Poor posture in your everyday activities – walking, working, driving the car – can cause unwanted side effects. So can poor posture when addressing the golf ball.
If you set up without the knees, hips and back flexed and tilted properly, you short-circuit the swing right from the start. Without good posture, it's difficult to rotate the upper and lower body, maintain good balance and achieve a consistent swing plane. The result: bad ballstriking.
Just as carrying yourself with good posture presents a positive image in everyday situations, sound posture on the course is rooted in a proud appearance – standing tall, with an open chest and straight spine. In other words, a look (and feeling) that says, “Bring it on.”
Follow these steps to a perfect pre-swing posture:
- Addressing the ball, stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart (insteps aligned with outsides of shoulders).
- Pull your shoulders back with your head held high, as though standing at attention.
- Grip the club in your usual manner and hold it in front of you, horizontally, with the butt end pointing at your belly button and your elbows close to your sides.
- Bend slightly at the knees, with your balance spread evenly between the heels and balls of your feet. Your backside should stick out a little to keep the spine lined up nicely.
- Tilt forward from the hips – not the waist – letting the club fall naturally downward with the clubhead on the ground.
- Make sure your head does not bow downward, and that you maintain the position of your shoulders and spine.
If the clubhead is not directly behind the ball as you complete the process, simply step forward or back as needed to place it there. Don't bend or slump forward with the back or waist, don't stand up straighter, and don't push or pull the club into place with the arms. Maintain your posture and change the club's position by moving the feet only.
Adjust width of your feet based on the club you're hitting (wider for longer clubs, narrower for shorter clubs).
Good Posture for Good Golf
If you spend most of your golf practice time working on complicated moves and advanced swing theories, you certainly aren't alone. Most golfers spend their time at the driving range trying to figure out detailed ways to move the club around their body in order to strike solid shots. After all, golf is a hard game, so the solution to your troubles on the course must be pretty complicated, right? No – not necessarily. In fact, it is far more likely that your game will improve as a result of working on the basics than if you allow yourself to get caught up in complex theories and techniques. Keeping it simple is the best way to play good golf, and one of the simple keys to this game is playing from a solid posture.
Sure, it is true that working on your posture isn't the most-exciting thing that you can do at the golf course. Perfecting this specific part of your technique is rather boring to be honest, but it is incredibly important nonetheless. If you manage to master a great stance that puts you in a quality position over the ball shot after shot, you will stand a great chance to improve the level of your play in short order. Many golfers make the mistake of thinking that posture isn't particularly important, but nothing could be further from the truth – finding good posture at address, and then holding that posture throughout the swing, is one of the biggest keys to high-level ball striking.
Teaching golf posture can be a bit of a tricky proposition because of the individual nature of the stance. Each golfer has his or her own stance that is unique in one way or another – and that is just fine. You don't need to copy the stance of any other golfer precisely in order to have success. However, you do need hit on certain basic fundamentals if you are going to set yourself up for a positive outcome at the end of your swing. Looking at the postures and stances that you see on the PGA Tour is a great example of this concept. While each player will have a characteristic or two that sets their stance apart from the crowd, most will still fall in line with a number of key fundamental points.
In this article, we are going to walk through some of the most important points related to the posture that you use in your stance. Simply by understanding why posture is important and which keys you should focus on, you can improve your game in short order. One of the nice things about working on this part of your game is the fact that improvement can come quicker than it does when trying to make other changes. Take a step forward with your posture today and there is a good chance you will start playing better within your next couple of rounds.
All of the content below is based on a right handed golfer. If you happen to play left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
Why Does It Matter?
Before you head out to work hard on improving your posture, it makes sense to have a good understanding of just why this point is so crucial in the first place. You are more likely to remain motivated to work on your posture when you actually understand why it matters – without this information, you may be tempted to just give up and work on other points. So, take a few moments to read through this section and fill yourself with all the motivation needed to take on the task of building a better posture.
Following is a list of three points which highlight the importance of using an excellent posture as you swing the golf club.
- Maintaining your level. One of the biggest challenges in the game of golf is correctly locating the bottom of your swing on each and every shot. Particularly when hitting irons directly off of the turf, you have to locate the bottom of your swing just past the golf ball if you are going to make clean contact. That task is challenging enough on its own, but it becomes almost impossible without great posture. If you have poor posture in your swing, you will move up and down as the swing develops, meaning you will have almost no chance to find the bottom of your swing successfully. On the other hand, great posture keeps your body steady and prevents you from going up and down for no reason. The result? Your swing arc is more predictable, and the club bottoms out in the same spot time after time. There is certainly more to good ball striking than just maintaining your level in the swing, but this is a key point that you can't afford to get wrong.
