The most important factor determining where the ball will go on any given shot is the club face position at impact.
If the club face is open at the point of impact the ball will fly, at least initially, right of the target (for a right handed golfer). The same is true of a closed club face position at the point of impact. Because the club face is the most important factor in deciding where the ball will finish, we need to raise our eyes up the club shaft and focus on the hands which are the only part of the body in contact with the club throughout the swing (we hope!).
The way the hands rotate during the back swing and through swing are vital to how the club face will look at impact. If the hands rotate too little on the back swing, the club face will likely be returned closed to the target line at impact. Too much rotation and the club face will likely be open. It is the same story in the down swing but switched around, too little hand rotation in the down swing will lead to blocked and sliced shots, too much hand rotation will lead to pulls and hooks.
This might sound overly complicated but it can be quite easily understood and controlled by comparing your swing to a few easy checkpoints. All of the checkpoints relate to right handed players employing a neutral grip.
Hand rotation swing checkpoints
- At set up, adopt a neutral grip and aim straight down the target line - the club face should be pointing directly at the target.
- As the club moves away from the ball, the hands and club face begin to rotate away from the ball.
- At halfway back where the club shaft and left arm are extended and parallel to the ground, the back of the left hand should be pointing straight out in front of the player and the bottom edge of the club should be parallel to the spine angle. If the hands have rotated correctly, the back of the right hand will point out behind the golfer.
- As the club is swung upward, the hands continue to rotate until at the top of the swing the back of the left hand and right hand are at 45 degrees in relation to the ground.
- As the club swings down, the hands begin to rotate back to the ball. As the club approaches the ball and the shaft reaches parallel to the ground, the back of the left hand should point out in front and the back of the right hand should point out behind.
- At impact as the hands rotate through the ball, the back of the left hand should point down the target line with the right hand pointing directly away from the ball (the right palm should also point down the target line).
- After impact, the hands turn over. As the club shaft reaches parallel to the ground after impact, the back of the right hand points out in front of the player with the back of the left hand behind.
This is the correct hand rotation throughout the swing. It will be almost impossible to check these positions in real time whilst hitting the ball so some use of a video camera or mirrors will be involved.
If these are not available then complete a number of slow motion swings until the sequence is understood and repeatable.