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The Perfect Setup
by Golf Illustrated

Tip No.1 -- The Perfect Setup

As you stand at the ball, so shall you reap. The quality of every golf shot you play begins at the beginning, with your address position. This is the first law of good golf.

In brief, you should stand at the ball for all standard full-swing shots so that imaginary lines running across your feet, knees, hips and shoulders are aimed to the left of your actual target. In other words, the line of your body is parallel to the target line, while your clubface when properly set is aimed directly at your target. The clubface is on the target line, while your body is left of it.

This is the well-known railroad-track alignment. The great majority of average golfers have been told this or read about it. Every professional teaches it, but somehow many golfers either forget the lesson or get into a different position without realizing it. Mostly, though, it comes from not moving correctly into the proper address position.

Most golfers in poor alignment at address are ?closed.? That is, the lines connecting their feet, hips and shoulders are aimed at the target itself. It usually starts with the feet. As a result, if the clubface is squared normally, it is aimed to the right of the target. It can?t be otherwise unless you shut the face down ? turn it sharply to the left. Few golfers do this because the face looks so awkward ? it looks hooked. In any case, they usually don?t shut the face in this way because they don?t think they have to. They think the aiming is done with their feet, hips and shoulders.

If your body is closed and you make a good swing, hitting the ball solidly and squaring the clubface, the ball is going to go to the right of your actual target. When this happens, you think you pushed the shot, made a poor swing by not releasing your wrist cock in the impact zone, swung too much from inside to out or made some other mechanical miscue. You then go about trying to make swing changes.

But you should look objectively at the actual flight of the ball and not its direction. If you see that the height and trajectory are as good as they can be ? a slight draw, say, and at just the right height for the club used ? that indicates you made a good swing but were simply misaligned. You hit a perfect shot to where you were actually aiming.

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