Here are some tricks I use to get a basic, fundamental setup:
- Aim: Stand behind the ball to get aim line (starting line relative to the target); pick a spot on the ground a foot or so in front of the ball that's on the aim line--focus on that spot as you address the ball
- Alignment: Take standing position on the side of the ball with club held out in front; align parallel to the line created by the ball and the spot you picked in the first step; back is straight
- Stance: In general, set the left foot perpendicular to the target line and flare the right foot out slightly. Foot position can be adjusted to encourage ball flights but one should NEVER move the left foot from its address position during the swing
- Posture: Unlock the Pelvis: Bend from the hips at address, such that the rear end protrudes SLIGHTLY to balance the torso; the pelvis should be inline with the torso. When the pelvis is locked, the pelvis is more inline with the legs, the back is in a C posture, and the body is already preset to stand up and lose the primary torso tilt, either going back or coming down. Don't go too far or you'll have the opposite problem with and S posture. If you feel unstable at address, check for this. The back is still straight; now bend the knees; arms should hang but shoulders should feel pulled back (if they droop the the upper back is drooping); this will look and feel as if you're establishing a tripod created by your legs and the club, and you will be looking in on your hands; another feel is that you're squatting to sit down on a stool (Updated 15 Jan 2015)
- Posture: At address, the sternum or the middle of the chest will be pointing to the ground at a certain angle, pointing more down with short clubs and less down with long clubs. Note this position of the sternum, for it represents the "return cover angle" (the primary torso tilt or spine angle) of the chest needed during the downswing to maintain posture and hit the ball solidly (Updated 1 Dec 14)
- Posture: Preset secondary axis or torso tilt by concentrating the weight onto the inside of the right foot and ticking the right knee in slightly; the upper body should then tilt slightly away from the target and the head should be preset behind the ball; this will allow for a centered pivot without swaying off the ball (Reverse K Position)
- Set-up: Ensure that the elbows are straight, close together, pointed down, and in front of the torso; the upper arms should be somewhat across the top of the chest
- Stance: Weight should be on heels at this point, so shift it slightly forward into the balls of the feet (mid-foot or arches)
- Stance: Take small adjustment steps to align the club to the ball and target line
- Set-up: (Ball position) Looking down at the hands and the ball at address, the hands should be, generally speaking, just in front of the ball for irons and just on top of or maybe slightly behind the ball for woods; the proper way to get the ball and hand position is with stance adjustments left or right (do not use the arms to get this hand position, i.e., forward press)
- Alignment: Finally, ensure that the shoulder line is parallel to the knee, hip, and aim lines
- Set-up: The belt buckle should be angled down toward the target/starting line, and the butt of the club should point at the belt buckle
My first typical error is to allow my pelvis to get into an un-protruded position, which fundamentally alters the posture and can lead to several errors, including thin and fat shots. A symptom that this is happening is that your shoulders will begin to droop and you will lose the feeling that the arms and club are hanging from the shoulders (i.e., the elbows and forearms may start touching the belly area, depending on your physical condition).
My second typical (and biggest) error is to leave my shoulders too level and turned slightly open, unconsciously aimed off to the left. This ironically FEELS right because the right hand is lower on the club and naturally pulls the right shoulder toward the aim line. But the correct position is such that the back of the left shoulder is slightly facing targetward; the correct FEEL for me is that the shoulders are aligned pointing slightly right, when in reality the shoulders are aligned parallel to the knees, hips, and aim line. Here's a test: set up in the correct posture holding a pitching wedge with the arms hanging. Now let go of the wedge and see where the arms hang. If they hang in the same plane the shoulder alignment is good; if the shoulder line is aimed too far left or right then the arms will hang unevenly. Turning the shoulders slightly rightward to improve alignment also gets the head behind the ball and automatically lowers the right shoulder.
My third typical error is to let my arms start bending and bowing slightly outward; my elbows separate and point outward instead of down.
My fourth typical error is to let the ball position relative to my swing center get too far forward, which, depending on the club face at impact, can cause pulls, pull-hooks, or slices. It's important to first "setup the crane and wrecking ball" and then "walk that crane into position," (Shawn Clement) such that the hands are just ahead of the ball for irons and either on top of or maybe slightly behind the ball for longer clubs (for driver, the ball isn't as far forward as you might think, especially for a draw). This works because the hands should be in the same position relative to the middle of the body for all clubs at address.
Along those lines, if you're losing shots to the right (i.e., straight-slicing, pushing or push-slicing), try moving the ball forward in your stance a few inches, especially with the driver, woods, and even the putter (Leadbetter). Keep in mind that this can exacerbate pulls and pull-hooks, so back off if that becomes the issue. (Updated 5 Aug 14)
Note that these setup steps don't account for unusual lies or stance adjustments for shot shape, so aspects may change for uphill, side hill, down hill, desired ball flights, etc.
Make sure you have a good knee bend and a nice bend from the hips. Your arms should hang down in your setup so there is a slight angle between your forearms and your golf club shaft. Your weight should be on the balls of your feet or towards the middle.
1. Stand tall with a slight knee bend from the hips.
2. You should feel a pelvic tilt (butt out) with a flat back as you bend over.
3. Weight on the balls of your feet.
Once you are in this position stick your butt out. The reason for sticking your rear end out is to bring your center of gravity to a point over your arches.
With your weight in the middle of your feet you are in a dynamic position, you can swing the golf club to and fro and maintain good balance and that is the key to a good, solid, repeatable golf swing.
Chris DiMarco said his renewed golf swing is all in the butt. As in, sticking it out.
"My wife said, 'you used to stick your butt out like you were wearing a dress,'" DiMarco told the media after he fired a 68 in the first round at the Ballantine's Championship in South Korea. "It's amazing, the simplicity of it. Sure enough, that just kind of kicked everything right into gear and I have hit so many sold shots all week.
Often your stance can look and feel square to you but your hips and shoulders will be several degrees off line.
Point the butt of the club at your belt buckle and your belt line toward the ball.
As we reach slightly lower with our right hand to grip the club, our right shoulder moves down and forward slightly and our right hip moves forward just a little bit.
Slight as they are, these movements "open" our body to the ball. You can see the effect more easily if you drop your right hand a foot down the shaft from the left.
The effect of this "opening" is threefold. It causes us to aim to the left, restricts our backswing and shoulder turn, and puts us in a position to hit from the outside in before we have even started the club back.
Strive to keep your hands just SLIGHTLY ahead of the ball at address with all of your clubs. If you find you're pushing your shots you can bring them back to even with the ball. If your hands are really slow you can adjust them to just a tad "behind" the ball. No more.
With the driver, most golfers play the ball too far forward and stand too far away from it. This might feel powerful, but it sets some bad things in motion.
The final step in our setup is to simply march over to the golf ball. From the setup position with the clubhead resting on the ground at the center of the stance, simply shuffle over to the ball while maintaining setup posture. Basically we create the setup while standing a few inches too far away from the ball, then slide the clubhead up behind the ball as the feet take a small step forward. We literally use the club as a yardstick to measure the body distance from the ball.
The hand position at address should be as close as possible to the position you want your hands to come into the ball at impact.
For an iron shot, where you need the club coming down into impact, you place the hands forward of the ball and in front of the club head so the shaft and left arm are in a straight line.
For a driver off the tee, where you need to hit the ball into the air, the hands should be opposite or even behind the ball slightly. The higher you want to hit the ball, the further behind the ball you have the hands when hitting off the tee.