There's an old golf saying that goes, “Proper golf address posture promotes proper path and plane.”
It's a tongue-twister, for sure, but well worth remembering. The position of your feet, knees, hips, shoulders and spine at address dictate where the club travels throughout the swing.
Poor posture can take many forms. Some golfers hunch over from the waist, others stand too tall, or without enough knee flex. It's also important to maintain your posture from setup to finish; otherwise, the plane and path will veer off course.
Setting up properly each time requires a consistent pre-shot routine. The following sequence works for every club; just make sure your feet are the appropriate width apart for the shot at hand:
- Step to the ball standing up straight (but not rigid).
- Take your grip and hold the club so it's horizontal to the ground, with both elbows at your sides.
- Flex the knees slightly, weight balanced evenly between the toes and heels.
- Stick out your backside as though using it to close a car door, then bend forward from the hips (not the waist).
- Let the arms and club fall naturally until club meets ground, without respect to the ball.
- If the club isn't directly behind the ball, hold your posture and step forward or back to slide the club in place.
Correcting imperfect golf posture takes time and practice, but you'll eventually become comfortable – and hit more good shots, consistently.
All about Golf Posture
posture is a key fundamental in the game of golf. The position that you establish prior to starting your swing will have a lot to do with the ball flight that you are able to generate. Countless amateur golfers address the ball using a poor posture, making it even harder to hit quality shots. Good posture isn't complicated or even difficult to achieve, but it does take some attention to detail and a little bit of practice. If you are serious about playing better golf, improving your posture is something that should move to the top of your to-do list.
Swinging from a good posture is the best way to start the club moving in the right direction each and every time. When your posture is inconsistent, you can expect the takeaway portion of your swing to be inconsistent as well. Since the takeaway largely dictates what the rest of the swing will look like, it is obviously important to get your posture correct. There is no doubt that golf is a hard game, but using a technically-correct posture prior to each swing can make it a little bit easier.
You might think of working on your posture as a rather boring task, but you should actually be excited to take on this project. Why? Simple – when you improve your posture, you can quickly improve your game. Altering your posture isn't really a 'swing change', since you aren't changing the way you move the club once the swing starts. For that reason, it is easier for most golfers to integrate a new posture into their game than it is a full-on mechanical swing change. After just one or two practice sessions spent improving your posture, you could find yourself playing better golf. Don't think of working on your posture as a chore, but rather think of it as a great opportunity to lower your scores.
Since you won't be making changes to your swing, you can actually work on your posture when you aren't even at the golf course. It does help to have a mirror available to check your positions, so many golfers find it convenient to work on this part of their game at home. However, if you are regularly at the driving range anyway, there is nothing wrong with starting a practice session with some posture work before moving on to hitting a bucket of balls.
All of the instruction contained below is based on a right handed golfer. If you play left handed, please reverse the directions as necessary.
How Poor Posture Can Damage Your Game
Poor posture has a very real effect on your golf game. You probably don't think to blame your posture when you hit a bad shot out on the course, but there is a good chance that the root cause of a poor swing can be traced to a fault in your posture. Most golfers tend to blame some perceived mistake that they made during the swing itself – but that isn't always accurate. If you are making mistakes at address, your swing won't have much of a chance to succeed.
The first thing you will notice with poor posture is a lack of distance. Without a good posture at address, your backswing will never be able to live up to its potential. Specifically, you won't be able to make as big of a turn in the backswing as you would be able to with a better posture. Without a full turn, your swing won't have as much time to build speed, and you will lack distance on your shots. If you have been searching for a secret method to add yardage, it might be as simple as improving the posture you use at address.
In addition to losing distance, bad posture can also make it difficult to strike your shots cleanly at impact. Mostly, this will be a problem when playing iron shots from the fairway. Hitting the ball off of the turf with an iron requires stability throughout your swing, and that stability will be hard to find without good posture. Players with bad posture tend to move up and down excessively during the swing – making it very difficult to achieve a solid strike. A technically-correct posture will help you maintain your level during the swing, leading the club head perfectly back to the ball at impact.
