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Technique - Posture and Alignment
 Address Setup: Stance, Posture and Alignment 

One characteristic feature of a golf swing is the fact that a golfer swings the club across the front of the body, while the body is aligned at right angles to the ball-target line. That fact makes it difficult to aim accurately. Another complicating issue is the fact that the clubhead moves on an inclined swing path that is tilted approximately 45 degrees from the horizontal, and the body has to swivel around in such a manner that the ideal swingpath is consistently realised. Because the body's address posture and subsequent movement is subservient to the clubhead's ideal swingpath, the body has to adopt a stance and posture at address, that will allow a perfect swingpath to occur naturally and consistently from swing-to-swing.

When watching a PGA tournament on TV, I always admire the athletic posture and perfect body alignment of PGA tour players as they get into their address position. PGA tour players always appear to have the correct body angles at setup and their 'lively' posture gives them an enviable aura of athleticism. They appear to be in a state of perfect readiness to be able to swing the club at high velocity while maintaining perfect coordination and perfect balance throughout the swing. This section of the review will examine their approach to the address setup, and I will primarily be dealing with the body's position at address, with a major focus on stance, body posture, ball position and body alignment

Address setup

Consider the appearance of a world-class PGA tour player at address.


Aaron Baddeley - from reference number [1]

One can sense the pure 'athleticism' of Aaron Baddeley's setup posture. He seems perfectly poised to start the backswing. He appears to be in perfect balance and also perfectly aligned relative to the ball-target line. There appears to be a sense of ' liveliness' in his stance that will allow his body to move fluidly during the swing.

The same perfect posture can be seen in Nick Faldo's address position - using a short iron (when using a short iron, Faldo has a slightly more bent-over posture and his arms hang down more vertically from the shoulders causing his hands to be closer to his thighs).

Faldo at address- from reference number [2]

There are so many features of Nick Faldo's address position that are perfect -- foot stance width, degree of bend in the knees (more flexed than Aaron Baddeley's), degree of forward bend at the waist, straight lower back, slightly rounded upper back, head in line with the spine, arms hanging naturally down from the shoulders, hands close to the body, hands slightly forward of the ball in the face-on view, head behind the ball in the face-on view, slight tilt of the spine to the right causing the right shoulder to be lower than the left shoulder, nose tilted to the right as the head turns slightly to the right in sympathetic alignment with the spine tilt, body weight seemingly centralised over the mid-feet (down-the-line view) and between the feet (face-on view).

In the following section of the review, I will provide detailed advice on how a golfer can best mimic Faldo's perfect address posture. 

Getting started - adopting the correct address position:

The easiest method of learning how to adopt a perfect address position is to start from the groundup. David Leadbetter recommends first starting with the body erect and the feet approximately ashoulder's width apart. Then, one bends the knees slightly as if one is getting ready to sit down on a bar stool - as demonstrated in the following photo.

Address posture - from reference number [3]

The correct amount of knee flex can be determined by looking down at one's knees, and noting that a vertical line passing just in front of the kneecap will pass through the balls of the foot, or through the junction of the forefoot and midfoot - as seen in the following diagram. If the vertical line passes in front of the toes, then the knees are too flexed. If the vertical line passes through the rear end of the midfoot, then the knees are insufficiently flexed.

Flexed knee position - from reference number [4]

As one bends the knees, one should simultaneously push the hips back so that one creates the appropriate bend at hip level. It is important to bend at the hips and not the waist. To accomplish that feat, one should have a distinct feeling that one is sticking out one's rear-end (as demonstrated by David Leadbetter in his address posture photo). Note that if one bends at the hips, and not the waist, that the lower back becomes straight, and not rounded and stooped. When one adopts this straight back posture, one should feel like a diver at the edge of a swimming pool, who is ready to dive head-first into the pool. Another visual analogy is the to imagine the athletic position of a football quarterback who is waiting to receive the ball or a professional tennis player waiting to receive a serve. What particularly characterises these static sport postures is a straight lower back, slight bend at the hips and knees, and a sense of 'lively' readiness in the legs. The flexed knees should be perceived to be like 'coiled springs', that can readily allow the torso and hips to swivel and turn with the utmost ease.

