Many beginners and high handicappers are interested in knowing how to properly stand to a golf ball.
What many of these players do not realize is that it is also called “addressing the golf ball.”
I always giggle a little bit when I hear the term “addressing the ball” because it reminds me of an old Honeymooners episode. Check it out...
In the scene, Ralph has to learn how to play golf in just two days. Like many of us, Ralph thinks that he can teach himself how to play golf.
Meanwhile, his friend Norton is trying to get him to follow instructions out of a golf book.
At first, Ralph will have none of the golf book. However, after just a few swings where he totally misses the ball, he decides to give way to Norton and follow the “scientific way” in the book.
Norton reads the directions from the book. “First, step up, plant your feet firmly on the ground and address the ball.”
Ralph asks, “What do they mean by address the ball?”
Norton replies, “How should I know? That is what it says here.”
Ralph encourages Norton to read further but Norton has an idea of what the book is trying to explain.
He takes the club from Ralph. Norton steps up, plants his feet firmly and says, “HHEELLLLOO Ball!”
This still cracks me up every single time!
How To Take A Proper Golf Stance
Let’s start off by talking about the width of your stance. We’ll refer to the width of your stance via your heels and it will change depending on the club in your hand.
The reason we refer to the heels is because your toes can fool you. For example, if you flare or turn one out and not the other, flare both or flare neither, the width of your stance will “look” like it changes due to your toe positions.
For a full swing iron shot, we are going to position our heels underneath our hip sockets. For a longer club such as a fairway wood or a driver, your heels will be a little wider than your hips but not outside of your shoulders.
Since we are on the subject of toe flare, let's talk more about it.
As I stated above, toe flare is simply referring to turning your toes outward. How much you turn your toes will vary from player to player.
When it comes to addressing a golf ball, many players believe that keeping the trail foot (right foot for a right handed-player) parallel to the target line is the proper way to stand to a golf ball.
However, with most amateurs I see, they would benefit by flaring the trail foot somewhat. This allows them more freedom to rotate on the backswing.
The same could be said for the lead foot (left foot for right handed golfers). Many of the amateurs I see have their lead foot perpendicular to the target line.
This makes it more difficult for them as they are not very flexible. Due to the load placed on their lead knee rotating through to the target, many of these players even complain of knee pain.
To avoid pain, these players will oftentimes stop rotating their body forward. They will then end up hitting the ground behind the ball, or, with their low point now behind the golf ball, they will make adjustments that result in hitting the ball on the way up causing a thin or bladed shot.
I fix this by adding toe flare to the lead foot allowing for painless forward rotation.
Now that we have our feet properly placed, it’s time for us to take our grip.
Once you have properly attached yourself to the handle of the club, stand up straight, extend your arms out in front of you so that your arms and the golf club are parallel to the ground.
In addition, you will want to see the sole of your club vertical or pointing towards the sky. See the pictures below…
From this position, bend from the hip joint to offset the hands being out in front of the body. Re-read that sentence again. Notice that it does not say slouch down to the ball. The feeling that many of my students get is that their pockets go behind their heels. You can see it in the picture below…
Keep bending over from the hip joint until the golf club hits the ground. You will want to make sure that the sole of the club is flat to the ground. This is a very important point that many amateurs gloss over.
How Far Do I Stand From The Golf Ball?
A good rule of thumb to use for this is for guys to pretend they have on a necktie and ladies pretend that you have on a very long strand of pearls.
The necktie or the necklace should hang down and make contact where the hands meet on the grip.
You will want your arms to be hanging more down than out. Again, this may seem like a non-important tip, however, it can drastically change how you deliver the club to the ball at impact.
Now that you have your arms hanging and you feel like you're a good distance away from the golf ball, just unlock your knees. Many players make a mistake here by putting a lot of bend in their knees. Just unlock them.
Following the instructions above, you shoudl be in a good position to hit solid gofl shots more often and start having more fun on the golf course.