Before the ShotIn the feast of life golf is one of the desserts, and since in such a comparison you could not eat a meal without first preparing it, it is obviously true that you can not execute a good golf shot without making the necessary preliminary preparations.
I have observed many beginners at the game - and some old-timers as well — who seemed to have the idea that once the ball was teed great haste was required of them to get it hit and over with. One of the first things the beginner must learn and one of the hardest golf lessons she must master is that golf is not a game of haste when the shot is being made. A hasty shot is invariably a poor shot. That is one rule of the game for which there is no exception.
Addressing the BallThe preliminaries for a golf swing are known as the address of the ball. The new player must understand that if the ball is not properly addressed the succeeding stroke will not be properly made and no distance or accuracy will result from the blow of clubhead on the ball.
The player who steps up to the ball and quickly puts his feet into the place for a square or open stance will, if he analyzes his movements find that such haste in the matter leaves him with a vise-like grip on his golf club and every muscle in his body tightened, with a general feeling of discomfort.
The proper address is an adjustment of weight that results in a feeling of ease and comfort. And it should be the same for all clubs. The player is wrong who assumes that wooden club shots take time, while those with irons are simply to be whisked away. I have explained often that the golf irons really are the difficult clubs to master. Watch the address with great care when using the golf iron. The ball, being closer to the ground than when hit from the tee, has a tendency to confuse and disturb the new player somewhat.
I always stand, first, with my feet close together when I first step up to the ball. I hold the club I am to use lightly in my hands. Standing well back I place the club head at right angles, back of the ball, to the direction line the ball is to follow. With the club in this position, I hold it, loosely, with one or both hands. The reason for not gripping your clubhead and taking your stance before putting the clubhead down is to be sure that the club head will be in a position to hit the ball smoothly; that is so neither corner of the club will dig into the ground or in any way interfere with the stroke.
Position The Golf ClubThis proper positioning of the club is important as a preliminary to the making of a successful shot because it has almost everything to do with the direction the ball will take when hit. Be sure that the club is squared up properly for the right direction; the least variation will mean a hook or slice.
There are a lot of tricks to be performed by turning the faces of the different club out or in preliminary to the stroke, but these are in the higher realms of golf, and I give you my word that only the finished player can execute them. Thus, when you see a professional doing things with his clubs which are strange to you, don't assume that your own game will be quickly improved through these experiments with the club faces. Chances are your game will be ruined. Stick close to the orthodox methods. Even those players who can successfully manipulate the club faces will tell you that the old and proved methods have never been improved upon and that they make shots in an orthodox manner, except when they feel they can risk, a stroke by trying for some special play.
Take plenty of time on the tee or at the ball on the fairway or green before you make your shot. Don't, of course, fall into the habit — irritating to others — of fussing with the ball a seemingly interminable time, as some golfers unfortunately do, but take enough time so that you are sure your shot is not rushed.
Carry up to the ball with you, at every shot, this thought: A rushed golf shot is almost always, a poor golf shot; get comfortable and relaxed, then hit it.