If a golfer has difficulty getting the correct flex at the hips (rather than at the waist), then the following photo may be helpful.

Bending at the hips - from reference number [5]

Note that the golfer has placed a clubshaft against the front of his upper thighs, and he then bends forward at the hips while pressing the clubshaft firmly against the thighs. This will enable him to stick-out his rear end and bend appropriately at the hips.

If a golfer has difficulty adopting a straight back position, David Leadbetter suggests positioning a clubshaft along the length of the lower back - as demonstrated in the following photograph.


Adopting a straight lower back - from reference number [3]

It is important to realise that a golfer needs to adopt a straight lower back posture without losing the slight roundness of the upper back. Trying to adopt a straight back all the way from the hips to the neck results in overly rigid, and unnatural, straight back back posture.

After a golfer has acquired the correct amount of knee flex, the correct bend at the waist, and a straight lower back - then he should ensure that his head is is line with the spine by straightening the neck. Many beginner golfers have an overly flexed neck at address, because they are looking straight down at the ball. If the neck is overly flexed, then the chin will impede the rotational movement of the left shoulder in the backswing and the right shoulder in the downswing, and thereby disrupt the swing. A golfer should make a conscious effort to lift his chin slightly - and he may have a distinct feeling that he is looking down over his upper cheek when looking down at the ball. However, a beginner golfer shouldn't over-compensate, and over-straighten the neck and thereby lose the rounded appearance of the upper back in the address position. A good compromise head position is the position of David Leadbetter's head in the photo above (or the diagram below).

After a golfer has acquired the correct amount of knee flex, the correct bend at the waist, a straight lower back and a straightened neck - then the golfer should ensure that the hands hang vertically down from the shoulders in a relaxed manner when the clubface is placed behind the ball. The golfer should avoid any feeling that he is stretching out the arms towards the ball, and the correct arm posture is demonstrated in the following artistic diagram.

Shoulder line - from reference number [4]

Note that a vertical line passing down from the middle of the shoulder will pass through the middle of the upper arm, and pass just in front of the knee cap to hit the ground through the forefoot. If a golfer adopts this postural recommendation, then he will have acquired the correct amount of bend at the hips and the correct arm alignment.

If a golfer bends too much at the hips, then the vertical line drawn from the middle of the shoulder will pass in front of the forefoot. He will then note that his weight is not distributed evenly between the heels and forefeet, and that there is too much weight over the forefeet. That degree of forward weight distribution can cause a golfer to become unbalanced during the downswing and predispose the golfer to falling forward towards the ball during the downswing.

If a golfer bends too little at the hips, then the vertical line will pass behind the kneecaps to hit the ground in the region of the rear midfoot. The golfer will then be standing too erect, and there will be a sense that there is more weight on the heels relative to the balls of one's feet. Optimally, a golfer's weight should be evenly distributed between the heels of the feet and the balls of the feet, and he should be able to lift up the back of his heels slightly without becoming unbalanced if his body weight is evenly distributed over the feet.    

It is interesting to note that there should be very little difference in the degree of bend-at-the-hip and the degree of vertical arm positioning when hitting a driver compared to hitting a short iron.

Consider the following photo of the appropriate posture when hitting a driver, a long iron, and a short iron.

Distance from the ball - from reference number [6]

Note that there is roughly the same degree of bend at the hips (slightly more bent-over posture with the short iron) and that a vertical line drawn down from the middle of the shoulder passes just in front of the kneecap as it passes down to hit the ground in the region of the forefoot. Note that the arms hang vertically down from the shoulders when using an iron (hands are just inside the chin), and are only minimally stretched forward when using a driver (hands are directly under the chin, or just in front of the chin). Note that the hands are very close to the thighs at address, and approximately 4-6" from the thighs when using a short iron, and approximately 6-8" from the thighs when using a driver - and that there is only a ~2" difference between the two extreme hand positions!

Consider Tiger Woods' body posture at address.

