Over the next several weeks, Tom Stickney will be presenting a series called, “The Swing In Pictures” on GolfWRX.

Each Monday a different swing position will be coupled with thoughts you (as the player) should pay attention to based on your current handicap level.  I would suggest printing each of these articles out and place them in a binder, as the series will take you from address through the finish from the front and down the line views.

Click here to view Tom’s previous articles.


This article is meant to be used as a general reference for the most common swing model used in today’s game. As with any golf swing there are personal idiosyncrasies that will alter the “look” and/or actions of the clubshaft and body motions back and through so there will always be exceptions. Please keep this in mind as you read each section. As Homer identifies in the Golfing Machine, there are 446 quad-trillion stroke patterns (a.k.a ways to swing the club). You only need to find the one that works best for you personally.

Tom Stickney

The Set-Up Position readies your body and allows you to set yourself in a position where the body and clubshaft can be moved in conjunction with one another throughout the swing. It is here that you can make or break the golf swing.  Jack Nicklaus said that 90 percent of all golf faults begin at the set-up, and he could not have been more correct!

Last week we covered the set-up position from the back view. Here’s an analysis of the set-up from the front view.

For the Beginner Player:

  • The ball position will be between the center of the body to the forward armpit — the longer the club the more targetward the ball should be played.
  • The stance should be wide enough to provide balance as you twist and turn and displace weight during the swing, but not too narrow to impede motion.
  • The Vs formed between your index finger and thumb on each hand should be parallel to one another and pointing between your rear shoulder and your chin.
  • The rear shoulder is below the forward shoulder at address moving 55 percent of your weight into your back foot at address.

For the Intermediate Player:

  • Pay close attention to the position of your ball at address — too far back and it can cause you to hit down on the ball too much or cause you to move in “front” of the ball on the downswing.
  • Make sure that the V’s on the grip match up with one another. The hands must always work as a unit.
  • Correctly find the amount of spinal tilt to the rear that will allow you to “load up on the backstroke.”

For the Advanced Player:

  • The more spinal lean you have away from the target at address the easier it will be to “drop the club under” during the transition.
  • Monitor your dominant eye and rotate your head accordingly.
  • The rotational position of the forward foot relative to the target line will determine the amount of hip slide or hip twist during your transition. If the forward foot is perpendicular to the target line then you will tend to slide; if it is rotated targetward you will spin more during the transition.
  • Make sure the hip sockets are centered over the insides of the feet at address.

For the Professional Player:

  • The amount of spinal tilt is between 8 to 15 degrees laterally away from the target. This lean controls the steepness of the backstroke plane and the amount of “lean over the rear leg” at the top of the backswing.
  • The less you tilt your spine away from the target at address the more centered your swing will tend to become.
  • The grip’s position must match up with the downstroke path used and the desired shot shape.
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  1. It all depends on what he is trying to get you to do in general; I would say that having your hands slightly behind the ball at address can cause some issues if you are not careful. Sometimes when you have your hands out of position at address it can alter your body alignments…

  2. My instructor told me that in order to stop hitting a fade, align the shaft of the club with my left arm at address t get my hands forward. I noticed that you aren’t doing that here. Is my instructor correct?

  3. Great article, looking forward to more. My biggest mental disconnect with the golf swing is arm action. I can’t get a good explanation anywhere about the proper movement of the arms. I know this might sound bizarre but its what confounds me. I can’t wait until you get to the backswing, downswing portion.