When you get a chance to watch some professional golf on TV, pay particular attention to the lack of movement that most of the players exhibit during their swings. Generally speaking, pro golfers swing the club by using a smooth shoulder rotation in the backswing and an aggressive lower body turn toward the target in the downswing. And that's it. There is no extra movement, because extra movement only complicates the swing and makes it harder to repeat. They are able to make this simple style of swing because they set up to the ball in perfect posture each and every time. To add consistency to your ball striking, your first goal should be a picture perfect posture that you can repeat shot after shot all day long.
Yet another negative associated with poor posture is difficulty hitting good shots under pressure. When you get nervous, the timing of your swing will suffer. That is okay if you have a simple swing, but it can mean big trouble if your swing is unnecessarily complicated. When you start from a poor posture, you will have to make adjustments mid-swing in order to get your body into the right positions. That means you are making moves that you shouldn't have to make, and your timing will have to be perfect in order to hit a good shot. Most likely, when you are nervous, your timing won't be perfect and you will hit a poor shot. If you would like to perform better in club tournaments or matches against your friends, focus on straightening out your posture first and foremost.
It should be abundantly clear by this point that posture is important to playing good golf. You will have a hard time finding any professional golfer with a poor posture, so you should follow their lead and make sure yours is as reliable and stable as possible. It doesn't take any specific talent or coordination to build a good address position - the only requirement is some focused practice time and attention to detail. Work on this basic fundamental and you can unlock potential that you may not have known existed within your game.
It All Starts with a Solid Base
Good posture in golf is built on a stable lower body. Without your legs in a good position to support you, it will be a nearly impossible task to make a balanced and athletic golf swing. When evaluating a posture, the first thing a golf teacher will look at is the lower body position of their student. Before moving on to any other parts of the swing, it is crucial to get the lower body into the right position at address.
To make sure your lower body is doing its part within your posture, pay attention to the three points below –
- Flex your knees. The biggest mistake made by amateur golfers when it comes to posture is standing with very little flex in the knees. You need to have your knees flexed at address in order to engage the rest of your body in the swing. When you stand up with your legs straight as you prepare to swing, your upper body will hunch over the ball and you will be very limited in terms of the rotation that you can use you build speed and power. A golfer who stands with straight legs at address is one who is going to hit weak shots, usually well out to the right of the target. To get started on improving your posture, the first step is to ensure that you have a comfortable amount of flex in your knees prior to every single swing.
- Stick your backside out. As you flex your knees, you should be pushing your backside out behind you. This position is common in many sports, and it is typically seen as part of a standard athletic stance. Football players, basketball players, baseball players, and more all are used to standing with their knees flexed and backside pushed out behind them. While golf might not seem as athletic as those other sports, the golf swing itself is a rather athletic and demanding motion. To take your best posture, feel your backside pushing out behind you while you settle in to your stance.
- Weight in the middle of your feet. Many golfers have a bad habit of leaning out onto their toes at address. This is a mistake that will put you off balance before the swing even gets started. Instead, make sure your weight is balanced perfectly in the middle of both feet while you stand over the ball. If you notice that you are leaning onto your toes (or back onto your heels), correct the problem before going any further. By centering your weight in the middle of each foot before the swing starts, you will give yourself a much better chance of maintaining that balance all the way through to the finish.
A good golf swing is built on simple fundamentals like the position of your lower body at address. Take the time to work through each of these checkpoints while analyzing your posture. Most likely, you will find that you are off-track on at least one of these points. The good news, however, is that these points should be relatively easy to fix now that you are aware of their importance. Practice moving in and out of your posture, focused only on the position of your lower body. Once you feel confident that you can make a good lower body stance time after time, you will be ready to move on to the next part of your posture.
Upper Body Keys
As long as you have done a good job of positioning your lower body at address, the upper body part of the equation should be pretty simple. Of course, you don't want to take it for granted and just assume that your upper body is in the right position to get your swing started correctly. Take the time to review the three points below so you can verify that your upper body is holding up its end of the bargain.
- Back straight. The one major mistake that you can make when it comes to your upper body posture is hunching your back over the ball at address. The backswing is all about rotation, and you won't be able to make a full turn away from the target unless you keep your back in a flat position. The good news is this – if you have done a good job of sticking your backside out while forming your lower body stance, you should already be in a flat-back position. To confirm that you can check this point off of the list, take your stance in front of a mirror and check out the position of your back. As long as it is straight from your waist line up into your neck, you can move on with confidence.
