Golf - ‘Have the ‘address’ right and you will reach your destination’
Golf is different from most other sports as you are influencing the movement of a stationary ball rather than reacting to a moving ball. We try to move the golf ball from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ with the help of a club, which is further controlled by the movement of different parts of the body in a particular sequence. A correct starting or ‘address’ position will ensure that your return the club back to impact effectively and consistently.
Let’s look at the correct aim, alignment and set-up positions, which if not correct, are the cause of most problems that golfers face. If you don’t address the ball correctly, you are going to have to make adjustments during the swing to compensate, thereby causing inconsistency.
I have placed two sticks on the ground – the outer stick to be the ‘target-line’ (this is an imaginary ball-to-target line). The stick closer to my feet is placed parallel to the outer stick and is helping me align my feet, knees, hips, shoulders and eyes, parallel to the target line. The club face is aimed at the target which means the leading edge of the clubhead sits perpendicular to the target line. This is what we call addressing the club face ‘square’ to the target line.
The feet are placed approximately shoulder width apart, with the ball positioned in between the feet. In relation, the ball is more or less in the centre for the shorter, more lofted clubs.
Follow these three steps to get into the correct posture:
Stand tall and stretch your arms out;
Lean forward from the waist till the clubhead reaches the ground (keeping the extension of the arms constant). This will also give you the correct distance you must stand from the ball;
Bend the knees into a relaxed position
I have found through teaching many beginners that if you work in steps, you learn sooner and consistently start in the right position.
You can now see that the posture looks athletic with good, definite angles between the upper and lower body and the knees. Many golfers have an incorrect posture in which the back is either too rounded, or the hips (tail-bone) is stretched out too much, creating a reverse curving.
Both these are incorrect and will compromise your swing and restrict movement; risking injury in the long term. You can tell from a distance that a player is a good striker of the ball by looking at how he takes his set-up position.
The best posture is where you stand comfortably and relaxed in front of the ball without feeling any strain or pressure at any point in the body.
Next notice how the hands are hanging directly below the shoulders. This will naturally help the hands to swing back and return the correct position at impact. The left shoulder is higher than the right. The body weight is favouring the left foot a bit and is in the centre of both feet.
At first, this seems a lot to think of, and you have not even started the backswing! My advice is to learn in steps and before you know it, it becomes a habit!
(The author has been a golf professional for over 20 years)