When I first work on my students’ swings, I have them take out an iron so we can work on the core swing with a shorter club length and more loft. Once we start improving the core swing, we can get to the driver and see how the changes improve the driver. The improved core swing doesn’t automatically transfer to the driver so I usually check for a common issue with a driver setup position.
Many golfers have a tendency to set up their shoulders in the ‘open’ position, compared to the alignment of their lower half. So their back shoulder is coming out towards the ball. When your shoulders are aligned in different directions with the rest of your body, you are setting up to hit the ball with some sort of spin on it.
Now some may want to do this on purpose and play a cut which many advanced players do. But generally this isn’t a common shot that you will purposely use often. It can be difficult controlling the cut and minimizing side-spin to get your intended result out of it.
But if your golf ball is continually slicing or over-spinning and losing your ball wayward, just check your shoulder alignment. This simple setup move can get you back in the fairway. Let’s discuss how it can help you and why many golfers aren’t aware of this incorrect setup.
Keep Sternum Behind the Ball
The ball position when setting up with your driver is much more towards your front foot than your typical irons and wedges so you have to reach out more with your driver when setting up. When this happens, it is very easy to realign your upper body without even knowing it as your sternum has turned where it is now pointing ahead of the golf ball.
You will have to re-adjust your upper body and shoulders where they feel more square over your feet and legs and your sternum is now pointing more behind the ball. Since the ball is towards your front foot, your hands should be shifted slightly left of center (for a right-hander).
Don’t forget that your shoulders should be lined up slightly left of your target as a right-hander and not directly at your target.
Properly Align Your Lower Body
After getting your upper body and shoulders aligned, you may feel like your body is in the shape of a pretzel so we need to adjust the lower body to make it feel more comfortable and to feel fully square.
The best time to practice and become comfortable with your alignment is on the practice range. Lie down an alignment stick or another club against your toes and see where it’s pointing. You can also step away from the stick and walk behind it to see if you are aligned exactly as you think you were.
Note: Be careful when shuffling during setup. Shuffling your feet a bit can help ensure your weight is distributed properly through your legs, hips and feet. But I’ve seen students change their alignment during these times, so be mindful of your movements.
Use Your Front Shoulder as a Guide
You can see it when looking at your target so try and get that shoulder to be in the same spot compared to your target every single time you line up using your eye-sight. If you line up too open, you will see your lead shoulder too far away from your target. If you are too closed, you will see that shoulder too close to your target or even on top of it. You want to see the same gap distance between your target and shoulder every time.
Imagine a 90 Degree Angle Between Your Target and Driver Shaft
Once you set up to your golf ball, imagine a 90 degree angle between your driver shaft and their line to your target. Many use the clubface/arrow on top of the driver to line up, which is perfectly fine. But setting up your shaft perpendicular to your target can also help you visualize it better.
Don’t forget that the shaft of the driver should be completely vertical when setting up so this should give you the confidence of feeling more square.
Practice Your Alignment at the Driving Range
As I mentioned earlier, the best time to practice and become comfortable with your alignment is at the driving range. When you are out playing, it’s not a good sign if you are checking your alignment on every shot. Your attention needs to be on making quality swings, which is hard enough. So get in a comfort level with your own alignment before taking it to the course.
Once you’re on the course, if you have any doubt with your alignment your swing will show it. So take a step back and re-adjust until you’re confident with your stance. Just don’t do it on every shot. 🙂