Is posture important? I think so!

One of the most common faults that I see when giving lessons is the posture or set up position at address.  For those of you who are wondering what posture is, it is simply the position your body is in at address prior to making any movements in the golf swing.

There are a few key thoughts that I believe will help you ensure that you have proper posture at the address position:

1.) Proximity to the golf ball – How close do you stand or how far away should you stand?

  • In my opinion, this is determined by the amount of spine angle you have at address which ultimately is determined by what club you are hitting and your body type.  Spine angle is the measured angle of the spine as you bend from the hips towards the golf ball at address.  As long as your arms aren’t extended past your chin line (See examples of chin line below), your weight is positioned over your instep, and you feel comfortable at address your proximity to the ball is likely just fine!   See examples of spine angle and proximity to the ball in the picture below:
Tiger Woods - Iron has 53 degrees of Spine Angle Jason Day - Driver has 59 degrees of Spine Angle
Tiger Woods – Iron has 53 degrees of Spine Angle
Jason Day – Driver has 59 degrees of Spine Angle

2.) Arm Hang – How should my arms be positioned?  What is arm hang?

  • Arm hang is how the arms literally hang from your shoulders.  In my opinion, the arms should fall directly beneath your shoulder and should hang comfortably.  I do not like to see the hands too tight to the body or pushed away from the body outside of the chin line. See below of two examples of great arm hang:
Hunter Mahan - Fairway Wood and Rory McIlroy - Mid Iron .... notice how both players hand lie directly beneath their shoulders and inside the chin line!
Hunter Mahan – Fairway Wood and Rory McIlroy – Mid Iron …. notice how both players hand lie directly beneath their shoulders and inside the chin line!

3.) Athletic Position – what is an athletic position? How do I achieve this?

  • An athletic position will be achieved with a back that’s fairly straight, feet near shoulder width a part, a slight knee flex, and your butt should push away from the golf ball. If you’re reading this please stand up nice and tall with your feet near shoulder width a part.  Place your thumbs on the outside of your hip joints, bend forward towards the golf ball keeping your back nice and straight while bending at your hips…not your back. Now add some knee flex (not too much though) and at this point you should feel most of your weight on your toes.  Stay in the position you are in and rock back slightly allowing the weight to move towards the center of your feet.  You should feel a nice stretch in your hamstrings, calves, and lower back.  If this is painful to you, please go back to your current posture for the time being and see a local PGA Professional for more help. See two different athletic positions below:
Two players in Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer who have different body types, different club choices, different spine angles, and different amounts of knee flex, but both have wonderfully athletic postures!
Two players in Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer who have different body types, different club choices, different spine angles, and different amounts of knee flex, but both have wonderfully athletic postures!

If you work on understanding those three concepts, your golf swing will not get started off on the wrong foot!  I am going to display a few pictures of a student that I am currently working with that will show the impact a simple change in posture can do wonders for a golf swing! We are working on changing his ball flight from a sweeping high draw that often misses left to more of a tight draw with a lot less curvature. By changing the set up position, I felt we could change the path the club was traveling on through impact.  I wanted to see the path move less from in to out and even get the club path to travel down the line through impact or slightly left to hit a fade if he so chooses.

Address Position

Top of Backswing

Shaft Parallel During Down Swing

Impact Position

Shaft Parallel During Follow Through

Finish Position

In the before swings he is wearing the blue sweat shirt and after swings he is wearing the maroon shirt. You will notice at set up his back had a slight curve to it and his hands pushed away from his body.  We talked about moving a touch closer to the ball and feeling his hands hand from his shoulders, thats it!  Nothing more, nothing less, and no in swing concepts were added.  You will notice he has more control of the club at the top of the back swing and the club begins to travel on a much better path.  This is shown by the picture where the shaft is parallel to the ground halfway through the down swing, the position at impact, and the position of the club with the shaft parallel to the ground during the follow through.  You can really see a distinct difference where the club travels along the plane line much better and even stays on top of the plane instead of underneath it as the club approaches impact.  Because of the better path through impact, you will notice he is able to swing the club down the target line instead of to the right of the target line.  He also finishes the swing in a much more controlled position and I believe this is because of the control he isn’t having to release the club as hard through impact to ensure the ball curves back to his target. Below you will find a video with an explanation of this all as well.

You can clearly see that some great changes can be made throughout your swing by simply adjusting your set up/posture at address.  In my opinion most swing faults during the swing are caused by poor posture, alignment issues, and grip problems.  Please stay tuned for blogs pertaining to those topics!

Thank you for reading and giving me an opportunity to help you with your game during 2015!  Please leave all comments below or email me at jmerlin@pga.com!

 

Joe Merlin

 

 

**** The images of the professional athletes came from Youtube and I used the Analyzr Swing analysis program to screen shot them.  I do not own the rights to the original videos. ****