Bending from the hip joints promotes good posture; bending from the waist does not.
You might never hit it like tour pros do, but there's a part of their technique you can mimic: the address position. When your body is angled properly at the start, you have the foundation for a repeating swing. It allows you to coil around a constant axis and swing the club up and down on the proper track.
The key to a good setup is to tilt toward the ball from your hip joints, not your waist. The difference is subtle, but bending from the waist causes the back to get rounded (above, right). It's tough to make a good swing from this unathletic position.
For better posture, try this: Stand tall in front of a mirror, tuck your fingertips into the joints at the front of your hips, and tip your upper body forward as you push your hips and backside out behind you. Keep your shoulder blades flat, and add a little flex to your knees (above, left). You should feel athletic and relaxed. Try to re-create this hip-hinged position when you play. You'll look like a pro, and hit it more like one.
When addressing the ball, always aim the clubface at your target first. Once the face is in place, you should align your body at right angles to the club's leading edge. Your toe line, hip line, shoulder line and eye line should all be parallel to each other and running parallel left of your target line. The tendency with most golfers is to step in with their feet first, then aim the club. This seldom works, because it's hard to get aligned from this side-angle perspective.
DAVID LEADBETTER, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional, operates 26 golf academies worldwide, including his headquarters at ChampionsGate near Orlando.