- Enable a great turn. You probably already know that a great turn is one of the keys to producing power in your golf swing. However, did you know that you will struggle to make a good turn if you don't have your posture under control? It's true – making a full shoulder turn going back and hip turn going forward is almost impossible without the right posture to support your rotation. If you feel like you struggle to turn sufficiently in the swing, it might not be your flexibility that is the problem – instead, it could be something as simple as a poor posture preventing you from reaching your power potential.
- Engage your lower body. When you set yourself into a solid stance and posture, there is a good chance that you are going to engage your lower body as a result – and that is good news. The lower body has a great deal to do with quality ball striking, yet many amateur golfers fail to get their legs involved at any point during the swing. You will likely be amazed at the power and consistency that you can bring to your swing through the use of your legs, and it all starts by building a solid posture. Nearly every pro golfer in the world does a great job of using his or her lower body to create speed and stability, and you should be following that lead with your own game.
In reality, there are actually plenty of other benefits to using a good posture beyond these three points. However, the importance of these points should be more than enough to convince you to work on this part of your game. Once you get started with your first range session, it should quickly become clear to you just how much improvement can be made through the process of building a great posture and stance over the ball.
The Key Fundamentals
At this point, you should have a clear understanding of why it is that you need to use a great posture during your swing. However, you still need to learn what it is that makes up a good posture in the first place. In this section, we are going to touch on the points that make up a posture which can be relied on for consistent performance swing after swing. If you are able to include all of the following points in your posture with each club in your bag, the performance of your game is sure to take a big step forward.
- Flat back. This is perhaps the single most-important fundamentals within the posture. If you are going to stand properly over the ball, you need to have your back in a relatively flat position from your waist all the way up into your neck. This position is key because it is going to permit you to make a great turn with ease. When you hunch over in your back, it becomes difficult – if not impossible – to rotate nicely away from the ball. Focus on keeping your back in a flat position from the time you take your stance until well after the ball has been struck.
- Chin up. As far as the posture goes, this might be the point that is missed more than any other. When you take your stance, it is important that you keep your chin up and away from your chest – despite the fact that you might think this advice runs contrary to the concept of keeping your head down. The idea of keeping your head down is one of the oldest tips in the game, but it just isn't very accurate when you think carefully about what you have to do in the swing. To make a good golf swing, you need a big shoulder turn away from the ball – and keeping your head and chin down is going to prevent you from making that turn. When your chin is down, it will physically be in the way of your left shoulder as it tries to rotate back. To make sure there is nothing in the way of a great turn, keep your chin up while maintaining eye contact with the ball.
- Flexed knees. You might think first about your upper body when you consider posture, but the lower body is just as important in the big picture of how you stand over the ball. You need to sink into your lower body by adding a fair amount of knee flex to your stance at address. Knee flex will not only engage your legs in the swing right from the start, but it will also give you a stable platform on which to build your swing. Far too many amateur golfers stand with their knees straight as they get the swing started, and the lower body is never able to get involved in the action as a result. You don't have to get into a deep squat or anything like that in order to find a good posture, but it is important to make sure your knees are at least moderately flexed before the swing begins.
- Properly balanced. You might not think of balance as being part of the posture equation, but it really does fit in this category because it relates to how your body is positioned before the swing. At address, you don't want to feel like you are leaning in any one direction – rather, you should be comfortably balanced right in the middle of your feet. To highlight this point, you can ask a friend to come up and gently push against one of your shoulders while you are in your stance. If you have good balance and posture, you will have no trouble 'holding your ground'. However, if there is trouble within your balance, you may find that you quickly have to come out of your stance to avoid falling over.
In the end, finding good posture is actually fairly simple. With a flat back, your chin up, your knees flexed, and your balance under control, you will be ready to go. Of course, the challenge does not stop there as it relates to posture. Not only do you need to start out your swing with great posture, but you need to keep that posture throughout the rest of the swing. So, in the next section, we are going to look at some points which relate directly to the task of keeping your posture in place while the swing develops around you.
