Connect with us

Instruction

What it really takes to square the clubface at impact

Published

on

No matter how good your car looks, it only drives as good as the engine in it. Golf is very much the same. No matter how good a swing looks, it’s only as good as the parts that make it up. And the most important part, the engine of the golf swing if you will, is the positioning of the clubface at impact.

“Golf is what the ball does” John Jacobs famously said; and what the ball does is a function of the club face at impact. To get the clubface to impact properly, we need to look at the club face prior to impact. These checkpoints are a way to monitor the position of clubface throughout the swing, and give us an indication of what golfers need to work on to achieve the best possible clubface position at impact for them.

What most golfer don’t realize is how fast their downswing unfolds. It takes less than a second — about 0.80 seconds for an average professional — or three times faster than the backswing. Considering how brief the interval is from the top of the swing down to the ball, there is very little if any time to correct a club face that is not square. Yet that is exactly what millions of golfers are doing. That’s why it’s so important for golfers to put the club in a good position at the top of the backswing, and for top ball strikers, that means having what we call a “square face.”

There are of course some great professionals who do not square the face at the top, but these few exceptions do not negate this principle for the average golfer. So what is “square”?

photo 4
Above: “Square” is the word we use to describe the clubface at the top of the swing that is laying on the plane of the swing.

photo 5
Above: “Closed” is the word we use to describe a clubface at the top that is looking at the sky.

photo 6
Above: “Open” is the word we use to describe the clubface at the top that is looking more down at the ground.

In actuality, here what those terms mean. The clubface we call “square” is actually 90-degrees open to the target. The club face we call closed is actually square to the target, and the one we call open is even more open, about 180-degrees open to the target.  

The reason for this seeming conundrum is this: As golfers take the club back, they actually twist the club face by a simple rotation of the arms as the shoulders turn. They twist it “away” from the square position it was in at address. So if you go to the top of the swing and bring the “square” club face down to the impact position, you will see that it is completely open. In other words, golfers need the same amount of rotation of the arms in the downswing as they had going back. Most golfers do not correct the face coming down, and that lack of proper rotation of the arms in the downswing is one of the most common faults in golf.

One of the ways to correct this might be keeping the club actually square, or closed at the top of the swing. So just what happens if you don’t rotate the arms at all going back? It’s perfectly fine to do this, taking the club back with NO twisting or rolling of the arms. In fact, I strongly suggest it for most people who fight a slice.

Remember, at address the club face is looking at the ball. If you’re having trouble squaring the club face at impact, simply try keep it looking at the ball all the way to the top. This is guaranteed to help those of who leave the face open.

photo 3
Above: A clubface that is “square” while starting back.

photo 2
Above: A clubface that is “open” while starting back. Note: This club is only slightly open.

photo 1
Above: A clubface that is “closed” while starting back.

Now what if you do rotate the arms and roll the face to what we call the “square” position at the top of the swing. Well, again, as the downswing takes such a short time, it is essential to start the squaring the clubface early in the downswing. Like right away.

For those of you who slice. As soon as you begin the swing down, start turning your right palm down to the ground. DO NOT wait until you are entering the impact zone to try to square the face, because it will be TOO LATE. Left alone the club face will remain OPEN. That’s why it’s vital to twist it to a square position.

Here’s a good drill to help you feel release. Put your left hand on the club in a regular grip position, but put your right hand all the way down on the shaft. Now make a few practice swings and feel what your hands are doing. They’re rotating, aren’t they?

You also have to consider the plane of the downswing. Golfers who swing flatter, or more horizontally into impact will find it much easier to twist the club face back to square. Those of you who are swinging too steeply, or vertically on the downswing will find it much more difficult to twist. That’s because when the center of mass of the golf club gets even with or under your hands, the “release” (or what’s called the torque or twist) will happen much more passively. If you hit balls on a side hill lie above your feet, your shots will draw/hook most of the time due to this principle as well as the lie angle of the club. This aspect is what really separates the wheat from the chaff in golf.

Watch the swings of the very best players; they are not struggling to square the face. It simply happens as the result of a good grip and the more horizontal plane of their downswing.

