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Golf teaching and playing articles > Check setup positions when problems arise

29 Apr 2004

As long as you play the game of golf, you will need to work on setting up properly to hit the ball.

Many golfers mistakenly believe that once they have learned the proper grip, posture, alignment, weight distribution and ball positions, they will keep these setup fundamentals without any need to make sure they all stay correct.

I can promise you this is not the case, even for the best of players.

I was playing in a team event a couple of years ago with the male (a plus-2 handicap) and female club champions (a 2 handicap) from our golf course. Both players were struggling with their swings because of improper setup positions.

In the first match, the woman was struggling seriously with her fairway woods, which were an important part of her game. After watching her top three shots in a row, it became obvious to me that she was playing the ball too far back in her stance.

We talked about this, and she adjusted the ball position and started hitting her fairway woods beautifully. We won the match because of a birdie she made on the 18th hole, after a gorgeous approach with one of those clubs.

My male amateur partner is usually a long, accurate driver of the golf ball, which allows him to reach par-5s in two shots and hit short irons into long par-4 holes.

During our third match, however, he was driving erratically, hitting a lot of hooks into trouble.

I noticed he was reaching too far for the ball, causing his weight to be more on his heels than usual. This caused his hands to become more active at impact, closing the club face quickly and creating the hook. He adjusted his distance from the ball and straightened out his driver.

After a great drive on No.17, he reached the long, uphill par-5 in two shots, made birdie, and we took a 1-up lead to the 18th hole, where we were able to maintain the lead and win the match.

Both of these experienced players knew the correct setup positions but had drifted into some mistakes. If it can happen to these talented players, you had better believe it can happen to you. When it does, your swing will be affected.

I recommend you take a lesson and go over all of the proper setup positions. You could even have someone take pictures for future reference. Then go home and practice in front of a mirror, so you will have the visual feedback of what you look like when everything is correct.