Set-up Fundamentals

This article outlines the basic fundamentals to creating a great set-up

Jack Nicklaus insists that addressing the ball correctly is 80% of hitting a good shot and claims a great swing won't help if you're aligned incorrectly. This article shows you how to address the ball correctly, thus improving both the power and accuracy of your shots.

The Grip

The simplest way of ensuring a sound grip is to stand with your palms facing inwards and extend them forwards on to the grip without twisting or turning them.

Essentially, the palm of your bottom hand faces the target while the palm of your top hand faces away from the target. Adjusting your hands by a small amount until you are comfortable is fine. Make sure you grip the club predominantly in the fingers, not your palms

Your hands should now be as close to each other as is comfortable. The ring finger of the bottom hand should be snug against the index finger of the top hand, assuming you use either the Vardon or 'interlocking' grip.

An excellent way of judging how tightly your should hold the club is to think of a scale where zero is so loose that the club falls out of your hand and ten is a grip so tight your knuckles turn white. You should aim to hold the club at about level 3 or 4, most golfers grip the club at around level 7 or 8 which causes so much tension in their arms and shoulders that the club head is never released properly.

Basically, the key to power is to lightly grip the club to provide a more powerful release

Stance and Posture

When addressing the ball, your feet should be far enough apart to keep you balanced but not to far apart that you are prevented from making a full rotation of your upper body during the back swing.

The optimum width of your stance for most shots is to have the inside of your feet (insteps) directly under your armpits. However, for hitting shots with a driver your feet should be an inch or two wider than this and for chip shots or putting your feet should be a lot closer together.

There is actually very little difference between the swing of a golfer and that of a baseball batter. Both swings 'wind' up by rotating the body followed by the hitting the ball or 'unwind' which is quickly followed by the follow-through or 'release'.

The major difference between the two is that the golfer hits the ball of the ground where the batter hits the ball in flight. As a result, you as the golfer need to incline your upper body slightly towards the ground, tilting from the hips whilst keeping the spine straight.

The final part of the stance and posture involves flexing your knees. This means ever so slightly bending your knees to prevent them from locking during the swing.

Keeping your legs locked straight leads to a poor weight shift and major power loss during your swing, this said, excessively bending them can have an equally detrimental effect on your swing.

Getting this correct will prevent your weight moving too far forward when addressing the ball which improves your balance. This also allows you to brace the left side of your body during the impact phase of your swing

If you can get your stance and posture correct then your swing and contact with the ball will soon become more consistent.

The Ball and Tee

Most people advise playing the ball off the heel of your front foot when hitting a driver and bringing it back towards the center of your stance by an inch or so for each club as they get shorter. If this method works for you, cool, stick with it.

If however you lack consistency when hitting the ball, try positioning the ball in the middle of your stance for every iron shot.

Placing the ball to far forward will effectively increase the club's loft which will inevitably cause a loss of power and accuracy. However, playing the ball from the center of your stance, you will benefit from the true loft of the club.

To get the most out of your swing and clubs when teeing off, the equator of the ball needs to sit at the same height as the top of the club head. This will ensure you catch the sweet-spot on the club head makes contact with the ball just as it is starting it's accent.

When using an iron, the equator of the ball needs to sit lower than it does for a driver due to irons having a lower center of gravity. This lower center of gravity also means the ideal spot to make contact with the ball is just before your swing hits the bottom.

You can also utilise the height of the tee to introduce a fade or draw to the shot. This works by introducing a slight out-to-in swing path when the tee is lower which in turn will produce a slight fade on the ball (how much depends on the how much you lower it). The reverse occurs when you higher the tee thus introducing a fade

Aim and Club Alignment

Many golfers align their bodies to the target before they consider the club face. This could potentially cause your shoulders to close when you align the club face. By aligning the club face to the target after your shoulders you create a contradiction between the two which is when inaccuracies start to occur.

The best way to address the ball is as follows:

  1. Align the club face to the target
  2. Align your feet to the target
  3. Align your hips to the target
  4. Finally, align your shoulders to the target

Following this four step process will assist you in keeping the club on line throughout your swing and will allow you to hit straighter shots

This same technique also pays off when putting by aligning the putter face to the target before you align your body

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