Golf Instruction – Essential Knowledge

This golf knowledge is priceless but most golf instruction fails to deliver it.   Without this understanding, and being able to put it into practice, you will probably never play golf to your full potential.

If you ask anyone who has played very little golf to hit a golf ball to a target, they will probably try to do 2 things.  Swing the club along the target line and try to scoop the ball into the air.

Golf, however, is a very counter-intuitive game.  What they should be trying to do is something that even most people who play golf fail to do, and that is to:

  1. Compress the ball into the ground at impact.
  2. Aim the clubhead towards the ball at an angle across the target line to create what is known as an ‘in-to-out’ downswing path.

Most golfers will inevitably swing the club in what is known as an ‘out-to-in’ swing path. Not because they want to, but because that is what the body naturally does when you try to hit a golf ball straight.  This will usually cause a dreaded slice and a shot lacking in power.

The over the op golf swing path which cause a slice
The Undesirable ‘out-to-in’ Swing path

The two features then that are absolutely essential for power, accuracy, and consistency are:

  1. Being able to deliver the club on an ‘in-to-out” downswing swing path
    2. Being able to compress the ball at impact

Failure to achieve these two essentials is the major reason beginning golfers and high handicappers have difficulty significantly lowering their scores.

The in to out swing path which enables the golfer to hit accurate golf shots
The Desirable ‘in-to-out’ Swing Path

Golf Is a 2 Target Game

While you want the ball to travel to the target and ideally set your stance up so that the shoulders, hips, knees, and feet are parallel with the target line, there is another target, the actual ball itself.

To hit this ball with power and accuracy, you need to deliver the clubhead down and across the target line as per the red direction of the hit line above.

This is also called the A to B Line, with the A being the clubhead at the top of the backswing and B being the ball.

The Players Aim is at the Ball

The ball’s target is the flag or a section
of the fairway.

The Balls Aim is the Target

The clubhead’s target is the ball, which should
be hit so as to compress it deep into the ground.

Golf Instruction – The Grip

 Before learn how to swing the golf club we must first learn how to hold or grip the golf club effectively. The grip for the golfer is like the steering wheel, the accelerator and the brakes would be to a car driver.

In golf, the hands are the first point of contact with the club and play a crucial and absolutely essential part in all parts of the golf swing. It is fair to say that the hands are the source of motion. 

So much of the action that occurs in the swing we are learning revolves around the hands of an orthodox golf grip. The hands not only guide the swing but enable the ball to be compressed at impact for strong, powerful, accurate shots.

If you ask someone who has never held a golf club to grip it, it is highly unlikely they will grip it in what might be described as an orthodox golf grip. Most people would normally grip it as they would a baseball bat, cricket bat or hockey stick, – in the palms of their hands. The orthodox golf grip, however, is taken primarily in the fingers and not the palms.

The Left Hand Grip

For the right-handed golfer, it is the left hand that must be placed on the golf club handle first.

To assemble the left hand on the grip of the club, the butt end of the club shaft will point directly at the center of the hips (approximately at your belt buckle)

With the left-hand palm open, the club handle is placed diagonally across the hand – from the first knuckle joint of the little finger to the second knuckle joint of the index finger.

The Left Hand Grip Line
Left Hand Grip in the Fingers
Left Hand Grip No Gaps
Left hand Grip Completed
Left Hand Grip in the Fingers

When you wrap the fingers around there will be no gaps between the grip of the club and the fingers. The heal pad of the left hand fits on top so that the club is firmly wedged under the heal pad. The anatomical snuff box is aligned vertically on top of the grip of the club in the position marked x as demonstrated in the fourth picture.  

The back of hand will be facing the target, the same as the leading edge of the club face. 

There needs to be a slight bend in the left wrist, and the left thumb will be slightly behind center. 

You should also have a shortened thumb. Not one that is long and liable to strain the forearm.

The Right Hand Grip and Both Hands Together

Right Hand Grip Line
Right Hand Grip with fingers underneath
Right Hand - The fingers start to fold
Right Hand Grip Connecting with the Left Hand
The Grip With Both Hands Together

The second knuckle joints of the middle two fingers should be directly below the grip. 

When you grip the club in the fingers and drop the right hand down, the lifeline area of the right hand should be against the side of the left thumb. 