Last, but certainly not least, is the grip. I and many others have written on this subject ad infinitum. But this part of the swing can never be exhausted. Every golfer who is trying to improve needs to find a way to hold the golf club in such a manner that it squares the face for that golfer. I cannot universally prescribe a grip for you, but I will offer this rule of thumb: If you tend to come into the ball steeply, you need a stronger-than-normal grip. If your downswing is flatter, you can hold the club in a more neutral position.

Further reading: Click here to read Dennis’ story, “Make your grip match your swing.”

As always, feel free to send a swing video to my Facebook page and I will do my best to give you my feedback.

Your Reaction?
  • 250
  • LEGIT37
  • WOW18
  • LOL15
  • IDHT7
  • FLOP13
  • OB10
  • SHANK41

Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional. Clark has taught the game of golf for more than 30 years to golfers all across the country, and is recognized as one of the leading teachers in the country by all the major golf publications. He is also is a seven-time PGA award winner who has earned the following distinctions: -- Teacher of the Year, Philadelphia Section PGA -- Teacher of the Year, Golfers Journal -- Top Teacher in Pennsylvania, Golf Magazine -- Top Teacher in Mid Atlantic Region, Golf Digest -- Earned PGA Advanced Specialty certification in Teaching/Coaching Golf -- Achieved Master Professional Status (held by less than 2 percent of PGA members) -- PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Golf Professional of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Presidents Plaque Award for Promotion and Growth of the Game of Golf -- Junior Golf Leader, Tri State section PGA -- Served on Tri State PGA Board of Directors. Clark is also former Director of Golf and Instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. He now directs his own school, The Dennis Clark Golf Academy at the JW Marriott Marco Island in Naples, Fla.. He can be reached at dennisclarkgolf@gmail.com

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Jon Blazewicz

    Jun 24, 2017 at 1:19 am

    i’m toying with the idea of taking my swing to the top and adjusting it square up there in the air so to speak. When i bring it back it is very slightly open and feels weird, but the downswing feels good and strong and the release feels good

  2. Jeff Chuh

    Apr 27, 2017 at 8:34 am

    As the article suggest, when I try to put right palm face to ground, the club face indeed square at impact yet it may cause me to casting…

  3. Jeff*

    Jan 12, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    Love your articles. Especially in the winter, I feel more prepared for next season, thanks.

  4. Bob

    Nov 19, 2015 at 7:41 am

    Isn’t the main problem with slicing not turning your core early enough and losing balance backwards towards the end of the swing?

  5. Richard Grime

    Nov 6, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    Yup, this makes perfect sense. The better players flatten the downswing and have less issues with slicing.

  6. Tiger Tiger Woods y'all

    May 12, 2014 at 10:31 am

    V

    • Tiger Tiger Woods y'all

      May 12, 2014 at 10:37 am

      I spent years trying to make a strong left hand grip work ,because that what everyone said would stop slicing and weak fades and help square me at impact. I finally recently went to a very weak left hand and it’s like heaven. With good tempo the face just naturally squares at impact. You must work hard and find a grip that just naturally hits square. Making adjustments to the face during the swing is killer, causes flipping.

  7. DaveMac

    May 9, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Just to say the total swing time is about 1 second and downswing is about 0.33 seconds (0.75 and 0.25 for quicker tempo player professional and amateur).

  8. Dennis Clark

    May 2, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    An added note from the author: The closed club face CAN have a steepening effect on the swing, that is make it more up and down> So it can be doubly effective for those open and a bit flat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Instruction

Stickney: Sit on it (for a better backswing)

Published

on

As we know golf, is a very tough sport and one that involves many moving pieces. Whenever something overreacts or moves too much on the way back, you end up playing catch-up on the way down. One of my favorite things to watch is how the head moves or doesn’t move on the backswing. Sure, you can have some movement, but you can’t have too much or you put yourself behind the eight ball.

I have charted the head position of a tour player at address and we can see that this is a very normal set up position. It is one that looks positioned to do great things.

However, en route to the top, you can see that this player has put himself into a position where his rear knee straightened too rapidly off the start of his backswing. When this occurs the pelvis “runs out from under” the upper body on the backswing the hips will react and begin to slant downward. (You can see a -10 degree tilt versus 3 degrees the opposite way at address for you number people.)

This causes the head to move out in front of where it was at address. This is not a bad position for the irons but for a driver we have a pending issue. If you don’t make a compensation from here then the player will have an angle of attack that is too much downward through impact with their driver.

