[Lessons with Pak Se-ri] Pak’s champion setup and grip tips
Pak was the first Korean golfer to play on the LPGA Tour when she joined the tour in 1998. Pak’s victory at the 1998 U.S. Women’s Open encouraged many Korean women to play golf. She is the leader of the game in Korea and has encouraged many generations of LPGA players such as Park In-bee and Choi Na-yeon, who followed her footsteps into the LPGA.
Golf is a sensitive sport, so it’s important to know the basics to improve your swing. Pak Se-ri’s Champion lesson begins with the proper grip and setup.
Not many amateur golfers have proper grip. Many tend to change their grip to be more comfortable. This can include overlapping or interlocking one’s pinky and index finger, or using a baseball grip.
The most common type of grip is called “overlapping grip,” in which the right pinky is placed over the left index finger. For the “interlocking grip,” the right pinky is positioned between the left index finger and the middle finger. This allows players to grip their clubs more firmly and is recommended for players who have weaker grip strength.
The baseball grip is not recommended since the hands are separated.
Based on the position of the club, players can have a square, hook or a slice grip. In a square grip, also known as a neutral grip, the hands are positioned above the mid-line of the club. When gripping a club, if one’s left hand is more visible, this is a hook grip. If the right hand is more visible, that is a slice grip.
“I have a neutral grip,” said Pak, noting that in this case, the left index finger is important. “When you grip with only your left hand, it’s important to have your thumb more on the right side of the club.”
Once the left thumb is placed at a right position, then the right hand is placed on top of it.
When gripping, the left hand plays a bigger role than the right hand.
Once the grip is good, next is the setup. Many amateur golfers tend to place their ball in the middle when they set up. When asked why, many often say, “It’s easier to make contact.” It may be easier to make contact, but if the ball is placed in the middle, it actually makes it harder to transfer weight at impact.
It’s normal to position the ball in the middle when using mid-irons, but for long irons and woods, it’s better to position the ball on the left side of one’s stance. However, for short irons, it’s better to position the balls on the right side.
After ball position, the next important thing is weight and posture. When setting up, it is best to gently lift the club and place it down. The gap between the end of the club and one’s body should be about one fist.
One’s feet should be parallel to each other.
“I used to open my left foot, but now, they are parallel,” said Pak. If a player is flexible, it’s better to have their feet parallel. On the downswing, it’s easier to maintain strength on the left leg if the feet are parallel. However, if the left foot is open, it will be easier to transfer weight to the left leg on impact.
“For feet position, players can find the one that best works for them,” Pak said.