Then the right thumb and forefinger wrap around the grip. 

The right thumb is also in a shortened position. It is not long down the grip. 

When the grip is completed the lifeline of the right hand really covers the left thumb. 

The little finger will sit on top of the left forefinger in an overlapping grip, interlock with the right forefinger or just have the hands close together. 

This will give you a no gap grip where the 2 hands are ready to work as a team to swing the golf club.

Golf Instruction – The Stance

It cannot be overemphasized that many of the problems that occur in the swing emanate from an incorrect setup incorporating the grip and stance.

As with the grip, never take the stance for granted. The world’s top golfers are meticulous in getting the setup right, usually following a pre-shot routine, before hitting a shot.

The simple hip bump stance is probably the easiest golf stance for beginners to master.

The feet should be hip to shoulder-width apart with the toes turned open.

The club should be parallel to the ground with the end of the grip pointing towards the belt buckle.

Bend from the hips and unlock the knees so that the club is behind the ball.

Bump the left hip slightly towards the target.

When the grip is completed the clubface, shoulders, hips, knees and feet at address should be aligned and pointing to the target.

The Stance Alignments
Stance Bending from the Hips

Golf Instruction -The Impact Position

The position, angle, and direction of the clubhead at the point of impact, more than any other part of the golf swing, is the moment of truth, for it is here that power and direction are determined.

A compressed ball at impact will enable the ball to travel far, and an open or closed clubface will determine whether the ball goes left, right, or straight towards the target.

It is an absolutely crucial part of the swing.

Stance Before Impact

1. Take Your Stance

Start of Impact

2. Start of Impact

End of Impact

3. End of Impact

To understand the position you should be when you hit the ball in the impact zone do the following.

1. Take your stance as previously described.

2. Push the top of the right hand against the top of the left.

This will cause the left hand to straighten and even become ever so slightly arched while the right hand will be bent.

Allow the left leg to straighten while the right leg remains bent.

The left hip will be open and turned towards the target, while the left shoulder will be higher than the right.

In this position, the left arm will be straight and the right arm bent with both hand forward of the ball with a forward lean of the shaft.

3. Push the right hand against the left while pointing the ‘thumbs down’ and straightening the right arm.

Most importantly at impact, you are hitting down on the ball and not trying to scoop it up.

At the end of the impact position, the left arm and the club are forming a straight line. The right hand will be slightly bent back. 

This great impact position will enable great compression on the ball. 

Golf Instruction – The Chip Shot

The Chip Shot is the first shot you should learn.  It is a shot primarily design to hit short accurate shots from the fairway onto the green.

It is also an important building block for learning the full swing.

Why the Chip Shot is So Important to Learn

Despite the desire of most people to want to learn the Full Swing straight away, it is generally advisable to learn it in incremental steps.

Initially, when starting to learn and play golf you will find it hard to consistently time the ball or even remember what you are supposed to be doing as you swing the club. That’s why drilling in the various aspects of the swing are so important.

Equating learning the golf swing with a musical instrument such as a guitar, the learning process is gradual. To learn the guitar chords you not only have to know the chords but spend hours trying to smoothly change from one chord to another.

For this reason, it is advisable to learn the full swing by starting with a miniature version of the swing, the Chip Shot.

The Advantages of Learning the Chip Shot are:

  1. The Chip Shot is easier to learn than the Full Swing, but once learned makes learning the Full Swing a lot easier.
  2. The Full Swing Pivot is an extension of the Chip Pivot.
  3. The Backswing of the Full Swing is an extension of the Chip Shot Takeaway.
  4. It is with the Chip Shot that you are able to more easily implement the “thumb down” uncocking action and build a solid impact.
  5. The Chip Shot enables you to consistently feel what it is like to Compress the ball a Impact.
  6. The Chip Shot ‘Finish’ teaches you how your left arm must be aligned in a straight line with the club shaft through the Impact area.
  7. The Chip Shot teaches you timing, rhythm and coordination.

Even without its benefit in learning the full swing, the Chip Shot in itself is an essential shot around the green to help lower your scores.

Chip Shot Grip and Stance

In the Chip shot the hands are a little further down the grip, the feet are closer to together and the weight is predominantly on the front foot to encourage hitting down on the ball. 

