Golf Setup – Illustrated Guide


Setup Illustrated Definition

setupThe combination of all aspects related to the way the golfer’s body is positioned relative to the ball, to the club in hand, and to the target before the beginning of a swing. It refers to the golfer’s posture, feet and ball positions as well as the grip of the club, amongst many other things.

Sentence: After deciding on a target line and on a club Jim proceeded with setting up for the upcoming shot.

Swing Setup Components

Back Tilt

setup-back-tiltWhile a golfer will indeed be standing up in order to hit a golf shot he will not be standing perfectly straight. Rather, his back will be tilted forward towards the ball, allowing for the shoulders to rotate, freely moving the arms and hands that hold the club.

Knee Flex

setup-knee-flexSimilarly to other sports, golfers adopt an active stance when preparing to execute a shot. As such, the golfer’s knees will not be locked but will instead be flexed to a degree, steadying the golfer for the upcoming rotating motions of the hips and shoulders.

Arms and Hands Positions

setup-arms-hands-positionThe golfer’s arms will normally be perpendicular to the ground, hanging freely down from the shoulders. For most types of shot, the hands will usually be slightly in front of the clubhead.

More info on: Shaft lean tweaks and their effects

Feet Position

setup-feet-positionAccording to the type of shot to be executed, a golfer will be careful in positioning his feet in relation to each other and in relation to the ball. For example, a golfer will position his feet wider apart when setting up for a drive than he will for a short pitch shot using a wedge.

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Grip

setup-grip-positionA key component of a golfer’s swing setup is how he’ll actually hold the club in his hands, accomplished through his grip. For clubs other than the putter, there are three main finger placements as well as three categories of grip strengths.

Ball Position

setup-ball-positionFinally, a golfer will be careful to position the ball in relation to both his feet in accordance to the club he is holding, the type of shot he is about to execute and the lie he is facing. For example, for a drive the ball should be located towards the forward foot whereas for an approach using a wedge the ball should be located in the middle of both feet.

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Aim

aimAim refers to the direction a golfer wants his ball to go, towards the intended target. Before setting up for a shot, a golfer will normally stand behind the ball and analyze the hole ahead and take into account its characteristics and challenges. Based on the club he is holding and the desired landing area he will then choose a target, which he will aim for. In the bestseller “Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book”, the author advises golfers to take dead aim before executing a shot.

Sentence: Rather than aiming for the pin Jim set his aim to the right half of the green in order to avoid the bunker and water hazards to the left of the green.


Alignment

alignmentThe way a golfer will set up in order for the ball to fly towards the target. For a straight shot, the body – feet, hips, shoulder – will be positioned on a line parallel to that of the target line that is formed by the ball and the target.

Sentence: On the tee box Jim was especially careful in his alignment as he wanted his ball to fly just to the right of that tall tree by the fairway.


Line

lineLine refers to the path that the ball takes between the moment it is hit and the moment it comes to rest.

Sentence: Jim’s ball took an aggressive line around the tree but ended up in the middle of the fairway on this dogleg par-4.


Target Line

target-lineThe target line refers to the imaginary line that is formed between the ball and the target.

Sentence: Despite crossing a water hazard Jim remained confident with his chosen target line from the tee box.


Face

face-comparisonFace refers to the position of the clubface in relation to the target line. There are three types of faces: square, open and closed.

Sentence: Jim made sure to position the face of his club at the right angle for his next shot.

Square Face

face-squareA club that is put down in a square face position will see the target line perfectly perpendicular to that of the clubface line.

Sentence: Jim’s shot went straight to the target, thanks to the square position his club had at impact.

More info: Square clubface and its effect on golf shots

Open Face

face-openA club that is put down in an open face position will see the clubface aiming towards the outside of the target line, or to the right for a right handed golfer. Open club faces are often used when using wedges in order to augment the loft of the club and ultimately to send the ball on a higher trajectory.

Sentence: In order to increase loft and send the ball very high Jim set up his wedge with an open face.

