Golf Setup Lesson Pt 1- Foundation for a Golf Swing

by Herman Williams

The golf setup is the foundation for a golf swing and getting setup to make a golf swing is probably as important as creating the proper foundation on which to build a building. Get it wrong, and it won’t matter how well you build  everything else.

Look no further than the “Leaning Tower of Pisa” in Italy for a perfect example. Great architecture, it took over 175 years to build, and it’s now over 800 years old.  But because of a bad foundation, it’s just a tourist attraction now.  The Tower is tilted 10 degrees (that’s 17 feet off center at the top) and has been essentially unusable for most of its existence.  The problem all along has been the foundation.

So how do we setup to make a golf swing and avoid becoming a tourist attraction like the Leaning Tower? First, we need a great grip. But for the purposes of this article, we’re going to gloss over grip, assuming you have the details of hand position already figured out. If not, click Golf Grip – How to Grip a Golf Club.

Once the grip is established, make sure the lead arm (left arm for right-handed golfers) is sitting on top of the chest. Simply picture how the golf ball is in front of your body and the lead arm must also be in front of the body, not on the side. This is no small detail. If the lead arm is sitting on the side of the body, the chest is in the way of starting a proper takeaway and backswing. The golfer is forced to roll the arms around the body which in turn opens the clubface and sends the club off plane. Coming “over the top” on the downswing and pulling or slicing the golf ball is almost guaranteed.

Here’s how to setup correctly for a right-handed golfer. Standing at attention, grasp the club in the left hand while holding the handle beside the left hip, clubhead resting squarely on the ground near left foot. Once you have established the left hand grip, raise the left arm up on top of and across the chest (tricep lays on the pec.) Keep the left arm straight and across the chest as you slowly lower the arm until the butt of the club is straight out from your belt buckle, shaft horizontal to the ground, toe of club pointed straight up. Next, attach the right hand to the club.

You now have both hands on the club, left arm sitting somewhat uncomfortably on top of left chest, left shoulder is higher than the right (which means spine is tilted slightly to the right), right arm is soft at the elbow, right shoulder tucked back and down, club is pointed straight out from belt buckle.

At this stage, we are ready to finish assembling the golf stance. Set the feet just barely wider than the hips, toes turned out about 5 degrees on each foot, and start to bow from the hip sockets as you also let the wrists drop. The clubhead will lower to the ground directly in the center of your stance, butt of club still pointed at belt buckle. Keep your back straight as you stick your tail out and keep your chin up to avoid a “hunch back” appearance. Hands should be about a fist-width to a fist-and-a-half away from legs. Your knees should just crease slightly,  no sitting or excessive bending. You are now in the proper golf address position with an athletic posture , basically a “ready” position that would apply to any sport.

If you can’t seem to get the club comfortably down to the ground, have a professional check the length and lie angle of the clubs. A good fit should leave the clubhead resting on the ground with the toe of the club just slightly up in the air. It actually should not be soled completely flat. Do not try to sit down to get low enough if the clubs feel too short. Excess knee flex will ruin your motion. Bow forward more at the hips if necessary. Of course, if the clubs feel too long, you will probably be standing straight up with almost no bend at the hips and the toe of the club way up in the air – the clubs likely should be shortened if that’s the case.

The final step in our setup is to simply march over to the golf ball. From the setup position with the clubhead resting on the ground at the center of the stance, simply shuffle over to the ball while maintaining setup posture. Basically we create the setup while standing a few inches too far away from the ball, then slide the clubhead up behind the ball as the feet take a small step forward. We literally use the club as a yardstick to measure the body distance from the ball.

Think about the similarity to a Space Shuttle launch. NASA spends a tremendous amount of time (months) setting everything up, then they put the shuttle on the “crawler” to slowly (days) march it over to the launching pad, finally they count down (seconds) and press the button (instantaneous) to launch. We’re no different – take all the time necessary to create the setup and aim the shot; slowly, carefully march the setup over to the ball; waggle to count down and relax; then “press the button” triggering the motion – the swing  itself is over in less than a second and a half.

