Perfect Golf Posture: Everything You Need to Know
Telling a golfer they have a beautiful swing is just about the highest compliment you can give. It's really the finest secret weapon in any golfer's bag. Despite the fact that aficionado's of the sport spend thousands of dollars on equipment, the swing is the most important aspect of their game. And here's the thing: good posture is essential for a great swing.
Why Posture is So Important
Your mother told you to stand up straight, and she was right. Correct posture in golf is the foundation for your swing, whether you're on the tee, in the rough, or on the green. Golfers focus on their swing off the tee, but what is it that pros tell you? If you're on the green in three, and then three putt, all that time working on your drive isn't really helping all that much. A correct golf stance is critical everywhere on the course, but we would argue that the green is where your game lives or dies. It's important to put an emphasis on improving your putting posture while training on your putting mat or practice greens.
What is Poor Golf Posture?
Golf is a game of extreme precision. If you've been playing for a while, you've developed muscle memory to where you don't even notice how your stance on the tee differs dramatically from your stance when chipping uphill over a bunker. But think for a minute about how your weight shifts, if the club is forward or back, and whether you need a full swing or not. Spectators think that all the wiggling on the tee is just for dramatic effect; they don't realize that you're going through that mental checklist your pro has drilled into your head.
Golf is also a game of angles and physics. Your bend at the hip is an angle, your knees are at another angle, and your wrists, hands, and elbows are all angled as well. In the split second of your swing, all that changes. If your spin isn't straight, it's like dominos falling. If your shoulders slump the millisecond you stop focusing on your posture and think about the swing, everything shifts and your timing is off. This makes it almost impossible to hit the clubface square at impact, so the result is a sad little roll into the rough. Pros estimate that almost 70% of amateur golfers fall out of their posture during their swing.
How Can I Determine My Posture?
Golfers today have practically unlimited options to view their posture and work to correct it. Pros are always game to take videos of your posture and swing, and painstakingly analyze every hitch and twitch. You can try a swing simulator that turns your swing into metrics and leaves you wondering if you're playing golf or have signed up for a geometry and physics class. There is certainly a place in golf for video and analytics, but it's really pretty simple. Are you comfortable when you address the ball?
Golf shouldn't hurt. It's not supposed to send you to the orthopedist or make you sleep on a board. Sure, if you play a lot, you'll get stiff and could occasionally pull a muscle. If your posture is comfortable, it's good.
What is the Correct Posture for Golf?
Golf is physics in real life. Think about it—if the angles are right and the lever has force, the action leads to an equal and opposite reaction. Translation–if you have good posture when you swing the club, the clubface hits the ball and the ball travels based on the force and angle of the impact. Here's a quick drill to check your posture, courtesy of Dave Leadbetter and Golf Digest.
While you're standing up straight, let your arms hang down naturally by your sides. Clap them together. You should grip the club right where your hands clap.
Leadbetter says this ensures your club position is aligned with your body, so that when you hinge at the hip, your angles are just so. A good posture is one in which your shoulders and head are down, relaxed, and still.
Here are more tips to get you in the correct posture for golf:
- Stand up straight, shoulders back
- Your arms should be relaxed and straight
- Hold the club at your waist
- Bend slightly from your hips, back straight, until the club touches the grass
- Flex your knees with a slight bend, putting weight on the balls of your feet
Remember that your golf stance is best when your feet are at shoulder width for irons and your putter, and a little wider for drivers and fairway woods. This stance gives you both balance to swing through and the stability to shift your weight as you rotate. When you're putting, your rotation is more from the shoulder and the stroke is short, but balance is even more critical when there's no margin for error.
Women Have a Unique Posture
Women tend to have a lower center of gravity than men, so a good golf stance is different. When women golfers wonder why they top the ball so often, the answer is usually that they have set up like their male counterparts and aren't taking advantage of the physics of their bodies. Studies have found that while women rotate their pelvises with similar velocity as men, the velocity slows as the energy moves up the core to the upper torso, slowing the swing speed—men average about 75 mph, while women average about 60 mph.
Here are some of the differences in women's golf posture
Some women do not have straight backs. You should never force your spine into an uncomfortable position just to hit a golf ball, but rather work with the contours of your body. If you do try to straighten your spine in your posture, please stop—you could do permanent damage to your spine.
Women also tend to have proportionally wider hips than men, but benefit from a wider than hip-width stance because their center of gravity is lower.
Finally, the fact that women have breasts makes it impossible for them to hold the club like men and swing through with arms straight down. Women should pinch their shoulder blades back to raise their shoulders, which in turn allows their upper arms a higher chest placement in their posture.
Shifting your foot position also helps women. Turn your right toe out slightly (2nd position, if you remember ballet) and move your heel a few inches away from the target line. This frees up space for your arms as your hips rotate during the backswing.
It's even more important for women to bend at the hips as that golf stance pops your rear and shoulders back, which helps with balance and frees up chest space for the swing.
How Can I Improve My Golf Posture?
Use an at-home putting mat to work on your stance and stroke when you're practicing your putting. If you can do this in front of a mirror, so much the better.
Compare your golf posture to a photo of a pro, and see how you match up in places like your hip angle, stance, and knee flex. When you're on the course, practice your set up while you're waiting your turn. The key to correct golf posture is to maintain a neutral and relaxed spine position.
Perfect Practice has a great selection of putting mats and golf accessories to improve your game whether you're walking the fairway or practicing in the garage.