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Weekend Tip: Like Tiger, check your posture

Tiger2012_Masters_Tues019-thumb-985x656-66944.jpg
Tiger works on his setup under the watchful eye of swing coach Sean Foley at this year's Masters. They both say the key to his swing is posture. Photo by Dom Furore

There has been a lot of chatter the last few months about Tiger Woods' swing changes under Sean Foley. But last week the specific subject of Tiger's posture at address came up--first in a self-made video from Tiger, then in some remarks by Foley. They said that Tiger's problems at Augusta mostly revolved around his posture at address. The week before, at Bay Hill, Tiger must have had his posture in good shape--he struck the ball beautifully off the tee and won by five.

Tiger's trademark has always been a ramrod-straight back at address, a slight bend from the hips, and legs flexed. But Foley alluded to the fact that Tiger had gotten too crouched at address, which he says can happen when you practice and play in the wind.

Certainly, it is difficult to stand to the ball nice and tall, bending from the hips so your arms hang straight down. But that position at address allows the arms to swing back and through freely, so the club can release fully.

Here's what Foley had to say to Rex Hoggard on GolfChannel.com:
"Alignment and posture was really the main thing. Once that changes, you can have the best swing in the world, but it doesn't matter. When you get too far away from the ball and [your] pelvis is losing its tilt, the shoulders get turning too level in the backswing and the hips go into early extension on the downswing so the club [gets] stuck under.

"If someone is playing in the wind for three days the ball starts moving back (in a player's stance), they start leaning on their left leg. Now all these angles change. It's the same swing but now at impact it's totally different."

What can you learn from this?
If you're having trouble with your shots and are not sure why, Golf Digest Teaching Professional Jim Flick says to check your alignment at address by placing clubs along your stance line and the target line on the range. Check to be sure you're aligned where you think you are. Then, look at your address posture in a mirror or reflection in a window.

The main thing is to make sure you're not standing too far from the ball. Reaching for it at address is the most common problem, according to Flick. That causes you to take the club back on too flat a plane, which usually results in either a push-hook or an over-the-top downswing. Flick says it's better to be too close to the ball than too far from it. That allows you to stand tall and bend from the hips so your arms swing the club going back, resulting in a full shoulder turn to the top. If you stay in that good posture at the top, your arms and club can swing freely down and through the ball to a full finish. As Tiger and Foley would contend, it all starts with posture.

I hope this helps you to hit some great shots this weekend. Good luck with your game!

Roger Schiffman
Managing Editor
Golf Digest
Twitter @RogerSchiffma
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