More info on: Open clubface and its effects on golf shots

Closed Face

face-closedA club that is put down in a closed face position will see the clubface aiming towards the inside of the target line, or to the left for a right handed golfer.

Sentence: Jim struck his ball with a hook which was likely the result of his club hitting the ball with a closed face.

More info on: Closed clubface and its effects on golf shots


Stance

stance-comparisonA golfer’s stance refers to the position of his feet in relation to one another and to the ball, before the beginning of a swing. Similarly to the face of the club, a stance can fall within one of three categories: square, open and closed.

Square stance

stance-squareA golfer is adopting a square stance when his feet form a line that is parallel to the target line.

In sentence: Jim carefully studied his upcoming shot, making sure to position his feet in a square stance in order to augment his odds of producing a straight shot.

More info on: Square stance and its effects on golf shots

Open stance

stance-openIn order to adopt an open stance a golfer would move his left foot back slightly so that his right foot is closer to the target line than his left foot. An open stance can lead to a fade flight path, all other things being equal.

In sentence: For his upcoming shot, Jim took an open stance and opened the face of his club in the hopes of producing a high chip shot from a fully lie.

More info on: Open stance and its effects on golf shots

Closed stance

stance-closedIn order to adopt a closed stance a golfer would move his right foot backward slightly so that his right foot would be further to the target line than his left foot. A closed stance can lead to a draw flight path, all other things being equal.

In sentence: Jim likes to adopt a light closed stance on the par-3 hole number 10 since it promotes a nice draw onto the green.

More info on: Closed stance and its effects on golf shots


Grip

grip-comparisongrip-strength-comparisonGripping a club refers to the act of holding the club in your hands in preparation for a shot. It can also refer to a part of a golf club. In addition to the many different putter grips, there are three main ways a golfer can position his fingers in relation to each other on the grip of his clubs. There are also three ways – or strengths – that a golfer can position his fingers in relation to the grip of the club itself (neutral, weak, strong).

Interlock Grip

grip-interlockThe interlock grip is a type of finger placement that a golfer can use to hold a golf club in his hands. It is named as such because of the fact that the left index finger will hook into the right little finger, effectively locking – or interlocking – both hands together on the grip of the club.

Although not the most often used grip in golf it is nevertheless used by very notable golfers in Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods for example, amongst others.

Vardon Grip | Overlap Grip

grip-vardon-overlapThe Vardon grip is a type of finger placement that a golfer can use to hold a golf club in his hands. Also known as the overlap grip the Vardon grip is named after the famous golfer Harry Vardon who helped popularize it early in the 20th century.

This grip is the one most used by golfers worldwide.

Baseball Grip | 10 Finger Grip

grip-baseballThe baseball – or 10 finger – grip is a type of finger placement that a golfer can use to hold a golf club in his hands. It is named as such because of its close resemblance to the grip used to grab a bat in baseball. A golfer with that grip will see all of his ten fingers neatly aligned on the grip, without any of them interlocking or overlapping, in contrast to the other types of grips.

Neutral grip

grip-strength-neutralA relative strength – in this case neutral – of the way fingers are positioned in order to hold a club. A golfer using a neutral grip will see the Vs formed by his thumbs pointing slightly to the right of his nose. Furthermore, a golfer using a neutral grip will see 2 knuckles on his left hand (top hand).

More info on: Neutral grip and when to use it

Strong grip

grip-strength-strongA relative strength – in this case strong – of the way fingers are positioned on a golf club. A golfer using a strong grip will see the Vs formed by his thumbs pointing towards the trailing – right – shoulder. Furthermore, a golfer using a strong grip will see 3 knuckle on his left hand (top hand).

More info on: When and why you should use a strong grip

Weak grip

grip-strength-weakA relative strength – in this case weak – of the way fingers are positioned on a golf club. A golfer using a weak grip will see the Vs formed by his thumbs pointing to the left shoulder. Furthermore, a golfer using a weak grip will see 1 knuckle on his left hand (top hand).

More info on: When and why you should use a weak grip