Next, we’ll add to the setup by talking about preshot routine. The preshot routine will help consistently apply the setup to shots with both irons and woods while aiming correctly at targets on the  range or the golf course.

 

{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Clark

Herman when I set up like you describe I too press my left hip a little. But, I have found something that that helps me make the coil easier. I turn my right hip just a little to the inside. Boy, that really seems to free me up, am I headed for a wreck?
LC

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jim Armstrong

Thanks for the tip for arm on top .it fixed me overnight I am even drawing the ball again or dead straight.. It was an aha moment and instant. Thank you!!!!!!!!

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Kevin

Hey Herman,
First I must say you are one hell of an instructor. I know you’re very busy so when you get a chance to answer it’ll be highly appreciated. I’ve played on and off for years but the past year I’m more dedicated than ever to being 5 or less handicap. I’m currently an 8-9 but devastatingly inconsistent with my irons. My big mis-hit is a push-slice or shank.

From all my reading/practicing I think something is terribly wrong with my hands during my swing. If I use a neutral grip…my club face arrives open. If I try and get my hands past the ball at impact…club face wide open. (I’m left handed). If I put myself at the top of my swing with left hand in “waiters tray” position and a flat right wrist and just let my natural swing fall….I always arrive with an open club face.

If this helps you, here’s what I do that more often produces nice shots (i.e. My “fixes”)
1. Very strong grip. Right hand shows 2.5-3 knuckles. Left hand literally underneath the shaft with Palm up. With this grip I swing in-out and hit nice draws but occasional hooks….maybe a hosel here and there.
2. When shots get ugly, I stand way far from the ball…feel like Moe Norman and probably look as silly. But I can hit 100’s of balls quite nicely in this set up but I know it’s fundamentally wrong and well…I’d rather not do it.

Herman, I love this game and am just so frustrated that I can’t get a consistent swing. I hit about 500 balls a week but feel I bring a different swing every outing.
Before any more rambling I guess my main question is:
(Lefty) what are the positions and or movements that my wrists/forearms should make to have a square club face at impact?

Sorry for the mess and the rambling. Any advice would be wonderful. Thank you!

Kevin

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Herman Williams

Kevin, my first thought is you’ve got to really identify your natural style. It appears to me you’ve probably grown pretty accustomed to a “strong-grip, closed face” style of play with a flat swing plane. This causes the club to approach the ball on a significantly “in-to-out” path with a “hold-on” style of release. The path can cause the shank as the club tries to keep extending out away from the body near impact. Any attempt to roll your hands over is negated by having such a strong grip … forearms are basically locked into that 3-knuckle position. In order to look more conventional you’re probably going to endure some pain along the way to reverse those habits. Unfortunately, just because the new changes are supposedly a “better” way to swing, it doesn’t mean they will be easy to do or that they will work better initially.

So if you want to fight through to a more conventional swing, your first goal has to be a solid grip and a solid release action. Don’t worry so much about backswing for now. In other words train your hands for impact first, and try to get to duck-hooking as soon as possible. Look at my release article and video and go for a neutral grip and really train hard at getting your right forearm and hand to turn down and over through impact. Try to feel like this turning move starts at your left hip area as you are coming down in downswing. It should feel like your right arm scrapes your left hip coming down and then turn the back of your right hand down toward the ground. If you can consistently hook the ball with the hands turning over, then work on allowing the club to fall more behind you in downswing as the hips clear more aggressively. Hope this helps … you can always sign-up for an online lesson if you have a way to send me some video. – Herman

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Johnson Kevin

Thank you so much Herman. One question: when you stated “should feel like your right arm scrapes your left hip coming down….you did mean right arm and not left correct? I’m a left handed golfer. Just making sure. Thank you! And I will be doing an online lesson as soon as I get a good video. Thanks!

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Herman Williams

Yes … right arm must fall close to body on downswing.

