Stance

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Stance is part of the greater concept of address which includes body alignment, posture and ball position.  Each of these pre-swing fundamentals is included on a separate webpage within the site.  The overall fundamental of address is included as a composite overview of all fundamentals ... Pre-Swing FundamentalsStance as presented in this learning program consists of the direction you turn your toes and the width of your stance as measured between the insteps.  In this sense, the fundamentals of balance and flexibility are addressed.  This page will present the standard, schoolbook solution which is the starting point for individualizing the swing motion in the associative stage of learning where you break a solid whole swing motion into component parts.

A Review of Three Critical Concepts

Swingpath, Swingplane and Top Position

The golf swing consists of the combined movement of the body, arms and club in a semicircular path.  The swing path has two components … the horizontal swing arc and the vertical swing arc.  These two components are blend into one combined, inclined swing plane.  The key point of understanding is the human body is well designed to accomplish a NATURAL swing motion which consistently moves the clubhead on a very precise swing path.  The clubhead as seen from an overhead view will follow a horizontal semicircular path.  The objective is to align your body and position the ball in your stance so the apex of the swing arc will be tangential to the desired target line.  The clubhead as seen from a front on view will also follow a vertical semicircular path.  This path is also known as the “angle of attack” where the clubhead  moves downward, finds bottom dead center of the swing arc and then moves upwards.

 

 

Your swingplane, like swing path, is determined by your posture, alignment and ball position.  The classic, glass pane illustration in Ben Hogan’s “Five Lessons” clearly shows the concept of swing plane.  The idea is to not break the glass pane.  The left arm, and the club as an extension of the arm, must be moved in a way that does not break the glass pane.  There has been a lot of debate about swingplane, but the most simple concept is to move your body and arms in a consistent manner that always keeping the club under the glass.  There are several common errors which will cause you to break the glass.  In a general sense, they amount to having your body aimed in the wrong direction relative to your target line.  Essentially you body wants to naturally swing the club in one direction and your mind want to swing the club in a different direction.  This is a pre-swing fundamental error and is completely preventable.  While the club is moving, there are errors you can make which will throw the club off plane and off path.

How a recreational golfer positions the club at the top is different from how a professional player swings.  The pro is looking for maximum performance while the recreational player should be looking for maximum consistency.  This need translates into the development of a flatter swing plane characterized by the left arm laying on an angle across the chest, rather than higher over the shoulder.  The left arm should lay on an angle where the forearm bisects the right shoulder joint.  This would be considered a “flat” backswing in traditional terms.  The purpose of this swingplane is to prevent the very common error known as “casting” or the “over the top” move.

The inside to square to inside swingpath is the natural result of creating a relatively stable swing center … the head moves laterally with the shoulder turn … and the folding of the elbows.  The arms and shaft form a “Y” shape at address and in the impact area.  On the backswing, the left arm and club shaft form the radius for the arc of the clubhead.  At impact and for a few inches through impact, both arms are fully extended, controlling the length of the swing arc.  On the followthru (waist high), the left elbow is slightly folded, allowing the right arm to control the swing arc.  The important point is knowing and trusting that a slinging/throwing motion a round a swing center will produce a very consistent swingpath.  At all times at least one arm is straight.

Balance and Flexibility

Stance width (full swing):  shoulder width from a plum line dropped from each to shoulder joint down to the inside of the heels.  If the stance is too wide, you will lack the flexibility needed to make a full turn of the shoulders.  If the stance is too narrow, you will be out of balance.  Obviously, this is not only a fundamental but also an individual technique.

Direction of the toes:  right toe turned out 10-15ˇ, left toe turned out twice as much.  Pointing the toes outward gives flexibility to the hips allowing for a larger, easier turning of the shoulders.  Turning the toes straighter to the front reduces hip flexibility and promotes a more stable "between the feet" swing.

Toe to heel & left to right foot Balance:  You must be balanced to two ways.  Your weight will be evenly distributed between the left and right foot and from toe to heel.  The easy way to think about this is to simply stand "flat footed".

Ball Position Between the Feet:

Approach shots (5I-W):  your intention is to putt the next shot.  Accuracy is more important than distance.  To insure the ball will get airborne, reach its maximum trajectory close to the target and fall steeply, the ball is played from the center of the stance the handle "points" at the centerline of your body.

Long approach (3W-4I):  your intention is to advance the ball forward and keep it on line with the green when the probability of hitting the green is reduced because of the distance of the shot.  Both distance and direction are important.  To sweep the ball cleanly off the turf and project it more forward than upward so it will release and roll upon landing, the ball is played about 1/2 way between the center of the stance and your left heel.  The handle of the club will point at the inside seam of the left breast shirt pocket

Tee ball (D or 3W):  your intention is to drive the ball forward for maximum distance.  To catch the ball just past "bottom dead center" as the clubhead begins to move up and through the ball, play the ball from a position just opposite your left heel.  The handle of the club will point at your armpit.

 

   

The image on the left represents the basic "Hogan" method where every shot is played from a single position off the left heel.  The image on the right represents the newer multiple/variable ball position method.  Both work!  The single ball position technique requires more talent and practice to maintain precision timing.  The single position technique is related to a change in how golf clubs are manufactured today.  Today, clubs are made with built in progressive "forward press".  Clubs of Hogan's era had a very little if any forward press built into the club.  When grounded flat and square behind the ball, the shaft would be nearly vertical throughout the set.  Many older clubs featured a rounded or bull nosed leading edge and had very little "dig".  Dig is a term for what how modern clubs feature a sharper leading edge which will dig into the turf when used with the older ball position technique.

 

Note:  Ball position is directly related to alignment of the shoulders.  The more the ball moves "forward" towards the left heel, the more the shoulders must be aligned to what appears to be the right edge of the target!

   

Direction of Your Toes:  The direction you turn your toes directly affects the flexibility of your hips which affects the amount of turn you will get on both your backswing and thru swing .  On the backswing, the position of your right (or back) foot affects your hip turn.  On the thru swing, the direction of the left foot directly affects the timing of your release.  Foot position is a critical but under appreciated fundamental lost in our search for a better swing.  Most golfers forget the swing motion is a byproduct of how you get ready for the swing and how you move the club to the top of the backswing.

Stance Width:  The rule of thumb is, the wider your stance, the less flexibility you will have in you hips.  The less flexibility in your hips, the shorter the backswing.  The opposite is also generally true, the narrower your stance the longer you swing.  Stance with is obviously related to left to right balance

 

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