Proper Golf Posture

By Mike Southern
Slightly-flexed knees are one important part of good golf posture.
Slightly-flexed knees are one important part of good golf posture.

Proper posture is an integral part of your golfing setup and alignment before hitting the ball. Many players struggle with power and accuracy simply because their poor posture prevents them from returning the club to the ball on the same plane on which they began. Golf exercise instructor Mike Pedersen even says you can relieve lower back pain just by improving your posture when you play. Fortunately, proper posture is not difficult to achieve.

Shoulder-Width Stance

Although some teachers might recommend different stance widths for various shots, teachers such as Harvey Penick always have suggested a good shoulder-width stance as the starting point of good posture. From this natural position, movement during the swing is much easier because your hips are not “locked” by a wide stance nor cramped by a narrow one. If something the width of your shoulders would barely fit between your feet, your stance width is about right.

Flexed Knees

Annika Sorenstam wrote that she liked the word “athletic” when describing her posture at setup. She would flex her knees slightly and bend from the waist; with her weight over the balls of her feet, she felt as if she could make any movement she needed to during her swing. She recommends taking the posture described above and then trying to raise up slightly on your toes; if you are in an athletic posture, you should be able to do so without falling forward or backward.

Straight Spine

Too many players tend to hunch their backs when they set up. By keeping your spine straight, you eliminate many of the strains involved in rotating your torso during the swing. It not only removes stress from your back, but also allows your shoulders to rotate and your arms to swing freely on the correct plane during your swing. In addition, it makes it easier to breathe deeply. Jerry King, a PGA professional who is the director of instruction for the Kapalua Golf Academy, likes to use a club held lightly against his head, back and tailbone to check that his spine is straight.

Chin Up

One simple but often-overlooked aspect of posture is head position. Many players bow their heads to look at the ball, pushing their chins into their chests. In effect, they pin their upper bodies in place, restricting their ability to coil and making it almost impossible to turn without moving their heads more than they desire. In addition, they place extra strain on the back of their necks. Lift your head so your shoulders can rotate freely.

Balance

Ultimately it all comes down to balance. When your posture is correct, you feel both steady and energized. Your muscles are relaxed but ready for action. Not only are you ready to move, but you feel as if you can make those moves with power and accuracy. Your mind is sharp because your body can get all the oxygen it needs. In short, you are prepared for whatever the course might throw at you.

About the Author

North Carolina native Mike Southern has been writing since 1979. He is the author of the instructional golf book "Ruthless Putting" and edited a collection of swashbuckling novels. Southern was trained in electronics at Forsyth Technical Community College and is also an occasional woodworker.

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
Home