Tiger Woods address posture - from reference number [7]

In the first half of the composite image, Tiger Woods is deliberately adopting an (inappropriate for him) over-bent posture. Note that a line drawn vertically down from the midddle of his right shoulder will pass far in front of his kneecap and hit the ground at his toe line. In the second half of the composite image, Tiger is adopting his normal (and appropriate for him) posture - a line drawn down vertically from the middle of his right shoulder will pass just in front of his kneecap and hit the ground under his forefeet. Also, note that his hands are under his chin and approximately 6-8" in front of his thighs, and that a line drawn back along the clubshaft towards his body will intersect his body at the level of his belt buckle. Finally, note that if you drop a vertical line from the back his rear end (tush) to the ground, that it passes only a few inches behind the heel. A perfect posture for the modern, total body golf swing when using a driver or fairway wood (and near-identical to Aaron Baddeley's address posture)!

Now consider Aaron Baddely's posture from a face-on view (using the same address position photo).

Aaron Baddeley address position - from reference number [1]

There are two important features to note-: i) Aaron Baddeley's spine is tilted to the right and his right shoulder is lower than the left shoulder, and his head is behind the ball; ii) Aaron Baddeley's left hip is slightly higher than the right hip.

This tilted spine postion is best appreciated when viewing a golfer from behind, as seen in this artistic diagram from Leadbetter's book.

Tilted spine at address - from reference number [4]

These two address postural features are very important, and this particular positional aspect of the address posture is called the "reverse K" position, and it is demonstrated graphically in the following diagram.

Reverse K address position - from reference number [6]

Note that in this model (called the ModelPro), that the ModelPro has angled his right knee slightly inwards. Not all modern, total body golfers do that, and Aaron Baddeley seems to have symmetrical knees. Most importantly, note that the spine is tilted to the right and that the right shoulder is lower than the left shoulder. This postural adjustment has two important effects. First of all, it causes the head to move slightly to the right and move behind the ball. Keeping the head behind the ball throughout the backswing and downswing is a critical component of a good golf swing. Secondly, during the backsing, rotating the torso around a rightwards tilted spine allows the weight to more easily flow to the right side without any jerky, superadded shift-movements. Thirdly, notice that with the ball positioned forward near the left heel, and the hands just forward of center (just inside the left thigh), that the clubshaft is angled slightly forwards - this address position encourages a slightly upwards movement of the clubhead through the impact zone, which is an advantage when driving a ball off a tee.

The recommended degree of rightward tilt of the spine depends on the club being used. A distinct rightwards tilt of the spine is recommended when using a driver, because a golfer wants the clubhead to be travelling slightly upwards at the time of ball impact. With a fairway wood and long irons, a golfer usually wants to sweep the ball off the turf with a zero/minimal divot. Therefore, the rightwards tilt should be minimal. With a short iron, the golfer often wants to hit down on the ball with a descending blow, and excess rightwards tilt of the spine may be a disadvantage.

This next face-on view photo will allow me to discuss three seperate address position issues -- stance width, weight distribution, and ball position.

Leadbetter address position - from reference number [3]

Stance width

First of all, note that Leadbetter flares both feet open. Many golf instructors recommend a 10-30 degree flaring-out of both feet, because it allows the hips to rotate more easily during the swing. Flaring the foot open allows the knee to move more easily in response to rotatory movements, so that the knee can re-position itself above the foot. This is especially relevant with respect to the left foot during the downwsing, when the body weight is driven powerfully across to the left side by an initiating lower body shift-rotation. Flaring the left foot open allows the left knee to first move laterally and then straighten, thus supporting the body weight directly over the left foot as the lower body pivots around an axis centered in the region of the left armpit.

Regarding the driver, Leadbetter recommends that the inner distance between the feet should be equal to the shoulder width.

Regarding mid-irons, Leadbetter recommends that the outer distance between the feet should roughly be equal to shoulder width. 

Regarding short irons, Leadbetter recommends that the outer distance between the feet be less than shoulder width, but not significantly less than hip width.

Some golfers, who lack flexibility, may personally find Leadbetter's driver stance width recommendation to be too wide, because i) it prevents their hips from rotating fully during the downswing, and because ii) it therefore prevents easy/complete weight transfer to the left side during the downswing and followthrough.

