When I give my first lesson to a beginner, I first congratulate the student for taking the time and commitment to learn the game the right way. I tell them that what they will learn will feel new and awkward at first but what we will be trying to do is to learn a new skill that will need understanding of why and what that skill will provide going forward in your swing.
What my students learn will be the fundamentals and foundation of their golf swing. Here is the breakdown that I teach all of my students who wish to learn the right way so they can start enjoying the game of golf for however long they want to play.
I tell my students that their golf grip is the lifeline of your golf game. How they hold the club is vital because it will make the things they learn in our lessons much simpler and will promote more consistency as we build a solid golf swing.
I first teach them that the grip in your hands is more in the fingers than the palms. When something is in your palm, human nature is to grip it tighter mostly when you are trying to strike something. When something is in your fingers, you will likely grip it with less pressure and have a better feeling of the clubhead. I teach them that their grip is more neutral which means that their back of the hands and palms are more facing the target and each other.
Grip Pressure Builds Momentum in the Golf Swing
Following up on the grip would be that we want the grip to be loose so the grip can breathe in your hands. When this happens, the clubhead becomes heavier and able to move more freely. I mention that everyone’s grip pressure is different but we want both hands light on the club with the exception of the fingers closer to the clubhead.
We will then use this to our advantage and let the clubhead swing back and forth creating momentum and a nice tempo. The momentum will lead to faster clubhead speed while letting your wrists hinge as a result of it.
Let your Body Follow the Momentum
I then ask my students to swing the club back and forth in both hands. I encourage them to create some rhythm (like from a song they love) as they allow the club to swing back and forth, letting the clubhead lead the way. As their wrists begin hinging, the arms will go along for the ride as well as the shoulders. When this starts happening, I make sure they understand to let the upper torso go along for the ride and then they will feel it in the hips as well.
This is a pivotal point where they will feel weight being transferred from one side to the other. The weight coming off their heels while they transfer the weight is what I want them to feel and focus on. I call this the “Two-Step.” After realizing that they are doing this simple dance, I tell them that they are doing it!…That’s what the swing should feel like!
The clubhead will create momentum, let your body react to it and let the Hips turn so the Heels get pulled up (The ‘H’s.) This will create…
- Good Tempo
- Faster clubhead speed at impact
- Proper Swing sequence
- Better timing
- Power through impact
PacMan Posture & Positioning
After they feel a whole new dynamic of how the swing actually feels like, I tell them that we just need to finish off the swing by getting in a proper position with the body and the ball. Let’s make sure you have a good golf stance to get you started on the right foot. Since we learn using our mid-iron (7 or 8 iron), there are 4 simple things to remember.
- Golf ball positioned centered on the feet
- Feet should be shoulder width apart
- Shoes should be pointed outward a bit
- Clubface stays square (not closed)
I explain that positioning their body is very important to making consistent ball contact so I give them something to always remember how it feels like. PacMan’s mouth is angled like a “greater” sign or a sideways “L” so we want to feel like the body is positioned in that way as well.
- Keep legs bent a bit
- Stick Tailbone out
- Shoulders will feel over past your Toes
- Feel Weight on balls of your feet
- Let the Arms hang down from shoulders so they feel like “Elephant trunks” just hanging down
This may feel awkward and they may not bend over enough so I do take a picture of their posture when I tell them to over-exaggerate it. When I show them what they look like, they look like a nicely positioned golfer over the ball ready to put their new swing to the test.
The PacMan posture will also let you know where your hands and arms are positioned. If they just hang down from the shoulders, you may realize that they are closer to your legs than before. If you open up your hands, that is where the grip of the club should lay. Wherever the clubhead is then is where the ball should be distanced from your body.
We then plan to put the swing into action with our last step of the lesson. Before we start making contact with the golf ball, I want them to start bouncing the sole of the club off the ground just after the “2” in the “Two-Step”. This will create a feeling of releasing the club at impact even if the ball is not there. The focus should be on putting together a nice smooth swing as opposed to striking the golf ball.
That does it for your first golf lesson! I try to take my students through the 5 steps as their progress allows. Whether you’re taking a lesson in a group or a private lesson, hats off to you for taking the initiative to learn golf from a Class A professional golfer. My lessons always get my students excited about the next lesson, encourage them to practice between lessons and most of all, teach them to just have fun with it.
For those looking to quickly improve their overall golf game including the mental and strategic side, consider a playing lesson. It’s a great way to understand what goes on in the mind of a PGA pro during a round. From shot selection to reading a green, a playing lesson will be a lesson to remember.
Golf is fun. It’s relaxing, there are multiple challenges so that it never gets old, it’s a social event and it’s a sport that anybody can play. I look forward to seeing you out on the course!