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Squaring the clubface a vital part of "Swing Essentials"

Karen Palacios-JansenBy Karen Palacios-Jansen,
Squaring the clubface
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As you continue to swing back, your wrists should start to hinge so that about three-quarters of the way back your arms and club will form the letter "L." (GolfPublisher.com)

As part of her continuing "Swing Essentials" series on building a fundamental golf swing, LPGA Golf Instructor Karen Palacios-Jansen focuses on how to start the swing.

"The best psychologist in the world is a square clubface at impact," - Ben Hogan

To be a consistent ball striker, you should strive to swing with a square clubface at all times, unless, of course, you are trying to intentionally curve the ball. Golf is a hard enough game hitting the ball straight, let alone fighting an open or closed clubface at impact.

Watch a good player swing and you almost always see a smooth, rhythmic start to their backswing. So what starts the club back? If you look at the swing as a series of circles, the clubhead makes the biggest circle, followed by the circle the hands make, followed by the circle the body makes as it turns back and forth. So since the clubhead has to travel the farthest, you want to start the clubhead back first.

With a correct grip, your hands and wrists should rotate the clubhead so it stays square to the body throughout the swing. When the club is parallel to the ground, the toe of the club will point up. This is a square clubface. The palm of your right hand and the back of your left hand (if you are right-handed) should end up in what we instructors call the "shake hands" position. As you follow through, again the hands and wrists rotate so that when the club is parallel to the ground once again the toe of the club will point up.

When I was a kid my golf instructor, Bob Ledbetter, had me close my fists and stick out my thumbs as if to hitchhike. Pretending I was hitting a golf ball, he would have me rotate my arms so that at the halfway back point of the swing my thumbs would point up. Then I would finish my swing and my thumbs would again point up after impact on the follow-through. It is a rather simple move and should not be over complicated. To start your swing, think of pushing the clubhead straight back, and as your weight shifts naturally to the back foot, your hands and arms will rotate, keeping the clubface square.

As you continue to swing back, your wrists should start to hinge so that about three-quarters of the way back your arms and club will form the letter "L."

At the top of the backswing, the clubface needs to be square as well. The clubface should be parallel or match the same angle of the left arm (for right-handers). If the clubface dangles and the left wrist is cupped, the clubface will be too open. If the clubface is flat or parallel to the ground, then it's too closed. Have your golf instructor video tape your golf swing to see what your clubhead looks like at the top of your swing. A simple clubface adjustment may make the difference between a straight ball and a hook or slice.

If your clubface is square at the top of your swing, it should be square coming down and through the ball. At impact, the back of the left hand and palm of the right hand should face the target. After the ball is gone, continue to rotate the forearms in conjunction with the body. Don't go through with an open face or a closed face.

Here is a drill to learn the correct hand and arm motion. Hit balls with your feet together. This drill teaches hand, wrist and arm coordination. If you do this correctly, the ball should fly straight without any curve left or right. This drill is also good to work on balance. If you swing too hard, you will lose your balance.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • the right handed golfers left wrist

    Don Ovelson wrote on: Apr 28, 2009

    Great article> I am 56 years old> I have played from a plus2 handicap to a 6 handicap all of my life> A simple tip to stop your brain from thinking about the takeaway is to put 2 popsilcle sticks under your watch of the left hand or a comb. Let the sticks or comb run on to the back of the left hand. Just keep from breaking the sticks or bending the comb> Soon your drives wil fly high and powerful without even thinking about the takeaway. Simply think about not bending or breaking your sticks or bending the comb. The left wrist will be square at the top of your swing and you will soon love the middle of the fairway again. Don from Canada.


      • RE: the right handed golfers left wrist

        Bill wrote on: Jun 13, 2012

        Sounds interesting but I don't understand what side of the hand the popsicle sticks are placed. Are they on the top side of the hand or on the palm side? If on the top side the sticks will bend if you cup the wrist. Please comment.


          • RE: RE: the right handed golfers left wrist

            James wrote on: Oct 2, 2012

            The stick goes to the top of the wrist.


  • Thanks for the tips

    Angela K. wrote on: Jan 12, 2008

    Love your golf tips.. really improved my game.
    Thanks again.