The right address: How your stance affects your swing
Special to the Daily
Everyone has heard the old line about how if you have a poor or reverse weight shift it can adversely affect your game and shot consistency; but did you know that most reverse weight shifts are caused by factors established during your set-up?
Much has been written on the topic of controlling your weight shift and hitting better shots. Unfortunately many people fail in their basic understanding of how proper body positioning during the set-up can make shifting your weight almost automatic.
There are four common problems I see everyday that severely affect one’s weight shift and the ability to get into the proper position on the way to the top. (There are several others, but these are the most common). If you look for these faults in your set-up and try to correct them, then you will hit better and more solid shots time after time.
1. Is your spine tilted to the right of center during address?
If you think about it, this one swing flaw should never happen, but it affects every golfer at one time or another. Your right hand is lower on the grip than your left hand; thus, your right shoulder should also be lower than your left shoulder too. With this being true it causes your spine to tilt to the right of center as well. This tilting of your spine allows you to put your center of gravity and your head behind the ball, so you can shift your weight into your right foot without moving laterally too much.
If you have your shoulders too level (which, in reality, would be you leaning your spine and head too much to the left) at address then your center of gravity would be located over the top of the ball, so in order to shift your weight into your right foot you would have to move laterally to the right enough to get your center of gravity behind the ball. (By the way your “CG” is located just below your belly button.)
This leaning of the spine to the left affects everyone and when you try to fix it you will feel like you are leaning well to the right of center, but use a mirror to judge your position—it will show you visually that what you feel will not always be what you look like. The only other thing you must be aware of is when you tilt your spine to the right of center correctly, make sure your weight is still balanced about fifty-fifty on your feet. If your weight starts lag on your right side during address it will make it very easy to “hang back and hit shots everywhere.”
The Tour range of tilting to the right at address is only six to ten degrees, which is about three or four inches to the right of center, so you can see it is not much. But, this three or four inches to the right of center is vitally important in shifting your weight into your right foot correctly!
2. Is your stance too narrow?
If I counted, I bet I see nine out of ten people with stances that are too narrow versus too wide. What does this do to your swing? If you do not have a firm base upon which to support weight shifting into your right foot, then it is very easy for your hips to over-rotate, your right knee to lose its flex and position, and finally it makes it almost impossible to keep your weight shifting into your instep rather than the outside of your right foot.
Just examine the professionals on Tour; you will see 90 percent of them with stances that are around shoulder width. Remember this is measured from the outside of the shoulders to the inside of the feet. Give yourself a firm base in order to accept your weight shifting into your right foot, and you will feel “loaded” up at the top of your backswing. This will produce power and better consistency. Just watch the pros!
3. Is the ball too far back in your stance?
Watching players of all levels, I believe that improper ball position is the root of many evils in the golf swing!
As far as the weight shift goes, if you have the ball too far back in your stance for any shot and for any length of time, it will hinder your ability to get “behind the ball” at the top. When this happens you will never get as much weight into your right foot as is necessary to hit the shots with the power you are capable of. I use the sternum as a guide (you know, the bone in the middle of your chest that your dad use to poke you on when he was mad) to alert my students as to when their ball is bordering on getting too far back.
If you look at the swing photos of any professional, you will see that if they placed the ball on their sternum then it would make it very hard for them to get their weight behind the ball without some lateral move to the right. The test I show people is to take any pro at the top and draw a straight line from the ground up through their sternum, and you will see that a good portion of their left side never gets behind the ball.
This, over time, will cause you to either move laterally, or never shift your weight into your right side due to everyone’s fear of swaying! Thus, due to this faulty weight shift, you battle hanging back through impact and hitting fat shots most of the time. So get the ball in the proper position at address. This is generally somewhere between your left shoulder and the center of your sternum, depending on the lie, the shot you are trying to hit, and the club you are using. See your teaching professional concerning this matter and we will show you the proper position in no time.
4. Do you have too much weight on your left foot at address?
One of the biggest things that I see in a cause-and-effect relationship is placing too much weight on your left foot during the set-up. If your left foot gets overloaded with weight 70 percent or more due to imbalance during the set-up or an exaggerated forward press, then it will cause your arms to lift off plane from the 9 o’clock position. The most frustrating thing is to get your club and weight moving into your right side by 9 o’clock on the backswing, and then suddenly pick your arms straight up or lifting them to the top, causing your weight to leave your right foot and move into your left foot again. When you lift your arms it also causes your body to tilt to the left of center (towards the target) at the top of your backswing; thus, your head and center of gravity also get over and/or in front of the golf ball, so this explains why you become tilted.
When you tilt to the left of center, your weight will be mostly on your left foot at the top, and this process will usually reverse itself on the way down equaling an impact position where 90 percent of your weight is on your right foot, with a great loss of power and impact consistency. Not a desirable feeling!
Just remember to let the club work “gently” around your body to the top from 9 o’clock, but remember this is not a baseball bat. Once again, if you see your teaching professional then he/she can show you the best top position for your swing and build!
Learning how your set-up affects your weight shift is very important to your progress as a complete golfer. Watch the pros on TV: How many of them are set-up incorrectly and how many of them have a weight shift that leaves them at the finish with all their weight on their right foot? None. Because they understand what the proper set-up and weight shift will do for their swing and they have molded themselves into the proper positions naturally. Use your mirror and the professionals on Tour to see what I mean.
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