The proper setup position for hitting driver and long irons/hybrids

8 Professionals Contributed |
Golf seems like such a simple game - the ball is just sitting there. Waiting to be hit. However, if you're not in the right position to hit the little white ball - it won't go very far. So we asked our pros how to get into the perfect position to hit your long clubs.

Use the Natural Position of the Club!

Each golf club in your bag is built to have a natural shaft lean, either forward, backward or vertical. The key to finding the correct setup position is to make sure the club is placed on the ground in its natural position. A 60 degree wedge for example has a massive natural forward shaft lean due to the loft, whereas a 4-iron naturally leans backward.

I put my hands in the middle of my body under my chin with each club (other than the driver) and let that natural lean of the shaft dictate my ball position. With that process, shorter clubs will go more back in the stance while longer clubs will go more forward in the stance. My 60 degree is almost on my back foot for a full swing, but my long irons/hybrids/fairway woods are more forward simply by using the natural design of the club. I am not changing anything becuase my hands are in the same place, the club changes my ball position. If you can’t tell how the club is supposed to sit naturally on the ground, then put the sole of the club flat on your palm and you will be able to notice how the clubs all have a different orientation.

The only club that my hands are not perfectly in my body center is the driver, as I manipulate my hands slightly further forward, halfway between my body center and my lead leg. This allows for the more extreme forward ball position required for the driver, just inside the lead heal. This is necessary as the ball is now on a high tee and the angle of approach is upward to the ball.

Making sure the club sits naturally on the ground also dictates your distance from the ball. Assuming you have proper posture with slight knee bend and the correct amount of bend from the waist, then your arms hang naturally under your chin and you grab the club from there, the distance from the ball is again decided by the club itself. So shorter clubs you are closer and longer clubs you are further, which is an easier concept for most golfers to understand than the changing ball positions.

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Proper Set Up Routine

Set up routine where you reference the ball position with the lead foot and width of stance with the trail foot. Left hand remains opposite inside of left thigh on all shots. Ball position will determine shaft alignment with left arm as well as secondary spine tilt.

Chuck Will Golf Academy
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Set the Club First

The first thing to do when setting up to hit a long club is to set the face behind the ball aimed at your target. You should also focus on “soling” the club flat on the ground so that neither the toe or the heel are up off the ground (see photo below).

From there you have set the club, commit to it and now “measure out” so that your body is the appropriate distance to the ball with a good athletic and repeatable posture.

Finally, regarding ball position, this is a preference not an imperative. The driver ball position is the most forward, generally opposite the forward foots instep (left-foot for right-handed golfer). You can progressively move ball position slightly back as the club gets shorter so that a mid-iron (7-iron) is in the center.

Besides a few common rules of thumb, it really is best to have your PGA Professional check your setup from time to time and if they make a recommendation, try to create an awareness of what feels different compared to your normal so that you will implement it on the course.

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2 of 5 Important Factors

There are 4 fundamentals to a good setup position that every golf pro should teach. They are grip, alignment, posture and ball position, which we could discuss in more detail if you contact me. But, I like to add a fifth, which is distance from the ball. There are 2 (of these 5 fundamentals) that I think are really important to always remember in order to get the right setup over the golf ball.

The first is distance from the ball. I’ve been asked many times by many of my students (over the past 17 years) how to know how far away to stand from the ball. Well, my answer for them is that your hands should always hang freely under your shoulders and be about a fist width from your waist. Then, your actual distance from the ball will change based upon the different clubs with different lengths.

The second factor which is important in setup is ball position, as it changes whether you’re hitting short irons, mid irons, or long irons and woods (from the back of the stance to more forward in the stance accordingly). As for long irons and hybrids, I like to play them just inside my front foot. As for woods, I have pretty much the same ball position (as with the long irons and hybrids) except for the driver. I like to play the big stick usually right in line with my front foot, however you could position it anywhere from just inside the left foot to just in front of the left foot, based upon what feels comfortable to you and produces the best results. Just also remember that the trajectory of your ball flight will change based upon a more back (lower trajectory) or more forward (higher trajectory) ball position.

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Feet together

Put your feet together touching. Place the ball in front of a particular toe on your right foot (assuming you are right-handed) Say middle toe for your driver. Then take your stance without moving your left foot. The ball will be in the same position every time no matter where you are.

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Prepare before you move the club

grip- see second knuckle on left hand when you look down right hand on side of grip- you can use a 10 finger grip for more speed. Stance- shoulders on inside of feet-set weight more to right leg like 70 right 30 left. Ball position Driver off left instep long irons/hybrids for right handed player off your heart-distance arms from body at address you should be able to wiggle your toes inside your shoes if you can,t wiggle your toes insides your shoes your arms are too far away from your body.-Balance moves ankle to ankle in golf totally different in other sports

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Getting ready for higher swing speeds.

To be well prepared to swing a driver long irons and hybrids at the club speed they need you should have an “athletic readiness” set up. Example a wider stance for balance, a solid posture position, bend from the waist and slight knee bend to activate or engage your trail foot speed, leg action and hip rotation into the ball. Once set Try not to have any still time over the ball. Incorporate a waggle, look at your target then ball, there is nothing worse than standing like a statue over the ball, great athletes are always in motion, makes them ready to react , don’t be an like an archeologist and just stare at the ball. From your athletic readiness position See what you want, rehearse what you want your body to do, then go ahead and make your best swing. Watch Bryson De Chambeau, no still time there just readying for speed before launch!

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Little step, big step.

For Drivers, long irons and hybrids, we usually simply say, ball in the front of your stance. Not everyone will be the same but basically if you set up to the ball with your feet together and the ball between your big toes, now take a small step wider with the target side foot and a big step wider with the trail side foot you should be in good shape.

You’ll want to have your feet about shoulder width apart. With the driver have the insides of the feet about even with the outside of the shoulders and a bit narrower for the long irons and hybrids.
Now let it rip!

Senior Director, Academy Development U.S. Kids Golf, Longleaf Golf & Family Club
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