The right address
By T.J. TOMASI
The term “setup” is a good one because that’s just what this portion of your pre-shot routine does — it sets up your whole swing. You may not have the athletic talent of a tour player once the swing starts (few do), but every golfer has the ability to set up like an expert, so there are no excuses when it comes to getting this part of your swing down pat.
Here, from bottom to top, are five checkpoints for your perfect setup. All references are in relation to the target line, that imaginary straight line connecting your ball and the target.
Your feet should be turned out about 25 degrees each (a quarter of a turn). This makes it easier to rotate your hips correctly as you swing.
The amount of flare depends on how flexible you are and the ball flight you want. High-flex golfers with swings that are too long should use much less back-foot flare, while slicers should de-flare the front foot. Lefty Steve Flesch in the photo below is about standard, with both feet flared the same.
The width of your stance is measured using your heels. Take your stance with a short iron and, without moving your feet, mark the position of your heels with two tees, then move away and check your width — the tees should be hip width apart. To match your hips and heels, use the outside rim of the hips and the middle of your heels.
Your stance widens in small increments as you use longer clubs, until with the driver, the heels are about shoulder width apart.
Your knee flex should match the knee bend of your normal walking stride just as your forward foot flattens on the ground. If you can see your shoelaces, you have too little flex; if you can’t see your toes, you have too much.
3. Hip Joints
The tilt of your upper body toward the ground ranges anywhere from 25 degrees to 35 degrees and is controlled by how much you bend from your hip joints. Notice that both the tour players in the photos bend from their hip joints and not their waists. When you bend from your waist, you deactivate your centers of rotation, so your hip joints lock up, forcing sliding instead of turning.
When you assume the correct address position, your abdomen is retracted both backward and upward so your fanny protrudes. To get the feeling, imagine that you’re about to sit on an above-the-waist, three-legged stool. The traditional image of a regular height stool causes too much knee bend.
The shoulder checkpoint features your arms hanging under your shoulders with your upper arms adhering lightly to your torso, as if they were stuck to the sides of your chest. You could open your hands and drop the club to the ground and your arms would hardly change their angle of hang.
Your head should be positioned in the middle of your shoulders with your chin held high in the proud position. If you let it rest on your chest, it blocks your shoulder turn. The proud position requires you to “peep” at the ball with the bottom of your eyes rather than stare at it with a droopy head.
Note: Don’t wear bifocals when you play golf because they force you to drop your head to see the ball.
Insider Takeaway: Both photos show an overall setup position that is one of “springy readiness.” Run through each checkpoint from bottom to top every time you address the ball and in no time your setup will become automatic.