Sound setup for solid strikes
By Kim Jeong-kyoo
The ultimate goal of assuming the address position is to arrange the body so you can swing the clubhead as fast as possible along the ball-target line through the ball with the clubface square to the target.
For a proper address position geared toward achieving this end it's essential to place the clubhead square to the target first, then your body, not vice versa.
Recreational golfers tend to align their body first before grounding the club. This leaves them with very little chance of aiming correctly and squaring the clubface to the target. To aim the club precisely at the target it's necessary to align the body last, not first, and square to the ball-target line. Square body alignment facilitates swinging the club along the ball-target line.
Crucial here is to take note of the heel, not toe line, as well as the shoulders so they are parallel to the ball-target line. The clubhead tends to swing along the shoulder line, partially influenced by the heels and how the club is gripped.
For straight shots the heel line can be a tad open or closed at address depending on the club but the shoulders need to always be square.
When using a driver, you'd better set up with a slightly closed stance, while taking a slightly open stance with a pitching wedge. A closed stance encourages a more in-to-out path through impact and a more dynamic forearm rotation, while an open stance boosts a steeper downward blow and a more out-to-in path.
The distance and direction of the shot is closely connected to how you set up before starting to swing. When you are not in a proper, athletic address position, you know instinctively that you are not properly prepared. That breeds uncertainty, which causes tension to creep in. Tension leads to tightening of the muscles in the hands, arms and shoulders, thereby inhibiting a fluid swing.
Not only to address the ball properly, but also to better control direction, it's necessary to establish a correct alignment of the clubface to the hands. To this end, you need to hold the club correctly so the back of the left hand and palm of the right hand match the clubface.
Also crucial is the distance from the ball. Standing too close to it spells poor contact on the heel-side of the clubface and standing too far away causes less-than-solid contact on the toe-side of the clubface.
Standing too close to the ball means too much weight is distributed on the heel-side and standing too far away from the ball means too much weight put on the toe-side.
When you play the ball too far forward in your stance, off the left instep or toe, you will turn your body to the left to set the club behind the ball at address, forcing your shoulders into an open position. This flawed address pushes you into swinging the club overly to the outside of the ball-target line on the backswing and on an exaggerated out-to-in path through impact.
The consequences will be the opposite if you position the ball too far back in your stance toward the right foot.
Similarly, setting the hands too low or too high at address pushes you to descend into a catastrophe. Setting the hands too low causes excessive wrist action during the swing and setting them too high inhibits a natural wrist action. A good rule of thumb is that the position is right if the butt of the club handle is pointing just left of the navel.
Once you've set up correctly, loosen your grip so the fingers gently feel the handle. That allows you to swing back at a sedate pace with the absence of violent, brute force. A good, relaxed backswing always sets the scene for solid strikes.