A Good Golf Swing Starts With a Great Setup Position

Rory McIlroy in his setup position, or address position
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

(Editor's Note: This article is accompanied by a pictorial, step-by-step guide to a proper golf setup position.)

Golfers striving to improve their scores must focus on fundamentals for success. The single most important and most overlooked full swing fundamental is the setup. The setup writes the script for the swing, and all too often amateur and professional golfers struggle due to poor address positions.

Key Takeaways

  • The golf setup position, also called the address position, means having your body in positions that assist your golf swing once you've taken your stance.
  • A good setup position helps the golfer achieve three objectives: maintain balance through the swing; create power and control the direction of the shot; and a good setup increases the odds of making a fundamentally sound golf swing.

Setup Position Extremely Important Golf Fundamental

All great golfers and teachers are aware of the importance of the setup. For example, here are three quotes from golf legends demonstrating their belief in the importance of this fundamental:

  • Jack Nicklaus: "If you set up correctly, there's a good chance you'll hit a reasonable shot, even if you make a mediocre swing. If you set up to the ball poorly, you'll hit a lousy shot even if you make the greatest swing in the world."
  • Tommy Armour: "Before they ever begin swinging, I can improve nine out of every ten typical amateur golfers."
  • David Leadbetter: "What invariably distinguishes a good player from a poor one is their respective address positions or setups."

Good Setup Addresses Three Objectives of Golf Swing

A good golf setup position helps you achieve three important objectives in the golf swing. First, proper posture and foot placement allow you to maintain your balance throughout the swing. All great players are balanced from their address position to their finish position, which allows them to hit the ball squarely in the center of the clubface. Balance is the key to consistent ball striking, and a good setup allows you to remain in balance when swinging.

Second, a good setup helps you create power and control the direction of the shot. Key pre-swing elements such as ball position and body alignment create the conditions that lead to control. The body angles that you create at address directly influence the path and angle on which you swing the club. They influence the actual in-swing body positions and movements; therefore your setup directly affects all elements of the swing.

Finally, all great players pre-set themselves in positions that they try to create at impact. In other words, your golf setup puts you in positions of advantage, making a fundamentally sound swing possible. Your swing evolves from your setup and if you want to achieve a good impact position, you can simply set up with impact in mind. A good setup stacks the deck in your favor and places you in positions of advantage.

So now that we know how important the setup is, what does a good one look like? See the step-by-step illustration of a proper golf setup.