The Proper Golf Setup – Tips for Beginners

golf setupPerfecting your golf swing can be one of the biggest challenges for beginners learning the game of golf. No wonder. Learning how to make a perfect golf swing every time you step up to the ball can take years of practicing the right habits. Even golfing champions like Tiger Woods have needed to modify their golf swing despite years of winning. When your game is not clicking, it can be difficult to remind yourself that a successful golf swing rests on the mechanics of creating perfect timing between your body movements, the club, and the ball, consistently. Here are a few simple tips for the proper golf setup to help beginners get off to the right start when learning the golf swing.

The Proper Golf Setup: Prelude to the Perfect Golf Swing

The “simple” golf swing consists of five basic parts:

After setting up, the proper golf swing combines the other four steps into one seamless, fluid motion. When executed well, the perfect golf swing is a true thing of beauty to watch. Because the setup is not part of the actual swing, beginner golfers sometimes underestimate its importance in achieving a consistently good golf swing.

We’ll look at the moving parts of the golf swing, individually, in future posts, but in this one we begin with the setup. Mastering a golf setup routine begins with five points of focus:

  1. The proper golf stance – start with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Align your body parallel to the target.
  2. Point the toes of your left shoe slightly outward, toward the target, while leaving the right foot straight.

Golf Setup Stance

  1. Let your arms hang loosely in front of you. Then, bring your hands together, keeping your shoulder and arms straight. Your elbows should point to your hips. Together, your arms, hands, and shoulder form a triangle. You will often hear this referred to as the “Triangle Position.”
  2. Position the ball. For shots using short irons, the golf stance ball position should begin near of the center point between your feet. As the clubs get longer, the ball should inch closer to your left foot. When hitting with the golf driver, the longest club, align the ball with your left back heel. This is the farthest point for positioning the ball. Make sure that the sweet spot of the club face aligns behind the ball when your arms are stretched out in the Triangle position, ready to grip the club.

Watch the video to see a good demonstration of the golf stance ball position during setup. This very important step can be confusing for new golfers:

  1. Stand up straight, leaving only a slight bend in your knees. If your shoulders hunch or your arms are tense, you are probably too close to the ball. Stand back a little bit. You want your feet grounded without too much weight on either the toes or the heels of the feet. The weight should be on the balls of your feet. This will aid your balance as you swing.

(If you are a left-handed golfer, reverse the toe pointing and ball positions.)

Watch this video to see all the main golf stance setup points demonstrated:

Poor Golf Setup Posture Can Wreck Your Shots

A good golf swing will be a fluid, easy motion with your shoulders turning slightly during the backswing and to the opposite side during your follow-through. But you have to begin your swing from the right golf setup posture. Make sure your posture is correct, with the weight on the balls of your feet, before you hit the ball. Align the club directly in front of you as you stand with your back perfectly straight. Your left arm should also be extended and straight. Adjust yourself until you are comfortable in this stance. Next,

  • The proper golf club position during setup is aligning the center of the club face directly behind the ball. You will want to hit the ball in the “sweet spot,” or the center of the club face. Hitting it anyplace else will alter the path of the shot away from your desired destination.
  • Keep your head down and your eyes on the ball (throughout your swing).
  • With your left hand (or your right for lefties), shake hands with your club. Grip the club as if you are holding a small, delicate bird. You want to keep that bird in your hands, but you don’t want to crush it. That’s how you should hold your club. Gently, place the other hand on the opposite side of the handle to secure the club. Remember that your arms, shoulder, and hands should form a triangle. This is the proper golf grip position.
  • When you begin your backswing, you will gently shift about 70 percent of your body weight onto your back leg.

Watch this video to understand what happens when you do not begin with the proper golf setup posture:

With your feet planted and your club grounded immediately behind the ball, you are now “addressing” the ball. Check yourself to ensure you are in the proper golf setup position. Now, it’s show time. Let the backswing begin. In our next post, we’ll focus on the backswing, the first full movement in the golf swing.


David Nevogt spent a year developing the perfect simple golf swing system. Now you can get his chapter on the perfect golf swing setup for FREE.

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Golf Tips Magazine - Ball Position

Tom Leese from Angel Park Golf Club in Las Vegas, explains why different golf clubs demand different ball positions. Proper ball position is a critical part of golf setup.

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