The Stance, By Paul Runyan

"While it is difficult to say too much about the grip and its vital influence on everything in the swing, I have often heard too much importance attributed to the stance.

The usual mistake is to blame either hooking or slicing on whether a line across the toes points to the right or left of target. The first is called a closed stance. The second an open stance.

But this imaginary line really governs only the direction in which the ball starts.

Of course, this direction is not always at the hole.

And in the power shots, when you wish to deliver the fullest possible hit from the fullest possible turn, you aim this line down the right side of the fairway, so that a slight right to left flight and roll of the ball (hook) will bring you back into the middle.

Conversely, with a pin well to the right of the green, guarded by a trap, you would aim ten or fifteen yards to the left and try to cut or fade the ball slightly from left to right.

In neither case, however, does your stance determine the drift of the ball.

If you are a chronic slicer, whose shots usually start toward the left rough and fade back into the fairway, and whose feet, therefore, are pointing well to the left of where the ball actually ends up, you'll feel cheated if you suddenly adopt a closed stance to help you hook.

The ball will merely start to the right, instead of to the left, and continue its customary rainbow farther to the right, probably off the golf course altogether.

Your lack of hand action in the hitting area causes you to slice, and until you correct that deficiency you are better off aiming to the left.

The predictable error will at least leave you in play.

Similarly, the inveterate hooker who opens his stance and uses the same strong thrust of his wrists will only get a left-to-left snap that will put him in the left-hand rough.

Accordingly, a change of stance will not correct either a slice or a hook.

Closing up (or drawing the right foot back farther from the ball) so that a line across the toes would point to the right of the target does give you more time to get to the ball in your downswing, and thus allows your hands more time to make the club-head catch up.

By the same token, an open stance, with the right foot closer to the ball, allows you to get to it more quickly and gives the hands less time to hit.

Even so, in each of these cases, it still the hand action that makes the ball spin one way or the other, not the stance, and I think it's important to emphasize this fact.

However, if the stance only sets up the line of flight on which you start the ball, its effect upon trajectory is absolute.

From the drive down to the nine iron or wedge each shot travels through a different flight pattern - the drive descending most gradually, and the nine iron most steeply.

And each of these different trajectories is determined by the stance itself, or the address position.

The decisive element is where you place the ball in relation to the feet and to the head.

Actually to arrive at your own proper stance, you merely need to use a little common sense.

If the muscles on the inside of your legs tighten up at address your stance is too wide. You will either not turn properly (an important matter which we'll discuss later), or you will sway off the ball in trying to turn.

On the other hand, if you lose your balance while pivoting your stance is obviously too narrow."

Reference : 'Paul Runyan's Book For Senior Golfers' by Paul Runyan 1961-1962 Senior P.G.A. Champion And World's Senior Champion Illustrated Dodd, Mead & Company New York Copyright © 1962 by Paul Runyan. Printed in the United States of America.

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The Stance

"The stance, i.e. the set of the feet, has a very considerable bearing on the control of the parallel of the swing because the position of the feet affects the shoulder turn. Therefore the correct stance is a question of which will produce a parallel swing. The upswing is an important point to consider in this matter." Seymour Dunn

The Stance How I Play Golf by Robert T. "Bobby" Jones

Volume 2 The Short Game. Presented by Jack Nicklaus. The Bobby Jones "How I Play Golf" Collection. Available on Amazon : Bobby Jones - How I Play Golf Collection, The - Vol. 2 - The Short Game [VHS]

Off The Left Foot (1905) By Launcelot Cressy Servos

"During my professional career I have given over ten thousand golf lessons and tried many methods of instruction, and the contents of this book are the results of my experience.

The first thing to do in playing golf is to take your "stance" - that is, get the proper position of your feet on the ground before hitting your ball.

There are three varieties of the "stance."

  • "Playing off the right foot,"
  • "Playing off the left foot," and
  • "Standing square."

The last mentioned "stance" is one that I seldom teach.

I prefer playing playing off the left foot (except for stout people) for the following reasons:

  1. First, The ball being opposite the left foot, there is not so great an inclination to "chop" it. This "chopping" is disastrous to good iron play through the green, and can only be overcome by playing off the left foot.
  2. Second, The club can be brought straight back along line 2, in Fig. 1, more readily.
  3. Third, The club head has not attained full speed until after it has passed the center of the body. This part of the swing is called "timing" the stroke, and will be considered later.
  4. Fourth, the eye is not liable to be taken off the ball just before it is hit.
  5. Fifth, the backward swing is longer and the "follow through" shorter but none the less perfect.
  6. Sixth, Throwing the body in advance of the head of the club (a very common fault with beginners) can be more easily overcome.

I think these reasons are sufficient to appeal to you. The possible advantages of playing off the "right foot" will be taken up later."

Reference : 'PRACTICAL Instruction in Golf' By Launcelot Cressy Servos, Copyright, 1905, By Launcelot Cressy Servos. The Stance, page 15.

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"The right stance comes readily to the golfer once he knows the game, but it does not present itself without being sought. It is seldom a gift, and it can rarely be left to look entirely after itself. It has to be studied, and the knowledge acquired during the course of education has to be exercised for every shot." Harry Vardon

Points To Look At (1905) By Harry Vardon

"When we talk about keeping the eye on the ball, we do not mean the top of the ball.

Your object is not to hit the top of the ball with the bottom of your club.

For an ordinary stroke keep your attention fixed on the grass immediately behind the ball.

This should result in the sole of your club sweeping evenly along the turf and taking the ball just as it ought to be taken.

Points to look at when addressing the ball, by Harry Vardon

But there are special occasions, as when a low shot against the wind is wanted (fully explained in previous chapters), when it is desirable to hit the ball rather higher up.

The Complete Golfer by Harry Vardon, Courtesy of and with great gratitude to Professor Michael S. Hart, the father of Project Gutenberg The eye should then be fixed on the edge of the ball just half-way up from the bottom to the top.

