You wouldn’t try to build a house without a solid foundation - so why would a golfer try to create a golf swing without one? Golfers tend to get focused on clubhead speed or swing plane, but make a critical mistake prior to even taking the club back. The wrong setup position and stance can derail your swing before it even starts.
The proper stance for golf seems simple, but is actually quite nuanced. The good news - it’s something you can work on during practice and once you have it down, it will become second nature. Learn the correct golf stance and watch your shots improve and your scores drop.
Proper Golf Stance
Words like athletic, balanced, and comfortable describe the proper golf stance. Certified golf instructors would say a great stance involves your upper spine, knees, and balls of your feet all lined up on top of each other. Don’t bend at the waist, use your hips, stick your buttocks out; trying to achieve the perfect stance can get overwhelming.
We think we can help. Simplicity is always better, so we have developed twelve tips that you can try one at a time to develop the correct golf posture and a perfect setup position. Our goal is to help you get more out of the game you love.
12 Tips To Achieve The Proper Stance For Golf
1. Ball Position
Where do you have the golf ball in relation to your front and back foot? The incorrect ball position can cause all types of problems. Too far forward and you might struggle with pop-ups, tops, and the dreaded slice. Too far back and you may struggle to get the appropriate loft on your shots. The good news - this is easy to check and fix once you know the correct placement.
The best ball position does change based on the club you’re using. If you’re hitting a driver, you want the ball even with your forward foot (left foot for the right-handed golfer). As you move through your back, the ball should adjust back, but never go further back than the middle of your stance. Short irons such as Pitching Wedge and 9-iron should be near the middle and longer irons and hybrids/woods should move towards your front foot.
Fixing your ball position will help you develop the correct golf stance and hit more high quality golf shots.
2. Distance To The Golf Ball
How far away should you be from the golf ball to take the proper stance for golf? The easy answer - you should be comfortable - you shouldn’t feel cramped or like you’re reaching for the ball. A more technical answer - the butt of the club (end of the grip) should be about 6 inches from your body when you address the ball.
If you’re too close to the ball you will struggle to consistently turn and reaching for the ball can lead to wild shots that go both left and right. The next time you visit the golf range simply take your normal stance and check how far the end of the club is from your body.
Most players will naturally have it about 6 inches from their body, so you can check this item off the list and move to our 3rd tip for mastering the correct golf stance.
3. Weight Distribution
Weight distribution is more important than you might think when it comes to the perfect golf stance and it’s often overlooked by the amateur golfer. To check your stance, prepare to hit a shot as you normally would and pause for a second. Where is your weight? Do you feel it one your heels? On your toes?
The proper stance for golf will cause your weight to be on the balls of your feet. Too much weight on your toes can lead to the worst shot in golf (the shank) and weight distributed on your heels will cause both pulls and hooks.
4. Back Posture
The correct back posture in your golf stance is the most important tip on our list to avoid injuries. You want the spine to be straight - use your hips to bend forward, but avoid curving your spine or slumping your shoulders. Looking for a good example? PGA tour professional, Adam Scott has a perfect spine angle when he takes his stance.
Poor back posture can not only lead to injuries, but will also cause inconsistent ball-striking. This is a great example of a tip that’s best checked by video. Set your camera up behind you or ask a friend to film.
5. Golf Stance Width
When you watch the professionals on TV do you notice their balance? They make the game look easy and almost always finish their swing with a statuesque pose. The proper width in your stance is key to achieving this balanced finish. If your stance is too narrow, you will find it hard to transition your weight without falling over and too wide of a stance makes it harder to clear your hips.
The proper stance for golf includes your feet being a little over shoulder length apart. Your chipping and putting stance might be slightly more narrow, but for full swings, make sure you have a solid base.
6. Heel To Toes Balance
We touched on this in tip #3 above, but it’s worth highlighting again. Prior to, during, and after your swing you don’t want to feel your weight on your heels or toes. The perfect golf stance is all about the balls of your feet. We recommend you work on this on the driving range and don’t get too mental with it while on the course.
7. Grip Of The Club
Benjamin Franklin famously said “the handshake of the host affects the taste of the roast”. Similar to a dinner party, the way your grip the club will impact your ability to swing it.
You can choose from 3 different types of grips, Interlock, Overlap, or 10-finger, but you need to be consistent and fundamentally sound. Don’t ruin the proper stance for golf by holding the club incorrectly.
8. Position Of Hands
Once you get #7 down, you need to check the position of your hands. Many weekend warrior golfers make the mistake of pushing their hands up (towards the sky), which can present the hosel to the ball instead of the clubface.
The best advice for positioning your hands before you swing is to simply let your arms hang down. Don’t manipulate your hands at all, just let them comfortably hold the club. Less tension in your arms, wrists, and hands is always better.
9. Position Of The Clubface
Why do you hit hooks and slices? It all comes down to the position of the clubface at impact. You can do all sorts of funky things in your swing, but still be a great player if your clubface is square at impact. Don’t believe us? Watch Jim Furyk and Matthew Wolff hit some balls.
That being said, it’s easier to consistently control the position of your clubface if you keep it mostly square throughout your swing. Prior to swinging, look at your clubface - is it square? After you hit a shot, check your divot - is it straight towards your target or off to one side or the other? Truly pay attention to your divots. They tell you everything you need to know about your last shot.
You can have the correct golf stance, but it doesn’t matter if you’re lined up in the wrong direction. Who cares if you make a perfect swing if you’re aiming in the woods or in someone’s backyard.
If you’re lined up correctly, your feet will be parallel and approximately 15 yards left of the target (if you’re right-handed). The best way to check this is to use alignment sticks or a spare club from your bag.
As you play more golf, alignment will become an afterthought, but you will even see PGA tour players working on this on the range. You’re never done working on the correct golf posture - it should always be part of your practice routine.
11. Swing Path
Swing path is the most complicated of our 12 tips on the proper stance for golf. Let's start by defining some terms you may have heard on the course. If you swing “inside-out” you will hit a hook and an “outside-in” swing will produce a slice. If you “come over the top” you will hit a slice. You may also hear people say they are too “flat” or too “upright”. These are all ways to talk about your swing path.
The first step to improving your swing path is to understand it. The best way to do this is to get a friend to take a slow-motion video for you. We promise, it will be eye-opening to see your swing in slow-motion.
The next step is to identify what you want to change. You can do this talking with your buddies or you can try a Golf Swing Analyzer. The key to improving your swing path is to try new things, film your swing, and see if that change altered your swing as you intended.
An important point to remember. You don’t need a perfect swing path to be a great golfer. You simply need one that you can repeat every time.
12. Knee Position/Bend Of Knee
The final tip on our list of proper stance for golf feedback items is related to your knees. The easiest way to explain is to tell you what NOT to do. You never want your knees locked during your swing. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you never want your knees bowed out either.
The correct golf stance includes knees that are slightly bent and allow you to make an athletic movement.
Great Shots Start With Proper Stance For Golf
These tips are designed to be used during your practice session at the driving range. The goal is to make them second nature through repetition so you never have to think about them during your round.
So, the next time you practice, walk down this list. We bet you already do most of them correctly, but any one of them can ruin your proper golf stance and your score. Fix that stance, hit more high quality golf shots, and make more birdies. Play well!