March 21, 2023

Three Keys to Making Sure You’re Always the Correct Distance from The Ball

By Stefanie Shaw, PGA

Being more consistent with results is the number one request golf instructors receive from those seeking to enhance their golf skills. Consistency across your entire game starts with setting the club on the ground. Before we can go through a series of checks and balances, we need to actually talk about what constitutes good golf posture.

The club is your tool and should be the first thing to be placed on the turf so that you can build your setup around it. Set the club down with the clubface facing your target and resting on the ground comfortably. Once the club is set, hinge forward or bow at the waist so that the arms are hanging down below your shoulders with your knees simply unlocked. Once hinged forward, take the time to place your hands correctly on the grip. Now you are in a great position and can adjust your feet so that you are the appropriate distance from the ball, well-balanced and comfortable. Still not sure if you’re in the right spot? Let’s check.

Every club in your bag is a different length (see image below), which makes people think you need to stand differently with each one, but this is not true. If you take each club out of your bag and hold them side by side, in setup position, the grip end of each club meets in the same spot. Knowing this key piece of information will go a long way in creating that consistent setup that you desire.

  • Measure

First, I suggest creating some way for you to quickly “measure” yourself. One that my students and I apply often is using an open hand at the setup that we place between the grip end of the club and your belly button. Play around to find what parameter is best for you. Place the tip of your thumb on the end of the club, with the rest of your fingers pointing down and the far side of your pinky finger against your body. Your hand serves as the tool that is measuring the space between you and the end of your club. This is a quick and easy way to ensure consistency and relieve the many overwhelming and second-guessing thoughts that can come along with the setup.

  • Let Gravity help you out

Once you are set up over the ball, let go of the club with your trail hand and let it swing away or naturally hang. You should now be able to regrip the club comfortably and in the same place each time. If you are too close, then your hand will suspend to the outside of the club when you let go. If you are too far away, your hand will be to the inside of the club and the club will be out of reach and too far for you to regrip the club in the correct position. The key is to find that sweet spot when your arms are hanging naturally from your shoulders when you are set up at address.

  • Where is your weight?

The final way to ensure you are at the correct distance from the ball is to listen to your body. Once set up over the ball, pay attention to where the weight is being distributed through your feet. A simple way to help determine if you have too much weight on your toes or heels would be to rock your feet back and forth. If you find your weight is on your heels, there’s a good chance you are too close to the ball and that’s your body’s way of trying to get farther away. If you notice that there is a lot of falling forward because most of your weight is on your toes, that’s your body’s way of trying to get closer to the ball. Keep stepping your feet to find where you are comfortably balanced under your shoelaces or the balls of your feet.

You always have the ability to make the appropriate adjustments to ensure that you are in the correct position. Hopefully, these checks and balances will set you up for success each time and allow for the other magic to follow!

Stefanie Shaw, PGA currently spends her summers teaching at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, New York and winters at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, her father taught her the love of the game, and she went on to play collegiate golf at Florida Southern College. Stefanie is honored to be a two-time GRAA Top 100 Growth of the Game Teaching Professional, a Golf Digest Best Young Teacher in the Country every year since 2018 and a Golf Digest Best Teacher in the State of Florida.