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David Terrie

Herman,

One more thing to pass on regarding getting yourself in the reverse K at setup. While working on getting my left arm on top of my pec, I was neglecting what I was doing to grip the club with my right hand. I was ‘cheating’, reaching out a bit instead of tilting fully to make my right arm long enough. Perhaps because I’m left-handed, but swing right-handed, I set the club behind the ball with the left hand only and then place my right hand on the club. I’ve started thinking of the old glove under the arm pit drill, except this time with the right arm. If you each out instead of tilting, you’ll drop the glove. This keeps the right shoulder back and the shoulders square to the line. Much more like my old two-knuckle stance. I checked, and indeed running a club from my chest though my belt buckle has the head touching my left leg as you demonstrated.

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Herman Williams

Thanks, David. Nice description.

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David Terrie

Herman,

Recently came across your blog / videos. I wish you had been around when I was a kid. Today, I wish I lived in NC! You’d never get rid of me. Really great explanations of the mechanics and cause/effect of doing things right or wrong.

Regarding setup, your tip that the left arm needs to be on top of the pec makes so much sense. When I was about 18, I had a wrist operation that afterwards made my wrist sore if I used my normal two-knuckle grip. So, I went with a neutral grip. Over time, not playing nearly as much as my kids grew up, I lost the muscle memory for my natural stance. My swing looked ok, but it too often felt like my gears were grinding as I tried to find the slot at the top of my back-swing. When things are going really bad, I sometimes set up with my left hand in the two-knuckle position with the face open to get my swing back on plane.

What I now realize is that turning my left arm to the two-knuckle grip position naturally gets my left arm on top of the pec and helps tuck the right should in as well, freeing up my back-swing. Cause and effect. I just never made the connection. A neutral grip makes it all too easy to let arm sit on the side of the chest.

I also used to waggle my hips forward and back slightly before setting my weight to the back foot and beginning my take-away. Clearly, when I shifted too far right I threw my spine angle way off. Another huge discovery.

You should be on the Golf Channel and writing for Golf Digest.

Thanks from a new fan.

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Herman Williams

Hey David, glad to hear you’ve been Hermanized. :) Thanks for the compliments and I hope you see continued improvement in your game. – Herman

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Shaye

FEMALE golfer (LEFT-HANDED) …. I come from a softball background and always hit opposite field (late swing). With golf I ALWAYS hit ground behind the ball. So ready to give up!

I find your point interesting regarding left hand placement ontop of my female “chest”. Maybe that would help me not strike the ball behind me????

Oh wait thats not correct. Since I’m left handed that would be my right arm! Oh great, now Im even more confused.

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Grant F

Herman, firstly thank you.

The way you explain the golf swing is clearly the best available – your tip on squaring but also uncocking the left hand at impact has transformed the way I impact the ball and resulted in a straight penetrating ball flight.

I do have 1 question on the address – you mention the golf shaft points at the belt buckle however there is a lot of info out there saying the shaft should point to left hip at address and if you look at top tour players like Rory McIlroy they do tend to have this lean of the shaft. Does the grip, stronger or weaker, affect this at all?

Can you please clarify.

Appreciate it.
Grant

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Herman Williams

Hey Grant, Thanks for following my work. It’s certainly ok to have the hands slightly in front of the ball at address. A stronger grip tends to push the hands farther forward as it’s the only position that feels comfortable. Centering the hands in my experience has improved most player’s abilities to align to target, square the face at address and make a reasonably sound takeaway. So if you don’t trust those, stay centered. At any rate, be sure to check in a mirror to verify the look … if it looks like Tiger and Rory, you’re probably ok. Good luck. – Herman

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Rich

Hi Herman,
when i lift my tricep on top of my pec, i feel a lot of tension in my left arm, mainly the upper part of my arm and left shoulder, does this sound like a correct feeling ?

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Herman Williams

Rich, most golfers report that same perception. I don’t think you are doing anything wrong. Bowing over more from the hips in the setup will allow a little more room for the arm to sit on top of chest and still comfortably hang to the ball. Thanks for commenting. – Herman

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Miguel Campos

Hi Herman!
I love almost all your vídeos but in this one “Once you have established the left hand grip, raise the left arm up on top of and across the chest (tricep lays on the pec.) ” is Pure Gold. Since I have a very thick chest with this setup for me everything is easier. Again Thanks a lot.

