If you’ve got a full-length mirror, a glass door or a similar reflective surface at home, you could be looking at your own personal golf coach. Once you understand proper fundamentals, the mirror can help you diagnose and repair flaws while reinforcing your strengths.

As simple as it seems to judge your ball position, posture and takeaway from the address position, what you believe you’re doing and what you’re actually doing may be two different things. That’s why a mirror can be extremely helpful. No, you can’t take it with you to the golf course, but practicing correct fundamentals at home will instill a sense of what the proper positions look and feel like sans mirror.

This article examines the stance and swing positions you can check while directly facing a mirror.Part II explains what to look for in a side view. A third installment covers the putting setup and stroke.

Before starting, make sure you’ve got ample room to make a full swing. Golf is expensive enough without broken lamps to replace. And remember that a mirror is no substitute for an actual PGA-certified instructor, who can watch you make full-speed swings and study your ball flight for clues to any flaws.

Here’s what to observe when addressing the ball (real or imaginary) with a mirror in front of you; instructions are for right-handed golfers, so lefties may simply reverse them. For precise alignment, place a club along the line of your feet, parallel to the mirror:

correct fundementals part 1

  • Stance width: Most important with the driver, when the insides of the feet should line up with the outsides of the shoulders (“shoulder width”). The stance narrows with progressively shorter clubs.
  • Ball position: With the driver, the ball should be directly opposite your left heel. At the other end of the spectrum, wedges are played approximately in the center of your stance.
  • Weight distribution: Should be evenly placed on your right and left feet. With the driver, a little more weight on the right side (55-60%) is recommended.
  • Shaft angle/hand position: Driver—Shaft should be perpendicular to the ground, so the hands are in line with the clubhead just behind the ball. Irons—Shaft should lean slightly forward, toward the target, with the hands ahead of the ball.
  • Spine tilt: Your upper body should lean a touch to the right; some teachers believe a 5° tilt is ideal. Determine your tilt by checking your sternum.
  • Next, it’s on to the takeaway and backswing:

    mirror driver image takeaway

  • Takeaway – maintaining the triangle: The arms, wrists and hands should move away from the ball as one unit (aka “the triangle”). Watch your takeaway for signs of an early wrist hinge.
  • Backswing – hands at hip height: At this point, the club shaft should be parallel to the ground; slightly above or below parallel is okay. The club’s toe should point upward. If it points too far in front of you, the clubface is closed relative to the target line; pointing behind you means it’s open.
  • Backswing – left arm parallel to ground: With your wrists cocked, the shaft should point upward to some degree (vs. lining up with the left arm). The angle between shaft and left arm may vary at this position, but anything from 45-90° is generally acceptable.
  • At the top – shoulder and hip rotation: With longer clubs (driver through mid-irons), the shoulders should have turned 90° to the target line (mirror), with the hips at or near 45°. For short irons, rotation is a bit less.
  • At the top – hands, arms and club: With longer clubs (driver through mid-irons), a shaft that’s parallel to the ground is ideal but by no means a necessity. The left arm should be relatively straight, with the hands extended well away from the head. 

At the top – weight distribution: The majority of your weight should be on your right side, poised in the center or inside of the right foot.