The ball is in the middle or slightly forward in the stance. The shaft too will also lean slightly forward, with the hands forward of the ball.

The stance is square with the feet, knees, and shoulders parallel to the target line.

Chip Shot Stance

Chip Shot Stance

The Chip Shot Takeaway/Backswing

After a slight forward press of the right hand against the left, the takeaway starts for the right-handed golfer by pushing the left hand against the right. This is what is known as a handle first takeaway.

The club should go straight back with the clubhead close to the ground. The left hand will remain slightly bent as the right hand straightens

This will cause the right hip to turn and the left knee to move out slightly to over the left foot.   The right knee will remain bent and stable as it was at address.

In the transition from backswing to downswing that follows, the the right hand will bend and the left hand straighten


Chip Takeaway

Chip Shot Handle First Takeaway
ensures the clubhead is taken away
close to the ground.

The Chip Downswing

This starts by pushing the ‘thumbs down’ towards and deep into the ball,  which will cause the right arm to straighten as the club head moves through the impact zone, as described in the section on Impact

The left hip will turn as the left leg straightens through impact as you compress the ball into the ground.

At the end of the chip shot the left hand will be straight or sightly arched with the arm in line with the the club and the right hand bent. 

The thumbs will still be pointing down.


End of Chip Backswing
End of Chip Shot backswing and the start of the downswing.
Chip Just After Impact
Just after impact. Note the straight left  leg and the hands in front of the clubhead.
Chip Shot Finish
Chip Shot Finish. The right arm is fully extended, the right-hand bent, and the left arm in line with the club shaft.

Golf Instruction – The Pitch Shot

The Pitch Shot, is in effect a shorter version of the Full Swing.

Unlike the Full Swing, which is designed to produce power, the Pitch Shot is played from short distances to the green.

With the Pitch Shot, the intention is to land the ball as close to the hole as possible, with backspin to prevent the ball running through the green.

Golf Instruction – The Pitch Stance and Backswing 


The pitch shot stance is a little wider than the chip shot but the weight is still on the front foot. 

In the backswing the left hand pushes against the right, handle first with enough pressure to swing the club head back low to the ground until the right hand is pushed back and the left hand cocks up. In the process the club will sling back.

The weight of the swinging club should enable this natural wrist hinging. In the process the club will sling back.

As with the chip the left knee goes out towards the right toes and right knee remains flexed as he right hip turns towards the rear. 

At the top of the small backswing the club will be on a natural incline.

Chip shot stance with weight on the front foot

Pitch Stance

The Downswing

The pitch shot downswing or downswing release down through the ball starts by throwing the toe of the clubhead with an uncocking thumbs down action that drives the club shaft in line with the left arm.

The toe of the clubhead is the tip of the clubhead. It is not the heal and not the face of the clubhead.

This action turns the left hip towards the target as the left leg straightens.

The hips clear and both arms straight through impact in the same position as with the chip shot.

The angle from the top of the swing is down and out across the target line before the turning body brings the clubhead around into the finish.

This is achieved with the thumbs down uncocking action so that the club shaft remains in line with the left arm.

At the point of impact, the hands will have naturally rotated through the ball. 

Twisting the last three fingers of the left hand into the grip as you perform the thumbs down action will help you square the clubface to the ball while the right hand will help the club go down to the ball. 

The through swing or follow-through is a natural closing of the door action.  

It’s an opening of the door backswing and a closing of the door through swing.

Pitch Top of Backswing

Top of Backswing Start of Downswing

Follow Through

In the follow through the arms remain straight. The power of the downswing will cause the body to turn and the straight arms to bend so that the clubhead finishes over the right shoulder.

Pitch Shot Extension

Pitch Shot Extension Into Follow Through

In the process the body will have turn completely to face the target and the bent right knee with be up against the straight left leg in a balanced finish.

Pitch Follow Through

Pitch Shot Follow Through and Finish

Golf Instruction -The Full Swing

The beginning golfer must work towards a sound Full Swing if he or she ever hopes to become a great or even a competent golfer.

You must understand though it takes time and practice to build a good swing, and the building blocks start with a good Grip and Stance, the Chip Shot, and the Pitch.

