Foundations of a Good Swing Stance
“If you set up correctly, there’s a good chance you’ll hit a reasonable shot, even with a mediocre swing.” -Jack Nicklaus
When it comes to improving your golf swing, finding a balanced, centered stance is the first step. A strong foundation sets you up for success when you actually make contact with the ball.
According to Joan Lovelace, head professional and general manager at Hobbit’s Glen Golf Club, a solid foundation stems from an awareness of four main components: your stance, grip, posture and alignment. Taking care of these four elements before swinging means you’re not distracted by them mid-swing — and that your game isn’t one marked by compensations.
First things first: Your legs are the foundation of your foundation! We’ll start here to build your awareness from the ground up.
To set up, keep the insides of your feet shoulder-width distance apart and spread your weight evenly between your toes and your heels. This helps improve your body rotation speed, flexibility and balance. Bad angles in the feet will sabotage your game: If your stance is too wide, it will restrict your turn, while footing that’s too narrow will make your swing unstable.
“Turn your left toe out just a little bit to accommodate your hips, so you can finish your swing in a balanced position,” says Lovelace. “If you don’t turn the toe out, it will restrict you in the hips and may cause the ball to go to the right.”
Quick Keys to Proper Stance: Inside of feet hip-width distance apart, left toes turned out slightly.
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Next, how can you find a solid grip on your club? First, for a right-handed player, place the club in the fingers of your top (left) hand. Place the heel pad of your left hand on the top middle of the grip, and your thumb in the top right side.
A common mistake is pointing the thumb straight down the top of the grip. Instead, the left thumb should go down the top right side.
“When we put the right hand on, you’re going to again lay the club in your fingers. The lifeline of the right hand should hide the left thumb. When you look at the “V’s” formed with your thumb, they should head up toward your right shoulder,” she says.
Now, for the question of choosing an overlap, interlock or a 10-finger grasp? Ultimately, this is a personal decision depending on what works best for you. Overlapping is probably the most common, and will work if you’re a female with medium to large sized hands. You can also do an interlock, which means interlocking the four fingers of the left hand and the pinky of right hand.
If you have a very small hand or are a junior player, you may want to start out with a 10-finger grip, meaning all the fingers are on the grip.
“Whatever you choose, make sure your hands are working together as a unit,” says Lovelace.
How many times was standing up straight drilled into your head as a child? What your mom or grandma probably didn’t mention was that good posture means longer drives and more consistent shots. It’s extraordinarily important to getting your club in the right swing plane and staying balanced.
To start your set-up, stand tall with a long spine and straight knees. Then, when you bend, do so from your hips rather than your waist. You’ll also want to flex your knees (not a deep bend, which will restrict your turn).
“Imagine standing on top of a clock. 12 o’clock is over your head, and 6 o’clock is under your feet. Bend over enough that the top of your head is at 2 o’clock. As you bend, you want to feel like you’re sitting down in your hips,” says Lovelace.
You don’t want to be too far or too close from the ball, and Lovelace often gets questions about finding the correct distance to stand at. Ultimately, she said the answer depends on the club you’re using. Since each one is a different length, your ball placement will vary. There isn’t an ‘exact measurement’ for doing so, but it’s something you’ll get a feel for with practice — it’s most important to be aware that you should not attempt to play each shot from the same ball position.
Quick Keys to Proper Posture: Bend from hip joint, flex the knees in your 2 o’clock position, make sure your hands fall from the shoulders comfortably and determine your correct distance based on the length of your club.
A consistent golf swing is built on proper alignment. However, because it might seem basic, it can sometimes be forgotten in the pursuit for an improved swing. So, here’s your reminder: Make sure your knees, hips and shoulders are in line and parallel to your target line!
Build your foundation at CA
It’s no secret that consistency is a challenge for golfers. Dedicating yourself to creating integrity from the ground-up in your stance is a powerful way to improve your consistency, and thus, your game.
At Hobbit’s Glen and Fairway Hills, helping golfers build a strong foundation is our greatest passion. If you’d like professional assistance finding the right stance for your best swing, we offer lessons and programs for players of all ages and skill levels. Check out our website to learn more.