Now my new problem. Next month I’ll buy a new set of irons. Since I have a normal Height(178cm), below average Arms (my wrists to floor is 88cm , 3cm more than a normal guy with 178) and a thick chest, what do you think the length and lie of the irons should be changed relative to the standard ones? Because of this new position over the chest I fell my irons should be flatter in order not to bend too much…

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Herman Williams

Miguel, The best way to test this is to see what length you hit most easily centered in the clubface. For lie angle you must get checked hitting a shot from a lie board as the dynamics of swinging often look different than the setup positions. We test length with impact sensitive tape to determine where you hit the face. Generally barrel-chested guys need to get the arms on top of the chest and then bend over more than average to clear the chest on the swing. Due to this reason, shaft-length will often be standard or slightly shorter than standard (1-2cm less than std) since the chest is bowed over closer to the ground and lie angle just be standard. Try to talk to a good clubfitter if possible.

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Miguel campos

Hermaqn,
first of all my congratulations because your stuff is really good and has changed my game a lot.

I have a doubt regarding my stance. I’m a “width” guy (strong guy with a developed chest and strong lats and deltoid although i dont go to the gym. My shoulder is 46cm width.

What should be the distance between my heels (stance wide) for iron 7, fairway wood and Driver? In 5 lessons Ben Hogan says that for a 5 iron the stance should be set apart with shoulder width. Do you agree?

Thanks a lot
Miguel

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Herman Williams

Hogan had great leg drive and fast hips considering his major injuries from the car wreck in 1949. That being said, I think he could get away with a wider stance than most. So try to base your decision on your need for mobility, not so much on how wide your shoulders are. I generally recommend setting the feet just slightly wider than the hips so you see a slight flare to the legs like the trunk of a tree, but nothing too excessive. This should give you enough stability for balance while also having enough mobility to pivot freely.

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Miguel Campos

Thanks Herman!
I’ll try on the course your recomendation to set the feet slightly wider the the hips.

Best Regards

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Wayne Vanderploeg

My chest is thicker than average and after laying my arms over my chest in the set up I have to bend over farther than normal in order to get my arms to hang freely. Everyone is advising me to stand up straighter but then I have to mover my arms to the sides of my pectoral muscles so that they can hang more freely in the more upright position…..Do I stay more upright with my arms to the side of my chest or bend over farther with my arms on top of my chest? This has been a struggle. Otherwise, your on-line tutorials have been very helpful.

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Herman Williams

Thanks for commenting Wayne. My quick answer is bend over and tell those folks to leave you alone. You will be farther from the ball and some barrel-chested guys prefer shorter clubs. But at the end of the day you want to get rid of the interference your chest creates regarding the armswing. Good luck. – Herman

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Kevin

Herman, Thank you for this video. I had some issues and knew something didn’t feel right in set up. The left arm over the left chest was the issue. I kept being told “you have a strong grip”. I do have a “touch” strong but not real strong– took a look in the mirror– it appeared too strong because of the left arm “hanging” or “relaxed” too much. Not straight enough basically. Im glad I read the comments– When corrected, I do play wedge thru 7 about middle stance, 6- 4, slight left of middle and I do have a slight shaft lean toward inner left leg but do not have the inside backswing issue. Just mentioning since it was a little uncomfortable to let a 6 iron shaft be right at belt buckle- felt like i would either go outside or had to open stance. If I keep the right arm, shoulder, elbow “soft” it all works. The mirror can really be informative. Once again, thank you. Much appreciated!

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Herman Williams

Good job Kevin and thanks for stopping by to comment. – Herman

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Jack Malzahn

Great Job on the videos ,I live in Greensboro and am lefty,Iwill be calling for a lesson soon .
Jack Malzahn 336.457.1642

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Taylor Wright

Herman,

I can’t tell you how much you have changed my game! I’ve been trying for years to develop a consistent set up and swing and am every so grateful that I’ve been “hermanized”. One quick question. The only thing I always question now is how my wrists should be at set up. Sometimes I feel like they are cocked and that I hit better. Should I feel relaxed in my wrists with no wrist cock at set up or is it alright to have a little bit. What would be the best way to know exactly how they should be (for instance If I point my club straight out from my belt buckle to I maintain that exact angle in my wrists?)
Thanks!

