Width of stance and position of weight issues.

When I am at the range, chipping green and on the course I see a common problem. Way too many golfers have the exact same stance no matter the shot.

Some have a shoulder width stance, which is great for drivers and fairway woods, but terrible for chipping.

Some have narrow stances which is great for chipping and 60 yards pitch shots, but terrible for driver.

Most have stances where their shoulders are level and their bodies are straight up and down and equal weight on both feet, which is fine for putting, but terrible for everything else.

Many have square stances which is fine for full shots, but bad for punch shots out of the trees and chipping.

These are just a few of the many issues people have with their stances. What I am about to say is a very general guide line that doesn’t have to be followed exactly, but should be used to show the varying setups will help you be more consistent throughout the bag.

Width of stance:
Driver is shoulder width. Bump and run shots and chip shots with woods are with feet almost together, with every thing else staggered in between. Putter can be any width, what ever is comfortable and works. The worst offense I see is when people try the Tiger Woods chip with a fairway wood, they stand up to it like they are hitting a full shot. It works best with feet together and with an open stance.

Shots that should have a more open stance than you have normally:
Chips, pitches, bump and runs, chips with woods, punch shots out of the trees and any shot where the ball is farther back in your stance than normal. How much open you need to be on these shots is an individual thing that needs to be tested.

Weight distribution:
You always want to be in balance at address. Other than putting, you right shoulder(left shoulder for a left handed golfer) should always be slightly lower at address because your right hand is lower on the club. If your shoulders are level at address, you are out of position. This is a big problem I see in more than 50% of golfers. More like 75%. Also, to keep this in balance, you need to bump your left hip slightly toward the target. The lower right shoulder and bumped left hip are very subtle. Look at the setup of every good player and you will see this. Look at almost every 20+ handicap and you will see straight up and down body lines and level shoulders.

On all chips, pitches and green side sand shots you should have more weight on your left foot(right handed golfer) as that will change all you body angles to make it easier to hit down on the ball…which is vital in chipping and pitching.

When trying to keep the ball down in the wind or out of the trees, you want more weight on your left foot and more on your right when you are trying to hit it higher on a full shot.

Remember, these are just general guidelines and not at all comprehensive. It is to show all of you that having a variety of setups is needed and finding the right setup for each shot will help a lot more than technical swing changes.

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3 Comments

  1. ChrisNH

    Monte-
    I asked this on GEA, but would like your take as well. I’m cutting/pasting my post (yes, I’m lazy)

    I’m curious how many folks follow the standard recommendations for ball position and how many vary those positions to suit their individual swings.

    I’m kind of half-and-half. My short irons have the ball closer to my back foot and for my driver the ball is positioned off my front heel. However, for long irons, hybrids and even my lone fairway wood (5-wood), I’m more comfortable playing the ball in the middle of my stance rather than forward-of-middle, and my middle irons probably creep just a bit back of middle, as opposed to strictly middle.

    Do others follow the orthodoxy in a rigid manner, or is there a lot of variation? The reason I ask is because my swing is in a state of flux. I went to golf school early this year and my swing has improved, but I’m still tinkering. I’d like to know whether I’m tinkering with one of the “untouchable must-do’s” or if this is an area where it’s ok to deviate from the generally accepted practices.

    By way of explanation, I began doing this because my fat/thin contact was SO inconsistent. I found moving the ball back a bit with most of my irons improved the contact signficantly. However, I’m at the stage in my golf game where I’m willing to avoid band-aids and find the correct permanent solutions to problems, so if this ball-position move is nothing more than a band-aid, I’d like to move back to a more standard ball position and work/practice on the things that will change my swing accordingly.

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      ChrisNH, I too did what you have done and I can only speak from my experience that it was a bandaid for me and it put me into some bad habits. I don’t like calling for absolutes in a golf swing, but ball positions behind the middle of your stance (other than on punches out of the trees and chips and stuff) for full shots is asking to develop some bad habits. Your inconsistency of contact is an issue I can’t really analyze without seeing you. Reducing the width of the arc on the downswing and taking a back swing too much with the arms and not enough shoulder turn are two issues that forced me into a ball position too far back. There are dozens of issue it could be, but you said you wanted no bandaids and ball posiiton too far back is a bandaid, IMO.

      Reply
      • Chris_NH

        Thanks, Monte. I went to the range tonight and experimented with keeping the ball at middle of my stance for everything (except driver, which was off my front heel), and found that the adjustments it required were an increased emphasis on 1) keeping hands ahead of the ball and 2) coming through the ball with my hips – two things that I’d already known needed to be points of emphasis. Keeping those thoughts in mind, I had one of my more consistent/productive range sessions I’ve had in some time. While I’m not going to get overly excited about one range session, it’s definitely encouraging.

        Anyway, thanks for the advice.

        Reply

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