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The Set-Up
by Virgil Herring

Before I talk about how the golf swing works we must first attain a set-up position that allows us the best chance of striking the ball with power and accuracy. I always start off my lesson by saying, "where we get the fuel for a great golf swing is at BPGAS." This is an acronym for the components of the set-up. They are ball position, posture, grip, alignment, and stance.

The first component to learn is the grip. Place the student's left hand on the golf club so that it is held in the fingers and so that the back pad of the hand rests on top of the shaft. Place the thumb of the left hand just to the right of the center of the shaft. Then place the right hand on the club so that the club rests in the fingers. The thumb of the left hand fits perfectly in the lifeline of the right hand like a puzzle piece. From here the player may employ either the ten finger grip, good for players with small hands (children and women), interlocking grip (Woods, Nicklaus, and Lopez), or overlapping grip (Faldo, Duval, and Norman). All of which are acceptable grips and all have won a major championship.

The second part is alignment. I believe the number one error in all of golf is poor alignment. Because of condition one many people struggle to align themselves properly parallel left. The conscious brain tells the vast majority of players that they must align their body to the target. The brain doesn't understand that the bodyline and the ball/target line are not convergent. Usually this fact staggers the student because they felt like they were doing the right thing when in fact all they did was make it very difficult for themselves to succeed at all. Take two shafts and lie them down on the ground with one aimed at the target and the other aimed parallel left of the target.

The next step is actually going to take care of stance and ball position at the same time. After they have taken their grip and have aligned their body parallel left, have them address the ball by placing the club behind the ball and standing to the ball with their feet together. Have them move their left foot three inches forward and flare the foot open thirty degrees. Then have them drop their right foot back until the heels are shoulder width apart. We have now achieved stance and ball position at the same time.

Finally, we must get the student into an athletic posture that allows them to move with balance and speed. Have the student stand as tall as possible, bend from the hips pushing their backside out and up, sit down a little, and fit himself or herself to the ball from that posture.

Here are a couple of little things you may need to explain if they don't naturally have them after BPGAS. The hands should hang below the chin, even with the ball or slightly on either side of the ball. The right shoulder should sit below the left because the right hand is below the left hand on the club. The chin should be up enough to let the shoulder rotate underneath. The weight should be evenly distributed between the balls of the feet and the heels and equally on the left and right foot.

This procedure works great for teaching a basic pre-shot routine. Now the student is prepared to swing

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    Virgil Herring is an instructor for the Golf Channel Academy.

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