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Herman Williams

I assume you mean how high the hands should be at address. If that’s correct then having the handle point at belt buckle usually works out to be a good shaft/wrist angle. Slight wrist cock is normal at address.

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Taylor Wright

I’m having a hard time figuring out just one thing, if I were to stand straight up and point my club straight out from my belt buckle it’s 90 degrees, if I bend over with the exact position until the club hits the ground then it obviously isn’t in the correct position because I would still be at 90 degrees. There’s got to be a point where I’m letting go of my wrist cock. It looks like the guys on tour and even your sit up you almost let the club drop or even point your wrist down. I’ve been battling this for years trying to figure out what is the correct position from how I have my wrists… either pointing down or or cocked too much… please help:)

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Herman Williams

Let the club fall half way down from bending at the hips, then let the wrists uncock enough to finish lowering the club to the ground. Net result should leave the butt of club aimed at belt buckle.

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Fred

Herman,
Big hello from Texas. Your videos have greatly improved my game. I was wondering if you set-up any differently with fairway woods and hybrids?
Thanks,
Fred

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Herman Williams

Just a light difference in ball position. Imagine setting up for a 7-iron and then moving the golf ball 1 ball-width forward from there. This will allow the clubhead to move thru the ball on a virtually level arc versus hitting down too much as it might on an iron shot.

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Michael

Hi Herman,
have been following your site for some time now and find your teaching illuminating and always interesting. Yes, the word “Fanny” can be used in a different context here in “Oz” but I don”t believe anyone would be offended.
I Just wanted to say hello and like the way you teach. I am 54 years young and have been on & off single figures for the last 10 years but when my swing goes south and i feel like a 40 handicapper I can usually find some pearls, like the one above about the left arm on top of the Left pec. I used to do this all the time but some how you just forget some of these important set up features. Keep up the good work and I will continue to keep in touch.
Michael
Melbourne Australia

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Herman Williams

Hey Michael. I have a lot of followers “Down Under.” Thanks for commenting and following my work. – Herman

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Marty D

Herman,
I’ve really enjoyed your videos, particularly the recommendation to weaken my right hand grip. I was having problems with a seriously closed clubface in my backswing and at the top. Your advice has helped quite a bit.
One setup issue a I struggle with is spine tilt. My right shoulder sets up below the left, but my right hip is tends to get higher than the left resulting in either a vertical or reversed spine tilt. I can’t seem to correct it. Ironically, if I need to hit a high shot (say over a tree), I seem to make some of my best swings (I imagine it has to do with my setup and the need to get the ball up rather quickly). I’ve tried to visualize an imaginary obstacle in front of me as I setup to the ball to see if I can get the same results, but it has not been particularly effective. If you have any suggestions to help my setup, particularly the hip issue, I’d appreciate it. Keep up the great work.

Marty

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Herman Williams

Try to make what amounts to a “forward press” with your hips and knees in the setup. Literally your hips and legs will not be symmetrically centered on the ball. Basically the right shoulder drops to the right and left hip moves to the left. This will raise your left hip and drop your right hip and knee.

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Jim young

I am confused. How can low point of swing be in center of stance? Doesn’t left arm define swing circle? Isn’t low point therefore beneath left arm socket?

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Herman Williams

Jim, you are technically correct, but since I know you, I will also with humor say, “stop over-analyzing.” :)

For a broader audience who won’t study this in too much detail, the idea is to start the club centered to get the most symmetrical possible start with body and club alignments and best possible takeaway. A centered golf ball, or just slightly left of center technically, gets the ball positioned where the club has a chance to strike it cleanly, and as is the case with the irons, continue to descend. I’ll also say unfortunately for most amateur players there is no continuing descent, so center still works best anyway as it truly is the bottom of their swing. Great observation, Jim, and thanks for paying such close attention. – Herman

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Ron Remillard

Given that you are placing the ball in the middle of your stance, wouldn’t your stance be wider depending on what club you are using?

