The correct golf setup and golf posture will increase your shoulder turn and reduce back pain! Every golfer wonders to himself why he doesn't look the same at address as Tiger Woods or other greats. After all, they are just standing still, right? It seems that if nowhere else, that is the ONE place in the swing where everyone can be just like Tiger! However, there has been a lot of confusing information in the golf world that has lead to the incorrect belief that there is no one way to setup to the golf ball and everyone's golf posture should look different. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Proper Golf Setup
The golf setup position is a relatively static position in the golf swing compared to others, but that doesn't mean it's not important to a proper golf swing. In fact, a poor golf posture is equally detrimental to your golf swing as a bad golf takeaway.
The good news is that with our golf posture drills in this instruction video, you can get a golf posture that looks like the pros every single time. Just setting up to the golf ball correctly will help ensure that your body can rotate properly during the golf swing and help you create more power with less effort and less chance of a golf swing injury.
Setup in the golf swing is one of the most underrated, critically important parts and fundamentals of the golf swing. The reason it's so important is because your setup of your spine angle of your pelvis really determines swing plane and path in a large degree.
When you set up incorrectly or the way most every single golfer on the planet does with not enough axis tilt getting the right side on top of the club at address, you're going to put yourself in the position where you're going to want to reverse pivot, which is this move I'll talk about more in a second, you're going to have a terrible swing plane that's going to tend to be over the top and hit this big, nasty banana pull slice which isn't any fun, it doesn't go anywhere, and every golfer's the dread of, bane of their existence. You're also going to put yourself at risk for injury.
With rotary swing, what we're talking about is we look at the setup from stacking your joints to put everything in neutral so that we can have a full range of motion with our body rotation and a proper swing plane and path so the ball goes where we want it to.
Let's talk about setup here. One thing that we're going to talk about, I've talked about stance within the other videos about how wide your stance should be. You should be familiar with that now, it's very important that you set up with a proper stance wide, otherwise your head's going to be moving all over the place, and you're going to have a really hard time shifting your weight, which is critical in the swing. But one of the big things I want to talk about here is the axis tilt, and I talk about axis tilt in some other videos but I want to be specific about it here.
The axis tilt is the angle that you set your spine at address. When you set up, what most golfers do is they set up with their spine very vertical, so if I'm putting the club through my belly button and my sternum here, and they set up this way, and they get their right arm on top of the club, and so they look like this at address with a really weak right hand. What this is going to do with his vertical spine, as you start going back, your hips are going to start going this way, and your upper body is going to start going this way, and you're going to have the dreaded reverse pivot. It's all because of axis tilt at setup.
To get proper axis tilt, stand straight up, take the club, put it across your sternum and your belly button and slide your hips to the left until the club hits you in the leg. As I do this, now I have axis tilt. What that's going to allow me to do is as I shift to the right going back, I'm still going to be able to have tilt away from the target at the top of my swing instead of this dreaded reverse pivot move. This isn't a very powerful position to be in, obviously. You want to be loaded up behind the ball, and you have to have axis tilt in order for you to do that. Really, really important that you focus on just this simple little lateral movement to get your hips to move forward to put your spine in the proper position at address.
One of the the big things that we're trying to do with Rotary Swing is keep your spine in neutral joint alignment as much as as humanly possible to prevent golf swing injuries. There's a lot of force on your spine in the golf swing, and we want to make sure that you never get injured. To do that, you need to make sure that your spine stays in neutral as much as possible, but we see this kind of stuff all the time where people got this big curve on their spine and they have no axis tilt, and then as you start swinging back, you create this kind of crazy motion and putting all this terrible, terrible torque and force on your spine. We want to make sure you stay in neutral so it's really important that you have, as you create this axis tilt, that you just let your hip slide laterally, let this hip drop down a little bit, your pelvis is going to tilt a little bit, and that's keeping your spine in neutral.
Another big key that we want to talk about with keeping your spine in neutral is what it looks like from down the line. As I'm doing this, obviously it's really easy for me to be in neutral joint alignment. You can think about just somebody had a string attached to the top of your head, and they just kind of pull you up. In your nice, neutral posture, you can be like this all day, your vertebrae on perfect alignment and so it's very easy for you to make a full turn. Every golfer can make a full shoulder turn. I promise you, when your spine is in neutral and you move from the correct place, so it's really easy for me to turn and talk to the camera here with my chest turned 90 degrees.
Now as soon as I do this, which is what most people do to get the club, they roll their shoulders forward, they kind of hunch forward like this, and they set up like this. Well now, to try and talk to you is really hard, and I'm having a hard time, and it feels really uncomfortable because I've taken my spine to of neutral. As you do that, you start losing rotational mobility in your spine.
Each vertebrae that you have only has about a degree, degree and a half of rotation, so in order to make a full, which is going to be a 45 degree turn in relationship to your hips, a full 45 turn, you need every single little bit of rotation from every vertebrae up the chain. But when you start taking them and you round them over, these facet joints get locked a little bit, and so they lose rotational mobility. All of a sudden, you can't make a full shoulder turn anymore because you've rounded your shoulders forward and now all of a sudden, it's really hard to make any rotation
You can feel this for yourself if you're sitting in a chair watching these videos right now, just roll your shoulders really far forward, roll forward from the waist, and try and turn back and forth, and then stand up nice and tall and then turn. All of a sudden, a miracle, you got 20, 30 degrees more rotation. Obviously it's not a miracle, you just need to keep your joints in neutral so as you set up to the ball, make sure that you feel nice and tall, your spine is in neutral, and as you hinge forward, you hinge from the hip socket, not from your waist, because again, that's going to take your spine out of neutral.
