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Fundamentals That Every Golfer Needs to Get Right

By: | Tue 13 Feb 2024

This is the time of year when hope springs eternal for most club golfers. Many will be digging the clubs out of hibernation while others who have continued to struggle through the cold, wet and miserable winter months will be looking forward to the warmer days that hopefully lie ahead.

Each and every one of us hope that a new season will bring better play. There isn’t a golfer alive who does not want to reduce his or her handicap.

There are many different ways to swing a golf club. If you doubt it, just take a look at the world’s best golfers and study their swings. Bryson DeChambeau has a technique that is all his own, as does Jordan Spieth. Lee Trevino had one of the most idiosyncratic golf swings the game ever witnessed. Doug Sanders had a tiny backswing. John Daly’s swing could never have been described as being orthodox. 

And so on. But the one thing that all these golfers had or have in common is that they all did the basics in exactly the same way. Golf is a game of fundamentals.

Get The Fundamentals Right

And the key is to get the fundamentals right. I do not pretend to be an expert but I do understand the basics and I hope that you will bear with me while I outline a few fundamentals which, if you follow, will have you on the right track.

Having played golf for years, the worst advice I have ever heard - and something that I hear all the time - is “keep your head down.” Discard that now. That piece of advice should actually be: “Try to focus on keeping your head still.” And that applies to every club in the bag, most especially the putter - if you struggle on the greens, try to get into the habit of hitting your putts and not looking up until the ball has finished its journey.

There is nothing more to be said on this one.

If you genuinely want to improve your game in 2024 there are not going to be any short cuts - and if you are serious about improvement then you should be speaking to a club professional and get some lessons booked.

Almost every club golfer will tell you the same thing - their biggest problem is consistency. Or perhaps that should be inconsistency. We all know what it feels like to strike the perfect golf shot. But few of us are able to do it on a regular basis. And it goes without saying that poor golf comes from poor technique, failing to get the basics right.

Everything Starts With The Grip

For me, everything starts with the grip. If you don’t hold the club properly you have absolutely no chance of playing golf well or consistently. There are three grips - the Vardon grip, the interlocking grip and the baseball grip. A quick Google search will show you how to adopt them. The one to avoid is probably the baseball grip because the hands tend to separate during the swing, so give that a miss.

The Vardon grip was developed more than 100 years ago by the legendary Harry Vardon and is still used today by the vast majority of world-class golfers. For a right-handed golfer, it involves overlapping the pinky of your right hand over your left forefinger. When it comes to grip pressure, Vardon said that the golfer should imagine holding a small bird with just enough pressure so that it doesn’t escape but not enough to hurt it. And that still holds good today. Gripping a golf club too tightly is a card-wrecker.

The interlocking grip differs by having the golfer interlock the pinky and forefinger - and is the grip used by Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. The best thing is to try both and see which feels most comfortable. Used properly, these grips keep the hands working together - a key to playing good golf.

Good Posture is Vital

Proper golf posture should be bent forward from the hips so that your chest is over your toes in order that your arms can truly hang with your hands directly below your shoulders. Proper posture will help the club get down to the ground properly.

You can grip the club perfectly and have wonderful posture but if your alignment is not right then you will not consistently be able to find the fairway and the middle of greens. That is a fact. 

Golf Fundamentals

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

Correct Alignment

If you doubt the importance of correct alignment I would urge you to watch the world’s best professionals during their warm-up routines. They routinely use alignment sticks to ensure that their feet, hips and shoulders are all pointing in the right direction. Loosely speaking, if you stand up to the ball with the club aiming at the target and everything else pointing to the left, you will almost certainly cut across the ball - and develop a perfect slice. The shot we all want to eliminate from our game.

Correct alignment is pretty easy to achieve. If you are on the driving range, put a club down in front of your feet and point it at your target and then simply align your feet to the club. And on the course, just ask your mates to stand behind you and tell you if your are squared up to the target.

This is NOT an instruction piece - I am not qualified to write such a piece. Please visit the Golfshake Tuition Section for those. But there are a couple more pieces of advice that I do wish to impart.

Other Pieces of Advice

Resist the temptation to overswing. The chances are that if you feel you are only taking a half backswing that the reality will be that you are taking the club back much further than that.

And do not, under any circumstances, swing as hard as you can. It may come off once in a hundred attempts but going at it full tit every time is a recipe for disaster. Again, watch the top pros and the thing that will surely strike you is that they propel the ball vast distances with effortless power. So…keep it smooth.

Spend time on the driving range learning how far you hit each club in the bag - and take that out onto the course with you. How often do you see club golfers coming up short? That’s because they think that they hit the ball further than they actually do. If your initial thought is that you need a seven iron, try pulling out a six iron instead and then focus on making a smooth swing. You just might be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

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