The accompanying diagram shows exactly the points to be looked at when playing the different strokes. You may get in good strokes when looking at the top of the ball, but it is only because you have accustomed yourself by long experience to make a small allowance for so doing.

The practice is theoretically bad, and it mainly the reason why beginners top their balls so frequently. Of course, when you look down in the manner indicated, you have the ball always in view."

Reference : 'The Complete Golfer by Harry Vardon'. Open Champion, 1896, 1898, 1899, 1903. American Champion, 1900. With Sixty-Six Illustrations, Second Edition, Methuen & Co. London. First published June 1905 Second Edition June 1905. Preface. [Pg 170]. Source: Used under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included online at

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"In all instances the essential gauging to be made at the address is that of the relationship of the heel of the left hand to the ball in connection with the left leg." Alfred Padgham

The Magic Triangle for Ball Position by Peter Alliss

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Methods of Making The Slice (1909) By James Braid

"In such cases we are often enabled by a combination of wind and slice, or wind and pull, to get an even better result than could be obtained from a straight, simple drive in the absence of wind; we make the wind favourable to us instead of being apparently to a very large extent unfavourable.

Such circumstances are, to my mind, the big justification for the deliberate pull and slice as recognised shots in golf. Anything that will help us to gain length and preserve a safe line, when both are urgently needed, is obviously a valuable acquisition.

James Braid

James Braid

It is no exaggeration to say that the pull or slice judiciously applied in the proper circumstances should result in a gain of a good many yards.

In themselves, unaided by wind, they necessarily give a shorter ball than would be forthcoming from a good straight drive, apart from the loss of distance through being off line, and this is particularly the case with the slice, as, by the very circumstances in which it is made, there is less power put into the stroke, and it is exerted in a less effective manner.

I must describe the most effective manner of combination of wind with these strokes a little farther on; but in the meantime we must have some understanding of the exact mechanical way of playing them.

Let us take the slice first.

The chief object in the variations of stance and swing that are made for the purpose of this stroke is to effect a very slight drawing of the face of the club across the ball at the moment of impact.

Of course, it would be very easy to concentrate one's whole attention on this drawing or slicing the club across the ball and making quite sure of it; but it would be very difficult, by doing it so deliberately, to do the very little that is ample for the purpose and to avoid an exaggeration that would be hopeless; and at the same time it would be next to impossible to get the ball away properly.

To produce a pronounced result, all that is wanted is the very least suspicion of actual slicing of the ball by the club, so little as almost to be better described as a tendency rather than an actual fact, and not enough for the player to be conscious of it at that time when he makes it accidentally. Therefore this extreme trifle is brought about safely and surely by an adaptation of the stance and the swing.

In the matter of the grip there is little to be said, except that the player may discover for himself some slight variation of the usual grip which may help him in the other parts of the process of slicing.

For my own part I grip just as I would if I were trying to drive straight, though possibly now and again I may have my right hand turned a little over the handle of the club. I hesitate, however, to recommend this or any other as the "proper" way, since I am fully aware that there is no universal practice.

While Harry Vardon makes no change whatever in his grip, there are some authorities of great importance who suggest a trifling change of the position of the right hand in the opposite direction to that at which I hinted, and so it seems to be a matter of fancy, or rather natural tendency, than scientific principle.

Concerning the stance and the up-swing, however, one may be more certain. In principle and in practice the stance that is clearly indicated for the slice is an exaggerated open stance, that is one in which the right foot is well advanced, and I would arrange matters so that the ball is as nearly as possible in a line with the left heel.

By such a stance you give a plain invitation to the slice. The up-swing has to be of a more vertical type than for an ordinary drive, and at the top of it the shaft of the club is, as it were, nearer to one's neck.

It is a straight swing, with as little as possible of the round-the-body business; and it follows that the body is not twisted for power in the same way as in the straightforward drive.

Playing For A Slice Stance and Up-Swing By James Braid 1909

JAMES BRAID. Playing For A Slice

But while this up-swing is, in a manner, simpler than in normal circumstances, it needs to be very carefully regulated; and I am inclined to recommend that it should be taken a little more easily than usual, for when you are slicing a ball it is of the utmost importance that the ball should be hit dead in the centre of the face of the club.

If you do not make this a point of the first importance in the task upon which you are engaged, the probability is that you will take the ball some way from the centre of the face, and quite likely off the very toe, with the result that you not merely obtain a slice but a very bad shot clean away to your immediate right.

Your up-swing having been straighter, or more vertical, it follows that the finish will be along the same line, and what it amounts to is that the sliced shot needs more of an arm and less of a body movement than is the case when a long straight drive is made.

This is as much as can be said for the methods of making the slice, which, simple as they are, will need much patience in cultivation to obtain any sort of reliability with them.

Now for the pull.

Playing For A Pull James Braid 1909

JAMES BRAID. Playing For A Pull

Just as it is in the result, it is also in the most important details of its method very much the reverse of what the slice is."

Reference : 'Advanced Golf Or, Hints And Instruction For Progressive Players' By James Braid Chapter V Intentional Pulling And Slicing, page 71. OPEN CHAMPION, 1901, 1905, AND 1906. With Eighty-Eight Photographs And Diagrams Fifth Edition Methuen & Co. 36 Essex Street W. C. London. Fifth Edition August 1909.

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Playing Off The Right Leg (1911) By J. H. Taylor

"In the actual case of driving it is a debatable point whether the playing off the right leg is better than playing off the left.

I have already touched upon this, so I need scarcely say more that that the question still remains an unsettled one. Many players have many pet theories; but it is an actual fact that the popularity of driving off the left leg is upon the wane, and it is not so frequently seen now as was the case a few years back. The style prevailing at the present day is what I think I may describe as the open style, by which I mean that the ball is placed almost equally distant from either leg, but inclining, if anything, toward the left.

