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Man in golf attire holding a drive ready to hit a golf ball

by Kosta Ramirez, PGA Head Golf Professional of Jones Masterpiece

Why is set up so important? If you set up incorrectly, you are most likely going to make a poor motion in your golf swing. We first make sure we are holding the club properly. When we hold the golf club, we must make sure it is held in the fingers and the thumbs are on the opposite side of the center line of the grip. When the club is held properly, you should be able to see two or three knuckles of your top hand.

Next, we focus on our weight distribution. This will change for different shots and lies, but for a flat lie, mid-iron shot, I like the weight evenly distributed between both feet. After the weight is evenly distributed, I want you to think ATHLETE. Golf is an athletic sport, so we need to set up as an athlete. Our knees are slightly bent, which allows our upper body to bend forward from the waist. If this is done correctly, you should feel the weight in the balls of your feet and the butt end of the club pointed to your lead hip.

With these checkpoints in your setup, your body can now move correctly and hopefully lead to more birdies on your next round. Next, we’ll learn how to transition from this basic setup to the three standard golf stances and when each is best used.

Neutral or Square Stance

Get in your setup position with the ball teed up. Imagine an invisible line running from one big toe to the other. Now imagine a line running from your ball to your target. A neutral stance (also called a square stance) simply means that your toe line is parallel with the ball line. Beginner golfers often start out in a neutral stance so they can get a feel for their swing.

Open Stance

To achieve an open stance, start out square, and then shift your front foot slightly away from the ball while keeping your feet parallel. This opens up an angle between your toe line and the ball line. An open stance increases the club’s loft and can make fade and slice spins more likely. An open stance is best used when playing uphill, as this makes it easier to rotate toward the target. You can also clear your hips easier with an open stance. More people prefer an open stance to a closed stance because it often results in better alignment, more flexibility, and more mobility.

Closed Stance

To get a feel for your closed stance, start in the square stance and move your front foot a little closer to the ball. Keep your feet parallel to each other. Your toe line will intersect the ball line and run to the right of your target. A closed stance decreases club loft, resulting in a lower-flying ball that is more likely to draw or hook. A closed stance can allow you to hit the ball a further distance if you often slice the ball with an open or neutral stance.

Sort Out Your Stance at Treetops

When it comes to golf, every body is different and each golfer has their own preferences. If you’re looking for ways to make your game more competitive, experiment with these different stances to figure out which one is best for you. Also, it never hurts to ask a pro for some help. Book your early-season golf lessons with the PGA Professionals at Treetops Resort to iron out your swing and stance issues.