The golf swing is dependent on completing the previous move correctly. Therefore, the swing starts with the correct set up. Everything you do before you swing the club will have a positive or negative consequence on the golf ball. Setting up correctly to the golf ball addresses many problems and corrections to the golf swing.
Similar to many other sports, the golf swing starts with an athletic set up. Begin by standing with your feet approximately shoulder width. Bend your knees slightly and bend at your waist to create the proper spine angle. The goal is to produce a swing that will move around your spine. The arms and club swing around the spine, which should remain fixed throughout the swing. The correct posture creates less knee flex and more bend in your waist (stick your butt out). A common fault occurs by bending too much in the knees and not enough at the waist. This creates an upright posture. Allow your feet to get wider when setting up with a longer club. For example, you will set up slightly wider with a driver than a pitching wedge. A wider base will provide more stability throughout the rotational movements of the swing.
The arms and shoulders will form a triangle when you set up to the golf ball. This positions your elbows close to each other. This part of your set up is important because you try to keep this triangle intact as you swing the club.
The right hand is lower than the left hand when you place your hands on the grip. Therefore, your right shoulder should be slightly lower than your left shoulder in your set up. This is known as “shoulder tilt.” Shoulder tilt promotes a downward angle of approach to hit the ball in the air.
Ball position is a variable that changes depending on club selection. The correct set up and ball position will have a direct effect on the outcome of the shot. Better players are well aware of ball position and how can potentially affect the distance, direction and trajectory of the golf ball. If the ball is positioned to far forward players might create thin or topped golf shots. If the ball is positioned too close the hosel will strike the ball producing shots that go sideways to the right. The ball should be positioned so it gets in the way of the club head traveling down through the hitting zone.
Ball position starts in the middle of your stance with a short iron. The swing is slightly steeper with a short iron. Steeper swings will create a bigger divot. Ball position moves slightly forward as each club gets longer. Each club should be a half inch longer than the previous club. Essentially you start with the ball in the middle of your stance with the shortest club, and move ball position to the inside of the left foot as each club gets longer. This is an incremental movement to adjust for the half inch in length.
The driver is the longest club in the bag and should be positioned of the inside of the left foot. Longer clubs produce a slightly flatter swing. That is why long irons, hybrids and fairway woods produce a very small divot, if any. It is basically a flatter, sweeping motion through the ball. However, it is still important to swing down and clip the grass to produce a shot that travels in the air.
Matt Keller is a PGA Golf Professional with over 15 years of experience. Matt is a graduate of the Penn State PGM Program. Throughout his career he has worked at courses in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Florida and Delaware. Matt has conducted thousands of golf lessons to players of all ages and ability levels. Currently, he is a PGA Professional at Cripple Creek Golf and Country Club located near Bethany Beach, DE.