Taylor On Golf 1911That is simply the style, not my recommendation of it; for, personally speaking, I play off the right leg. In doing this I am followed in a certain degree by Harry Vardon, although he does not display such an inclination to make use of the right leg as is shown in my own case. Braid, again, who holds the position of being one of the longest drivers in the professional ranks at the present time, plays the fairly open game; but even he plays off the right leg more than from the left. Again reverting to my own particular predilection, I certainly should not play in the style I do, from the right leg, unless I had thoroughly tested it and had satisfied myself that it was preferable to any other.

My settled opinion is that the man who plays off the right leg has possessed himself of a great advantage. By so doing you may lose just a little as regards the distance covered by your drive, but even that is a debatable point.

At all events, I have found that even if this should be the case you gain in another way by the additional accuracy you secure over the direction in which you play; and beyond all shadow of doubt the player off the right leg obtains a far greater control over the ball than he were to play off the left leg.

Greater accuracy and greater control - are these not well worth an effort to secure?"

Reference : 'Taylor on Golf Impressions, Comments and Hints' by J. H. Taylor Open Champion 1894, 1895, 1900 and 1909 Chapter XXX. Driving : the Grip, page 199. With Forty-Eight Illustrations Almost Entirely From Photographs Specially Taken For The Work Fifth Edition With New Club Directory, Latest Revised Rules And List Of Championships London Hutchinson & Co. Paternoster Row 1911.

Play Off The Left Leg (1914) By Arnaud Massy

"STANCE- The stance, or position one assumes at the moment of the beginning the stroke is of the very first importance, strange as it may seem at first blush that a difference of a few fractions of an inch in the placing of the feet can largely modify the execution of the stoke.

Arnaud Massy Champion of the World 1907 Top of the Swing


Cut showing the different positions taken by the feet according to the stroke to be executed.

The marks to the left of the vertical line indicate the left foot, those to the right the right.

The ball is at the extremity of the vertical line and the arrow shows the direction it is meant to take.

I, 1. Ordinary drive. 2, 2. Shot pulled with the driver. 3, 3. Shot sliced with the driver. 4, 4. Full cleek shot. 5, 5. Full shot with the driving iron. 6, 6. Full shot with the mashie. 7, 7. Putt."

The player therefore who is really anxious to attain a good result must pay a quite special attention to this fundamental question and search carefully among the various stances the one that seems to him best suited to his natural aptitudes.

When he has found it, he must at once proceed to determine if it can be employed consistently with theory and if it is capable of adaptation to the different kinds of shots that may have to be executed. I cannot set out any very precise rules on this head, for necessarily in practice a certain amount of latitude must be left to the player, who, better than anyone, will soon decide on what suits him best. Still the general underlying principles cannot be neglected; indeed it is just because they pay no heed to these that a great number of players never reach anything better but poor results.

Golf By Arnaud MassyTwo rival opinions hold the field as to the proper position of the feet, according to which one or other of two different types of stance is adopted.

One, which we may call the open stance, is where the right foot is placed much nearer the ball than the left, ten inches or so nearer, or even more. It is easy to understand that, following this method, the club, after striking the ball, finds a free field wherein to complete its circle and runs no sort of risk of knocking against the player's left leg.

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"Starting with the driver, right down through every other club in your bag, I want to stress that the hands should be slightly ahead of the ball at the address. The hands are never behind the ball at the address." Patty Berg

Standing Too Far Away (1926) By James M. Barnes

"What has been your main trouble?" I asked him.

"I've got a lot of main troubles" he replied, "but one of them is slicing. I slice every shot I hit, no matter what club I use, how I stand or how I swing."

I made him swing at a few balls, while I watched him closely before saying anything. He was true to his promise. He had one of the most perfect slices I have ever seen, every form of it from the slow, drifting slice to the sharp break at the end.

I noticed in the first place that he was standing too far away from the ball - so far away that he had to fall forward as he struck.

This is the finest way in the world to hit a ball in the heel of the club and develop a perfect slice.

I noticed after this that in taking his club back he lifted the head on the outside of the ball, in place of swinging back inside the ball with his left hand in control.

This is another sure way of getting a first-class slice.

In the third place I saw that he was aiming for the left of the course, in order to allow for the slice that he knew was sure to come. This always means that you will pull across the ball.

Reference : Correcting the Common Faults By James M. Barnes Open Champion of Great Britain, The American Golfer, May 1926. Courtesy LA84 Foundation.

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As Important As The Grip (1953) By Thomas D. Armour

"Before they ever begin, I can improve nine out of every ten typical amateur golfers I've ever seen or taught. At least that proportion - probably higher - have stances that don't give them a chance to do their best.

They're ruined before they start. They haven't got the dimmest notion of how to stand properly to the ball. The stance is as important as the grip. If one's right and the other's wrong, everything's wrong.

Sole Your Club

Again, I emphasize the importance of properly fitted clubs. They make getting the correct stance easy. You simply sole your club on the ground behind the ball (except, of course, in a sand trap where the rules forbid), let your arms hang comfortably, and be sure that your arms are not bent at the elbows, but extended without being stiffened.

The reason for having the arms extended is to get the radius of the swing established.

You'll maintain that radius when you keep your left arm extended as much as you can, without strain, throughout the swing.

How Far from the Ball?

The length of the shaft will determine how far from the ball you should be standing. You will stand as upright as you can to the ball; not stiff, but comfortably upright with the knees flexed a little bit.

You need to be in a natural position, without tension. An ordinary error of players is to bend over too much at the address. Then they straighten up as they swing, and after they've topped the ball, they think they looked up. Of course what happened is that they stood up, as they should have done at the start when they were positioning the club.

The Feet

Your feet, for the wood shots, will be approximately as far apart as the width of your shoulders. For the iron shots, your feet are closer together - getting closer together as the loft of the iron increases, and the shot requires precision rather than power.

Types of Stance

For the drive and other long wood shots, I teach a closed stance, for the long irons a square stance, and an open stance for the shorter irons.

