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The Setup refers to a players overall address position. Setup is comprised of stance, posture, ball position, hand position, grip and weight distribution. The Setup is the blue print from which we build a solid swing. It is important to not only have a solid set up, but also a consistent one to develop a consistent swing and shoot low scores.

Setup Drills

Setup Tips

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  • Considtency in the Set Up Equals Consistent Strikes

    A consistent set up is crucial to consistent driving. If you play your ball position too far back, you can end up with a push. If you play it too far forward you can end up pulling the shot. Reaching for the ball can cause you to swing back too flat, whereas standing too close can cause you to pick the club up on too steep of a plane. Standing up too tall can also cause a flat backswing, whereas bending over too much can cause your shoulders to rotate on a steep plane. You simply must do the same thing every time in order achieve a consistent and predictable ball flight.

  • Shoulder Alignment Outranks Hips

    Aligning your shoulders and your arms are more important than aligning your lower body, because the club is connected to your upper body. Always remember it's your arms that are swinging the club. Obviously if your lower body is misaligned, your upper body may follow, but this is not always the case. It's important to have everything aligned perfectly, but pay closer attention to where your shoulders are aimed as your arms will follow your shoulders.

  • Aim Parallel Left of Your Target

    Because the ball sits in front of you, when on the course feel like you aim parallel left of your target. Do this in moderation. For instance, I always feel like I aim 5 yards parallel left of my target. Just remember you are not standing on your target line, but rather next to it. The ball is in front of you and will fly on a parallel line to where your body is aimed.

  • If You Have the Shanks Don't Crowd the Ball

    Don't crowd the ball if you are shankng. If you stand too close to the ball and swing out at all you will find the hosel and this is the cause of shanking. To check yourself at set up, try to fit a fist or a fist and a thumb between your thigh and the butt end of the grip. If you can, that means you have given yourself plenty of room.

  • Keep Left When in the Sand

    For all bunker shots keep your weight on your front foot. When you back up or fall backwards during the swing you will bottom out too soon and get your club head stuck in the sand. Do this in moderation though, because the more you lean forward, the more you will dig and that will cause the ball may come out shorter. Just remember you don't want all your weight on your back foot at impact.

  • Set Your Weight on Your Front Foot

    For greenside chips position your weight 80% on your front foot and 20% on the back. Having your weight forward creates a downward blow. It's important to hit down on chip shots to get the ball to pop back up and spin. When your weight is back either staring at address or because you fell back through the swing your club will bottom out too soon in it's arc. The result is unfortunately either hitting behind the ball or blading it.

  • Look Down at a Closed Face When Drawing the Ball

    Get used to looking at a slightly closed club face when trying to draw the ball. At first it will be visually awkward, but you have to tell yourself it's correct. It's important to set the clubface closed first and then take your grip. This way your arms and hands stay in a neutral position. If you take your grip and then try to close the clubface you will be rolling your arms over and opening your shoulders.

  • To Fade the Ball Set the Face Open

    Get used to seeing the face open at set up when you are trying to fade/slice. This is perhaps the most awkward part of trying to work the golf ball. Looking down and seeing a club face open or closed can really throw you off. Accept that it is correct and stay focused on your swing path which should be along the line to which your body is aligned. Remember to always open the face first and then take your grip; not the other way around.

  • If You Are Shanking Make Sure To Line Up With the Sweet Spot

    If you are shanking, check to make sure that when you set up the ball is exactly in the sweet spot and that you are not aligning it with the heel. You'd be surprised how many players actually start with the ball in the heel and don't realize it. Visually we can get used to doing something wrong very quickly and not even be aware of it. I always say our eyes are like any other muscle in our body and that we need to retrain them or get them back in shape when things start to go wrong.

  • Sit Back to Avoid the Shanks

    If you are shanking, wiggle your toes when you set up to make sure you are not leaning in towards the balls of your feet. Getting your weight onto your toes moves you forward and increases your chances of hitting the hosel, which is the cause of a shank. If you can wiggle your toes inside your shoes that means your weight is centered on your feet where it is supposed to be. Focus on staying centered throughout the entire swing as it's easy to start one place and end up in another.

  • Forward Press in Moderation

    It is o.k. to have a slight forward press with a bump and run shot, but everything in moderation. Avoid pressing too much. If your hands start too far forward of the ball they may want to actually back up as you hit it causing a flip or a scoop. The reason we forward press the hands is to help keep the hands ahead through impact and to deloft the clubface.

