OFF THE GROUND: I'm holding the clubhead just above the grass. This reduces tension in my arms.
Early on, Jack Grout taught Jack Nicklaus to keep the clubhead just off the ground at setup, as I'm doing in the large photo above. Nicklaus never forgot that lesson, and even today doesn't sole the club on any shot. With all the success he's had throughout his career, I'm amazed more golfers don't use this technique.
It requires you to assume a posture that measures out the club to the ball. If you stay in that posture at impact and keep your arms soft, you increase your chances of solid contact. Grout knew that not grounding the club (Nicklaus calls it "unweighting" the club) promotes soft arms, which helped Nicklaus sense the path and speed of the clubhead. Why? When you set the club on the ground at address, moving it off the ground requires a change in grip pressure. That can lead to a jerky, inconsistent takeaway, and inconsistent shots. Unweighting encourages a slow, smooth backswing, a better feel for the clubhead and a consistent ball flight.
There are other benefits:
When you set up to a ball on the ground, if the club isn't soled, you've never technically addressed it. So if the ball moves you'll not be penalized. And you eliminate the unfortunate possibility of causing the ball to move.
It also helps in fairway bunkers. You're making the same swing from the same setup as for a normal shot