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Flick And Nicklaus: Starting Your Swing

Jack's routine gives you a feel for the clubhead

Nicklaus

Walk Into The Shot: Take your stance from behind the ball, and handle the club to feel its weight.

March 2011

JACK NICKLAUS: As Jim Flick demonstrates above, an effective way to start the golf swing begins from behind the ball, a few seconds before you even take your stance.

I began spot-lining at the 1970 British Open at St. Andrews because I was having a horrible time aligning myself with targets that were 300 yards away; there are so many wide-open spaces at the Old Course. So I tried picking a spot on my line that was between three and 10 feet away. That was much easier to line up with. It worked OK there, and since then I've played almost every shot that way.

I also started holding the club in the fingers of my right hand -- lightly -- as I looked at my intermediate target. I'd complete my grip as I walked into my stance. This gave me a consistent way to begin each swing and got me into a nice rhythm. If I'm visualizing a fade, I might start this process with the face open; for a draw, less so. So I'm creating a feel in my hands for the shot I'm about to play.

JIM FLICK: In the golf schools I did with Jack a few years ago, we called this pre-shot routine Club Toss 101. It's a way of helping golfers identify and gain sensitivity for the weight of the club as they prepare to play the shot. For Jack, it's been a distinctive trigger to start his swing for much of his career.

Lee Trevino danced into his setup; Nick Faldo fidgeted into his. Jack used Club Toss 101. I like the way he walks into the shot from behind the ball, sighting his target from down the line while feeling the weight of the club. That helps him establish a smooth tempo and lets him react to a mental image of his ball flight.

Because he starts with the club in his right hand only, it immediately increases his feel for how he wants to apply the clubhead to the ball. He does this with virtually all his clubs. You should try it, but only if you want to get better.

NICKLAUS writes articles only for Golf Digest.

FLICK, a longtime Golf Digest Teaching Professional and PGA Golf Professional Hall of Famer, worked with hundreds of amateurs and tour players including Jack Nicklaus.

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