Instruction: Get Back To Basics – Work On Your Set-Up All Year Long

with Kevin Haime, @kevinhaime, PGA of Canada Class A Professional 

Most golfers would hit the ball a lot farther and more consistently if they would just learn to stand over the ball in a better, more balanced position and start the club swinging back the right way.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years teaching golf, it’s that most golfers are in big trouble before the club even reaches waist high on the way back. And the sad thing about that is that your starting position and the first part of your swing really don’t take any athletic ability, strength or timing. Virtually everyone can stand over the ball the right way by paying a little attention to some basic fundamentals and, with a little basic instruction, everyone can swing the club back properly too. I tell all of my players that the best way to swing your club on the proper path into the ball is to swing it away on a proper path. My favourite way to explain it is that it’s a lot easier to keep your train on the tracks than to find the tracks if you’re not on them when you’re leaving the station.

Let’s get you going with just a few keys so you can work on your starting position and takeaway this Fall and even into the off-season. All you need to do is learn some simple basics then spend some time in front of a mirror, and bingo, you’re instantly a better golfer.

Your starting position: There are 5 base fundamentals to every starting position. Your Grip, Alignment, Ball Position, Posture and Stance. That’s it!!

I suppose it’s a little more complicated than that because there are little elements like distance from the ball, spine tilt, slightly different ball positions with different clubs and a few other subtle specifics but it’s not that hard. You just need to be precise and stick to it. You might be shocked to hear that way more than half of all the flaws I see in any swing originate with poor starting position fundamentals but it’s true. I call Grip, Alignment and Posture the Holy Trinity of the golf swing. Get them right and you’re well on your way.

Your Takeaway: Most players do way too much to get the club swinging away from the ball and that gets them in big trouble early. For most golfers, doing a lot less would be a lot better. Your job is to “swing” the club away from the ball. You do that by simply turning your chest and swinging your arms up. That’s it. It’s a simple synchronized motion with very few moving parts that you can learn or relearn in just a few minutes on the lesson tee. No lower body movement, no hip turn, no arm roll and no wrist movement. It’s beautiful in its simplicity and it’s a critical step to mastering the rest of the swing. In my experience with average Joes and Jill’s, tension at address and a misunderstanding of what they’re trying to do is what does them in, not the difficulty of the motion at all.

Next time you’re practicing try to copy the positions in the included images. Keep your starting position athletic and balanced and keep your takeaway simple and lower scores will soon follow.


These photos were snapped as I played the incredible Cabot Links course this summer. I really like my waist high position here. Notice how I’ve turned my chest in posture which allows my arms to be nice and extended for swing width. Also, notice how quiet my hips and legs are. They are not major movers during the takeaway. Lastly, look at how passive my hands and wrists are as the club swings back. I’ve edged the club head slightly to the inside, so you can see how neutral my arms, wrists and hands look.

Great looking starting position below. It looks like I could stand over the ball all afternoon. It looks athletic and balanced. Posture, stance and alignment all look spot on.

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