Building A Repeating Set-Up
Well, I hope I’ve had you thinking for a few days about your own set-up and routine for getting into it for each shot. Today I’m continuing the subject from Ben K’s question about getting consistency that can translate to more consistent impact and results, but I realize something this important is going to take a series again, so we’ll start today and finish on Tuesday, OK? By next weekend, you should be changing your results on the golf course.

As I discussed Tuesday, the higher handicap you play to, the more likely you are to be very inconsistent in putting yourself in the proper ball position each and every time. I shared with you the results from my friend’s testing with 6-irons, but we add to the equation that we play this crazy game with an assortment of implements, ranging from a 45” driver to a 35” sand or lob wedge. Sheesh, who figured this maddening thing out? (Makes me think of Robin Williams’ bit on the origin of the game. If you haven’t heard that, Google or “YouTube Robin Williams on golf” and spend five minutes listening to the long version – it will have you rolling!)

Anyway, what you can do to improve your golf immediately, is to learn how to set yourself up to the ball each and every time in the exact position that will let your learned swing “do its thing.” If the ball is a little closer or further away from your body . . . a little further back or forward in your stance . . . . for each shot, you’ll just never achieve any kind of consistency. So let’s build a solid and repeating set up piece by piece.
The first building block is a sound grip on the club that lets it hinge and release through impact properly. I’ve addressed this in prior posts, and I cannot stress enough how important it is to hold the club properly – see here and here.

The next step is to put yourself in an athletic position to allow your body to function at its best – knees flexed; feet about shoulder width apart; upper torso bent over from the hips, not the waist; slight tilt to the shoulders and left arm hanging naturally. And that position of your left hand is the key to set-up consistency. I’ll be right back to it.

To build a proper set-up, we need to find a point of reference, and that is going to be our golf club. Let’s do this with a 6-iron to start, as that is right in the middle of the iron set. Here are the steps to building a proper set-up that you can repeat:
1. Set the clubhead behind the ball with the grip just lying in the cradled fingers of your right hand. Make sure the leading edge is square to the target line, and the sole is almost flat on the ground, with the toe just up a little.

2. With the grip still just lying in your right fingers, square yourself to the club while re-checking your target line visually. Begin to “adjust” yourself into position with regard to the club itself, still holding it only with the right fingers. When you are set square to the target line, the butt of the club should be pointing right about at your belt buckle.

3. As you adjust into your golf swing stance and posture, allow your free-hanging left arm and hand to guide you into position. The club – still resting unmoved behind the ball – should put the upper half of the grip 4-6 inches directly behind and about even with your free-hanging left hand. If you are too far from the ball, you’ll have to move your hand considerably away from your body to get it on the club. If you are too close, the grip will be more toward your body than where your hand is hanging. [This is where everyone has their own little idiosyncrasies. For me, the correct position is one that puts the butt of the grip where I have to move my hand only an inch or so further away from my body to take my hold on the club. We’ll discuss this in more detail in the next article on the subject.]

4. When you have your left hand in comfortable position, close the gap to bring your hand and the grip together, meeting about in the middle of that space so that your hand can comfortably take its hold on the upper half of the grip. It should be hanging naturally just about even with the inside of your left thigh, and the shaft has a slight backward angle toward the ball.

5. As you place your right hand in its position on the grip, you will have “crafted” a proper set up position.

6. Now, feel this position for a few seconds. Let your body soak this in for a moment. Get comfortable with it. If you feel a little too close to the ball, you can back away an inch or so to feel better. But you do not want to be more crowded than this at address!

Obviously we’re covering lots of ground here. But there is more to cover, so we’ll continue next week. I’d like for you all to sound off with your questions and comments on this process so far, and on Tuesday, I’ll take it one step further.

photo source
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[ comments ]
Tim Horan says:
Terry, I was having difficulty with my set up/ line up. Placing the club behind the ball and then stepping in was causing me to close just my shoulders to the target line. My clubfitter spotted this and his advice do more "off the ball" grip the club and set up 1 ft inside the target line and get a reference target line through lower edge of the grip through the toes of your shoes. The distance from the ball being always related to bottom edge of the grip and how much of your shoes are in front of that line. Next - one practice swing. Having done this then transfer this feel and set up behind the ball and "go to it". There is obviously a sub routine here to get the grip right on the club but the point the clubfitter was making here was if you approach your line up routine with a fixed point (the ball) you leave yourself open to a judgement call on whether you are too close or too far away. You cannot see whether you are toe-up or toe-down with the club behind the ball.
bknapp45 says:
What is the purpose of having the toe up a little at address?
SweetJazz says:
For me, this would be more helpful with a couple of key pictures. I am a visual type of person and I am having a tough time mentally picturing this setup.
word127 says:
bknapp45- The toe must be up at address because during the swing, the shaft bends and the club flattens out.
wedgeguy says:
Thanks for beating me to the answer, "word127". That is exactly right, but not quite complete. There is definately downward bend of the shaft through impact, and as you would expect, it is more pronounced as the club gets longer. But in addition, with even the best players, you will see the hands drift slightly further away from the body through impact than they were at address. But the best players keep this "drift" to a minimum. If there is any one "secret" to good golf, that would be it, in my opinion.
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