You could have the best swing in the world but if your club face isn’t square at impact, you’re in for a challenging round. Very simply, if you can square up the face, you can become an extremely consistent golfer.
And if you want to show lower scores, you need to have some sort of consistency in your swing. Hopefully, paired with a great short game, you can give yourself plenty of chances to shoot some of your best rounds.
But it’s easier said than done. Typically the less experienced you are at golf, the more you manipulate the clubface during the swing. The more you manipulate, the harder it is to get back to square at impact.
A lot of amateurs want to shoot lower scores but often forget something as basic as the face at impact position. It’s easy to think about the swing path and alignment, but the clubface at impact ultimately determines where the ball starts.
Here’s how you can learn to square the clubface consistently and produce some of your best shots yet:
If you’re like most golfers, any time you watch the PGA Tour on TV or play with a great golfer, you idolize how they compress the golf ball. You think how pure it sounds when they strike it and want that in your game.
The problem is that most amateurs don’t get their hand and clubface in the right position to create those type of shots. There are a few main reasons the clubface gets off track during the course of your swing.
This video is a great starting point to identify the big three:
For all you guys out there that love Golf technology, a good launch monitor can help you determine exactly where the clubface is pointing at impact and can quickly speed up your clubface awareness. But for the purpose of this article, I’m going to assume you are not using a launch monitor:
The first thing to look at in the quest to square up the club face is your grip. Start by evaluating your left hand and how you hold the club.
Is it too underneath, too over the top of the grip or perfectly gripped with your fingers gripping the club. A common error golfers make is to have the grip in the pad of the hand instead of the fingers.
You want to make sure to have the heel pad is on the top of the grip so you can see both the index finger and middle finger knuckles. This makes it easy to rotate your shoulders and come back to impact square. More on the relationship with the right hand the clubface coming up.
The second thing to address is your takeaway. The way you take the club back plays a huge role in determining your clubface as well.
Most amateur players take the club back with way too must wrist activity. This leads to the right and left shoulders on a level plane to start the backswing. If you need a visual representation, make sure to watch the Youtube video above at 1:30 mark.
If you watch PGA pros and skilled amateurs, you’ll notice the right elbow is actually higher on the way back. This allows a good shoulder tilt and keeps your forearm on top, which helps keeps the clubface square.
A good way to check this in your swing is to record your takeaway. Make sure to record your swing from the front angle to see if you’re taking the club too far inside on the way back.
The last thing you need to look for is what the clubface is doing on your downswing. Even if both of these first two items are fine, you can still lose the clubface position on the downswing. This is easy to do and leads to some huge misses and bigger scores on the course.
If you lay the club back of vertical, you’ll have to make a huge correction on the way down. Ideally, you want the club coming slightly from the inside with the toe slightly shut to get the club square at impact.
Sometimes it’s hard for amateurs to get the hang of this at first. Here’s a visual way to think about squaring up the clubface as well.
- Take a normal grip with your driver and address a ball teed up on the range.
- Open your right hand and rest it along the shaft. Your palm should be facing the target and your fingers pointed down the shaft. Do you notice how your palm mirrors the angle of the clubface?
- Make a practice swing with your hand still on the shaft and one hand on the grip. You’ll notice that if you let the clubface rotate on its own, the palm moves underneath the shaft as you complete your backswing.
- On the downswing, your palm should rotate back to its square position at impact. This simple visual representation should remind you that the right palm mirrors the clubface.
- Repeat this drill a few times to start to understand the correlation between the hand and clubface.
Not only will this help your consistency, it might even help you stop slicing the golf ball. As top instructor David Leadbetter said, “Understanding the relationship between the right palm and the clubface is a great way to fix a slice—it encourages the club to come down inside on a shallower plane, helping to produce a draw.”
Theory is great but I want to provide you with useful examples to help you square the clubface consistently as well.
Here are some of the best drills so you can take this to these tips to the practice tee.
As seen in the video above, this drill is a great way to help you square the clubface the next time you’re on the range. Start by getting a 7 or 8 iron and setup for a half-swing with a slightly narrow stance. Make sure your grip is correct so you’re set up for success as well.
You want to try to take the club back about 50-75% with minimum effort. The goal is not to hit the ball a long way, it’s to train your body to reduce clubhead movement.
Refer to 2:50 in the video as well:
- Check the club face on the way back to make sure it’s hasn’t moved much. You want the club slightly inside your hands and slightly shut.
- Try to swing out toward the target with very little face rotation. Repeat this drill 10-15 times to engrain the feeling.
This is another awesome drill from Maggs Golf. As he notes in the video below, golfers know they need to compress the golf ball to hit it square but constantly struggle in doing so. And this is super important because it happens to so many players.
When you try to square the clubface and have your hands ahead of the ball some players might leave the face open, which will shoot the ball right. After a few misses, most golfers will get frustrated, overcompensate and end up making a few corrections that make it even worse. This leads to scooping, casting the club too early or the duck and dive move.
- Grip the club at the hosel so the shaft is to the left of your body. Use an alignment rod to set up square and have a tee about two feet behind the ball. (Important: you don’t actually hit the ball with this first step, it’s all about watching the way the clubface moves during your swing.)
- On the way back, make sure the butt of the grip is pointed toward the tee. Shift the weight to your heel and start turning with your lower body. This move will square the clubface.
- You want the wrist slightly bowed so you square the face, compress the ball, and have your belt buckle facing the target.
- Once completed, rotate back and forth between this part of the drill and hitting small, punch shots to hit it pure.
Another common error on the downswing is a violent unwind of the golf club. Players tend to make this make if they are trying to really rip it and start with their upper body instead of their lower body.
But to compress the ball you need to have a square clubface at impact. And that starts by beginning the swing with your lower body, not the upper. This drill should help:
Check out this drill at the 5:55 mark of the video:
- Find a chair at your range so you work on timing your downswing better.
- Tee up a driver, sit in the chair and go nice and smooth. (Yes, this will feel weird and might get some looks at the driving range.)
- Hit a few balls to understand how important it is to swing with your lower body, not your upper body. This is such a good drill if you’re suffering a huge pull slice with your driver!
Hopefully, one of these three drills will resonate with your game and help you square up the clubface consistently at impact.
If you want to start shooting lower scores, you need to start developing clubface awareness. If you can consistently square the clubface at impact, you’ll find it easier to hit it pure and stop having the big miss that sabotage your good rounds.
Start by evaluating where you are now and look for the big three errors. Then, use one of these drills that works best to help you learn the feeling of squaring up the club. I recommend trying them all and one will likely be more effective than others.
Practice and repeat. If things start going awry in the future, make sure to get back to the basics and focus on controlling the clubface.