Take a leaf from Jack Nicklaus’ book

Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joe Dye with <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Navy">United States Navy</a> - Cropped
“Remember that in your address position you are attempting to mirror your impact position, for all normal shots I establish this impact geometry at address. Because my left shoulder is always closer to the target than the ball, I simply set up with my left arm and the club forming a straight line […] Striking the ball with the hands slightly ahead of the ball is fundamental to solid shot making.” — Jack Nicklaus, Golf My Way

Focus on the hands getting ahead of the curve

If you’re not sure how to shift your weight and open your hips in the downswing, make sure to read article three of this series. It will ensure you understand better how to get your body in the optimal position to strike the ball.

As a reminder, here's what we're trying to achieve:

  1. Hips open (covered in article 3)
  2. Weight on their front side (covered in article 3)
  3. Shaft leaning forward
  4. Hands ahead of the golf ball

Let’s look at the last two conditions.

What we can learn from the Karate Kid

In previous articles I’ve stated that it is important for the hands to be in front of the ball. Why do you want the hands to lead the club face? To understand this we simply have to realize that the best way to transfer optimal energy to a ball is to hit “through” it.

Imagine hitting a nail into a wooden board. As you set up to strike the nail with the hammer, you’ll want to visualize hitting the hammer all the way to the board.

A karateka tasked with breaking ice isn’t thinking about hitting the top layer. He or she is thinking about hitting all the way through al the layers to the floor. They would break their wrist if they didn’t.

In golf we want to the same. We don’t want to hit “at” the ball, we want to hit “through” it. The only way to achieve that is by ensuring we reach full extension (i.e. the line from lead shoulder to club head is straight) in front of the ball. When that is the case, we’re still accelerating when we hit the ball and our transfer of energy is optimal.

Ideal setup position

The golf swing can seem complex. To make sure you don’t complicate things it stands to reason that we set up in a position that closely resembles the position in which we want to strike the ball.

If you want the hands to lead the clubface through impact, then logically you don’t want to set up with the hands behind the club face.

Sweeping it up

Clay Ballard from Top Speed Golf explains in this video how the hands move through the impact zone.
The key elements:

  • Drag the hands through the impact zone
  • Feel like your left shoulder is moving up and out
  • Release the club down

Practice the position

Videos, images and text can only do so much. To find that perfect position you’ll have to practice. There are a number of training aids that can help you find the ideal impact position and build consistency in your golf swing. I’ll be discussing a few of my favorites in upcoming articles.