06 April 2011

Weekly golf programme for the intermediate player

In the next ten weeks this programme will help you to improve you golf. Various different aspects of the game will be included in the programme.


In the next ten weeks this programme will help you to improve you golf. Various different aspects of the game will be included in the programme.

By closely following the programme and with a lot of practice you will soon reap the rewards and break through that elusive 90's barrier. All examples will be used for a right-handed player. Best of luck!

The professionals that will lead you through the programme are Niel Murdoch and Paul Mckenzie.

Week 1

The Set-up position

In the next section we will discuss the set-up position. How you set-up to the golf has a direct influence on the shape of the swing. A good set-up position is essential to a consistent swing.

The set-up position is a static position, which gives us all the ability to do it correctly.

Aim: If you can get the bottom edge of the club at a 90-degree angle to the line stretching from the ball to the target, you will have the club aimed correctly.

Grip: The grip plays a very important role in controlling the clubface and allowing the wrist to hinge.

Follow these steps to grip the club correctly.
Hold the club in the finger line of the left hand so that it crosses the fleshy pad above the small finger and the middle joint on the index finger.
The V formed between your index finger and thumb should be pointing to your right shoulder.
There should also be 3 knuckles visible on the back of the left hand.
The right hand should be gripped in the fingers exclusively.
The small finger on the right hand should overlap or interlock in the groove between the index and the third finger on the left hand.
The right index finger should be like a trigger finger round the grip.
The V on the right hand should also be pointing towards the right shoulder.

Without a good athletic posture it will be impossible for the golfing muscles to perform it correct golfing functions. Follow these steps and get your posture correct.
Stand at full height with the arms fully extended and the shaft parallel to the ground.
Bend over from the hips keeping the spine straight.
Ensure that you push the backside out.
Flex the knees to get comfortable.
Keep the back of the head as an extension of the spine.
Allow the arms to hang freely from the shoulders.
Imagine that you are a goalkeeper in soccer. This mental picture will help you to get in an athletic posture.

Stance: Generally keep the space between your feet shoulder width apart. This may vary for the shorter clubs were they will be closer together and for the woods were they will be further apart.

Alignment: Alignment is a very common problem. The best way to imagine the correct alignment is railway tracks. The furthest line is your ball to target line. The feet, knees, hips, shoulders and even the eyes must be parallel to the line at your feet.

Ball Position: The correct ball position is essential to consistent ball striking. For the short irons (7-sw) place the ball in the middle of the stance. The ball position for the other clubs should be progressively forward finishing with the ball opposite the left heel with the driver.

Unbeknown to most the ball position also affects the alignment. If the ball position is to far forward the shoulders will tend to aim to the left thus creating an out-to-in swing path. The opposite could happen when the ball is to far back in your stance. Ensure that the ball position remains correct to promote consistent strikes.

Week 2

The "Take away"

This week we will discuss the take away. Before we start we need to ensure that we start from the correct set-up position. From an incorrect set-up it will be difficult to make the correct take-away. Make sure that you read he refresher on last week's session first!

The back swing

Having checked the set-up position again you are now ready to start the back swing. The first movement away from the ball should be a one-piece movement. The shoulders, arms and hands move the club away as a unit. If you can imagine a triangle formed between your arms and the shoulders, the triangle should still be retained until approximately waist height.

At this stage the shaft should be parallel to the ball-to-target line and the clubface will match the angle of the spine. The left arm should be extended with the majority of the weight on the inside of the right leg.

You will feel that the left shoulder turns in underneath the chin. At this point the weight of the club swinging upward will hinge the left wrist. The club will now be set in the position. The club will also be on plane. This half swing position will be important to achieve. Next week we will look at completing the back swing.

Week 3

Top of the back swing

This week we reach the top of the back swing position. It is very important to ensure that the set-up and takeaway are correct to ensure a consistent position at the top of the back swing.

One can almost think of the golf swing as a chain reaction. If a preceding movement is incorrect the following movement will be harder to achieve. Sometimes a player will compensate to get into the correct position but this could lead to an inconsistent golf swing.

Ball-to-target line

On completion of the back swing the club shaft will be parallel to the ball-to-target line. The leading edge of the club will be parallel with the left arm. If the leading edge points towards the sky the club face will be shut, resulting in shots going to the left. If the leading edge of the club points down to the ground, the clubface is open, resulting in shot going to the right. Always ensure a square clubface at the top of the back swing to ensure consistent shots.

A very important aspect with regards to consistency is maintaining the spine angle throughout the swing. At the top of the back swing the spine angle should have retained its original position without moving up or down.

Left arm

The left arm will be comfortably straight. The right elbow will be folded almost like a waiter supporting a tray of drinks. A common swing thought was to keep the left arm as straight as possible. If you focus on keeping the left arm extended the right arm will retain its comfortably flexed position.

Back swing

This position will also create more width in the back swing. A wider back swing will create more power, because of a better turn and weight transference. The shoulders will have turned at least 90 degrees. The hips have turned 45degrees. The right knee has retained its flexed position. About 80% of the weight has moved to the inside of the right leg.

The feeling that you need to have at the top of the back swing is that the left shoulder moves over the right knee.

Once you have achieved this fully coiled position at the top of the back swing a lot of the hard work has been done. Next week we will discuss the down swing.

Week 4

Now it is time for gravity to take its course. You have swung the club to the top of the back swing.