  • Lean Left to Hit Down

    Make sure to lean onto your front foot when you are hitting greenside chip shots. It is important to have your center of gravity, your head and your sternum in front of the ball to help you hit down on the ball and keep the trajectory low. If you lean back or fall back through the strike the ball will roll up the clubface and you will scoop it. Leaning back can also cause you to hit the ball fat or skull it across the green.

  • Play Irons at the Bottom of Your Arc

    Play irons just forward of center. That way you will trap the ball at the bottom point in the arc if you are properly shifting your weight. It doesn't matter which iron you are hitting. If you are shifting your weight, the bottom of the arc will be forward of center. Remember, you need to hit down on irons to get the ball to pop back up in the air, so trapping it at the bottom point of the arc is crucial.

  • When Chipping Feet Should be One Club Head Apart

    Stand with your feet only one club head apart for this shot. Turn your club head sideways and put it in between your heels to measure. A tiny stance can help you make a tiny stroke. Standing narrow will also help keep you centered over the ball which is important in creating a downward strike with short game shots. When your stance gets too wide it's easy to make too big of a swing and get caught on your back foot.

  • Visualize Railroad Tracks

    To help with your alignment visualize railroad tracks. You are standing on one track while your ball lies on the other track. When you stand behind your ball down your target line to line it up, visualize yourself standing on one track and the flight of the ball on the other. This will help you to align your body parallel left of your target as it should be. It is a common mistake to aim your body exactly at your target which will in turn make the ball fly parallel right of your target.

  • Play the Ball Back For a Draw

    To hit a draw or a hook, play the ball slightly further back in your stance than you would for a straight ball. This ball position will help you work the ball back in because it is on the inside of the arc. Thus, you will have an inside out angle of attack which will help you spin the ball back to the left if your face is square or closed.

  • Play the Ball Left For Loft

    To hit the ball higher, play the ball forward of the center of your stance so you will catch it on the upswing and add loft. After your club hits the bottom point of your arc and starts coming up, the face angle changes and will have more loft. This helps propel the ball up into the air. Note that you still have to hit down on the ball, because if you make contact high on the ball, that in turn will knock the ball down.

  • Open Your Stance to Shorten Your Backswing

    To shorten your backswing on your pitches and control distance try standing with a slightly open stance. I saw slightly because you don't want to stand so open that you alter your swing path and force pulled or cut shots. When your front foot sits just a bit behind your back foot though, it limits your shoulder turn on the backswing and is an easy way to help control the amount that you wind up. Try a narrow and slightly open stance and see if you don't gain more control.

  • Master 3 Ball Positions

    Try mastering 3 ball positions to become consistent with your angle of attack. One for irons, one for fairway woods and one for driver. In the old days pros used to teach a progressive ball position where you start at the back foot with your wedge and then progressively move the ball forward as loft decreases. The issue with this is that you have to master about 14 different ball positions. With your irons, you need to trap them at the bottom point of your arc, so it makes sense to play them all in the same place in your stance. That way you are using the loft that is built into your club for a reason.

  • Address the Ball With Your Rear Side Lower

    When addressing the ball, make sure that your rear side sits lower at address just as your rear hand sits lower on the grip. Your hips and shoulders should run parallel to each other and tilt away from your target. This means your right hip and your right shoulder will sit lower than your left hip and left shoulder at address. Setting up in this manner facilitates and inside/out take away, so it's a great thing to double check if you are having problems swinging outside/in.

  • Use Your Heels to Line Up

    When aligning your feet focus on where your heels are aimed. If you have a flare to one or both toes, it makes aligning your toes difficult. What matters is that your heels are lined up parallel to each other and the target line. Often times golfers will have a significant flare with their front toe. This will make the toes align open to the target line and can throw off their alignment. It's best to put an alignment stick along your heels rather than along your toes if this is the case for you.

  • Choke Up For Control

    When chipping, choke up and inch or two for better control over the club head. This holds true for all short game shots and perhaps sand shots more than more than any other. Choking up allows you to keep your hands ahead of the clubhead and maintain control. When the head of the club passes your hands you are no longer in control of what it does and it's easy to hit fat, thin and inconsistent shots.

  • Play the Ball at Front Arm Pit

    When driving be sure to position the ball forward in your stance. The ball should be in line with your front arm pit. This will allow you to catch the ball on the upswing and launch it high into the air. Positioning the ball in the middle or back of your stance will cause you to hit down on it too much. The result will be either a pop up or a smothered low shot. Playing it too far back can even cause a push to the right.

