Posture is an important and often overlooked fundamental in the game of golf. Contrary to what most non-golfers might believe, we are making a very athletic motion. It’s important to prepare yourself in terms of balance and stance just like any other athlete. You should feel comfortable, agile, and in perfect balance before the start of any golf swing.
Stance and Position of Feet
First, set your feet shoulder width apart. This will provide a sufficient base to support an athletic body turn. You may want to widen your stance slightly (insteps of feet even with the outside of the shoulders) with the longer clubs to accommodate the wider swing arc. The back foot (right foot for right handed players) should be approximately perpendicular to the target line, while the front foot should be slightly open (toe pointing outward).
Be sure that your knees are bent slightly. You should feel sturdy, stable, and grounded. Too much flex in the knees will lead to improper posture and leg action throughout the swing. On the other hand, insufficient flex or locked knees will cause restriction and a loss of power.
Weight distribution should be approximately 50/50 on each leg, or slightly favoring the back leg (right leg for right-handed players). Your center of gravity should never be placed forward of the center of your stance if possible. This allocation of your weight will enable a simple turn and shift “behind the ball” on the backswing.
Tilt of the Spine
Think of the spine as the axis around which body rotation and the entire golf swing takes place. Therefore, it is vital that this axis (spine) remains as straight as possible. Much like the axels for the wheels of a car, if they become bowed or bent, the wheels will wobble uncontrollably.Tilt your upper body forward, bending at the hip joints. If your spine is to remain straight, you must “stick out” your buttocks to maintain balance. Your center of gravity should remain in the center of your feet and neither toward the heels or the toes.
To feel how this should be, take a golf club in your right hand, bring it up over your head and let it fall down along your spine. Take hold of the club head with your left hand and press it against your tailbone so that the club runs along your’s spine all the way up to the back of your head. You should feel the shaft of the club against your tailbone, along parts of your spine, all the way up to the back of your head. As you lean forward, your head shouldn’t drop down, but remain neutral, and it’s obviously important to maintain balance. To avoid falling over, as our shoulders come forward, our backside moves backwards towards our heels to serve as a counterbalance. We maintain balance on the balls of our feet and equal distribution between our left leg and right leg. Take the club away from your spine and bring your hands back around in front of your body.
Head and Chin Position
The finishing touch to the perfect spine position is to keep your chin up. With the chin in your chest, your spine will be in a curved position and body rotation will be difficult.
Addressing the Ball
If you allow your arms to hang loosely from your shoulders, you should have enough tilt in your spine to create about one clenched fist worth of space between your hands and your thighs. Obviously we don’t want to reach excessively, nor do we want our hands in too close to our body. With this proper posture, wherever your hands come together is where you should grip the club. When we use longer clubs like the driver or fairway woods, we simply stand a little further away from the ball. With shorter irons, we’ll stand with the same athletic posture, but closer to the ball. By setting the club down behind the ball in the proper playing position, the handle of the club should tell us where to stand. This represents proper, athletic posture that we’ll bring to nearly every full golf swing we make.
In summary, a golf swing is an athletic motion and our stance should be athletic as well. We bow forward toward the ball to prepare for a swing along an inclined plane. Be sure to maintain a relatively straight, stable spine as this is the axis around which everything rotates. Stay balanced with weight evenly distributed from toes to heels and left leg versus right leg. Allow arms to hang naturally, where ever your hands come together is where we should grip the club.