(Make sure that you refresh your memory on what we discussed last week)

From the top of the back swing the weight will begin to transfer onto the left side. This move forces the arms into action where they start swinging down the same path they followed on the back swing. The feeling will be that the right shoulder works under the chin as you swing down.


The 90-degree angle between the left arm and the shaft should be retained for as long as possible. The club will then be released with the rotation of the hands and the forearms. This action creates a lot of club head speed and returns the club to the correct position at impact. From here the arms extend towards the target as the forearms and the hands rotate.

Synchronised downswing

A good synchronised downswing is critical in the downswing. The body and the arms must move together in order for the clubface to be square at impact. If the body moves too quickly and the hands too slowly, the club will get trapped behind the body leaving the clubface open.

As you extend towards the target all the weight is transferred onto the left side. Your whole body will be facing towards the target with the right heel off the ground. At this stage you should be able to retain your balance without falling over. You have to remember to maintain your spine angle.

Swing paths and Ball Flights

It is important to understand what produces various types of ball flight. The two most prominent factors that determine the flight of the ball are the clubface position at impact and the swing path.

In terms of a straight shot the swing path will be from inside-to-square-to-inside in relation to the target line at impact. In this case the clubface will be square to the swing path.

Swing path determines the initial direction of the shot with the clubface position determining how the ball will curve in the air. Understanding these factors will make it easier to trace the faults and make the necessary adjustments. Use the following diagram as an example.

For example we will use a slice. The ball starts left of the target, which indicates an out-to-in swing path. From there the ball moves away to the right of the target, which is an open clubface at impact. These factors will provide a clear understanding of where the problem originates.

Week 5


How often have you hit two great shots to get onto the green and from there, taking three putts to get the ball in the hole? The answer is probably yes, and many times!

Putting is where you finish the hole. A bad drive can still be followed up by a great second shot to get into position. If you miss a one-foot putt on the green, that shot is wasted with no chance of recovering.

Putting is not as fundamentally complex as the full swing. A lot of good players have used different techniques over the years. Although a good putting stroke is based on sound fundamentals.

Fundamentals of putting

Aim: The putter face should always be at a 90-degree angle to the intended line of the putt.

Hold: Place the hands on the club so that both palms face each other. Both thumbs will be placed on top of the grip. Extend the left index finger outside the fingers of the right hand. This grip is known as the reverse overlap grip used by the majority of players.

Set-up: Bend over from the hips and get comfortable with the arms hanging straight down from the shoulders. The eyes need to be directly above the ball. With the eyes in this position it becomes easier to line up correctly. The ball should be placed just to the left of centre with the hands slightly ahead of the ball.

Stroke: The stroke itself will be a pendulum movement with the shoulders and the arms working as a unit. No wrists should be used in the putting stroke. During the stroke allow the putter to accelerate through impact. Body and head movement should be kept to the minimum during the putting stroke.

Once you have good fundamentals you can start working on your feel. A lot of golfers think that you cannot learn feel. With good fundamentals and lots of practice you will start developing better feel.

Reading greens
Reading greens plays an important role in being a good putter. This skill is acquired through experience.

Your first observation takes place even before you walk onto the green. Get an idea of the general slope of the area around the green. Greens will always tend to slope away from mountains towards lower lying areas with a good example being a water hazard.

On the green the line should be viewed from both sides of the hole. From behind the ball and from behind the hole. Once you have decided on a line pick a spot on your line, about two foot ahead of the ball, over which you want to roll the ball. If the ball starts over the spot you will have a good chance to hole the putt.

Week 6

For most of us bunker shots are the most frightening prospect on the golf course. In reality, with the proper know how, the shot is actually quite easy to play. Your objective for the bunker shot will be to ensure that you improve your situation by getting the ball out of the bunker onto the green. Don't try and be over ambitious!

The sand wedge is designed in such a way to prevent the club from digging into the sand. The club will instead bounce through the sand taking a thin layer of sand out. The ball will simply rest on top of this layer of sand. The club also has the most loft in a normal set of clubs.

Set-up: Angle the whole body to the left of the target. The clubface should be aimed at your target. Then take your grip. The clubface will now be open which will assist you in getting the ball out of the sand. Keep about 60% of the weight on the front leg. The ball position should be opposite the left heel.

It is very important to make sure that you hit the sand an inch or two behind the ball. Always focus on this point and not at the ball. A very important point to stress is the correct follow through. The follow through will create enough forward momentum to get the ball onto the green. Imagine splashing the sand onto the green, to do this you have to make a long follow through.

Pitching: The pitch shot will be the approach shot to the green where you don't need a full swing. The adjustments that you make in your set up position will promote a shorter controlled swing. Make the following adjustments in your set up position. - feet slightly closer together. - Keep 60% of the weight on the front leg. - Foot alignment slightly open.

The adjustments that you made in your set up will make it easier to keep the back swing shorter. The relationship established between the hands , club and ball should be maintained on the back swing with the wrists hinging. On the through swing the club should be released fully through impact. Make sure that the length of the follow through matches the length of the back swing.

Recheck your putting fundamentals.

  • Aim: the putter face should be at a 90-degree angle to the intended line of the putt.
  • Grip: thumbs on top of the grip. Palms facing each other. Keep the left index finger extended.
  • Set-up: keep the eyes directly over the ball.
  • Stroke: the stroke should feel like a pendulum movement with the shoulders and the arms moving as a unit. Keep the head still.





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