Proper Golf Stance
Most golfers understand how important a proper golf stance and alignment are but many golfers don’t practice or work on this fundamental skill. If you want to improve, or just enjoy the game more, it is important to get in the right golf position before you hit a shot. The good news is that every player regardless of their skill level can do it successfully. Learning the correct golf stance will make your swing better and help you to hit the ball farther and straighter.
Golf Stance Tips for Any ClubThis article will help you to get into the proper golf stance for any club, and note the important differences in the golf stance between your driver and irons.
- Golf Stance for Different Clubs
- Golf Stance Irons
- Golf Stance Drivers
Your golf stance is the foundation of your golf swing with every club in your bag. If you don’t set-up and aim properly you will not hit the ball at your target, and chances are you’ll lose distance and direction. A proper stance for each club will help you to generate a more powerful and accurate swing. So pay close attention to the checkpoints and special pro tips below to help you get into the correct golf position and golf stance and become a better, more consistent golfer.
In a proper golf stance your clubface is pointed where you want the ball to go, commonly referred to as the target line. Since you stand to the side of the ball, your feet should be aligned parallel to your target line. For a right hand golfer, this means your feet are aimed just to the left of your target line. When you practice building your golf stance, it helps to use an alignment stick pointed down your target line. This allows you to aim your club face square to the target line and then build the alignment of your feet and body.
It is also helpful to have an alignment reference for your feet like the picture below.
Pro Tip: After you build the proper golf stance, rotate your head and look at your target to reinforce in your mind where you want to hit the ball. It is important to make sure that your feet, knees, hips, arms and shoulders are all aligned in the same direction. This is one of the hardest skills in golf to master and it helps to practice with a device like the Swing Align swing trainer to both see and feel a correct golf stance.
For a full golf shot you should stand with your feet about shoulder width apart. Your stance will be the widest for a driver (with your feet just outside your shoulder width) and narrowest for a full wedge shot (with your feet just inside your shoulder width). Note that for most pitch and chip shots around the green your feet will be much closer together.
There are two different aspects to ball position. The first is where you position the ball front to back in your golf stance. The second is how far you position the ball away from your feet, or said another way how far away you stand from the ball.
For a driver, the ball should be positioned forward in your stance off the heel of your lead foot. For a wedge your ball should be positioned back almost to the middle of your stance. For the clubs in between, move the ball progressively back as the club gets shorter. That means for fairways, hybrid and long irons position the ball inside of your lead foot. Your mid irons (#’s 5,6,7) should be approximately halfway between the inside of your lead foot and the middle of your stance.
Pro Tip: If you struggle to progressively change your ball position for each club, you can play all your irons from a spot inside of your lead foot. Jack Nicklaus used this simplified approach with great success and was known for hitting beautiful, high flying, soft landing irons shots.
The distance you stand from the ball in a proper stance for golf is dictated by the length of the club you are hitting and your posture. The longer the club, the farther you stand away from the ball. It is important not to hunch over and reach out for the ball with your arms. Your arms should hang down naturally. In order to hit a good golf shot you need to be in a balanced athletic position. The next section covers posture which will help you with balance and ball position.
A good golf posture for full shots is achieved by bending over from the waist while keeping your spine straight (it is ok if your upper spine rounds a little). You must push your rear end out just past your heels and flex your knees as you bend over from the waist. If done correctly your arms will hang almost straight down from your chest and your hands will be under your chin.
Pro Tip: For an athletic set up, your weight should be balanced on the balls of your feet (with not too much weight in your heels or toes).
Spine angle is important when viewed both from face on (for spine tilt) and down the line of your shot (for spine bend).
Viewed from face on, your spine angle should be tilted back, generally between 5-15 degrees depending on the club - more for your driver and less for your irons. Your shoulders should never be level when viewed face on with any club.
When looking at posture from behind the golfer, down the line of the target, the spine angle should be bent over at approximately 35-40 degrees. This will provide plenty of room for your shoulders to rotate down, in and around to help you take the club away on the proper plane.
Your weight should be balanced on the balls of your feet, not too much in the toes or too much in the heels. This will keep you in an athletic position and ready to move, coil and strike the ball.
For full shots, a proper golf stance will have your weight distributed 50/50 from front to back with half the weight on your lead leg and half on the trail leg. Some good players have slightly more weight on their lead leg for irons, but in general 50/50 is a good target.
A common fault to avoid is taking your golf stance with too much weight on your trail side or back foot. Many golfers lean back to help them shift their weight which typically leads to hanging back on the downswing instead of getting the weight to their lead side.
Arms and Hands
In a proper stance for golf, your arms hang down nearly straight from your chest while your hands are almost directly below your chin. When hitting a driver which is the longest club in your bag, it is ok to have your arms and hands a little farther out from your body. This gives you more room to fully rotate and swing the club freely. When hitting irons however, you should never feel like you are reaching out for the ball.
In terms of your arms and hands when viewed straight on, your lead arm should hang down so that your hands are positioned closer to your lead hip versus the middle. This generally works for both your driver and irons but keep in mind that your ball position changes for your driver versus irons.
For irons which are played with the ball more toward the middle of your stance, having your hands off your lead hip puts them in front of the ball which helps you hit down and create ball first contact before you hit the ground.
For the driver, your hands should be off your lead hip but remember the ball is positioned forward in your stance. That means your hands are just behind the golf ball helping you to hit up and launch the ball for more distance. This is a key difference between driver and irons worth remembering!
Pro Tip: When taking the proper golf stance for a driver you should have the ball positioned forward and your spine angle tilted back at a greater angle than your irons. This sets you up for a great impact position to hit up on the ball and launch it higher and with less spin (the keys to driver distance).
Golf Stance For IronsHere is a summary of a proper golf stance for irons.
- Narrower than a driver stance
- Feet shoulder width apart to slightly less for a full wedge shot
- Ball is positioned inside the lead foot to middle of the stance
- Arms hang straight down
- Hands a little closer to the body versus the driver stance
- Hands off the lead hip in front of the ball
- Spine tilts back but less than the driver stance
- Weight 50/50 but ok if slightly more weight on the lead side
Stance & Position For DriversHere is a summary of a proper golf stance for drivers.
- Wider than an iron stance
- Feet shoulder width apart to slightly wider
- Ball is positioned forward, out from the lead heel
- Arms hang straight down to slightly out
- Hands a little farther from the body versus an iron stance
- Hands off the lead hip slightly behind the ball
- Spine tilts back, more than with a golf iron stance
- Weight 50/50
Find the Perfect Golf Stance with Swing Align!
Getting your golf stances and set-up positions correct is one of the most important things you do as a golfer. And importantly this is done before you start to move the club so you don’t need to be as strong or athletically gifted as a tour player to do them right. With a little practice and attention to detail you can stand and set-up correctly every time!
The Swing Align swing trainer available in Basic, Bundle and Pro configurations, is the best tool in the market to build the perfect golf stance and improve alignment skills. You can practice these skills at home or on the range so that they become easy when you get out on the golf course.
Browse the collection of Swing Align tools here: swingtrainer.com/collections/all
Final Pro Tip: One of the hardest things to do is consistently start your golf swing. As you first move the club be sure to turn your lead shoulder down, in and around your spine bend, while staying in your posture. Too many golfers stand up and straighten their spine and turn their shoulders flat and around leading to faults later in the swing including over the top and slicing. Use Swing Align with its highly visible alignment rod to help you see and feel the right moves at the start of your golf swing. This is one of the most important things to playing good golf!