lesson teeJanuary 31, 2011

To Set Up Right Get On Defense

An athletic, balanced stance will improve your swing

Be Ready: Imagine a defender in basketball to get in good posture at address.

Be Ready: Imagine a defender in basketball to get in good posture at address.

When I set up, I think of a basketball player in the guarding position. Defenders in this ready stance can move side to side or forward and back and stay in balance -- I remember from my basketball days in high school. They have to be on the balls of their feet with knees flexed and feet about shoulder-width apart.

I see a lot of poor posture with average golfers. If your feet are too far apart, you can't shift your weight very well. Feet too close together, you lose your balance. Legs too straight, you can't move at all. I can predict when my higher-handicap friends are going to hit a good shot. Their posture is relaxed but athletic, and posture pretty much dictates how you'll hit the ball.

Just like that basketball player, you want to be on the balls of your feet -- not the heels, not the toes. That's the key to balance. No good athletes in any sport play with their weight back on their heels. It's important that you start with your weight on the balls of your feet and keep it there through impact. You can easily check your set-up position in a full-length mirror.

Make good posture a habit by keeping the hoops image in mind, and your consistency will improve.


MORE THOUGHTS FROM TOM

If you find yourself playing on dormant Bermuda grass over the winter (more likely as courses cut back on overseeding and watering), you might need to adjust to tighter lies. To do that, play the ball a little farther back in your stance, and make more of a descending blow. Before I play the shot, I also like to picture a full and balanced follow-through.

TOM WATSON, a Golf Digest Playing Editor, is the golf professional emeritus at The Greenbrier, in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.