There is no correct or incorrect stance when it comes to setting up to hit a golf ball, but there will always be basic fundamentals to follow. The modern game has developed very fast and many of the old-style instruction has gone out the window. Very seldom do you hear about aligning the feet, hips, and shoulders “down the train tracks” at address.
Golfers come in all shapes and sizes, and this determines the ability to swing the club in any given manner. Independent styles are developed, but the most important part of any swing is at contact with the ball. How the player gets there, is irrelevant. Jim Furik is a typical example, with his big loop in the swing.
Hitting the ball with an intended shot shape is influenced by a few basics:
Grip– To hit a fade, the player can weaken the left hand (turn it left on the grip)
Stance–Open the stance for a fade
Swing Path–Out-to-in through impact imparts the left to right spin for a fade
- The Straight Shot
- What effect does an open stance have on:
The Straight Shot
The straight shot is the most difficult to execute consistently and requires the face of the club to be perfectly aligned with the intended target line at impact. Very few professionals on the PGA Tour use them as their “go-to shot” and we as amateurs should take heed.
Which shot shape is better, a fade or a draw?
Neither is better than the other, and top players around the world can execute either shape but will have a preference due to varying factors. Tiger and Dustin play most of their shots with a fade, while Rory and Jason Day play draws. All are extremely long off the tee and generate tremendous club head speed at impact.
What does Open stance golf mean?
Opening the stance at address means withdrawing the left foot back from the intended parallel target line. In simple terms, if a shaft were placed across the toe lines of both feet at address, it would point left of the target line. The intention is to deliberately hit the ball with a left-to-right ball flight commonly known as a fade, cut, or slice. Often you will hear professional golfers “talking” to the ball and using these terms.
What effect does an open stance have on:
- Swing Path
- Ball Position
- Ball Flight
It does not really matter how the clubhead is taken back from the address position, but to create an out-to-in path on the downswing, is most important. The best move is to take the club back outside the parallel target line, and then continue on this path through the impact zone. This out-to-in swing will deliver a glancing blow across the ball and left to right sidespin is created. Opening up the stance will also cause the shoulders and hips to open slightly at address.
It is important to remember that the ball will end up on the clubface line at address. Keep the clubface facing straight down the parallel target line, and swing the club from out-to-in. This out-to-in swing path is the most common among all golfers, so it may be much easier to accomplish for many.
By opening up the stance, the ball position will automatically move slightly forward towards the left foot. The shoulders will also tend to open up and concentrate on swinging the club on this path. Try various ball positions to find what works consistently best.
The out-to-in swing path will deliver side spin on the ball and move it from left to right in the air, but will finally finish up on the parallel target line. A fade is a great shot in golf for many reasons and I will elaborate under the control heading. When a fade turns into an out-and-out cut or slice, the ball will move too early in its flight path and end up way right of the parallel target line. Generally, this slice or cut is caused by the clubface being kept open at contact, rather than straight down the parallel target line. Understand the cause and effect of this one element and the cut or slice will be eliminated.
The ball will be launched higher than normal due to the forward position of the ball. In other words, the ball is struck on the upswing and the left to right sidespin creates lift, producing high flying shots. The ball will stay in the air longer, which increases carry and distance.
The ball will fly higher with more “airtime” carry which equates to distance. Depending on the type of fairways this can be an advantage or a slight disadvantage. On hard fairways, the fade sidespin will limit the roll-out distance. But there are advantages which I discuss under the control heading.
Flight, shape, and ball control are elements that will bring down scores and the handicap. Without ball control the leading top professionals would never perform as they currently do, shooting low-low scores. The Fade shot is probably the choice of most players, and for good reason. On hard rolling fairways, the fade comes to rest far quicker than a draw. This control keeps the ball on the fairway instead of rolling out into the rough. In wet and soggy conditions, airtime is king, against the draw that will hit the ground earlier, but not roll out.
Who should play with an open stance?
Opening the stance does not limit the golfer to hit only a fade. Many golfers hit the ball with a draw from an open stance. It all depends on the clubface and swing path at impact and hence my previous comment on experimenting with these two elements to adjust ball flight and spin. The out-to-in swing path is a natural shot for most golfers, so why fight something that can be achieved without hours of practice? Golfers with limited hip movement will benefit greatly from an open stance position, as the hips are already set slightly open at address. Clearing the hips on the downswing is a basic fundamental of golf, and accuracy and distance will be improved.
When should an open stance be used on the course?
Playing with an open stance has many advantages out on the course. Any hole that has Out-of-Bounds on the left side of the fairway creates no problem. Aim at the OB with the out-to-in swing and watch the ball start out left and curve onto the fairway. In wet conditions the ball stays in the air longer, adding distance. Any tight hole with trees or water in play can be mastered with the fade, as the ball will not roll out. In crosswinds, aim out left and swing away with confidence of hitting the fairway.
Any approach shot to the green will stop quicker with a cut spin than a draw. Hard greens require control and stopping power, which the cut spin will produce.
Driving the ball onto the fairway takes the stress out of the hole in play, and knowing where the ball is going is a great advantage.
Playing golf with a fade is a must-learn situation, as it will bring control to all aspects of the game. Eliminating one side of the course throughout the round will deliver fantastic results. Ultimately all amateurs should try to master the fade and the draw, but when in any tight position, go with the most natural swing and shot shape. The fade will help you win more games than you lose!
TIP: When playing an iron shot with an intended fade-bias, check the divot after the shot. It should point to the left.
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Nick Lomas is the founder of GolfSpan, an avid golfer, not quite a pro but has over 15-years of experience playing and coaching golfers from all over the world. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience then it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game.