Another method of finding the correct stance width, that takes body flexibility into account, comes from the book "Total Golf" [5].

Stance width variations - from reference number [5]

The "Total Golf" authors recommend adopting a stance width, and then turning the body 90 degrees so that the chest and hips fully face the target. The correct stance width is the stance width that allows the knees to get together and be in-line and the hips to fully rotate 90 degrees (number 2 in the above sequence of three stance width positions). Stance width variation number 1 is too narrow and allows the hips to over-rotate, while stance width variation number 3 is too wide, preventing complete hip rotation.

I think that each individual golfer should experiment with these two stance width approaches to find the best balance between rock-solid stability and easy hip flow. A stance width that favors stability over easy hip flow may be preferable when using a driver, while the opposite bias may be preferable when using a long/mid iron. Most PGA tour players prefer to keep their lower body quiet when using a short iron, and they try to avoid excessive lower body movement during their short iron swings.   

Weight distribution at address

Leadbetter recommends that the weight distribution between the two feet (right foot relative to left foot) should be 55:45 with a driver, 50:50 with a mid-iron and 45:55 with a short iron. These recommendations are not really controversial, and many golf instructors make similar recommendations. Some golf instructors recommend that the weight be evenly distributed between the feet for all clubs.

Hand position at address

Notice that Leadbetter places his hands in the same position, just left of center and just right of the inner left thigh, for all clubs. Most PGA tour players routinely place their hands in a similar position - somewhere between the center of their stance and the left inner thigh. Notice that, with the hands in this position near the left inner thigh, that the left arm is straight and roughly in line with the clubshaft when using a mid-iron, and that the right elbow is slightly bent. 

Ball position

Leadbetter recommends placing the ball just inside the left heel for the driver (ball position A), about 2 inches back of that position for a 5-iron, and roughly in the middle of the stance for a short iron (ball position B). The total distance from ball position A to ball position B is only about 3" (about the width of two golf balls).

The "Total Golf" authors recommend a different ball position approach that relates the ball position to the chest. and not the feet.

Ball position recommendations - from reference number [5]

Basing the ball position on its relationship to the torso makes sense, because it eliminates the variable effect that varying degrees of foot flaring may have on correct ball placement (when it is solely based on stance width).

An important point about ball position in these two ball position photographs - note that the head is always behind the ball irrespective of which club is used. When using a short iron, some golfers prefer to have their head directly over the ball, and the sternum marginally ahead of the ball, so that they can hit down on the ball.

However, note that the clubshaft angle/direction at address varies with different length clubs (see Leadbetter photo). With a driver, the clubshaft is tilted slightly forwards in the direction of the target, and this encourages a slightly upward swing path at the point of ball impact. With a mid/long iron, the clubshaft is tilted only marginally backwards, and this encourages a flattish (or slightly descending) swingpath in the region of the ball and a shallow divot. With a short iron, the clubshaft is tilted slightly more backwards, and this encourages a steeper descending swingpath and a deeper divot.

There are no fixed rules when it comes to ball position, other than the general principle that the ball position should generally be forward of the center of the stance. I know of no golf teacher who recommends placing the ball back of the center position (closer to the back foot) for standard (non-specialised) golf shots. Many golf instructors recommend a "fixed" forward ball position (eg. 3" inside the left heel) for all iron shots, and simply recommend moving the right foot to vary the stance width, and consequently the ball's relationship to the right-versus-left foot, for different clubs. There is considerable logical support for such an approach. For example, when hitting a pitching wedge, a golfer often wants to strike the ball with a more descending blow, so that he can produce a high trajectory ball flight with added backspin. If he positions the ball 3" inside the left heel and brings the right foot closer to the left foot, so that his stance width is approximately equal to hip width, then he can easily strike down on the ball while still keeping his head marginally behind the ball. If he first adopts a stance that is approximately equal to hip width, and then positions the ball in the middle of his stance, then it is more likely that the ball will be further than 3" back from the left heel, and the clubshaft may be angled back too much. This greater angling back of the clubshaft causes the clubface to lose loft, and it also causes the clubface to become more closed, thus aiming left of the target (see next photo). Golfers should be aware of this potential problem when using short irons. 