Tommy Armour

Tommy Armour by Hank Cohen How To Play Your Best Golf All The Time

The open stance encourages a slice, because it is inclined to promote a route of clubhead travel that has the face of the club coming from the outside the line of intended flight in and across the ball.

The closed stance has the opposite effect, it encourages a hook.

Most golfers slice from a square stance, for reasons too numerous to mention.

So, to prevent these slices and to give more distance, I teach my pupils to hit the woods from a closed stance, with the right foot two or three inches farther back than the left foot is from the flight line through the ball. The good golfers hit their woods from slightly closed stances. The closed stance permits the hips and body to turn easily, and as much as is needed.

The primary consideration in stance and in body action is to get the body in position so the ball can be hit with greatest effectiveness by the arm and hand work."

Reference : 'How To play Your Best Golf ALL THE TIME', Illustrated by Lealand Gustavson, Copyright © 1953, by Thomas D. Armour. Published by Simon and Schuster, Inc. New York, 1953. "With my esteem and gratitude this book is dedicated to the ever-aspiring golfers, Tommy Armour."

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Posture Is The Foundation Of a Good Golf Swing by David Leadbetter

Practice Makes Perfect. Fixing destructive shots like the slice
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"The stance is as important as the grip. If one's right and the other's wrong, everything's wrong." Tommy Armour

Suspension Point (1962) By Paul Runyan

"The "suspension point" of your golf swing is the spot at the nape of your neck where the top of your spine protrudes slightly. Bend your neck forward and you can feel this protrusion.

Paul Runyan Portrait

Paul Runyan

I regard the suspension point as being the axis of the golf swing.

The arms swing and the shoulders revolve around it. While even good players find it difficult to maintain the suspension point in a perfectly constant position as they swing on full shots, I do feel that any shifting of it should be minimal.

Some shifting may be necessary to allow free swinging, but too much sideways or upward or downward movement can thwart consistently solid contact with the ball. It should be easier for you to keep your suspension point practically steady as you play your short-game strokes because your swing will be less than full. Keeping it steady as you putt, chip and pitch not only helps ensure solid contact but also gives you one other big advantage.

It allows you to preset yourself before you swing for the type of shot you wish to play, whether that shot be a lob shot, a slight pinch or a severe pinch. Once you learn where to preset your suspension point for the shot you wish to play, and once you develop the habit of holding it steady thereafter, you relieve yourself of the need to think about the mechanics of your stroke as you swing.

You free your mind to focus, instead, on simply making the shot go the correct distance. As a general rule, the father your suspension point is set to the left at contact - the more it is ahead or leftward of the ball - the more severely you pinch the shot."

Reference : 'The Short Way To Lower Scoring' by Paul Runyan with Dick Aultman Foreword by U.S. Open winner Gene Littler Illustrations by Anthony Ravielli Copyright © 1979 by Golf Digest, Inc. Photo : Ronald Teacher congratulates Paul Runyan as he receives the Teacher Trophy and the winner's check for the 1962 P.G.A. Senior's Teacher Trophy Championship for the second year in a row. 1961 - 1962 World's Senior Champion and 1961 - 1962 Senior P.G.A. Champion.

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"Balance throughout the swing is established at address position." Patty Sheehan

Fundamentals of The Stance (1956) By Johnny Revolta

A Grooved Swing

"A GOLF SWING, simply stated, consists of swinging golf club away from the ball and then back to strike the ball.

The club head is in the same position at the start of the backswing and at the point of impact.

The backswing takes the club away, the downswing brings it back to the same spot from which it started. The club head moves away from the ball in a groove and comes back in that same groove to strike the ball. That's what we mean by a grooved swing.

Also - for all practical purposes - the position of your body at the time you start the swing and when you hit the ball at the bottom of the downswing are identical.

Start Right

So, half the battle for a good swing is won if you start right.

This starting position we call stance.

There is nothing mysterious about stance. I know you have heard a lot of complicated ideas about it. Well, forget them. There should be no ironclad formula for stance.

The Basic Rules

There are a few basic rules to follow, the rest is up to you. In building your swing, take the position that is natural to you. And be comfortable...

Here are the fundamentals.

I'll give them to you quickly now, and then we'll go into details.

  1. Your club should always lie flat on the ground.
  2. Stand with your weight equally on both feet.
  3. Stand with your toes pointing slightly outward.
  4. Stand with your weight back on your heels. You can feel your weight in the back of your thighs and the calves of your legs.
  5. Bend your knees slightly - a sort of sitting down position.
  6. With the No. 7, 8, or 9 iron (we will start with them), stand with your heels about six inches apart. Stand with your left foot about an inch farther back from the line of flight (the line from the ball to the cup) than your right foot.
  7. Place the ball on a line midway between your heels.
  8. Stand with your left arm in a reasonably straight line with the club shaft, and bend forward at the waist so your hands are slightly away from your body.

Reference : Johnny Revolta's 'Short Cuts To Better Golf', Revised Edition, by Johnny Revolta and Charles B. Cleveland. Illustrated by Jerry Gibbons. Copyright © 1949, 1956 by Johnny Revolta and Charles B. Cleveland. Designed by Maurice Serle Kaplan.

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"The more the right foot is advanced, the greater the check towards getting the arms and body around, and the upward swing is curtailed accordingly, and the distance of the resulting stroke shortened." Walter J. Travis

Purpose of The Stance (1957) By Julius Boros

"Once you have mastered the proper means of gripping your golf club, your next step is right up to the ball.

This move rates second only to your grip in importance to your entire game.

The manner in which you take that step up to the ball becomes quite essential to the eventual proper execution of your swing. The popular golf term for this phase of your game is, of course, the stance.


Let's start with this premise: The first time any person swings a golf club, he or she is not aware of any fancy footwork.

How To Play Par Golf, by Julius Boros, Winner of the 1952 American Open ChampionshipHe merely steps up to the ball in a comfortable manner and places his feet in a position that will enable him to swing the club and hit the ball without falling on his face. It's as simple as that at the beginning.

