How to Plane the Face of the Golf Club
A common question we get asked by our students is “how does the clubface square up at impact if you successfully hold the lag into the impact zone?” The answer is simple; it is your grip that squares the face. The grip is the most important element of clubface direction. When you are swinging on plane with the club face square to the target at impact you will typically hit solid, accurate shots. What we often see are players who release the club early and learn to not allow their hands and arms to release properly (Note: There are two releases here, the release of the lag on the downswing, and the release of the hands and arms rotation through impact). This produces a “hang on” look through impact, an open club face, and an outside-to-inside club head path. When a student improves their lag, this release is delayed and they swing the club more on plane, but often they have to learn to release the rotation of the hands and arms to square the club face.
Most amateur players throw their lag out and create an outside-to-inside club head path, and because of this have to hit the ball with an open clubface. If they were to square the clubface to the club head path they would pull every shot they hit. With an open clubface the ball will start slightly left of target and fade back to where they were aiming. This is an inefficient swing though as it loses a lot of potential power, creates a very inconsistent strike, and will not produce accurate results. Therefore we work with the student to swing on plane with an inside-to-inside club head path and create as much lag as possible.
Once the student is creating lag and is swinging on plane they have to learn to square the clubface in order to hit the ball straight. If they were previously not releasing the club, they will need to learn this motion where their forearms naturally rotate and the club face remains square to the club head path. The grip plays a huge factor in this release. A stronger grip will allow the hands and forearms to rotate more and the clubface to naturally close. A weak grip will mean that the hands and forearms have to be more aggressive in their rotation otherwise the clubface will be open at impact. A classic image of a player not releasing the club properly is the “chicken wing” after impact, where the elbow of the lead arm bends early and prevents the forearms from rotating. If you think that you are maintaining lag into the impact zone, but you are hitting shots that start to the right on your target, try strengthening your grip.
With your grip, a good reference point for most right handed players is to have the “V” formed by the thumb and forefinger of your left hand pointing midway between the buttons on your shirt and you right shoulder at address. This is a neutral grip position for the left hand, and the right hand will then sit on top, with the left thumb connected to the lifeline of the right hand. With your hands in this position you should be able to naturally release the clubface, but of course we are all individuals so you must find what works for you. If you still have an open face at impact, try a stronger grip. If you now have a closed face at impact, try a weaker grip. While learning to release the clubface properly, make sure you are not throwing out any of your lag. It is important here to not regress on any of the improvement you have made. Let your grip square the face and keep the left wrist firm.