Closed clubface secondary to an over-back angled clubshaft - from reference number [8]

An individual golfer may find the best ball  position for his individual full swing by personal experimentation - swinging different clubs and seeing where the divot starts (which roughly indicates the lowest point of the swingarc). The ball should be positioned just behind the back end of the divot. Golfers who have a significant hip slide during the early downswing will need to position their balls more forward, compared to golfers who have little hip shift in the early downswing. Most golfers will probably find that their optimum ball position for most fairway clubs is approximately 3-4" inside the left heel. Golfers with a large amount of hip slide (or leg drive) in the early/mid downswing have to position the ball more forward, and they may even decide to adopt Ben Hogan's approach to ball positioning - he placed the ball just inside the left heel for all clubs, and he moved his right foot forward and closer to the ball line for shorter clubs (see next photo).  

Ben Hogan ball positioning - from reference number [9] 

A few more points about the body position at address.  

At address, the arms should be held close together in front of the body, and the back of each elbow should point at each related hip.  One should avoid allowing the elbows to point sideways away from the body, so that the antecubital fossa (hollow in the front of the elbow) of each elbow faces towards the opposite elbow's antecubital fossa. The antecubital fossa of each elbow should face halfway forward towards the ball, and a line drawn from each antecubital fossa should intersect in front of the body, as demonstrated in the following artistic diagram.

Elbow and forearm position - from reference number [4]

Finally, note that the right forearm is closer to the ball line than the left forearm, and that one can see the left forearm sticking out below the right forearm in the down-the-line view. If the opposite situation occurs, and the left forearm is higher (closer to the ball line) than the right forearm, then this will encourage a too-inside swingpath in the early backswing takeaway. Some professional golfers keep the elbows and the forearms in perfect symmetrical alignment when driving, because it encourages a sweeping down-the-line swing action, rather than a steeper descending blow.

Body alignment

Body alignment refers to the positioning of the body relative to the ball-target line. 

The body should be aligned parallel to the ball-target line for all standard shots, and each section of the body (feet, knees, thighs, hips, shoulders) should be perfectly parallel to the ball-target line - as demonstrated in the following artistic diagram.

Body alignment - from reference number [4]

The most important part of the body that has to be parallel to the ball-target line are the shoulders. The direction the arms will swing across the front of the body during the downswing is very much influenced by the direction of the shoulder line, and the arms will tend to follow the shoulder line. If the shoulders are pointing to the right of the target, then it is very likely that the arms will swing from in-to-out across the front of the body during the downswing. If the shoulders are pointing to the left of the target, then it is very likely that the arms will swing from out-to-in across the front of the body during the downswing.


Aiming refers to the method of aligning one's clubface and body relative to the ball, so that the clubface faces the target, and the body is subsequently aligned parallel to the ball-target line. 

The best method of aiming is to stand about 6-12 feet directly behind the ball and then look down-the-line at the target. This allows one to see the ball-target line in one's mind without any parallax distortion that occurs if one attempts to define the ball-target line from a side-view. Many golf instructors then suggest that one choose an intermediate target along the ball-target line, about 3-6 feet in front of the ball eg. divot mark, clump of grass. Then one should move back to an address position opposite the ball, and place the clubshaft at an approximately 90 degree angle to the ball, so that the clubface faces the intermediate target. If the clubface faces the intermediate target, then the clubface must be perpendicular to the ball-target line.

Leadbetter aiming the club - from reference number [3]