However, he changes as his game progresses, and it usually isn't long until his stance becomes a riddle and a problem. He fidgets and slides his feet around until he has made a project out of a simple fundamental of the game.

I don't mean to imply that any stance before the ball will suffice as long as you can stand up after you swing, but I do want to emphasize right from the start that the main purpose of the stance is balance.

Reference : 'How To Play Par Golf'. First Impression 1957, The World's Work (1913) Ltd., Kingswood, Surrey. Foreword by Mr. Fred J. Bowman, president of Wilson Sporting Goods Company. Acknowledgements to the members of the Mid-Pines Country Club and "especially the Cosgrove family for their loyalty and encouragement in furthering my golfing career."

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The Key Club In The Set (1948) By Harry Cooper

"I have mentioned earlier in this volume the change that occurs in a player's position with reference t the ball as the clubs being used change.

The idea is that the shorter (in distance quota) the club employed the more the ball should be played back toward the right foot and closer to the player.

I consider the No. 5 iron the "key" club in the set, since I assign to that club a stance in which the ball is played from the exact center of the span between the player's feet.

Golf By Harry Cooper World Famed Professional Position of Ball in Relation to FeetAs the clubs get "shorter" - from the No. 6 through to No. 9 - the player moves gradually a little further ahead as he addresses the shot, and slightly closer to the ball, and his feet get a little closer together.

Similarly, as the iron clubs "lengthen", from the No. 4 through the No.1, the player moves the ball a little farther ahead of center with each increase in club size.

The change is quite gradual and reaches its maximum point for the No. 1 shot, which is played from a point about two inches inside the left heel."

Reference : 'Golf' by Harry Cooper, World Famed Professional. Chapters 1 to 33. 6. Position of Ball in Relation to Feet. Pau, 1948. Published by Oahu Country Club, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Overlapping Grip Grip Same On All Clubs By Harry E. (Lighthorse Harry) Cooper Open Champion 1926

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"Let him always decide first upon the result he wants to produce; second, upon the precise manner in which he desires to strike the ball; and then let him place himself before the ball in such a position that he knows he will be able to deliver the blow in this manner." Bobby Jones

Flexing The Knees Too Much (1996) By Corey Pavin

"Corey Pavin's SHOTMAKINGFlexing the knees too much is a serious error.

You should never flex them so much that you feel as though you're squatting or sitting down.

Too much knee flex encourages you to set your upper body too upright, too perpendicular, to the ground.

You can't lean forward from the hips properly, and your backswing will be a mess.

Bend at your knees just enough to remove tension from the knee joints."

Reference : 'Corey Pavin's SHOTMAKING' with Guy Yocom, Golf Digest Pocket Books Published by NYT Special Services, Inc. and Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster Inc. New York. Copyright © 1996 by Corey Pavin Foreword copyright © by Tom Watson Photography by Jim Moriarty Book Design by Laura Hammond Hough.

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The Grip And Alignment By Michael Bannon With Rory McIlroy

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"There are some good reasons for my being so methodical about my set up. I think it is the single most important maneuver in golf. If you set up incorrectly, there's a good chance you"ll hit a lousy shot even if you make the greatest swing in the world." Jack Nicklaus


by Harry Vardon - First, then, as to distance from the ball

"First, then, as to distance from the ball.

The player should stand so far away from it that when he is in position and the club face is resting against the teed ball, just as when ready to strike it, the end of the shaft shall reach exactly up to his left knee when the latter is ever so slightly bent.

In this position he should be able, when he has properly gripped the club, to reach the ball comfortably and without any stretching, the arms indeed being not quite straight out but having a slight bend at the elbows, so that when the club is waggled in the preliminary address to the ball, plenty of play can be felt in them.

I must now invite the player who is following me in these remarks to give his attention simultaneously to the photograph of myself, as I have taken my stance upon the tee for an ordinary drive (Plate VI.), with the object of getting the longest ball possible under conditions in all respects normal; and to the small diagram in the corner of the picture giving all the measurements necessary to a complete understanding of the position."

Reference : 'The Complete Golfer by Harry Vardon' Open Champion, 1896, 1898, 1899, 1903. American Champion, 1900. With Sixty-Six Illustrations, Second Edition, Methuen & Co. London. First published June 1905 Second Edition June 1905. Preface. Source: Used under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included online at "My grip is one of my own invention" by Harry Vardon [Pg 59].

by Bill Cox - Changes in leg action

"You will never hit the ball well unless you feel comfortable and relaxed, so the knees should be slightly bent and there must be no tension at all in the legs.

This will give you far greater freedom in the pivot than if the legs are kept straight and stiff.

Your weight should be evenly distributed between your toes and heels, both at address and throughout the swing. It is absolutely fatal to allow the weight to rock too much either on to the toes or on to the heels.

A tremendous number of players make the mistake of leaning too much weight on the left foot at address by bending the left knee too much and keeping the right leg straight. This is likely to cause a steep backswing and a sort of 'chopping' action.

Others have the same fault in reverse. They straighten the left leg, bend the right knee, and have all their weight on the right leg. This means that they are almost completely locked before they even start the backswing.

It is important, then, to find a balance between the two extremes and that both legs should 'look' the same to you before you address the ball.

You should be slightly knock-kneed, with both knees turned very slightly in towards the ball as you take up your stance but be careful not to overdo this. If the left knee is pointing in too much, it is likely to encourage a swing round the body, a very flat action. On the other hand, the knees should never be pointing outwards. This will only lock the hip action and impede a good hip pivot.

If you have the knees properly flexed, you should look as though you are just about to sit down in a chair. But be careful not to crouch down too much; keep your back reasonably straight and you will be standing in a good position.

The important thing is that you should feel comfortable ad relaxed - able to swing back and through the ball without losing balance. The hands and arms and club should all feel like one unit - and they should look it, too, for they should be more or less a straight line, with the hands just a fraction in front of the clubhead.

