InstructionMay 22, 2014

HelpMeGolfDigest: John Bierkan straightens your clubface and tweaks your setup

By Matthew Rudy

Golf Digest Best Young Teacher John Bierkan divides his time between two top-flight clubs. In the summer, he is the director of instruction at the venerable Aronomink Golf Club outside Philadelphia. In winter, he moves to Quail Valley Golf Club in Vero Beach, Fla. He takes his turn this week as guest instructor for #HelpMeGolfDigest, and he picked four hashtagged swings you submitted via Instagram and Twitter.

Reader @kyrazzy77 has a fluid and powerful swing let down by an open clubface. A few subtle setup adjustments should do the trick.

"The overall shape of your swing is very solid, but the clubface is open at address, at the top and down into impact," Bierkan says. "That will produce high shots that lose distance, and it will force you to be very handsy through the ball. When you have to rely on timing like that, it's hard to make consistent, solid contact. Adjust your grip to a slightly stronger position and begin your swing with a subtle forward press -- shifting the handle toward the target. On the takeaway, swing the club straighter back while keeping the face looking more toward the ground. Then swing away."

The second swing comes from @rodriquezis15, who produced this edgy film-noir black-and-white slo-mo of his iron shot. The goal for him is to retain his speed but produce a more consistent trajectory and stop losing shots to the right.

"I really like the freedom and flexibility in your swing," Bierkan says. "You can generate some good speed, which is a great quality to have. To eliminate that right miss, strengthen your left-hand grip one click to the right and allow your arms to swing more around your body in the backswing. Right now, your arms are moving very much up and down. Make those two small changes and I guarantee you'll hit it much straighter."

Blocked tee shots are the bane of @ianzmiller's game. His prescription is a series of setup and backswing adjustments to keep the clubface square through impact.

"I would like to see you drop your right foot back away from the target line, so it feels like you're aiming a few yards more to the right than you're used to," Bierkan says. "Next, adjust your ball position so that it is in line with your left heel. To keep that face square, work on swinging with your left wrist flat and in line with your forearm on the way down to the ball, like it is at the top of your backswing."

The last swing comes from @lililarah, who is looking for more consistency and power off the tee. Her mission is to start from a more relaxed setup and fix a closed clubface in the backswing.

"You have a great looking swing, but I bet you fight shots to the left," Bierkan says. "At the top, your clubface is pointed at the sky -- which means it is extremely closed. I believe you can fix this with some setup adjustments. Let your arms and hands hang down in a more loose and natural position. Look down at your grip and adjust your left hand toward the target so you can see only two knuckles and some of your glove. Too much glove equals too much inconsistency."

Keep submitting your swings with the hashtag #HelpMeGolfDigest. You could see yourself here in the coming weeks.

Follow @RudyWriter

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