Master these components first and learning the Full Swing will be much easier to learn.

The Setup

The stance sees the feet about the width of the hips with the weight evenly balanced on both feet.  The grip is the same as the chip and pitch grip, with the club handle pointing to the belt buckle.

Full Swing Stance from the Front

FullSwing Stance from the Front

Full Swing Stance from the Side

Full Swing Stance from the Side

The Backswing

The backswing for the full swing is just an extension of the pitch shot. That is why it is so important that the beginner golfer master the easier chip and pitch shots first.

Push the clubhead back grip first until you achieve your maximum shoulder turn while remaining in balance.

You turn as if in a barrel.  There is no sway with the feet evenly balanced.

The left leg moves out across the right foot and your right hip feels like it is winding into the ground.

At the top of the swing, the left arm is straight and the right arm is bent.

Most importantly you never pull your arms across your body. (If at the top of the swing you turned your body around your hands and arms would be in front of the chest.)

The shoulders during the backswing turn should remain flat, parallel to the hip line.  This will not only keep you in balance but prevent over swinging.

Full Swing Backswing

The Downswing

As with the pitch shot your intension should be to throw the clubhead down and out into the golf ball along what is known as the A to B line, where A is the top of the backswing and B is the ball.

You should be trying to compress the ball into the ground.

The downswing throw of the clubhead is initiated by the thumbs down uncocking action to ensure the clubhead stays on the A to B line.  This action will also keep the club shaft in line with the left arm.

At the bottom of the swing:

– the thumbs will be fully down

– the shaft will be in line with the left arm

– both arms will be straight

– the left hand will have released the clubhead back to square in the desired impact position

– you will be hitting away from you back foot and chin

The Full Swing DownSwing

The Follow Through

After impact the left hand continues to rotate.

The body’s turn is a natural response to the left-hand rotation action.

The release or turning of the left hand will keep the left arm and club shaft in line well into follow through.

The right hand will remain bent back all the way through the downswing and follow-through.

The golf swing will come around and up until the arms fold and the club finishes over the right shoulder.

You will finish in balance with the body pointing just left of the target, with the knee of the bent leg pointing at the target.

The Full Swing Follow Through

Golf Instruction – The Driver

The Driver has the longest shaft in the bag and is by far the hardest club for the golf beginner to hit. While good golfers can generally hit the ball further with the Driver, it is not without its disadvantages.  

If you slice or hook the ball, your slice or hook will be much more pronounced with the driver.  

For this reason, it is most important that as a beginning golfer you build your Full Swing competently first before expecting to hit long straight shots with the Driver.

The Stance

With the grip we have learned, take your stance with the feet a little wider than for the full swing. 

The ball position should be teed so that it is in line with the front heel or instep. 

With an iron you want to compress the ball, but with the driver you want to hit the ball off the tee level to the ground or on the upswing. 

The club should be on a slight backward lean to the ball. This is very important because it allows you to be nice and wide at the start and allows the club to get on the right path from the very beginning.

Driver Stance

The Driver Swing

To start the swing push the handle which will in turn push the clubhead back close to the ground.

Allow yourself to “turn in a barrel”.

At the top of the backswing, as with the iron shot, throw the toe of the clubhead “thumbs down” at the ball along the A to B line where A is the top of the backswing and B is the ball.

This means you will be throwing the club across the target line.

You want to really feel you are throwing the clubhead down and out across the target line towards the ball, however you will be hitting the ball of the tee, not trying to compress it into the ground.

As you add speed, along with pivot or turning of the body, the club will swing around, so that you will be hitting along the target line.

Most importantly allow the left hand to turn or release the club well past the shot,  otherwise, you will slice the ball.

The throwing action, as with the iron shot will cause the left leg to straighten and the left hip to turn.

The power of the swing will lead you into the follow-through and a balanced finish.

The Driver Backswing from Down the Line
This video segment is taken from Peter Croker’s The Beginning Program

Golf Instruction – The Rescue Club

The Rescue Club or Hybrid Club is used in place of the longer irons and typically for most golfers produces longer distance than the equivalent iron. Consequently, it’s a great club for golf beginners so use.

Hybrids, when compared to long irons:

1) Send the ball flying high – studies have shown a hybrid can often get you 8 more yards than a typical iron.