What you're going to do is focus on hinging forward from your hips, and as you do that, in order to keep your balance, your weight, just keep it stacked over your ankles which we're going to talk about next, your hips are going to move back as your body moves forward as a counter balance. Now, I've kept my spine in neutral. Head's back, shoulder's are back, and as I reach for the club, I don't want to roll my shoulders forward all of a sudden. I'm going to keep my spine in neutral, hinge forward, grab the club. Now, I've got my spine in neutral, we're going to focus on where all the club and all that stuff is in a second, but now I have ability to make a nice, full turn because I've kept my spine in neutral, which is critical, and I have axis tilt which is going to prevent the dreaded reverse pivot move.
Now, I'm going to talk about one of the most fundamentals of setup, and it's one of the most misconstrued pieces of advice that causes more injuries in the golf swing than any other piece of advice, and that's where should your weight be at setup? That is a critical piece that RST argues with where people think it should be because the most common taught way where your weight distribution is at address is to be on the balls of your feet. Nothing could be further from the truth. That's the last place you want to set up, is to be way forward on your toes. Why is that?
Well, when you do that, as you go back, the tendency is going to be for you to move your weight further on your toes, and then your primary balancing joint becomes your knee instead of your hip socket where you can load your glutes and your hamstrings properly. Now, you're going to feel it all in your quads. You can get away with that, that's not the worst thing in the world. It's not ideal, but it's not the worst thing in the world. But where stuff really starts becoming a problem is in the downswing.
When you keep your weight on the ball of your foot, I want you to do this now if you're watching this video, stand up, put all of the weight on the ball of your foot, and now try and rotate your hip like you would in the golf swing. You're going to feel really quickly with the weight on the ball of your foot and trying to rotate on this leg, that your knee, all of a sudden, has a very uncomfortable feeling in it, and if you've got knee problems, it's going to hurt. This is how a lot of golfers get injured, is that they have the weight on the ball of their foot at impact, and they're trying to rotate on their knee. Instead, we want to move your weight back to your ankle, and rotate now, and now your primary balancing joint is your hip socket, and you can do this all day long, pain-free, as long as you're in neutral joint alignment.
At setup, if you're setting up way on the balls of your feet, it takes a lot more work to then move your weight back to your ankle and back to your ankle in the downswing, so we start you out there. You're going to start ... we kind of use a range here between your ankle and the middle of your foot is about where your weight needs to be at setup. We don't ever want it up here, and then as you go back, your weight's going to move back to the ankle a little bit further, and then the downswing, it's going to move kind of the middle your foot and then back over the ankle again so that you can protect your knee and your hip and rotate properly.
So at setup, you want to be in the middle range there, you never want to be on the balls of your feet unless you want to blow out your knee, or you're really good at moving your weight efficiently and can move your weight all the way back to your ankle. That's what you see a lot of tour pros do, is they will set up on the balls of their feet, but they won't be there at impact, and if they are, they won't be there very long because they're going to injure their knee.
Make sure that as you set up correctly, you feel like your weight is stacked just like you would in neutral joint alignment standing up, talking to somebody. You don't stand to talk to somebody on the balls of your feet, that's off-balance. Again, remember that you got all of the force of this club moving out this way in the downswing, and a driver swung by, you know, somebody with some reasonable club head speed, effectively weighs about 100 lbs through impact. You've got, imagine 100 lbs of force pulling you this way. Well, if you're on the balls of your feet, what are you going to do? You're going to have a tendency to fall forward, right? We've all seen that movement at the driving range, right? It's one of my favorite ones to watch.
So, you're trying to actually move back this way to fight all of the force of the club moving that way, and as you're doing that, you're moving further back on to your ankle in the downswing. At setup, we want to start there. So we're going to be nice and neutral, you could draw a straight line from the center of my ear, center of my shoulder, back on my elbows, center of my hip socket, back of my knee, center of my ankle. That's neutral, and as I set up, I want to make sure that I maintain that, so as you bend forward, you're likely, wait a second, I'm moving on to the balls of my feet as I move forward because I got all this mass bending this way.
In order to counterbalance your upper body hinging forward to get down to the ball on the ground, your hips have to then go back. As I do this, they work together. I'm hinging forward, my hips go back, I relax my knees, I'm in a nice, powerful, balanced, anchored setup position. I don't feel like I'm going to fall over. I don't feel like you could come and knock me over this way either. I'm balanced. That's critical at setup.
The last thing we're going to talk about is ball position. Where should the ball be at setup? Simplest way to think about it? Left ear, logo on your shirt, just inside your armpit. It's going to be just forward of your stance, further out than most people want to put it, but it's gotta be up here because again, the lead side of your body is the primary controller in the golf swing, so if you have the ball way back here, you're going to have a tendency to not shift your weight, you're going to be very right-side dominant.
So, ball position is going to be up off your left ear, and now if we set up with axis tilt balanced over our ankles, right arm just comes underneath relatively passive, it's in a weaker position than the lead arm, and we talked about stance width in the other videos so we've got a little nice, neutral stance width based on our pelvis width. Now, we have a tour pro set up every time, and that's going to give you the best chance to make the best golf swing possible, injury-free, powerfully, and efficiently.