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Herman Williams

Good question. It has been historically taught that way, but there is no biomechanical reason or advantage to changing the stance widths. I pretty much have the same width thru the bag and then get just slightly wider for driver. Regardless of stance width though the bottom of the swing arc will basically be the center of your stance, so for a ball played on the ground, center is easiest place to catch it solid and not try to time 13 different positions or stance widths. Thanks for following and commenting. – Herman

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Rssuttle

I have just started learning from your video 3 days ago and doing really well with the irons using your grip (was using interlocking) immediately went from slicing the ball to a straight ball flight with added distance 20yards. Using the same techniques with the driver and I am slicing the ball. Could this be that I am not rotating my wrist fast enough or should I have a stronger grip or maybe it’s my hip rotation.. Longer irons I do not have this problem. Only when I move ball out the 2inches or so. Watch approx 6 videos or so and have learned more than 4hrs of lessons from local pro. Thanks a million.

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Herman Williams

Thanks for watching. A few things could be going on, so you’ll need to test one at a time in the following order. The driver is defintely tougher to time everything. You may simply need more reps with the new stuff before it clicks. But here are a few things to check.
1) If ball is too far forward, club path will already be coming back to the left and cutting across so ball will have cut spin on it. Try playing it back to improve the path, although now the face will need to release quickly to make it in time.
2) As you said, simply learn to rotate forearms faster/sooner … this is usually the #1 problem. We swing harder/faster and outrun our ability to rotate the face. Practice 1-handed forearm rotations with left hand holding the club, then immediately step up and play a shot – it might actually hook.
3) Stronger grip should help, but i don’t like a different grip for irons and woods.
4) Hip speed will ruin your driver swing until you’ve had time to master your hands. The clubhead has so far to travel (up to 16 feet from top of arc to impact) it is too easy for hips to outrun the clubhead and leave it open like a baseball batter late on a pitch. If you suspect this problem, literally stick your feet together (ankles touching) and hit a few drives. Your body will feel stuck and your hands will whip over quickly

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Ken

Just an update,

My swing continues to improve with using your videos to guide me. Never in my life could i hit a 3 iron with any power or distance and usually a huge slice. Well last week i decided to try it since using your move of bringing the club down in slot before clearing and keeping trunk turned away at same time. Well you’ll be glad to know i can now strike a 3 iron pure like i never have in 20 years of playing. I can carry it about 210, even my 5 iron which i rarely used on the coruse because of lack of distance i now know i can hit very well.I think the 70’s are in my future, just need to hit better iron shots on the course, at the range i kill them…but something changes on course as we all know.
Thanks again for your amazing videos! I’m telling everyone i know who plays to watch them!
Ken

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Herman Williams

Thank you, Ken. I appreciate the endoresement and glad to hear you’re smoking those long irons. – Herman

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Jim Young

When bowing toward the ball, do you retain wrist “cock” as when held at belt buckle height? Or do you let wrists uncock as club falls to the ground?

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Herman Williams

Great question – wrists do uncock slightly.

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Mike

Hi Herman,

Thanks for the great video. I have a question regarding the position of the handle of the golf club. I’ve noticed on the range that many people set up with the handle of the golf club positioned near their left thigh, or pointed toward the target, creating the appearance of the club leaning forward at address. I know you reccomend in this video that the clubface be centered in your stance at address, but could you speak a bit about that forward shaft lean at address and whether that is something you advocate.

Thanks again!

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Herman Williams

I tolerate forward shaft lean but don’t advocate it. The tendency with the forward press is to struggle to align to the target and square the clubface in the setup. Experienced, low-handicap players usually have this figured out, so it’s not a big deal. The other common flaw developed out of a forward press is a tendency to take the clubhead to the inside on the takeaway. The “T-square” approach is simpler for a wide range of players. Thanks for stopping by to comment on the blog. – Herman