When aiming the clubface, one should look at the lower 2-3 groove lines of the clubface, and ensure that those groove lines are at right angles to the ball-target line. Don't look at the top of the clubface, because the top of the clubface is often angled in such a manner that it is not parallel to the clubface's groove lines. Also, note that the clubshaft may not be at right angles to the the ball-target line when the clubface is at right angles to the ball-target line - because clubs have varying degrees of offset (see photo). It is the clubface that needs to be at right angles to the ball-target line, and not the clubshaft. When one has the clubface's groove lines perpendicular to the ball-target line, then one should build one's stance around the clubshaft so that one is standing along a stance line that is perfectly parallel to the ball-target line. It is very important to realise that one's stance and body (knees, thighs, pelvis, shoulders) is positioned parallel to the ball-target line, and that one should not look at the target to verify correct alignment when standing alongside the ball in the address position. If one looks up at the target, the target should "appear" to be a little to the right, because one is viewing the target from an eye-viewing position that is approximately 2-3 feet left of the ball-target line. Resist any inclination to change your stance/body alignment so that you "feel" that you are directly facing the target, because this will cause you to aim right of the target by approximately 10-20 degrees. The correct reference point for aligning the stance/body when standing alongside the ball is the ball-target line (which was previously established when standing directly behind the ball), and not the target.

Shoulder alignment - from reference number [10]    

First of all, note that the feet are placed parallel to the ball-target line. Then one should ensure that the rest of the body (knees, thighs, hips, shoulders) is parallel to the ball-target line. Note that the ball is aimed at the flagpole, which is equivalent to aiming at point "X". Note that the feet and shoulders appear to be aiming at point "Y", which is far left of point "X". This is a critical point, and when one turn one's head to look at one's left shoulder, it should appear to be be pointing well left of the target. In fact, one shouldn't easily see the left shoulder out of the corner of the left eye when one looks directly at the ball. If one clearly sees the left shoulder in one's left eye's peripheral visual field when looking at the ball, then it usually means that one is misaligned, and that the shoulders are in a closed position (and often pointing 10-20 degrees right of the target). Many beginner golfers face 10-20 degrees right of the target because they take aim at the target when standing sideways alongside the ball, and they subsequently, and mistakenly, align their shoulders to face the target. To avoid that problem, a golfer should always pre-visualize the ball-target line and the stance/body line when standing 6-12 feet directly behind the ball, and then ensure that the two lines are parallel to each other. The golfer should look to see where the body line will eventually be pointing (point "Y") and ensure that his shoulders are facing point "Y" when he is finally in the completed address position. As a rough guide, point Y will appear to be approximately 7 feet left  of point X for every 100 yards of distance. Therefore, if one is aiming at a target 300 yards away, the left shoulder should "appear" to be pointing at a point that is approximately 20 feet left of the target.


The railway track myth!

Many golf instructors state that a golfer should imagine that the stance line should be parallel to the ball-target line, and that both lines should point at the target - like railway tracks receding in the distance.

Alignment technique - photos from reference number [11]

The author of the book (Lupo) recommends that a golfer should place a club on the ground at the "projected" stance line so that the club points at the target  (as seen from behind) - see image 1. He then states that a golfer should place his feet on the "established" stance line, which means that the shoulders/feet are facing the target at address - image 2. I think that this maneuver is a major mistake! If the feet and shoulders are facing the target at address, then the "true" alignment will likely be in the direction of the red arrow in image 3 -  about 10-20 degrees right of the target. I highly recommend that golfers adopt my alignment recommendations as demonstrated in image 4. First establish the ball-target line by standing directly behind the ball. Second, locate an object (eg. tuft of grass or divot mark) about 6 feet away on the ball-target line - red dot, labelled "X". Third, stand alongside the ball, and place the clubhead behind the ball so that the clubface (short blue line) faces point "X". Fourth, make sure that your foot stance line is perpendicular to the clubface, which means that the stance line is parallel to the ball-target line - yellow line. Fifth, make sure that an extension of the stance line (yellow line) points well left of the target (double-headed red arrow) - as viewed when glancing out of the corner of the left eye at the left shoulder. As a rough approximation, the width of the double-headed red arrow at the target should be about 7 feet for every 100 yards of distance.

