Strike The Ball Better With The Correct Hand Position, Tour Alignment Stick Drill 1

As we know, the set up position for the golf swing is incredibly important for the success of the golf shot. Here is a drill to check the position of the hands at set up, with an exercise to make sure that this element is correct in practice.

The hand position can determine the quality of ball striking in a golf swing and most golfers overlook this element. At set up to the golf ball, position one of a set of tour sticks across the foot line, parallel to the target, to make sure that the body is aiming in the correct direction. This tour stick also gives a line of sight to set the hands in the correct position. Position this stick directly under the chin so that the hands hang loosely underneath the chin and over the stick.

Take the second tour stick and push the pointed end of the stick into the ground, approximately six inches on the outside of the golf ball. The stick needs to be in the ground at an angle, pointing towards the body, at roughly the height of the belt buckle and in line with the inside of the front leg. Use this stick and position the hands underneath it upon set up to the ball.

At this point, look to keep the hands in the same position at set up regardless of which club is being used. This is where the hand position is important as the position of the golf ball should change depending on the club used, but the hands should not move. A driver should be placed so that the ball is just opposite the inside of the front foot, the long irons, hybrids and fairway woods one to two inches away from the inside front foot, the mid irons one to two inches just in front of centre, and the short irons and wedges dead centre of the stance.

Strike The Ball Better With The Correct Hand Position, Tour Alignment Stick Drill 2

The reason to keep the hands in the same position, even though the ball moves with the different clubs, is simple. At set up, the ideal is to mimic and encourage a good impact position for when the ball is struck. With the more lofted clubs, the ball is at the bottom of the swing arc, with the hands in front of the ball, allowing a downward strike into the ball. This prevents a scooping action, where the club may hit the ground first or hit the ball on the upwards swing, hitting what would be called a 'thin' shot. With the longer clubs, the ball is just in front of the bottom of the swing arc, promoting a sweeping action where the ball can be driven away, up and out into the air. This maximises the power into the ball and the loft on the club to achieve the correct ball flight.

Using tour sticks in this way ensures a consistent set up and hand position every time and increases the chances of striking the ball better.

Strike the Ball Better with the Correct Hand Position

Strike the Ball Better with the Correct Hand Position

There are few skills, if any, in the game of golf which are more important than ball striking. If you are a good ball striker, you already have the biggest hurdle cleared in terms of shooting low scores. Sure, there are plenty of other talents that you will need to combine with your ability to strike the ball cleanly, but you are off to a great start when you can put the club properly on the ball time after time.

In this article, we are going to talk about how you can use correct hand position to improve your ball striking ability. At the moment of impact, you will need to have your hands in the right spot in order to promote a clean hit. If your hands aren't in the right spot – even if they are only off slightly – you will struggle to make solid contact. Placing your hands in the same position at impact over and over again is not an advanced skill, but it is one which can lead to great results on the course.

Before we get too far into this discussion, it is important to stop and define ball striking for a moment. What do we mean when we say that you need to be a good 'ball striker'? Do you have to be the longest hitter on the course? Or do you need to be the most accurate? Not necessarily. Rather, ball striking refers to your ability to hit the ball cleanly over and over again. Rather than hitting your shots fat or thin, you will be hitting them nicely on the sweet spot on a regular basis. No golfer is perfect in this regard, but the best players succeed far more often than they fail. A good ball striker believes that he or she will hit any given shot solidly before the swing even begins. That kind of confidence is powerful on the course, as it is going to help you navigate even the most intimidating hazards.

There are a couple of distinct advantages to becoming a better ball striker. First and foremost, you will have an improved ability to control the distance of your shots. This is critical, as controlling your distances will help you to keep your ball out of trouble. For instance, picture an approach shot with water guarding the front of the green. If you aren't able to strike the ball cleanly, the shot may come up short and you might find the water. That is far less likely to occur if you can hit your shots properly. The ball will carry close to the right distance, and the water will be out of the picture.

In addition to controlling distance, good ball strikers tend to keep the ball closer to the target line. This has to do with the ability to find the sweet spot. When the ball is struck on the sweet spot, it will not have as much sidespin as would be the case if hit on the toe or heel. By finding the sweet spot as often as you can, you are going to get better and better at hitting your target line – and the combination of good distance control and accuracy will lead to plenty of beautiful shots.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

Hand Position in General Terms

Hand Position in General Terms

As you already know, there are 14 golf clubs in your bag. For the purposes of this discussion, we are not going to include the putter, because it is not a full swing club. That leaves us with 13, and each of those 13 is unique. They each have their own loft, they each have their own length, and you may have a variety of shafts in use in the set. Despite this variety, you can actually use a standard hand position at impact for most of your shots. There will be exceptions, of course, and we will get to those later on. In this section, however, we are going to describe the proper hand position for a 'standard' golf shot played with any one of your 13 full swing clubs.

To make sure you understand the proper hand position for a basic golf shot, we have assembled a list of points below. Take a moment to review these points and you should have a clear picture of how your hands need to behave at the moment of impact.