This, then, is the address position for a long shot, but the principles remain exactly the same for all other shots, the only difference being that, on short iron strokes, the feet can be placed quite close together and in a slightly open position. This means that you will take the club back a little more steeply, which in turn will produce a higher-flying shot...

Bill Cox's Golf Companion Stance And Leg ActionOne of the most important changes in leg action since the last war is the position of the right knee at the top of the backswing.

In my youth it was considered vital to straighten and push back with the right leg as soon as possible on the backswing so that it was absolutely straight and stiff.

Nowadays this is considered absolutely wrong and from watching the top American golfers we have learnt that the best technique is to keep the right knee as flexed at the top of the backswing as it was at the address position."

Reference : 'Bill Cox's Golf Companion' Bill Cox And Nicholas Tremayne With Line and Half-Tone Illustrations J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd London © Text and diagrams, J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd, 1969. First published 1969. 2 Bill Cox, Golf Teacher The Swing: Stance And Leg Action, page 110.

by Ernest Jones - Stance is determined absolutely and entirely by the swing

"The impression of the open stance normally conveyed in the textbooks is that the player's body is so turned that a line across the player's shoulders is approximately parallel with a line across his toes - that the player is, in fact, turned more or less toward the hole.

Thus Webb : "The player should slightly face the hole." But this is not so.

The difference between the open and the square stances is essentially a difference in the position of the feet, the difference in the position of the shoulders and hips being slight - almost negligible. The failure to realize these facts leads to endless confusion.

The stance is determined absolutely and entirely by the swing.

It is the swing, and the swing alone, which conditions the stance.

Right Shoulder Must Be Kept Back

"Slicing", says Braid, "is commonly due to a faulty stance...the right foot too far forward." Again : "The most elementary direction for obtaining a sliced ball is to take your stance with your right foot advanced."

And Vardon : "In playing for the slice, the stance should be open." The books are, indeed, practically unanimous on the point.

They speak continually of the feet, and if they refer, directly or indirectly to the shoulders or hips, they usually mislead.

They suggest that the open stance and the slicing stance are one and the same thing ; they do not point out that it is the forward position of the right shoulder that gives slices, and they do not warn the player that in the ordinary open stance - the stance which gives the straight ball equally with the square stance - the right shoulder must be kept back, and in no circumstances allowed to come forward to the extent suggested by the advanced position of the right foot.

If it were the fact that in the open stance the shoulders did follow the line of the feet, then the open stance would properly be called the slicing stance, as the player can readily prove to his own satisfaction.

Let him stand up to the ball in the position just indicated and make an experimental swing over the ball, observing the path of the club-head as the ball is passed. He will find that as the club-head passes over the ball it is swinging, not in the line of intended direction, but across that line. The stance he has taken up is, in fact, the position in which he would have found himself had he stood up to the ball with a view to the club-head crossing the line of direction - that is, with a view to slicing.

The player is now asked to stand up to the ball (without thinking for a moment about the position of his feet) so that when he makes his experimental swing the club-head shall pass over the ball in the line of intended direction. That is to say, he is asked to stand up to the ball as though he were about to make an ordinary shot.

Let him now notice the position of his feet. They may be either "open" or "square'. If they are open, let them be placed square. If they are square, let them be placed open. It will be found that this operation can be done with only a very slight adjustment of the line of the shoulders or the line of the hips, and that if the experimental swing over the ball is repeated, the course of the club-head will not be changed.

It will thus be seen that in analyzing a player's stance the essential characteristic to be noted is the line of the shoulders (and the hips), and not the position of the feet ; for the position of the feet may be varied, within limits, at the caprice of the player.

In the slicing stance the line of the shoulders is turned towards the hole. And, of course, the converse holds good, the line of the shoulders in the pulling stance being turned away from the hole.

Right Shoulder Is Well Back

The vital point to observe in the stance for the straight shot is that whether the feet be open or square, the right shoulder is well back.

It is the position which that shoulder must take if the player sets about finding the stance by reference to his swing. The player who has this mental attitude to the stance will instinctively adopt a position in which his head will be turned slightly away from the line of direction ; he will have in mind a type of swing based on a back-handed "swipe" at the ball with the left hand and arm.

One of The Fundamentals of Golf

Observation of any expert golfer, whether he stand open or square, will show that his head in the address is turned away from the line of direction, and if the backward position of the right shoulder is less noticeable, the player will tell you that the feeling he has is that the right shoulder is back.

This feeling is one of the fundamentals of golf.

This does not mean, of course, that the beginner must place his right shoulder back when he is addressing the ball, for the position is an effect, not a cause. His right shoulder will automatically take its proper position if he has a proper mental picture of the shot."

Reference : 'The Golf Swing The Ernest Jones Method by Daryn Hammond', London, Chatto & Windus 1920, First Published, April, 29, 1920 Second Impression, July, 30, 1920, CHAPTER VI The Stance.

Sources : As an eBook online at the 'Internet Archive'. Or download the full PDF version of this eBook now from

by Percy Boomer - Brace in The set

"Now this is a point where I must ask you to stop and consider and analyze carefully exactly the meaning I want to convey by the word "braced" because this is most important to a realization of the correct feel of the body.

My dictionary defines a brace as "anything that draws together and holds tightly," and I think that is clear and that it expresses the feeling we have when we are braced.

But you may try it and promptly come back with the question, "But how can I feel braced and yet not become stiff?"

A very pertinent question, and I will try and give you the answer.

"The Set"

When we take lessons in deportment we are told to walk with our hips pulled in, in other words to brace our hips. Yet we know that this does not make our carriage stiff; it makes it not stiff but firm and decisive.

At The Elbows

So also, when I tell you as you address the ball to keep your elbows close together, you will immediately feel a sensation of drawing in your elbows the one towards the other.

As a consequence your arms will not feel like two separate and independent arms but like a linked united pair of arms; yet they will not feel stiff.

The "holding together" of your shoulder blades holds the top of your structure together and links up with the power from your hips.