2) The club design is superior – with the hybrid club design, the center of gravity is moved lower and further back from the clubface so that you get more trajectory and ball loft.

3) More forgiving – performs well even if the sweet spot isn’t hit.

4) Improved shot possibilities – with a hybrid you have more options out of bad lies, tight spots, and trouble situations.

The Rescue Club is like a small fairway wood with plenty of weight in the bottom and plenty of loft on the club.

The Rescue or Hybrid Club

The Rescue or Hybrid Club Stance

While the driver and fairway woods have the ball very close to the front foot, the ball for the rescue club should be more between the center of the ball and the front foot in the stance, as you want to hit down on the ball and not sweep it into the air as you would with a driver or fairway wood.

Like all the other clubs the takeaway with the rescue club starts by pushing the handle of the club first to ensure a great top of backswing position.

The rescue club is played more like an iron.   While the swing for the traditional fairway wood is played to sweep the ball off the ground, with the rescue club you hit down on the ball, so that if anything you might take a little divot.

Throwing the toe of the clubhead hard down and out at the ball, while releasing or closing with the left hand will lead to a full balanced finish.

The following chart shows how the degree of loft for a hybrid club that equates to a conventional iron club.

18 degree = 2 iron
21 degree = 3 iron
25 degree = 4 iron
30 degree = 5 to 6 iron
35 degree = 7 to 8 iron

Golf Instruction – Putting

Putting can make or break your game because it plays such a significant part of any golf round.

Good putting is a combination of sound technique and the ability to have a positive picture of the ball going into the hole.

A good putter will average 27 puts during an 18 hole round, while a bad putter about 45 puts. That’s an average of 18 shots a round so a beginning golfer could reduce his or her score significantly by becoming a really good putter.

Putting Grip and Stance

 A Conventional Putting Grip
While there are various putting grips, unlike the finger grip used with the irons, woods and driver, the putting grip is usually taken in the palm of the hands.
Preparing for the Putting Stance
Putting Stance

While standing straight hold the club with the grip in the palms of the hands and the club parallel to the ground.

Let the elbows be in contact with the side of the body.  The arm will form a V shape.

Bend from the hips with the feet wide enough for balance, and with the eyes directly above the ball.

Putting Action

In the short backswing and forward swing maintain the V position as you swing back and through. This is a bit like a pendulum motion.

Try not to look up too soon after you hit the ball. The head should remain steady and focused on the ball position for about 3 seconds after you hit the ball.

Putting Practice

Start with short puts no more than about a foot or 30 centimeters from the hole, increasing your distance as you gain more confidence.

With long puts, you will very rarely sink the put, however, you should try to leave the put no more than a meter or 3 feet from the hole so you can make the second put.

Practice putting uphill, downhill, and on sloping surfaces.

With plenty of putting practice, indoors and outdoors, you will make up many strokes in a round of golf.

Golf Instruction – Bunker Play

A bunker or sand trap is a hazard, and the rules of golf tell you cannot ground your club in a hazard.

The simplest and most effective bunker shot for beginning golfers is the V action technique shot using the special sand wedge club with a heavy base and lofted clubface.

With this shot, you hit down on the ball and rely on the heavily weighted sand wedge to hit the sand and bounce the sand and the ball out of the bunker

With Bunker Play you should learn the technique first, and then trial and error in the practice bunker is your best teacher.


Because the sand is unstable you want to get your feet firmly anchored in the sand for a good foundation.

The stance should be slightly open with your feet for the right-handed golfer aimed a little to the left of the target. The closer you are to the target, the more to the left your feet should point.

You want to keep the club above the sand to avoid it touching the sand before the shot.

On the downswing, you want to hit the sand about 2 inches or 5 centimeters behind the ball so it bounces out with the sand.

Take a normal grip and then roll the clubface open so that it will point at an angle of about 45 degrees towards the sky. This will main the club handle will point well forward.

Swing back on the downswing and hit down into the sand 2 inches or 5 centimeters behind the ball like you are swinging and axe into the sand. When performed correctly the sand, and most importantly the ball, will fly up towards the target.

To build and develop a solid golf game the beginning golfer will need expert instruction like that provided by Peter Croker’s Beginning Program.

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