  • Hands slightly in front of the ball. This is the big point to take away from this article. If you only remember one piece of advice from this entire article, let it be that you need to place your hands just in front of the ball at impact. Doing this successfully is going to allow you to trace an appropriate path through the ball, imparting a slightly downward strike that will help the ball get up into the air with ease. Remember, golf is a game of opposites. If you want the ball to go up, you have to hit down. When most amateurs hear that advice, they wind up swinging steeply down into the ball, taking big chunks out of the turf. That isn't going to work. You only want to hit down slightly, and you can do so by getting your hands just past the ball at impact. Later in this article, we will focus on how you can find success on this important but challenging point.
  • Left wrist in a flat position. For most people, this will happen naturally when the hands get past the ball at impact. However, it is important to mention it here anyway, just in case it doesn't happen automatically for you. When the club is on the back of the ball, your left wrist should be in a mostly flat position, if not bowed slightly toward the target. The club face will usually match up with your left wrist, so holding that left wrist flat is going to help present the club face to the ball in a square position. This is one of those golf tips that you don't want to think about consciously while you swing – rather, it should just be a result of the other fundamentals in your swing technique. Do everything else right, and this will take care of itself. Since it is hard to see the position of your wrist while your hands move quickly through the hitting area, recording yourself on video is the best way to check this point. Pause your video at the moment of impact, check on your wrist positioning, and make adjustments as necessary.
  • Head in a stable position. Okay – so this last point is cheating a little bit. However, there really isn't anything else we need to say about your hands in this section. As long as you place them in front of the ball at impact, and your left wrist is mostly flat, you are good to go. With that said, you do need to monitor your head position as well, as it can be affected by what you are trying to do with your hands. Specifically, some golfers get into trouble by sliding their head to the left as they try to move their hands in front of the ball. When this happens, your body rotation stops and you lose much of the power that you had built in your swing. As you swing down, you should feel like your head is staying exactly where it has been throughout the entire swing. The rest of your body is moving, but your head is remaining stationary. At impact, your head will be directly above the ball, and your hands will be just slightly ahead. That position is a powerful one, as it can lead to the best ball striking of your life.

The picture we have painted with the three previous points should be pretty clear by this point. At the moment of impact, you want to have your hands just slightly in front of the ball, your left wrist flat, and your head in the same place it was at address. If you can check off those three points, great ball striking is likely to come your way. However, if even one of those fundamentals is missing the mark, it will be difficult to reach your potential.

Exceptions to the Rule

Exceptions to the Rule

In a game as complicated as golf, it seems that there are always exceptions to fundamental 'rules'. You will learn plenty of golf swing mechanics that apply most of the time, but not 100% of the time. That is true in this case. It is usually a good idea to have your hands slightly in front of the ball at impact, but you can't use that advice on every single shot that you need to play. In fact, if you try to apply this line of thinking to all of your shots, you will wind up severely limiting your game. Golf is a game that requires flexibility and versatility on the course, meaning you need to know how to position your hands differently when the circumstances are right.

The list below includes some of the most common exceptions to the rule of placing your hands in front of the ball at impact.

  • Hitting a driver from the tee. This one is a bit controversial, as some people think you should still move your hands in front of the ball at impact when playing a driver from the tee. However, it seems likely that the best way to go is to keep your hands a little farther back at the moment of impact, in order to encourage a slightly upward hit. Rather than hitting down on the ball as you do with the rest of your clubs, try hitting up just slightly on your driver to take some of the backspin off of the shot. This will hopefully lead to a flatter ball flight, and more distance in the end. You don't necessarily want your hands behind the ball at impact, but try placing them directly over the ball instead of slightly ahead. You will probably need to experiment some with your hand placement at impact until you find an optimal setup for your driver.
  • Playing a flop shot. When you need to toss the ball high up into the air on a shot around the green, you aren't going to be able to place your hands in front of the ball at impact. Moving your hands past the ball is going to automatically take loft off of the club, and you need as much loft as possible on these kinds of shots. So, the answer is obvious – keep your hands back. When playing a flop shot, you need to start with your hands behind the ball, and you need to return them to that point at impact. This is going to make the shot risky, as you'll always be close to hitting the ball thin. You are forced to task this risk if you wish to hit a high flop shot, however. For a safer shot, keep your hands in front of the ball and hit a traditional chip shot. This is an easier play, but the ball will not stop as quickly after it lands.
  • A punch shot. Sometimes, you are going to need to hit a punch shot in order to keep the ball down lower to the ground as it flies. When such a shot is required, you will want to position your hands even farther forward at impact. Rather than having them just slightly ahead of the ball, you will want to move your hands several inches in front. This is going to take significant loft off of the club, and your shots will be much lower. You are going to trade distance for this lower flight, so expect these kinds of shots to travel a shorter distance overall than a standard shot with the same club. Punch shots are useful in a number of situations, such as when you want to keep the ball out of the wind, or when you want to bounce the ball up to a target.

The list above is only a partial accounting of the situations where you will need to move your hands either back or forward from their usual position. As you gain more experience in this game, you will likely discover new types of shots that require you to adjust your hand position, both before the swing and at impact. Always pay attention to this point during practice and respect its ability to influence the ball flights you achieve.