You will find your biceps being pulled into your thorax, your shoulders and arms being drawn together, and, if then the stomach is drawn inward, one definite (inward) direction of brace is set up.

Body Upwards

The second direction in which we brace our bodies at the approach is upwards, yes upwards, towards the sky!

The natural tendency as we stand to our ball is to droop from our hips and curve our backs.

But if we are good golfers we resist this tendency by a upward brace - slightly bent over but pulled up to our full height and neither drooped nor curved.

Set like this we will feel our left side straight as a poker, though not as stiff as one, and our left foot pushing down into the ground.

Of course as the weight is equally divided between the feet, this pushing down is a feeling in the right foot also.

The result is a highly desirable one; as a reaction to our upward brace, we feel ourselves standing firm as we address the ball - a thing we are frequently told to do but rarely told how to do!

So with our hips, shoulders, and arms braced and the body stretched upwards and braced, we no longer feel a loose, flabby, drooping figure but an upright and yet compact one.

Twist Hips (Horizontally) To The Left

But we have one more direction of brace to add - this comes from the hips and I can best describe it as a twist forward which complete the bracing of the whole body at the address.

As we stand to the ball our feet must not be too wide apart; the right foot should be at right angles to the line of flight, the left one pointed slightly out; a line across the toes of both feet should (like the line between the shoulders) be parallel to the line of flight.

From this position, we twist our hips round (horizontally) to the left, not as far as they will go but as far as they can go in comfort, i.e. without pulling our hips out of shape. How far this is depends on how supple we are. Probably the of movement will be only slight, but the effect of this forward leftward twist is to tauten up the whole body without stiffening it.

"The effect of bringing our right hip inwards with a twisting movement is to guide the right shoulder in the way it should go."

"The right shoulder is totally subjective to the right hip; so, when the latter is braced and twisted inwards, the shoulder follows, coming inside and behind the ball - in-to-out.

Anchored and Correct Bracing

Because we are anchored, first by our feet to the ground and secondly by our square-set shoulders held up against the forward pull of the hips, the right knee does not resist so we find our left side straight and our right side bowed inwards.

And these, left side straight and right side bowed inwards, are very definite feels which come from (and can be used to check) correct bracing.

These three directions of brace should now make us feel a complete unit, which we can think of as "the set." I think they are what makes the good golfer feel compact.

They give the feeling that we can carry the club head back away from the ball by the body twist inwards and behind the back of the ball.

Percy Boomer On Learning GolfIn other words, if you are properly braced there will be no sensation of wanting to lift the club head up. This is important; we should never feel that we lift the club head.

Now I do not suggest that you will get this properly braced feeling at once, or that you cannot play good golf until you do get it.

My experience is that few beginners brace well, except mechanically. One pupil of mine who had made marvellous progress only fully realized the conception of bracing after two years - when he was already capable of an occasional 78.

We knew, when he did realize it, that the 78's would now become more frequent because he would begin to repeat his best shots more often."

Reference : 'On Learning Golf' by Percy Boomer. Copyright © 1946 by Percy Boomer. First published in the USA by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

by Dr. Jim Suttie, PGA Professional - The ball position changes for different clubs

The PGA Manual Of Golf by Gary Wiren"Misconception 8: The ball position changes for the different clubs in the bag. For example, the ball should be positioned forward for the driver and back toward the center of the stance for the nine iron.

Reasons: What appears to be a change in ball position with the shorter clubs is really only a narrower, more open stance with the weight distributed more on the front leg at the start of the swing.

The ball actually looks like it is being played in the center of the stance for a nine iron and off the left heel for the driver.

In reality, the ball position will be approximately the same for both woods and the irons.

It is the open and narrow stance that makes the ball appear back in the stance with the short irons. Essentially, there is only one bottom to your swing arc if you are going to create any consistently struck golf shots."

Reference : 'Appendix 3 Golf Swing Misconceptions by Dr. Jim Suttie, PGA Professional Cog Hill Golf Course Lemont, Illinois, The PGA Manual of Golf by Gary Wiren PGA Master Professional, Ph.D. MacMillan USA Copyright © 1991 by The Professional Golfer's Association of America

by Patty Sheehan - The Pounce Position for balance at address

"Balance throughout the swing is established at address position.

It should be obvious that Ed considers the advice golfers sometimes received to stand back on their heels a problem, not a solution.

Patty Sheehan

Patty Sheehan

Stand erect, with your heels about shoulder width apart, toes slightly outward.

Keep your knees straight for the moment.

Bend just enough from your hips (not from your waist) so that when your arms hang easily from your shoulders, there is about six to eight inches between your legs and your arms.

Keep your upper spine as straight as possible.

And as Ed says, "Stick your butt out." I do, distinctly.

You'll notice that this position moves your weight toward your toes. Now flex both knees forward.

A method of measurement to evaluate your knee flexion is to place a club shaft beside your right heel and your right hip.

Open your right hand to a full hand span. There should be a hand span of flex between the front of your knee and the club shaft.

Weight distribution

Take a moment to observe what happened to your weight distribution. About evenly distributed, isn't it, between the balls of your feet and your heels?

Pounce Position

To fine tine your stance, bend your knees in toward one another as though you are holding a large softball between them.

Now your weight concentration has moved slightly to the inside of each foot - pounce position.


Once you have established good balance at address, let balance-in-motion just happen as your swing. That is, don't attempt to force balance to occur.

Patty Sheehan On GolfEd says, "I'm simple-minded. All my instruction revolves around the theme of simplicity. If you're balanced at address, let your body move with your swing and you'll probably stay balanced throughout the swing, as long as your right leg is stabilized."

Reference :Patty Sheehan's book 'Patty Sheehan on Golf', Patty Sheehan and Betty Hicks. Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas, Texas. Copyright © 1996 Patty Sheehan and Betty Hicks. Preface by Betty Hicks.

by Ernest Jones - Derive stance from swing

"The text-books on golf all devote considerable space to the subject of stance.

