Golf Tips: It’s time to perfect the set-up

By: Shawn Kelly
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Well, if you have been following along for the past couple of weeks and doing a little homework, your grip and your aiming techniques have no doubt improved and you are surely brimming with confidence. Now let’s get you into an athletic starting position that will facilitate the best athletic swing possible. This will be part three of our basic fundamentals trilogy and the “S” in our pneumonic reminder “GAS” for “set up” (ball position and posture). The balanced starting position is a prerequisite in order to make an effective athletic motion. Ball position should be the bottom of the arc of the swing. When the club is swung, it describes an arc in front of you and the very bottom of this arc is where the ball needs to be positioned for a solid strike. The ball position is also determined by the level of the ground. I personally have two basic ball positions — one from a level lie and one from an unlevel lie. If the ball lies on level ground, I play the ball off the left half of my stance. For any unlevel lie, I play the ball closer to the right foot or in the back half of the stance. The width of the stance will determine the length of the back swing. A chip shot requires a short swing (narrow stance) and the driver needs a longer swing (wider stance) to control the balance of your swing. If you need to determine the correct position, take a couple of practice swings next to the ball and where the club strikes the ground is where the ball needs to be placed. Your body posture is dictated by the distance between your stance and the ball. We want to have a tall athletic balanced position with a slight flex of the knees and a slight bend at the hips. The chest and head must be up — that’s right the head is up! The popular, over used phrase “keep your head down” is one of the worst bromides in golf. The arms should hang free and loose from the shoulders. With a properly fitted club the hands should be able to grasp the grip naturally, without tension. The best position in which to feel this is to swing the club head back and forth about a foot off the ground. It is important that individual players discover their own balanced, ready position. Balance positions in all sports are all very similar and you may be able relate it to other athletic activities in your experience. Remember that if the lie of the terrain changes then your ball position and posture will need to change as well. Remember a balanced set up takes a balanced fitted golf club to match and allow you to make an athletic swing. If you don’t know whether or not your clubs fit, consult your local PGA professional and have them checked out. I trust that you are now tuned up and your game is improving. If you still need work or are just a bit off with your swing, return to your basic fundamental check list and make certain that you’re in the correct position to swing to balance.