and, therefore, nothing should be taught in isolation. The reason we are building our posture from the ground up is that all functional movement starts from the ground.
If you are aware of the ground and your feet in the golf posture, you are one step closer to developing a natural movement. When you increase your sense of where you are balanced on your feet, you will automatically make subtle changes to the rest of your posture to maintain balance.
Use the following process to help you achieve the optimal posture for you:
1. Without a club, stand in a comfortable upright position with your feet width set as if you were playing a 6-iron. Let your arms hang beside you.
2. Continue to look forward while focusing on your feet. Imagine each foot and leg represents a tree trunk; allow your toes to open and spread as the roots of a tree would. Imagine these roots also coming out the side of your feet and the heels, all the way round your feet, growing and extending into the ground just as the roots of a tree would. The roots of a tree are strong yet flexible; think of your feet as being the same. (Photo 1)
3. While maintaining some focus on your feet, now imagine a helium balloon is attached to the crown of your head. As it floats to the sky allow it to lengthen your neck and spine gently. (Photo 2) Do not force this! Providing your arms are still hanging down, you will probably notice your body size seems to have increased by lengthening and opening, and that there was no strain to get there. You have simply returned your body to its more natural structure. In itself, this is a really wonderful exercise for your general wellbeing!
4. Shift your focus; return it to your feet: can you still sense the roots of the tree in place? Can you feel the helium balloon doing its job at the same time?
5. While maintaining the feeling of size and space in your body – in other words, don’t collapse your posture as we go through the next steps.
6. Start moving through your swing (maybe aim for a tee peg – no ball), allowing the movement to come from the ground. What does this mean? Use your new-found awareness of, and connection to, the ground to feel as though your swing motion is triggered from here. Have a sense your full swing is taking place because your feet are very subtly providing the energy that moves everything above them to complete the full swing. Allow this feeling to be the fuel that drives your action through its range of motion. Through each stage, be aware you are connected to and moving from the ground, without your feet becoming rigid. Remember the roots of a tree are strong but allow movement; you want your feet to do the same. Make each swing a fresh start, to re-settle into your posture.
7. What did you experience? I hope you felt improved balance, a sense of timing and rhythm in your movement, and maybe fewer swing thoughts. Now repeat this exercise with a ball. The biggest challenge you’re likely to face is keeping your focus on gently moving your feet against the ground. (Photo 3) Don’t let your focus wander towards old swing thoughts.
Remember there is no advanced, only the basics in more detail, so I invite you to follow this detail above to help you develop a sound posture and one that is right for your body. When you do this, you will unlock your own natural talent and that is where the advanced part comes from because the intelligence in your own body is beyond anything anyone can teach you!
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Scott Cranfield is a PGA Master Coach. For over 30 years, he has dedicated his life to helping golfers achieve their goals through a natural approach that embraces the true laws of how the human mind and body work. Scott’s unique approach has led to the creation of multiple training programmes, and the experience of coaching every standard of golfer from complete beginners through to Ryder Cup players. As well as enjoying a long TV career with Sky Sports and Setanta TV, in 2011 Scott was honoured with the award of PGA Master Professional & Coach.