As the player moves into his transition, the hips have leveled as the rear shoulder lowers the club into delivery but the head and pelvis are still too far out in front of the ball. The only thing you can do from here is fire the lead side upwards and hope that your head falls back into the correct position. If so, you will have the correct angle of attack, if not, you will chop down on the ball causing your launch conditions to be faulty.

And as we see here that this is precisely what this player did at the very last minute…not the easiest way to swing the club but it is functional IF you make the right correction. So, now that you understand how simple things like the action of the lower body can cause your head to move and your angle of attack to become faulty, what is the secret to controlling your lower body?


Just “sit” on the rear knee flex slightly longer during the backswing as you see here. This will slow down the tilting of the pelvis on backswing and thus your head will stay more in position en route to the top.

Personally, I teach both flexion and extension of the rear knee to the top, depending on what the player is wanting to do, so it really does not matter. However, what does matter is the rate at which it begins to straighten for those of you who do allow it to lengthen. I try to make most of my students hold the most of their address flex until the club moves between belt and chest high, any sooner and you risk the faulty pivot we saw above.

Therefore, take it from me and “sit on it” slightly longer for more quiet head motions as well as a more balanced backswing—your angle of attack will thank you!

Your Reaction?
  • 17
  • LEGIT1
  • WOW0
  • LOL2
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP2
  • OB2
  • SHANK3

Continue Reading

Instruction

Davies: Training the trail elbow in the golf swing

Published

on

Alistair Davies shares with you how to get the correct trail arm and elbow action in the downswing. He shares some great drills that can be done at the range or at home to help lower your scores.Get the correct training for the trail arm here today!

Your Reaction?
  • 9
  • LEGIT2
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK4

Continue Reading

Instruction

The important lessons you can learn from Peter Senior’s golf swing

Published

on

He may not be a household name in the United States, but Australia’s Peter Senior has a swing for the ages. At 60 years old, Senior has 34 worldwide professional wins including the 2015 Australian Masters beating a competitive field with several top-ranked players in the world. Turning professional in 1978, his career has spanned over 40 years.

Senior’s game and swing have stood the test of time, and the longevity of his career should be recognized. Senior formerly worked with Australian instructor Gary Edwin, and the structure to this swing taught to Senior paved the way for a future of consistent, high-quality professional golf.

Having a great golf swing isn’t the only key to becoming a great golfer, one must learn to play the game. However, you can learn a lot from Senior’s swing.

The origin to Senior’s swing lies in his set-up. Senior sets up in what I call his “hitting angles” or a position that mirrors impact.

From this position, Senior is able to simply keep these angles he established at address throughout the swing. This is why the set-up is so critical. The further he deviates from these “hitting angles”, the more he will have to find that impact position with his body in the backswing and downswing. In other words, more movement. The goal of his backswing will be to maintain these original starting angles.

From the picture, Senior has maintained his original body shape that he established at address. From this position, it will be much easier and repeatable to return the club to impact.

Note how his impact position now mirrors his original address position. All his original angles were maintained with a slight bump of the body towards the target. From impact, he can simply fold up his arms as his right side of his body rotates around his left side, keeping the clubface square to the body.

This standing tall finish position with the head following the torso is much easier on the back. His body has come forward and around beautifully, covering the ball for a proper strike.

The beauty of Senior’s swing lies in its simplicity. The changes Senior made to his swing can apply to anyone. Let’s look at two simple drills to make your swing more efficient and powerful.

“To a large extent, my backswing is a product of my set-up position” – Tiger Woods, Golf Digest 2020

To get into these impact angles simply practice pushing into an impact bag with the head and shaft of the club. Make sure your trail arm is tucked, lowering the trail shoulder as you pressure the bag.

To get the feeling of the proper coil from this set-up position, grab an impact bag and hold the bag in front of you.

From here, swing the bag around you with your arms keeping the top of the bag level. You will feel the trail side of your body move back and the lead side move out, coiling around your spine angle.

The trail glute will also move back and around with this drill, a key move the great Ben Hogan used to pivot his body. To develop an efficient swing and a long, injury-free career, take note of Peter Senior’s key moves.

Your Reaction?
  • 179
  • LEGIT14
  • WOW4
  • LOL1
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP10
  • OB6
  • SHANK21

Continue Reading

WITB

Facebook

Trending