Another way of thinking about, and adopting, the "correct" alignment is as follows-:

At address, the stance/shoulder line should be parallel to the ball-target line and about 3' away - like two railway tracks. However, when looking at two railway tracks as they proceed into the far distance, they appear to converge on a single point at the far horizon. That causes a golfer to incorrectly think that he can aim his shoulders at the target (eg. 250 yards away) and be correctly aligned. However, that's not true. One needs to first establish an imaginary ball-target line when standing behind the ball, and then simultaneously imagine a stance line 3' away from the ball-target line, where the stance line is parallel to the ball-target line. Then, remembering the stance line's position in one's mind,  one should move around to the side of the ball and place one's feet on that stance line. Then, if one looks out of the corner of the left eye at the left shoulder - when standing in the address position - it should "appear" to be aimed well left of the target (about 7 feet for every 100 yards of distance) and this is due to parallax distortion when one mentally projects the imaginary line between the left eye and the left shoulder into the far distance. The 7' number is an approximation.

Here is another method of understanding this perspective distortion - that is based on a golfer's viewing position.

The top diagram represents a golfer standing on the ball-target line with his head directly over the ball. The small circle represents his head and the large oval represents his shoulders (as viewed from above). The red dot represents a target on the ball-target line that is 200 yards away. The blue dot represents a target on the ball-target line that is 100 yards away. From his viewing perspective (on the ball-target line), his shoulders are in a straight-line relationship to the two targets.

The bottom diagram represents the same golfer - who has stepped back 3 feet, while keeping his shoulders parallel to the ball-target line. Now, when the golfer looks at the two targets (from his "new" viewing position on the stance line), they "appear" to be to the right. The blue target "appears" to be more degrees to the right than the red target (see the blue and red arrows). If he turns his head marginally to the left and looks at his left shoulder out of the corner of his left eye, to assess where his shoulders are pointing, it will "appear" that his shoulders are pointing to the left of the two targets (yellow arrow).

Address setup and alignment tips (presented in a question-and-answer format): 

1. Question: Is there an advantage to adopting an open stance?

Answer: An open stance exists when the body is not aligned parallel to the ball-target line, but the right side of the body is aligned closer to the ball-target line than the left side of the body. Advanced golfers frequently often adopt this posture, especially on short iron shots. An open stance limits hip rotation to the right during the backswing and thereby keeps the backswing more compact, controlled and less loose. It also allows for a freer, smoother, more fluid flow of the mid-torso through the impact area during the downswing/early followthrough, because the hips can more easily rotate to the left when the stance is open. An open stance (encouraging forward hip movement during the downswing) is useful when using an abbreviated backswing for a short iron shot (eg. half backswing to the 9 o'clock position with a wedge) because there is less forward momentum generated from a half-swing backswing position, but one still needs to have a complete followthrough on half-wedge shots. Some golf instructors therefore encourage golfers to routinely place their right foot 1-2" closer to the ball-target line, compared to their left foot, when hitting short iron shots that have an abbreviated (shortened) backswing. 

2. Question: When do advanced golfers deliberately use a closed stance?

Answer: A closed stance exists when the left side of body is closer to the ball-target line than the right side of the body. An advanced golfer may adopt this stance when he deliberately wants to draw the ball. A closed stance predisposes the backswing to occur along a more inside track, which subsequently causes the downswing swingpath to approach the ball from more inside-the-line. A closed stance also impedes easy body rotation to the left during the downswing/followthrough, thereby encouraging an in-to-out downswing path, rather than an in-to-in swingpath. An in-to-out downswing path combined with a neutral clubface (pre-aimed down the ball-target line) will produce a draw ball flight pattern. A closed stance is disadvantageous for standard full shots (when one doesn't want to delberately hit a draw), because it impairs the forward rotation of the torso through the impact zone. If the easy rotation of the torso to the left is impeded during the downswing, then the arms will likely outrace the body and whip across the body to the left in the early followthrough. This will produce unwelcome pulled shots and/or duck hook shots.

3. Question:  Does body flexibility affect stance width choice?

Answer: Body flexibility has a huge effect on stance width choice. Golfers who have very flexible hips and legs can adopt a wider stance when using a wood or long iron, because they have the flexibility that will allow the hips to fully rotate through the shot without any mechanical impedance. A wider stance allows the golfer to generate more power and hit the ball greater distances. Golfers with less body flexibility in the mid-torso and legs should adopt a narrower stance. They may think that they are giving up some power-generating ability by adopting a narrower stance, but an inability to easily move the torso through the shot to a complete finish position may be a bigger power-drain.