  • Lean Left For Tight Lies

    When pitching, for tighter lies lean your weight onto your front foot. This will allow you to cut down sharply under the ball and pop it back up. Leaning back can cause you to bottom out to soon. The result is either a fat shot as your club enters the ground before the ball or a thin shot as you blade the ball catching it on the upswing. Remember for all short game shots swing down, not up, but be sure to shift your weight to your front foot.

  • Avoid a Forward Press

    When putting, avoid a forward press at set up. It opens your shoulders to the line and delofts your putter. When your shoulders are open, you will either pull or slice your putts. Also, when you start with a delofted putter face you will tend to want to add loft back on the face by cupping your wrists. It's always best to set up with everything neutral and square.

  • Keep Your Eyes Over the Ball

    When putting, set up with your eyes over the ball or slightly inside the ball. Test this by holding a ball between your eyes at the bridge of your nose and letting it drop and watch where it lands. If your eyes are too far outside the line or too far inside the line it will be difficult for you to see the line. Setting up too close or too far away can also alter your swing path.

  • Set Up Square

    When putting, stand with your feet, knees and shoulders square to the target line. This is best for most players and for consistency. I think that square shoulders and forearms are a must, but if you prefer a slightly open stance with your feet that is ok. When your shoulders are open to the target line, your stroke will follow your shoulders and create a cut stroke.

  • Open the Face First; Grip It Second

    When setting up for a greenside bunker shot, you should lay your clubface open first, then place your hands on the grip. Golfers often make the mistake of taking their normal grip and then twisting their arms until the face is open. This will affect the direction of your takeaway and force the club inside too much. Instead, lay the club open and then take your normal grip and arm position as you set up.

  • Position Hybrids Like an Iron

    When setting up to hit a hybrid, you can pretty much play them in the same position as you would an iron. I recommend for most of my students that they play the ball in the middle or one ball forward of middle of their stance with their irons. I think one ball forward of middle works very well for hybrids as you want to make sure you can still hit down on them. Playing them too far forward will make you catch them too much on the up swing.

  • Keep Your Arms and Club in a Line

    When setting up to putt, check to make sure that your club shaft and forearms are on the same plane. If you create a big angle between the two and have your club shaft sitting low your wrists will be more active. Having the forearms and club shaft in a straight line helps to keep your wrists quiet and promotes a pendulum motion.

  • Bend From Your Hips, Not Your Waist

    When setting up to putt, create your bend from your hips, not from your waist. A slight knee bend is good too. It is important that you keep your spine straight and bend from your hips so that your shoulders can properly rock back and forth. If you slump from the waist and round your shoulders in it will affect your shoulders' ability to rock like a pendulum.

  • Always Aim Your Face Where You Want the Ball to End Up

    When trying to work the ball, always aim your club face where you want your ball to end up and your body where you want the ball to start. It's important to stay focused on where your body is aligned and swing along this line through impact. Your club path will get the ball started on the correct line and then the face angle will work it back to your target.

  • Dig in Only For Stability

    When you are in a bunker it is important to dig in for stability as you want a strong, stable lower body. Be careful not to dig in too much or you will hit too deep into the sand and the shot will come up short. Choke down on the club approximately the same amount that you dig in to help prevent fat shots.

  • Square Up For Firm Sand

    When you are in a greenside bunker and the sand is firm set your club face more square. Setting it open will use too much of the bounce on the back of the clubhead. This can cause you to bounce off of the sand and skull shots over the green. If the sand is really hard or wet, you will need a little more dig. You might want even want to use a pitching wedge or lob wedge to cut down on the bounce and be safe.

  • Foot Depth Affects Distance

    When you are in the sand the depth of your stance will directly affect your distance. If you want to take more sand, dig your feet down deeper. This will force your club into the sand behind the ball (similar to hitting a fat shot off of the grass). If you want to take less sand feel like you are standing more on top of the sand. This will allow the ball to travel further.

  • Open Your Face to Prevent Digging

    When your ball lands in a greenside bunker, open your club face to use the bounce on the bottom of the club. The bounce is the back edge of the club. When you use the bounce it will prevent digging and help you skid through the sand. If you enter the sand with the leading edge of the club head it will dig and cause your club to get stuck in the sand. The result is a ball that doesn't come out of the sand or comes out short with little backspin.

  • Ball Position Affects Loft and Spin

    With a bump and run you can play the ball at various points in your stance. There are no rules, only preferences. The further back of center you play it, the lower the ball will come out and the less backspin and roll you will get. Playing it forward of center will allow the ball to check up quicker and have less roll out. In most cases a middle ball position works fine and can even result in more consistent strikes.

Who is Maria Palozola?
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