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Rob Bowles

Hi Herman,
I took up golf when I hit the age of 50, I used my friends 7 iron and hacked my way around a local course and became addicted, I had a couple of lessons along the way from a pro and started to read / watch videos on the net. I am now 58 my handicap is 14.6 but lately I have lost a lot of distance and should probably be 18, I was never a massive hitter, probably 230 with the driver from a solid shot but now I am lucky to hit 180, 7 iron 110 all perfectly straight.
Anyway, I have recently been looking at many more articles in an effort to get more distance, I am no slouch I have worked in the building industry all life and think I am reasonably fit for 58, I just stumbled on your videos and have watched them over and over and over in an effort to ingrain the moves, very interesting, properly explained and like what other people have said, no one has ever properly explained why and I was seriously thinking about quitting the game altogether, I am today going to try out all of what I have learned by watching your instruction and will keep you posted on the results, here is to hoping that at long last I have found someone who actually wants people to learn the game properly.
Kind regards Rob. (UK)

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Michael

Hi

At the top of my back swing l can feel my right elbow on my side. I am barrel chested, could this be the cause?

Please note that l am hitting the ball straight with perhaps the merest hint of a draw.

My worry is that l am not hitting the ball as far more so my irons than my driver.

Should l try to widen my back swing or do you feel l should play with what l have got?

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Herman Williams

Michael, I’m not sure changing anything here would make you hit it further. I don’t like changing things just to look better – the old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind. If you are going to try to get more width, you will likely have to turn your torso and shoulders farther back to get that right arm off your body. There will definitely be a learning curve involved to get comfortable again and time everything. Only you can judge if it’s worth that. Good luck and thanks for stopping by and commenting. – Herman

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Mike

:)Thanks for the explanation. A+.

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Mike

Herman,
Been lucky to have played most of this winter. Noticed a few things creeping in that I wanted to get my setup a little more structured. I looked at this video and the gem of it is the left arm (tricep) on the left pectoral detail. I have done a fair amount of bench pressing so development of this muscle and the slight lack of flexibility make it very important for me to do. Otherwise, I setup open and hit pull hooks or if I compensate with open stance a push/slice . I tend to setup comfortably in an open stance with all clubs. Can’t wait to apply this into my routine so all the other tips and compensations might not be needed. Thanks. Move to CT please!!!

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Herman Williams

Thanks for the comments, Mike. Your observations as a weight lifter are spot on. Get that left arm up high and across the chest and actually try to maintain a slightly closed appearance with the upper chest and shoulders relative to the feet. (i.e. open feet, closed shoulders) You should see great results. Stay in touch. – Herman

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Mike

I meant closed stance in my post. You recommend a very pronounced straight back and chin up posture. When I watch the professionals most don’t seem to have such a position, in fact they look a little slouched and bent over in the upper thoracic/neck area (Phil, Ernie Els). Does it appear that way cause they are taller? Please explain. Again thanks for your rapid response. I feel you are great instructor so I want to stay with your teaching entirely now.

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Herman Williams

Taking nothing away from their records or great swings, Phil and Ernie are admittedly a little overweight up top and may not be awesome role models in the posture department. Adam Scott might be a great one to emulate.

I usually see a lot of slouching in my clientele with lots of forward shoulder rounding especially in adult men beyond 30 years of age. As a result my teaching has grown accustomed to exaggerating for effect. You can certainly overdo it and end up with a spine line that is too straight and unnatural. The best bet is to maintain the natural slight “S-curve” of the spine that you have when standing looking straight ahead and then bow from hips. Good questions, best of luck on your game. – Herman

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Jean Nortier

Dear Herman, the more I follow and implement your advice, the better I strike the ball! Your setup helped a lot and I got to identify, using your T, that the leading edge of my club was actually 5 deg+ open all the time. I was fighting a slice and always felt I had a flaw somewhere that had to be addressed. Also, the left arm over the chest and the lower shoulder helps align the shoulders with the lower body. I think you are the “thinking man’s golf coach”. So much better to understand what you are doing instead of just being told and not knowing why you do what you do or why things will go wrong. Now I can identify my own errors and work at them! Thanks a mill.

