By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, PGA TOUR Academy
One of the things I like about John Merrick’s golf swing is how he uses the clubface. Merrick keeps it very square during the backswing, leading to very little clubface rotation throughout his swing.
Clubface angle can be measured when the shaft is halfway back during the backswing and parallel to the ground. At this point, a square clubface is when the toe is slightly down so the angle of the clubface (grooves) is not pointing straight up but rather down at a slight angle.
This clubface angle is an important one because it sets the stage on how Merrick and so many other PGA TOUR players deliver the clubface through impact. Players who set the clubface square during the backswing need less clubface rotation coming down through impact in order to square the face. These players can often times be more instinctive on the downswing because of the lack of concern to square the clubface.
In order to achieve a square clubface going back, here are two tips:
1) Stronger grip: Make sure your hands are on the grip where the “V” you form between the thumb and first finger points towards the right ear/shoulder. The more you move your hands to the right on the grip (for a right-handed golfer), the less likely you will be to open the clubface during the backswing. Conversely, the more you move your hands to the left on the grip, the less likely you will be to close the club face during the backswing. The grip for you is one that achieves a square clubface, which for most amateurs needs to be a little stronger.
2) Left-hand knuckle count: Once the shaft reaches parallel to the ground during the backswing make sure you can see roughly the same knuckle count on the lead hand as you did at address. If you can see two knuckles at address on the lead hand, then you should see these same two knuckles at this half-way checkpoint during the backswing. This will teach you the right amount of rotation during the backswing in order to achieve a square clubface, just like John Merrick.
Travis Fulton is the Director of Instruction at the TOUR Academies at TPC Sawgrass and the World Golf Village. For more information on the TOUR Academy, click here.