Impact is the ultimate determination of contact with the ball. But, impact is, to a large degree, determined by the entire motion of the swing. A big key to the motion of the swing is the positioning of left hand and clubface (for a right-handed golfer) at the top of the backswing. With a neutral grip, the top of the backswing should have the back of the left hand flat to the forearm and square to the swing plane. This will set the clubface square to the back of the left hand and swing plane. When this position is consistently created, the front edge of the clubface has a good chance of being square at impact, delivering the correct loft of the clubface and the proper “chip” into the ground to create a solid positive strike.
The mistake I often see is the left hand position at the top of the swing is in a “cupped” position (left). This left hand position opens the clubface at the top of the backswing. This is a weaker position that adds loft to the clubface and makes it extremely difficult to get the clubface back to square at impact. The shot tends to slice, fly higher than normal or hook to the left if the hands are very active. Often times the clubface is too open at impact, and a compensation is made in an attempt to square the clubface.
The compensations I see are strengthening the grip, swinging more to the left of the target line, turning into the shot with the right side or “scooping” with the right hand to square the club face. None of these compensations work well on a consistent basis.
To fix the clubface at the top of the backswing, the last three fingers of the left hand need to flatten out the back of the hand. The right hand palm needs to support the club as if it was holding a tray (top right). Together, these two sensations will help to flatten the back of the left hand and square the clubface. Once this feeling and look is achieved, the focus needs to move to impact. As the club swings down, the back of the left hand and its knuckles need to rotate down toward the ground to get the club face to square at impact. Then, the front edge of the club chips into the ground to return the clubface with the proper loft.
A neutral clubface and left hand position are one of the keys to a consistently repetitive golf swing. By controlling the club face, you can control the golf ball, which helps to make golf a whole lot more fun.
Tim Cusick is the Director of Instruction at the Four Seasons Resort and Club/Dallas at Las Colinas. The Northern Texas PGA named Cusick Teacher of the Year in 2005, 2009 and 2015, as well as the 2014 Horton Smith Award winner for education. He’s the author of ‘The Four Keys to Improve Your Swing.’ Follow him on Twitter @timcusickgolf and visit his website: timcusickgolf.com.