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Back 40: Learning the golf ‘setup’

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By Mark Wehrman EBS Contributor

As in life, golf allows for personal preference. I tell nearly all my students: “Just like every person has their own unique signature, every golfer has their own unique swing, and no two swings are the same.” This theory has helped me adapt to my students’ specific needs throughout my professional golf career.

However, this theory only relates to the golf swing, not the fundamentals. In golf, fundamentals consist of what we do before we actually hit the ball, otherwise known as the “setup.” Our setup is crucial to success and relates to four specific elements: grip, posture, ball position and alignment. When you first step up to the golf ball, follow these four steps (descriptions are specific to a right-handed golfer):



– Make your “V’s” – formed between your right thumb and index finger – point to your right shoulder. When you look down at your left hand you should be able to see two to three knuckles. This step is the most important fundamental in golf because the grip is what controls the clubface. If your grip isn’t correct you won’t have any control over the clubface and overall ball flight.

– Bend from the hips, not the knees. This will put the top half of your body over the ball allowing you to make a better torso rotation. Too much knee bend will cause your spine angle to be too straight and subsequently cause the path of the club to be too flat in relation to the proper swing plane.
– Place your feet about shoulder-width apart. The longer the club, the wider your stance will be. The shorter the club the more narrow your stance.

– Aim your clubface at your target.
– Aim your body lines parallel, just to the left of the target – your body lines consist of your feet, knees, hips, shoulders, and eyes. The common mistake is to aim your body at your target, which will cause inconsistencies in your swing.
Ball position
– For every club, position the ball slightly forward of center in your stance or a couple of inches inside your left heel. As your stance gets wider with longer clubs, the ball position will appear to change, but remains consistent in relation to your left foot.

The setup is the key to your golf success. If you have fundamentals in place when you set up to the golf ball, you have a much better chance to make an efficient swing that repeats itself.

Mark Wehrman is the Professional Golfers’ Association Head Professional at the Big Sky Resort Golf Course. He recently received the 2014 Rocky Mountain Section PGA Horton Smith and Resort Merchandiser of the Year awards.

Watch Wehrman’s YouTube videos on “setup” for further information.

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