Set Up (Address)
The manner in which you set up to the ball is essential to making a good golf swing. (Note: Throughout this e-book, the terms “set up” and “address” will be used interchangeably
Your set up sets the stage for all subsequent aspects of the game. A golf swing is a process, with each action leading to the next. When all of the elements are performed correctly, the end result is a good, solid golf shot.
The opposite is true as well. If your set up is not correct, your chances of hitting a good shot are diminished.
So, your set up is the first key to a good, solid golf shot.
Many of the most common golf mistakes—including the dreaded hook and slice—are the result of the player not holding the club correctly.
If your golf shots have been veering left, right, or in directions you were not planning, check your grip. When your grip is off, your shot will be off, too.
Your grip should be neutral–not too strong or too weak. The best way to check this is to look down at your hands as you hold your club in your normal stance.
For most golfers, a neutral grip will show at least two knuckles on the left hand, sometimes three. You should not see more than three knuckles.
If you do not see two or three knuckles when looking at your grip, rotate your hands—not your club shaft, just your hands—until you do. Your left thumb should be running down the top of the shaft, if using the overlap grip.
When you look at your grip, you should see a “V” formed on the right hand, between the index fingers and the thumb. This “V” should be pointing at your right shoulder. If it is not, make adjustments until it is.
Golfers often find that this simple hand adjustment will cure their hook, slice, or other problem.
Another very common grip problem involves tightness. Your grasp on the club should be medium-level, at most. Holding the club too tightly will restrict your movements during the swing. Holding it too loosely may cause the head to wobble at impact, resulting in a slice caused by the face opening.
Later, we will discuss the importance of a pre-shot routine, during which many experienced golfers incorporate a visual check of their grip. You should too.
The next most common mistake many golfers make is not aligning their body properly as they address the ball. Even a great golf swing will suffer if the player is not aligned properly to the target. Alignment is crucial for all golf shots, including putting.
The first step to proper alignment is target selection.
Your target will depend on the type of shot you are making. The best place to make this decision is from behind the ball. Once you have chosen your target, the next step is to place your club head on the ground, in line with the target, as you begin the other steps of your address posture.
If you watch a professional playing, you will often see him or her set the club face first and then go into their address stance. This is an effective strategy and one you should incorporate into your game right away.
Now, you can begin to take your stance by aligning your shoulders, hips, and feet on a line just left of the target line.
Avoid the temptation to “shut the face” of the club. This happens when the club face is pointing directly at the target and your body is aligned directly at the target, usually resulting in a hook.
In golfing terms, posture is comprised of several parts of the body, adjusted for the specific purpose of making an effective golf swing.
Correct posture during set up is critical to a good hit. If any component of your posture is wrong, your shot will suffer. It is that simple.
Here are the key elements to a proper golfing posture.
Stance is the position of your feet as you address the ball. For most golf shots, your feet should be in alignment with the target.
There are three types of stances you can take when addressing the ball. Learning how to use each stance to your advantage can significantly improve your game.
The Square Stance
This is the most common stance, used when you want to fire off a straight shot, often regarded as the basic stance. Perfecting the square stance is crucial to a successful golf game.
With the square stance, your feet are aimed just left of the target so that if you drew a line from just left of the target to the toes of your shoes, all three points would connect.
The Open Stance
The open stance is when your left foot is pulled back (back toward your rear). The rest of your body, including your shoulders, will stay square. This stance is important for certain shots, such as sand play and chipping.
Taking an open stance will cause the ball to fly to the right. If done deliberately, this is called a draw. If done by mistake, it is a slice.
The Closed Stance
A closed stance is when the left foot is moved forward. This position is often the reason for hooking the ball, as it causes an inside to outside swing path.
The Width of Your Stance
The distance between your feet is also important, and often varies between shots. For most golfers, the stance should never be more than shoulder-width, which is the driver stance for most players.
The rule of thumb for foot distance is simple: long clubs=wider stance. Short clubs=narrower stance.
Ball position is also important to posture. Because you cannot move the ball to fit your posture, you have to set your posture to fit the ball and the type of shot you are making.
When playing your short irons, it is best to have the ball in the middle of your stance. This allows for the descending type of blow you want to put on the ball.
When playing your fairway woods and long irons, position yourself so the ball is just to the left of your center line. This puts the ball a little closer to your left foot than your right.
When using your driver or any of the longer fairway woods, position the ball more or less in line with your left heel.
Don’t move your head! How many times have we all heard that one? The truth is, you cannot make a good golf swing without moving your head.
What experts mean when they tell you to keep your head still is to refrain from lifting your head or allowing head movement to move you out of your posture position.
If you try to keep your head perfectly still, you will lose much of the power your body generates during the swing process. It’s fine for your head to move slightly as you make your swing—the trick is making sure it stays behind the ball, from start to impact.
The Basic Golf Swing
Once you have positioned your body correctly for the type of shot you are making, it is time to hit the ball. Let’s take a look at the basic golf swing process.
As you begin to bring the club back, keep your arms straight. Your left arm should remain straight throughout the swing, but your right arm will bend at the elbow once it reaches waist level.
When bringing the club back from the, focus on staying on the right swing path by bringing the club back smoothly and low to the ground.
Note: If you are making a FULL golf swing, try to bring the club back until it is parallel with the ground, or as far back as you can.
Some golf shots require less than a full swing, and you will need to bring the club back only as far as those shots dictate.
One of the keys to a successful backswing is allowing your body’s pivot motion to work in tandem with the weight shift required for a powerful shot.
As you get into your backswing, try to shift your weight smoothly to your right side. Do not sway. Your right hip should not go past your right foot.
Your right shoulder will begin to point upwards as the left shoulder moves downward. Keep your head behind the ball, but allow it to move horizontally.
In a smooth backswing, your hips and back will move together. Avoid rotating your hips too much. If you achieve a natural position, this will take care of itself. If you feel yourself forcing it, you are going too far.
At the top of your backswing, pause and then move smoothly into your downswing.
Many golfers make the big mistake of allowing their hands to begin the downswing, which only leads to trouble. Instead, allow your hips to start the process.
The downswing begins as your left hip shifts your weight onto your left foot. When done properly, the process flows naturally from hips, to shoulders, to arms, to club. This is critical to gaining the maximum club head speed for long drives and fairway shots.
The Follow Through
A lot of golfers dismiss the importance of the follow through. Good follow through is essential for all golf shots, not just drives.
Once you hit the ball, allow your hips to continue to pivot, your arms and shoulders following naturally. In a full golf swing, you want your eyes, shoulders, chest, and hips to face your target.
Perfecting the follow through is an integral part of perfecting the golf swing process.
Now that we have covered some of the basics, let’s get started with your 30 Day Program to Become a Better Golfer.