Taking Advantage of Your Posture
Okay – so now you are in a good posture before you swing the club, that's the end of it, right? It should all be smooth sailing from this point forward? Not so fast. Yes, getting into a good posture before the swing is important, but you still have plenty of work to do before you can watch the ball sail beautifully toward the target.
You need to know find a way to take advantage of the posture you have created, meaning you have to hold that posture to the best of your ability throughout the impending swing. To highlight the key points on this topic, we have created another list below. This one includes all of the fundamentals involved in holding on to your posture successfully. Hit on these points and there is little doubt that you will be going in the right direction.
- Watch the right knee. If your posture is going to fall apart during your swing, that issue will usually start with the right knee. As the club swings back, it is tempting to allow your right knee to straighten up. When that happens, you may allow your entire body to straighten up, which would cause you to lose your posture shortly after the swing began. To avoid this problem, pay close attention to the action of your right knee as you hit some practice shots. Ideally, you will be able to keep your right knee stable and flexed throughout the backswing and into the downswing. It is okay if you allow just a bit of movement in that knee in order to promote rhythm and tempo, but it should not come all the way up into a straight position.
- Don't over-swing. One of the biggest issues that comes up with regard to amateur golfers losing their posture is the problem of over-swinging. When you over-swing – or allow your swing to go farther back than necessary – you run the risk of both losing your balance and pulling yourself up out of your posture. If you are trying too hard to move the club as far back as possible, it is very likely that you will come up and out of your stance before you ever have a chance to complete your transition and head into the downswing. There is nothing good that can be said about over-swinging, as you aren't actually going to gain any club head speed through this kind of technique. Keep your backswing tight and controlled at all times, making sure to change direction while you are still on balance and down in your posture. Those who are used to making a swing that is too long may find that this is a difficult habit to break, but it is important enough to focus on in practice sessions until it has been corrected.
- Use your lower body aggressively. There are many differences between the swings of professional golfers and the average amateur player, but one of the biggest contrasts is the way the lower body is used. The average pro uses his or her lower body aggressively right from the top of the downswing. The average amateur? Not so much. Unfortunately, the average amateur player struggles to engage their lower body in the swing, and they lack power as a result. Now that you are in a good stance, you should be able to use your lower body better right from the top of the swing to build speed that can be carried all the way through impact. Work on turning your left hip open to the target as soon as the downswing begins and you will find that you are able to create more speed than ever before.
It would be a shame to work hard on building a great posture only to let it go to waste. Once you have learned how to create a solid posture at address, use the points on this list to make sure you aren't wasting that posture after the club goes in motion. Only when you combine a great starting posture with solid in-swing technique will you be able to reap the rewards you desire.
Putting and Posture
The importance of posture doesn't end when you put down your full swing clubs and pick up your putter. As you might imagine, the topic of posture remains extremely important with regard to putting, although the fundamentals are going to change a bit. When putting, you don't need to make a big shoulder turn, so some of the points that are key when making a full swing won't really be relevant in this conversation. Specifically, if you feel most comfortable with your chin down into your chest while making a putting stroke, go for it – that position isn't going to stop you from rolling the ball nicely.
Also, you can afford to be a bit 'hunched over' at address while preparing to putt without doing any harm to your game. This is a point of personal preference – some golfers like to stay in a flat back position, while others want to relax and hunch a bit to feel like they are getting down into the stroke. Either way is fine, so go with whatever feels most natural to you. Of course, you can easily test out different postures on the putting green, so experiment with a variety of positions until you settle on one that seems to perform at a high level.
One point that does stay the same between your putting posture and your full swing stance is the issue of balance. No matter what kind of shot you are hitting around the golf course, you always need to be as balanced as possible. When setting up to putt, make sure your weight is evenly distributed between your feet to promote a stroke that swings back and through with no issues at all. Poor balance is one of the leading causes of poor performance on the putting green, so be sure to check on this point as you are working through the process of settling on a specific posture for your putting stroke.
Posture might not be the most-exciting topic in the game of golf, but it certainly is one of the most important when it comes to determining your score. If you can stand over the ball in a manner that gives your body a chance to move in the correct manner throughout the swing, hitting the ball solidly will become a much easier task. It is often the basics in golf that turn out to be the most important points, so don't make the mistake of overlooking the critical nature of the posture when it comes to improving your game.