- Chin up. A key element to your posture is the position of your head. Specifically, you need to avoid pushing your chin down into your chest, as this is another mistake that will limit your ability to make a full backswing. Many golfers make this mistake in an effort to 'keep their head down' during the shot. While you certainly want to watch the ball throughout your swing, the idea of keeping your head down as been exaggerated over the years. In fact, you would be better off to have your head up, as long as you continue to look down at the ball. When you take your stance, make it a point to pick your chin up away from your chest to improve your overall posture.
- Relaxed arms. You shouldn't feel like your arms have to reach out to the ball at address – but you don't want them pushed in close to your body, either. Ideally, your arms will be able to hang comfortably from your shoulders when you take your stance. Putting your arms in a relaxed and comfortable position will make it easier for them to start the swing by gradually moving the club head away from the ball. The whole point of building a solid posture is to promote a proper takeaway, and your arm position is a big part of that equation.
Between your upper body and lower body, there are a total of six checkpoints listed above. If you can successfully check off each of those points when building your posture, you will be in great shape to make a quality swing at the ball. While six points might sound like a lot to think about at first, you will quickly become comfortable with each of them after just a short amount of practice time. Hopefully, after a little practice and a couple rounds out on the course, you will get to a point where you can take a good posture without having to consciously think about any of these points. Repetition is your friend when trying to make your new posture come naturally to you, so practice as often as possible and this improved address position will become second nature shortly.
Using Your Posture on the Course
As you know, the driving range and the golf course are two very different places. The game, at times, can seem rather easy when standing on the range. After all, there isn't really any pressure when hitting balls on the range, and you should always have a good lie on flat ground. The same can't be said for the course. There are plenty of nerves to be found out on the course, along with bad lies and uneven ground. The driving range is great for learning fundamentals and improving your technique, but the real test always comes when you step up to the first tee.
Just like any other part of your game, you can lose track of your posture during the walk from the range to the first tee. As your mind gets distracted by everything else that is going on, it is easy to forget about taking a proper address position prior to every swing. To play your best, you not only need to master the correct posture on the driving range, but you also need to take it with you throughout the round. This is a task that is easier said than done.
The first step toward successfully using your new posture on the course is to plan and execute a pre-shot routine. The process that you go through prior to every shot should be the same on the driving range as it is for each shot on the course. Your routine will be unique to you, and it can contain any kind of preparations you feel necessary to hit quality shots. The only rule of thumb is to make sure it doesn't take too long – you don't want to be holding up all of the golfers behind you while you are working through a complicated routine. Keep it simple, and repeat it before every shot. With your routine in place, the consistency of your posture on the course should quickly improve.
Another challenge that you will face on the course is uneven lies. When you are standing on sloped ground while trying to play an approach shot, you will find that you need to alter your posture in order to reach the ball. Use the following guidelines to make the right adjustments to your posture based on the lie that you are facing.
- Ball below your feet. To reach a ball that is lying below the level of your feet, add flex to your knees at address. If you were to reach for the ball by bending over from the waist, you would ruin the posture you worked so hard to build. Simply add flex to your knees at address and keep everything else the same to hit a quality shot from this difficult lie.
- Ball above your feet. If the ball is only slightly above your feet, you can adjust by simply choking down slightly on the grip of the club. However, if the ball is well above your feet, you will need to take some of the flex out of your knees so you can stand up taller. This adjustment will cost you some power, however, so you may want to use an extra club to cover the necessary yardage for the shot.
- Upslope toward the green. When the ball is lying on ground that is sloped up toward the green, keep your stance the same but move the ball back in your stance. Also, this lie will promote a draw or hook, so consider aiming slightly out to the right of the target.
- Downslope toward the green. This is another scenario that calls for extra flex in your knees. It is easy to 'come out' of this kind of shot and leave the ball out to the right of the target. Adding flex to your knees will help you stay into the shot all the way through impact.
The only way to get better at using your improved posture on the course is to get out and put it to the test. Use the tips above to better adapt to the various situations you face on the course, and always remember to take your rounds one shot at a time. As long as you give your best effort on each individual shot, the round as whole should look pretty good at the end of the day.
Posture might not be an exciting part of golf, but it is vital to playing well. Spend some of your practice time focused on improving your own posture and you can expect to play some of your best golf in the very near future.