If you watch golf on TV often enough you’ll start to notice that even among the best players in the world, there are a lot of different swings. From player to player the swings can look wildly different, yet they all get great results. This just goes to show that there truly is more than one way to get it done when it comes to hitting a golf ball.
Yet, if you watch a little closer, you will notice something else – most of their stances look awfully similar. Sure there are slight variations from one to another, but for the most part, the way the professional golfers address the ball is more alike than it is different. These similarities speak to the importance of the stance, and why you should take extra care to make sure yours in in good shape.
What a Good Setup Does For You
If you are just getting started in the game, you might not think that a proper golf stance could be all that important. After all, the club isn’t even moving yet, how could the stance really make a difference? Think of the stance as a roadmap to the rest of the swing. The position that your body is in pre-swing is going to dictate the path that your club takes once it starts moving. It is actually difficult to make a bad swing from a good stance, but it is very easy to make a poor swing from a bad stance.
Let’s talk about the three elements of a good golf stance, and then we will get into how you can create one for yourself.
- Feet Near Shoulder Width Apart: This is an approximate position, as some players prefer to have their feet just inside shoulder width, while others are more comfortable just outside shoulder width. The important thing on this point is that you don’t stray too far to one extreme or the other. A stance that is overly wide will limit your rotation and cost you valuable distance. A narrow stance might make it easier to turn, but you will quickly fall off balance, and have trouble striking the ball solidly. With your feet at shoulder width, you balance those two extremes and get the best combination of rotational freedom with a stable base.
- Even Weight Distribution: Balance is one of the golden rules in golf. A golfer that is off-balance during their swing is a golfer that will soon be searching through the trees for his or her ball. Starting out in a golf stance that has your weight evenly distributed between both feet will make it easier to balance during the swing.
- ‘Sitting’ Position: Using your legs is important throughout the entire golf swing, but this is especially true at the start. Your stance should feel somewhat like you are sitting in an imaginary chair, with the big muscles of your upper legs engaged. This sitting position will cause your knees to bend into an athletic stance, and prepare you for the motion you are about to make. Standing straight-legged robs you of potential power and the ability to make a full turn in your backswing.
How to Build Your Golf Stance
A good golf stance is important to your continued improvement, and being able to make the same stance time after time is also vital. While you might not think of the stance as being something you need to practice like your swing or your putting stroke, it does require some effort to build a good one. This might not be the most exciting part of being a golfer, but your efforts will be rewarded.
In order to find the right stance position for you, try doing the three following drills – each one aimed at getting you comfortable with a specific element of the stance. Once all three of these have been completed, you should be left with a solid stance that is ready to hit some great shots.
1. Finding the Right Width for Your Feet
We know that you should be standing with your feet around shoulder width apart, but just how far exactly is that? And how can you tell while looking down at your feet? Here is a simple drill that will take away all of the confusion.
Start by moving your body into a finish position as if you had just hit a shot and you are watching it sail down the fairway. Your right heel should be up in the air, and almost all of your weight should be on your left foot (the opposite for lefties). From that position, ‘unwind’ your imaginary swing so that you are back at an address position. Where did your feet end up? This is exactly where they should start.
2. Getting Your Balance
To make sure you are balanced at the start of your swing, get into your stance without holding onto a club. Now, gently roll up onto the balls of your feet, hop into the air, and land softly by flexing your knees just slightly. Naturally, your body will land in a balanced position with your weight out toward the balls of your feet – perfect for a golf stance. You obviously don’t need to hop into the air every time you address the ball – just complete the drill a few times to get the feel and you will be on your way.
3. Establishing a Comfortable Sitting Position
In order to figure out just how much flex should be in your knees at address, try bending them a little too far to test the limits on your stance. Again, take your stance without holding onto a club. Start flexing your knees and ‘sitting’ into the stance a little bit at a time. Keep going until you start to feel like it is getting hard to hold your stance and your legs are having to work too hard to keep balanced. Now, stand back up slightly until your legs are more comfortable. At the point when you feel the pressure start to be released on the front of your legs (quadriceps), you have found a base on which to build your swing.