4. Question: Why is it advantageous to also move one's sternum, as well as the right foot, forward when hitting a wedge shot?

Answer: If one adopts a "fixed" ball position for all iron shots that is approximately 3" inside the left heel, then one would normally move the right foot closer to the left foot in order to achieve a narrower stance width (distance between the outer feet approximately equal to hip width) when hitting a wedge shot. If one doesn't move the sternum forward at the same time, then the sternum will be behind the ball and it is difficult to achieve a descending ball strike, which is often desirable with short iron shots. By moving the sternum to a position where it is marginally  ahead of the ball, it becomes easier to achieve a descending ball strike.

5. Question: Why is it advantageous to point each elbow at their respective hip joint in the address position?

Answer: If the left elbow points outwards away from the left hip joint at address, then the left forerarm has adopted an over-rotated position. That will predispose one to an excessively flat backswing plane in the early takeaway. If the right elbow points outwards away from the right hip joint at address, then it is difficult for the right elbow to fold naturally, like a hinge in a door, in the early backswing.

6. Question 7: Jack Nicklaus, like Ben Hogan, also positioned his ball just inside the left heel for all clubs. Why do modern PGA tour players, like Nick Faldo, prefer to position their ball about 3" inside the left heel for all fairway clubs?

Answer: Jack Nicklaus had very powerful legs and a tremendous leg drive in the downswing and he often ended up with his left leg bowed slightly outwards at impact - see the next artistic diagram. 

Jack Nicklaus swing - from reference number [12]  

Nick Faldo, like most present-day PGA tour players, do not attempt to drive their legs aggressively forward like Nicklaus. They pivot around a downswing axis centered in the region of the left armpit, and the lowest point of their downswing arc is well inside the left heel for fairway clubs.

The following diagram demonstrates where Nick Faldo likes to position his ball for all fairway shots - 3" inside the left heel.

Faldo ball position - from reference number [13]

Nick Faldo routinely positions his ball 3-4" inside the left heel for all fairway clubs (top diagram). He avoids positioning the ball further forward, because it would cause him to pull his right shoulder forward to reach the ball at address, and this would predispose hin to hitting the ball from a slightly outside-in direction, thereby causing the ball to pull left (left bottom diagram). He especially avoids positioning the ball too far back, because he wouldn't have time to square the clubface during the downswing, and this would result in weak, pushed shots (right bottom diagram.

7. Question: Should the club lie flat at address?

Answer: No. The club should have a slight upright lie at address. At the impact position, the hands will be at a slightly higher position than they were at address, and the clubshaft angle will be slightly steeper. That higher hand position will cause the lie to be slightly flatter at impact (this issue is discussed at greater length in the impact section of this critical review).

8. Question: If the right hand is lower on the grip than the left hand, doesn't that pull the right shoulder forward, thereby making it impossible for a golfer to square the shoulders at address?

Answer: That problem is avoided because the golfer tilts his spine slightly to the right at address. That drops his right shoulder downwards - see the following diagram.

Shoulder tilt at address - from reference number [6] 

When the golfer tilts his spine slightly to the right at address, that causes his right shoulder to drop down, and he can reach down to the club without having to bring his right shoulder forwards. It also causes his hands to move away from a centralised position between the thighs to a final hand position closer to the left thigh.



1. V1 Home website.



2. A Swing for Life. Nick Faldo.


3. 100% Golf: Unlocking your true golf potential. David Leadbetter.



4. The Golf Swing. David Leadbetter.


5. Total Golf. Mike Adams and T.J. Tomasi.


6. Swing Like a Pro. Ralph Mann and Fred Griffin.


7. Tiger Woods: How I Play Golf. Tiger Woods.

8. Your Perfect Swing. Jim Suttie.


9. Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf. Ben Hogan.

10. The Complete Encyclopedia of Golf. Edited by Paul Foston.


11. How to Master a Great Golf Swing. Maxine Van Evera Lupo.


12. Golf my Way. Jack Nicklaus.



13. The Winning Formula, Nick Faldo.


Date de création : 30/05/2011 - 22:12
Dernière modification : 30/05/2011 - 22:12
Catégorie : Technique

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