The basic principle underlying the bulk of this literature is that the swing is determined by the stance... Let the reader now examine the alternative method, the method of deriving stance from swing.

It is suggested that he should make trial swings over the ball until he finds the position in which the club-head is moving along the line of desired direction as it passes over the ball.

That position is stance.

As he advances in experience he will be able to dispense with the trial swing over the ball ; he will be able to make the necessary adjustments of his feet and shoulders as he waggles the club ; and in time he will take up the appropriate position instinctively.

Visualize The Shot Required

What is true, moreover, for the normal straight shots is equally true of the "advanced" shots, the intentional slice and pull, the low ball against the wind, the high ball down wind, and so on.

In setting out to make any kind of shot, the first thing to do is visualize the shot required, and the path which the clubhead must take if the shot is to be achieved ; the second thing to do is to find the position which allows the club-head to take that path.

For the Slice

If a slice is required, then the golfer knows that as the club-head comes on to the ball it must be crossing the line of direction, that is to say, it must be coming in toward the player.

He must therefore stand so that in making his ordinary swing the club-head passes naturally in that direction.

For the Pull

If a pull is required, then the golfer knows that, as the club-head "goes through" the ball, it must be crossing the slightly the line of direction in an outward sense - that is, away from the player.

He must stand therefore so that in making his ordinary swing the club-head passes naturally in that direction.

For a Low Shot against the Wind

In the case of a low shot against the wind, it is clear that, as the club-head "goes through" the ball, it must be descending and tending to keep to the turf as long as possible.

In swinging the club with that behaviour of the clubhead in view, the player will naturally tend to keep his weight forward on his left foot.

For the High Shot Down Wind

In the case of the high shot down wind the mental picture will be the opposite one : the club-head must be tending to rise sharply as it "goes through" the ball, and the players weight will naturally be kept well back on the right foot, in order that the club-head may take that path.

Such, it is submitted, is the proper view of stance in so far as the direction.

Obviously, if he stands beyond a certain distance away from the ball he will lose his balance and, with it, accuracy, and he will stretch out his arms and stiffen his shoulders so that he must lose freedom and power. And, obviously, if he approaches beyond a certain distance towards the ball, his swing will be cramped and ineffective.

A few experiments and a little thought will teach him all that can be learned."

Reference : Daryn Hammond's book 'The Golf Swing The Ernest Jones Method by Daryn Hammond', London, Chatto & Windus 1920, First Published, April, 29, 1920 Second Impression, July, 30, 1920, CHAPTER VI The Stance.

Sources : available as an eBook online at the 'Internet Archive'. Or download the full PDF version of this eBook now from

by JAS. Currie Macbeth Stance - The trifling variations of great players

"The trifling variations of great players are rather interesting.

For instance, in connection with this matter of stance, Bobby Jones, who has an unusually narrow stance, says that he finds it assists the pivot if both feet are slightly turned out.

Cyril Tolley, on the other hand, finds the position unsatisfactory, and, while he has his right foot square to the line of play, he "pigeon-toes" his left foot in in order more easily to retain balance and enable him to strike up against a rigid left side."

Reference : JAS. Currie Macbeth 's 'Modern (1933) Golfing Methods by British and American Experts'. Edited by Jas. Currie Macbeth, Vice-Chairman, Carnegie Dunfermline Trust, and Hon. Secretary, Pitreavie Golf Club Dunfermline. Copyright Reserved.

by Gary Wiren - Ball position : To find that correct distance

"To find that "correct distance", starting from the erect position, bring your arms down onto the chest until slight pressure is felt.

Next, bend forward at the hips until the club nearly touches the ground.

At this point you should "settle-in" with a slight flex in the knees. (Flexing too deeply in the knees moves the center of gravity back on the heels rather than in the middle of the feet.)

The back will now be reasonably straight, the arms hanging so they are extended but relaxed, shoulders over the toes, the hands a little inside a vertical line dropped from the eyes.

There should be no sensation of reaching or being crowded.

The butt of the club should be pointed reasonably close to 90° to the spine angle, as an object swings fastest at 90° to its axis.

The most important check is that you are in balance.

It is common to find golfers who stand too far from the ball, but rare to find them close.

Simply stated, the correct distance from the ball in the setup position should allow you to make contact with the ball without having to search for it. No mid swing manipulations or corrections, just a proper body attitude that puts the clubface on the ball when you turn in one direction and return in the opposite direction.

Reference : Gary Wiren's book 'The PGA Manual Of Golf', The Professional's Way to Play Better Golf, Gary Wiren PGA Master Professional, Ph.D. Macmillan USA. A Simon & Schuster Macmillan Company Copyright © 1991 by The Professional Golfer's Association of America.

by Percy Boomer - Slice cured by the brace

"I remember a lady whose game had been largely messed up because to "cure" a somewhat persistent slice someone had told her to draw her right foot back a bit and hold her right hip back.

Well, I squared up her stance and showed her how to brace and she began sweeping the ball away so perfectly that she could hardly believe her eyes!

The next day she came back and told me she had thought over what I had told her and had found a curious resemblance between my "hip brace" and something that Miss Irene Castle the dancer had said to her some years before. "Do you know," she said, "that while studying the dancing of Egyptians from old illustrations, Miss Castle found that they did not dance with their feet and hips and shoulders square, but with the hips profiled to the other two lines, and Miss Castle put down much of her success as a dancer to the fact that she adopted this idea?"

Now that was exceedingly interesting to me, even if it did upset some of the reasons I had worked out for the hips being "profiled" at golf. Like most of those who had been lucky enough to see Miss Castle dance, I had wondered how she did it - and here was part of the answer.

I am more than ever convinced that the correct bracing of the body in this way is essential to good golf as it is helpful to good dancing and that it is something that we should all seek whatever our caliber."

Reference : 'On Learning Golf' by Percy Boomer. Chapter VIII Preparatory to the Swing . Copyright © 1946 by Percy Boomer. First published in the USA by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

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