The Basics Part 1: A good base!
By Erika Larkin on 2/6/13
Before you get into the 'meat and potatoes' of your 2013 season, Erika wants you to check your fundamentals. So over the next several weeks, she's going to run a five-part series about the fundamentals. Up first is part 1. Enjoy!

A good base in golf is usually thought of as a good "setup." This could include lots of things but let's focus on the true foundation on which you swing — your posture, balance and stance.
  • Posture: Everyone's natural posture is different and not always perfect. To maximize your ability to rotate in the swing and apply good leverage on the ball, check your spine angle (forward tilt) and your ability to find a neutral spine position (not rounded or arched). Put a club behind your back and hold it against your spine vertically so it starts at your low back and ends behind your head; slowly bend over seeing if you can keep your back and head connected with the shaft as you hinge from your hips. When you let your arms hang from this position, you should find that they are just a few inches from your thighs and above your knees. If your hands are touching your legs, you should bend forward more, if your arms are really far from your legs you might be bent over too much. Spine angle will change depending on what club you are swinging and how tall you are/torso/arm length but just remember we want to find a neutral position that will be athletic and allow us to connect with the ground easily when needed.

  • Balance: It's important to be balanced right/left and front/back. If you favor one side too much the bottom of your swing may not end up in the right place and you may also find it hard to complete a weight transfer. If your weight is too far towards your toes or heels this could lead to your center of gravity moving around during the swing causing compensations and inconsistency. Try to have minimal knee bend- too much and you will sit back on your heels which I find is very common amongst my students.

  • Stance: Check that width of your stance matches the club you are hitting and your physical ability. If you are hitting a short iron, you should favor a narrow-moderate stance width, driver calls for a wider stance. However if you have tight legs, hips or lower back issues you may want to narrow your stance overall to make it easier for your to turn and shift your weight. If you have poor balance and wider stance might help you gain control. One last check, foot flare; about 10-20 degrees is average and maximizes rotation of the hips and torso, but I recommend more flare for the front foot if you have limited flexibility.
Next column — "The Basics Part 2: Get a Grip"

Erika Larkin is the Director of Instruction at Larkin Golf Learning Community at Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville, Virigina. She was named the 2012 Middle Atlantic PGA "Teacher of the Year" and the 2011 "Top Golf Pro" by Washingtonian Magazine... and she's oobgolf's newest columnist. She will be writing on a variety of topics including instruction, so if you have a question for her or an idea for a column, email her at Enjoy!

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