July 8, 2007

Open the face slightly

Jack says that's better than square or closed

Having spent quite a bit of time with Jack Nicklaus over the years, I'm continually impressed with his insight. That's why I often ask him questions to further my understanding of the game and improve my teaching.

Not long ago I asked Jack if he preferred to address the ball with the clubface open, square or closed. Jack looked at me with that piercing stare: "I've never seen a really good player set it square or closed at address," he said.

Then he explained that because you generally set the club so the face is one-quarter inch or so behind the ball, it needs to be slightly open to the target line at that point. If it looked square and you didn't manipulate it during the swing, when the club returned to impact it would be slightly closed, causing a hook.

Setting the clubface slightly open at address allows you to:

• Release the club fully without fear of hooking.

• Swing the club naturally with relaxed arms for maximum clubhead speed—and therefore more distance.

• Develop better feel for how the club is aligned as it swings through impact.

Ranked in the top 10 by his peers among Golf Digest's 50 Greatest Teachers, Flick is based at the TaylorMade Learning Center in Carlsbad, Calif.