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Herman Williams

Thanks Jean. I like that … “thinking man’s golf coach.” :) I’ve always felt like you deserve to know why you are doing something beyond the standard reason “my pro told me too.” It’s a lot easier to stay committed when you completely understand where you’re coming from and where you’re trying to go. good luck and stay in touch. – Herman

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Randy

Hi Herman,

I found your site last night via a you tube video and I am glad I did. I have been struggling greatly with my game over the last few years. It got to the point that I couldn’t even find a comfortable or reliable position at address. This set up video is awesome. The left arm technique is huge. Just grabbing a club in my living room and getting my left arm out in front of my chest made a huge difference. I have a large chest and used to keep my left arm down my left side with the right coming over my chest. My results were exactly what you described in the video…shoulders tilting in the wrong direction and a bad outside-in swing. Anyway, went to the range today and just using your set up methods had me hitting the ball better than I have in years. I still have a lot of work to go but I feel more interested in golf now than ever. Thanks for the great site and videos. I wish I lived in NC so I could come take some lessons from you!

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Herman Williams

Randy, thanks for watching the videos and finding my site to leave a comment. Your description of how to fix your setup was perfect. We teach this on day one to every beginner we encounter, and they don’t think this game is so hard to learn. It’s never too late to figure it out and start getting better. Glad to add you to the list of those getting “Hermanized.” Stay in touch. – Herman

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Neil

Hi Herman, I tried your suggestion on putting the ball in front no matter what kind of iron I am grabbing. But here’s a question: say for a 9iron, the offset will leave the face of the club look closed (I am playing Mizuno JPX800 iron set), and it’s almost impossible to make it look square. Can you give me some advice?

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Herman Williams

Does the face just look bad or is the shot also flying offline? If you are hitting it straight and getting a divot past the ball, keep going like you are. If ball is truly too far forward you might pull it or hit it fat/thin. Moving it back a little for these short irons may help you if that’s the case. My basic iron setup tries to align the shaft with the belt buckle picturing the shaft like a “T-square” with the leading edge of face perfectly square. That sets the ball itself just slightly left of your zipper.

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Neil

Hey man, your video is awesome!! It really help me a lot on correcting my weak, slicing shots for a long time. What bothers me most now is the driver, could you talk more about how to set up and hit a driver/fairway wood.

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Herman Williams

Thanks for commenting. Duly noted … I’ll try to get some specifics soon on driving. There are some key points to keep in mind for the setup to ensure an inside approach with a level to upward hit. Also a few good techniques to help square the face. – Herman

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Neil

Is it possible also have some videos talking about chipping & pitching?

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Pete

Hey Herman, I tried your suggestion regarding the left arm and bringing it in front of your body at address so the tricep is up against the front of the chest. I had never heard of this setup before and found it promoted a steeper plan for me which is good as I tend to get a little laid off and stuck. The thing I noticed about this setup was the left elbow pointed down towards my left hip as opposed to my more traditional setup where the left elbow points out between the left hip and target. If you have the time, I would appreciate your thoughts on these two setup positions with the left arm and what each one promotes. You can also let me know that I’m overanalyizing this setup and that I should get a life and I will completely understand.
Thanks

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Herman Williams

Pete, you are right on track. elbow pointed at body/tricep on chest dates all the way back to Ben Hogan in the 50’s. First off, the elbow joint can’t bend targetward in this position so it helps prevent chicken winging and it slightly preloads the left forearm for a strong release. Secondly, with arm laying on top of chest, the arm does not need to roll out around the chest as we go back in backswing. That type of rolling for guys that start with their arm on their side promotes open clubfaces, laid off backswings, etc. Thirdly when you arrive at top of backswing with the arm up on top of chest and elbow pointed down, you are in a stronger physical position to pull down with tricep and lat muscle. Plus you are more “connected” to the big muscles of trunk. You can find connection information from Jimmy Ballard’s work.

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Brian

Herman,

You may like to check the word “fanny”
In the USA is means your bum
In Australia it has a very different meaning which would offend many people.

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Herman Williams

Duly noted … we’ll use “bottom” or “tail” for those down under – thanks.

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DocRobJ

Herman,

Thanks for the information on the setup. I’ve begun my yearly review of what I did last year; so I can be better this year. This gives me something to review and refresh. I am looking forward to the next video and some warmer weather so I can get my clubs checked and re-gripped.

Robert

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