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How changing your stance can unlock more distance

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Ground Reaction Forces (GRF) continue to be a hot topic in golf instruction. We know that many of the longest hitters in the game use the ground more dynamically than the regular weekend golfer to create more distance. So can something as simple as how you address the golf ball going to influence how dynamic your GRFs are and how much distance you can create? The simple answer, absolutely, and maybe it is a less disruptive way of trying to unlock more distance.

I think we’ve all had the question of how far away should we be standing away from the golf ball. With measuring devices like BodiTrak and Swing Catalyst, there are some fun patterns for golfers consider and potentially apply to add power to their golf swings. So let’s take a look at some of these findings and discuss how they might help you create more power in your game.

For this article. I identified GRF data about the three different distances that a golfer can stand away from the golf ball:

  1. Stock stance: This is the instinctive distance golfers use to stand next to the golf ball and successfully hit it.
  2. Standing farther away from the ball: I have measured all of my students for this research when the golf ball is placed a distance of approximately two golf balls farther away from their body. This posture has them tending to tilt more from their hips and become more toe-oriented in their setup.
  3. Standing closer to the ball: I have measured all of my students for this research when the golf ball is placed a distance of approximately two balls closer to their body. This posture has them tending to stand a little taller and becoming more heel-oriented for their setup.

What I found was that no matter what their swing style was, most golfers saw a significant bump in their GRFs (how much harder they press off the ground) when they stood either closer to or farther away from the golf ball.    

So why does this happen? Let’s start off with standing farther away from the golf ball. 

When golfers are farther away from the golf ball, most of them use more hip hinge to be able to reach the golf ball. More hip hinge means that their swing circle (the arc that they swing the golf club upon) just got closer to the ground. Almost every athlete that I measure resolves the problem of being closer to the ground with their swing circle by jumping away from the golf ball and ground, or trying to raise their swing circle so they do not hit the turf before they hit the golf ball. This is an extremely athletic motion that takes place in the downswing that has golfers pressing harder off the ground earlier than normal in their downswing sequence to better ensure they hit the golf ball first.

Let’s look now at the golfers that are standing closer to the golf ball at address. These golfers also tend to press harder off the ground earlier in the downswing sequence. The reason is similar. When golfers stand closer to the golf ball, their swing circle gets closer to the golf ball. When their swing circle is closer than normal to the golf ball, they naturally try to find a dynamic way to get farther away from the golf ball (instinctively, golfers want to ensure ensure that their hosel does not hit a…. well, we won’t grace that evil word in this article)

So let’s take a look at three different golfers and note how differently they respond to the task of hitting a golf ball from different setup positions.

Golfer 1

If you want a deeper look into our first golfer’s Swing DNA, like Center of Pressure, GRF’s and lateral playing characteristics click here. Or if you want the simple version, note that this golfer is right-handed, tall, skinny and wants to hit the golf ball farther.   

Left photo is Stock Ball Position. Center Photo is 2-Balls Away. Right Photo is 2-Balls Closer. Note how the different ball positions change the amount of hip hinge the player must use to address the ball. Also, note how the player’s feet always start from the same position on the BodiTrak Mat.

We measured this specific position, which is close to where most hitters maximize GRFs. Note how the GRFs for this golfer’s stock ball position is 94 percent of his body weight. That percentage increases to 105 percent with the ball farther away from his body and to 106 percent with the ball closer to his body. That’s an increase of more than 10 percent of this golfer’s body weight.

Golfer 2

If you want a deeper look into our second golfer’s Swing DNA, click here. Or if you want the simplified version, this golfer is left handed and slightly thicker than Player 1. He plays golf for a living on multiple professional tours around the world.

Left photo is Stock Ball Position. Center Photo is 2-Balls Away, and Right Photo is 2-Balls Closer. Note how the different ball positions change the amount of hip hinge the player must use to address the ball. Also, note how the player’s feet always start from the same position on the BodiTrak Mat.

We measured this specific position of our golfer’s motion, which is close to where most hitters maximize GRFs. Note how the GRF’s for this golfer’s stock ball position are 72 percent of his body weight. That percentage increases to 144 percent with the ball farther away and 112 percent with the ball closer to his body. That’s an increase of 72 percent of this golfer’s body weight when the ball is farther away, and an increase of 40 percent when the golf ball is closer to his body.

Golfer 3

If you want a deeper look into our third golfer’s Swing DNA, click here. Or if you want the simplified version, he is right handed, shorter than our first player and models his golf swing after Justin Thomas.

Left photo is Stock Ball Position. Center Photo is 2-Balls Away, and Right Photo is 2-Balls Closer. Note how the different ball positions change the amount of hip hinge the player must use to address the ball. Also, note how the player’s feet always start from the same position on the BodiTrak Mat.

We measured this specific position of our golfer’s motion, which is close to where most hitters maximize GRFs. Note how the GRF’s for this golfer’s stock ball position are 72 percent of his body weight. That percentage increases to 172 percent with the ball farther away and 168 percent with the ball closer to his body. That’s an increase of 100 percent of his body weight when he is farther away from the ball, and 98 percent of his body weight when the golf ball is closer to his body.

