Posts Tagged ‘set-up’
There are many ways to swing a golf club, but only one way to hit a golf ball correctly.
The whole idea behind my philosophy is the above statement. When looking at the top players of all time, there are no two golfers that swing the club the same way, however they all manage to impact and strike the ball in a similar fashion. How is it possible that Lee Trevino, Ray Floyd and Nancy Lopez can make the ball get to the target the same way that Ben Hogan, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods do? The only answer can be impact. A position where the weight is well on the front foot, the handle leads the clubhead into the ball while the head remains over or slightly behind the ball.
Today I will identify a few key factors that facilitate a sound impact position. Swing the club any way you want, but obey these few simple points, because the vast majority of the greatest golfers follow them.
Almost every champion golfer has a grip that favors the strong end of the spectrum vs. the weaker side. I can only find one legendary golfer that utilized a weak grip and that would be Ben Hogan – all the others were strong, with a few being neutral. A strong grip encourages the hands to lead the clubhead into the strike – an integral part of a proper strike on the ball.
At address it is important for the head to be centered between the feet. This will leave the spine relatively verticle and the shoulders fairly level. Stance width should favor narrow over wide and the ball should never be too far forward. Keep in mind this set-up is in place to allow the golfer to get into a proper impact position as simply as possible.
There are two important points to note in the pivot motion: the plane upon which the shoulders pivot and whether or not the body stays within the 84 degree line. The plus here is that the better the shoulder pivot, the less likely the body is to move laterally (sway) and get across the 84 degree line.
In the shoulder pivot, the lead shoulder must move down and then across vs. simply turning across and behind the ball.
As the body winds to the top and just before transition begins, the back side of the body should be flush up against the 84 degree line. This loads the energy in the swing efficiently and prepares the body to glide effortlessly into a sound impact position. If you do happen to break the line with your hips or upper body here, you will be challenged to get to the proper impact position.
Notice how all of the above factors are in place to facilitate the body being able to get to impact in an efficient manner. This is the secret to all of golf’s greatest players’ swings: they all had different swings, but everything they did allowed them to get into the proper position to deliver the club onto the ball correctly. You would do well to incorporate a few of these elements into your swing.
As in the picture at the top of the page the weight should be anywhere from a 50/50 split to favoring the front foot slightly
Your head should be centered between the heels
There should be very little spine tilt away from the target and as a result the shoulders will be fairly level
Setting up for shots off a high tee:
As in the picture below the feet are fairly far apart and there should actually be a little more weight on the back foot than the front foot
The ball is positioned inside the left heel and teed high
The spine should be tilting away from the target a little as you prepare to “swing uphill”
The best teacher you have available to you to help with this is a mirror. You are now aware as to what it should look like, but you don’t quite have the feel yet. Get in front of a mirror, set up so that it looks correct (your feel might have something else to say about it!) and take that with you to practice or play.
Think of the bounce on a wedge, or any iron, as an insurance policy against digging the leading edge of the golf club into the ground.
It is very important for any golfer to not only understand what the bounce is, but how to use it to their advantage. An excellent exercise to do every now and then is to hit a few pitch shots off of a lie board. This is a flat plexiglass board that most club fitters use in determining the correct lie angle a golfers irons should be set at. If you do not have access to a lie board, use a piece of plywood painted black. Just be sure to not hit any shots where the ball is too close to the edge of the board.
If the markings on the sole of the club are as pictured above you are using the club correctly. Should they be closer to the leading edge you might be in danger of sticking the club into the ground on your next chip of pitch. The most important aspect of using the bounce correctly is addressing the ball correctly. Take a look:
In the above image you will see the ball positioned in the center (watch out for too far back as it reduces the bounce at impact and makes it easier to do some gardening); the feet are fairly close together; and the hands and weight are just slightly in front of the ball, with emphasis on slightly.
As you go through the motion of striking that chip or pitch try to feel that the handle and the clubhead get back to impact at the same time – in other words don’t allow the handle to get too far in front of the clubhead at impact as you are then exposing more of that sharp leading edge to the ground. And we all know what that can lead to…..
So often I read that it is important to be “behind the ball”. While this statement is almost correct I would prefer for a golfer to be “over” the ball and this sense initiates with the set up position.
The set-up encompasses ball position, stance width and spine/shoulder tilt. Let’s take a look from the ground up.
With the irons I would like to see the ball played from the middle of the stance – keep in mind, that in order to hit down on the ball, a must, the weight must be in front of the ball. Notice that I said weight and not body or head! When the ball is centrally located it is that much easier to hit down on. As you get to the longer clubs(woods) slide the ball up toward the inside of the left heel. In the Ben Hogan illustration you’ll notice how his ball is not quite in the center but a little forward. This is due to his pronounced hip slide into impact which still allowed him to be able to hit down on a more forward ball position.
As far as the stance width goes, I prefer a narrower stance than a wider one and here’s why. A narrow stance allows for the weight to get to the front foot easily – that’s why you should be chipping and pitching with a narrow stance. Too wide and you’ll have a hard time getting onto the front foot without excess movement.
Head position and spine tilt is the most important factor in the set-up! I read an article yesterday pontificating about if you tilt away from the target you’ll reduce your slice. Well, you might reduce the slice, but you’ll have a hard time making solid contact with the ball. All the best ball strikers set up as Hogan has here, with the head positioned between the feet, the left eye over the ball and the spine just about vertical. There should also be a minimal amount of shoulder tilt when the spine is vertical. Make sure you avoid any excess tilt into your back side as this will make it almost impossible to get “over” the ball at impact.
Set yourself up to get into a great impact!
Things to ponder:
- Harbourtown and the TPC Louisiana are both Pete Dye golf courses. They look like they are from different planets!
- Can Steve Stricker finally get the job done on Sunday? It’s been a while!
- Tiger Woods is a great champion, but does he play golf the way it was meant to be played? Does modern equipment let him play the game “his way”? I offer Greg Norman and Nick Faldo as contrasts.
- I was going to ask, ” When will Sergio grow up?” but I’m not sure he ever will.
- Will Sergio ever grow up?