So what can we take away from this article?

Three different body types, three different skill levels and three different individuals with very different Swing DNAs increased their GRF’s by simply moving closer to or farther away from the golf ball. Therefore, experimenting with ball position might be a simpler, less disruptive key to help you unlock some undiscovered distance in your game… solely by altering your setup. Experiment with this information or go find your trusted PGA Teaching Professional to help you unlock how your golf swing can improve with this information. Good luck! 

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Certified Teaching Professional at the Pelican Hill Golf Club, Newport Coast, CA. Ranked as one of the best teachers in California & Hawaii by Golf Digest Titleist Performance Institute Certified www.youtube.com/uranser

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. engineer bob

    Jul 6, 2018 at 9:46 pm

    GRFs… I remember in the early 2000s when golf forums were all open and desperate golfers sought help for their swing problems, I asked what they felt at their feet and suggested foot loading solutions. Golf teachers dissed me and said all problems can be solved from ball flight inwards. I said from the feet upwards… and now…

    • engineer bob

      Jul 6, 2018 at 9:51 pm

      So what are GRFs and how are they generated? We have the Ground and Forces which sounds good, but Reactions are a result of the forces and torques your body generated and the ground simply reacts to them. GRFs are only a ‘signal’ of what’s happening above ground and you can’t acquire extra swing forces from the ground. No magic in GRFs, just diagnosis of your swing faults.

      • geohogan

        Jul 7, 2018 at 8:10 pm

        Humans have evolved with a subconscious ability to deal with gravity. its called balance.

        When golf instructors put us in unnatural positions , of course our subconscious makes adjustments to keep us in balance, in all planes, including coronal and sagittal planes.

        Imagine if our subconscious balance system including billions of neurons had a personality that could interact with golf instructors, listen to those instructors attempting to explain how GRF work in a golf swing. More absurd, golfers paying to hear explanations of how humans balance during dynamic movement.

        Do you need an instructor and force plates to learn to walk on an icy sidewalk? Learn to skate?
        Now you know why its absurd to study GRF from golf intructors.

        • engineer bob

          Jul 7, 2018 at 10:15 pm

          Your thinking is juvenile and 2-dimensional. Golf is now entering the era of scientific Statics and Newtonian Dynamics. All the old dog ‘teachers’ are obsolete failures as evidenced in the golf swing failure among rec golfers. Force plates are a diagnostic tool to be used by modern instructors to help analyze how the golfer applies forces.
          Btw, there is no ‘subconscious’… only conscious and non-conscious states.

          • geohogan

            Jul 8, 2018 at 6:01 pm

            So force plates over shadow the evolution of human ability to balance on two feet, in 3D. Your a joke.

            Balance is achieved and maintained by a complex set of sensorimotor control systems that include sensory input from vision (sight), proprioception (touch), and the vestibular system (motion, equilibrium, spatial orientation); integration of that sensory input; and motor output to the eye and body muscles

            • gif

              Jul 9, 2018 at 9:56 am

              You just don’t understand Statics and Newtonian Dynamics… and all you depend on is biology without the mechanics… all ‘bio’ and no ‘mechanics’. This reveals your ignorance and avoidance of using equipment that reveals the flow of forces and generation of torques in the golfswing. You are incompetent to fully analyze, diagnose and truly fix a golfswing.

              • geohogan

                Jul 9, 2018 at 8:22 pm

                Force plates measure the effect of gravity on the body during motion. Your obviously an engineer and know nothing about physiology or genetics.
                Carry on fixing golf swings with fancy bathroom scales one under each foot.
                Good BYB
                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtDPbByu6q0

                • bob

                  Jul 10, 2018 at 11:15 pm

                  WRONG!!! Force plates measure static forces due to gravity AND applied forces due to thrust and torque. If you don’t understand Newtonian Physics your knowledge of physiology and genetics is useless and even misleading. Trying to define the golfswing based solely on body types and muscular enervation is half-azz science. Pfffft

                • geohogan

                  Jul 11, 2018 at 9:22 am

                  How much torque and thrust would force plates measure without gravity? Try ZERO, Mr Isaac.

                  Force plates measure gravity acting upon a moving body.
                  Newtons Law : For every force there is an equal and opposite reaction force.

                  In other words, Newtonian physics states, that the dog wags the tail. or as dtrain stated:
                  “Ground forces are a reaction, not something that you should try to achieve”

          • dtrain

            Jul 9, 2018 at 12:00 pm

            rec golfers rarely take lessons, that is the failure.

            Ground forces are a reaction, not something that you should try to achieve. Cause and effect, people like you usually get it backwards.

            • engineer bob

              Jul 9, 2018 at 3:06 pm

              Yes, I said that in my above comments. If rec golfer took lessons, lesson #1 would likely be hit the gym to lose 50#, then strengthen and gain flexibility. Lesson #2 would likely never happen… instead decrepit rec golfer will buy new and improved golf clubs in hopeless hope. You don’t want the golf club industry to collapse… do you? 😮

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