Awesome Irons

When I am giving lessons to new students more times than not one of the first things I have to adjust is how far or close someone is to the ball. Most golfers don’t have a clear understanding on what is the most effective. I find that most golfers stand too far away from the ball with their irons, with their arms extended and locked in a stiff, un-athletic manner. This is one of the root causes of poor swing mechanics. Extending the arms so far away from the body creates a myriad of problems. “Reaching” creates tension in the arms, flattens the swing plane, which creates a poor swing-path and makes it difficult to make solid, consistent contact with the ball. In addition to that, being too far away from the ball reduces swing speed so you won’t hit the ball as far.

Hopefully, this photograph will explain and make it easy for you to understand how to get into a proper set-up position.

I really only look for one thing. I want to see the toes, the butt end of the grip and the shoulder on the same vertical line. If those 3 things are touching that line you’ll be in great shape! Let your arms hang straight down. Don’t reach! If you set up like this you’ll find a lot of your swing problems will be diminished. Many of you will feel at first that you are too close to the ball, but you are not. If you feel that way it’s because you were too far away from the ball to begin with.

Try this an your swing will feel fluid and athletic. Your path will be better. Your contact will be better. The ball will fly long and straight!

If you have a topic you’d like discussed please use the comment box. I will be glad to address your questions. Thanks for reading!


  • Great topic! I really believe incorporating this into your set up will make you realize what areas of your set up is wrong and what needs to be addressed. If you are standing the right distance away from the ball many of your swing problems will diminish because they have been around as a result of you standing inches away of your perfect set up!

  • I have had a tendency to sit down in my set-up. Thinking of this concept has put me in a better athletic posture. This change has allowed me to swing more on plane, which has resulted in fewer miss hit shots.

  • I think that sometimes when you are getting too overwhelmed with adjustments on the course it is best just to go back to the basics and the fundamentals of the golf swing. Proper ball position and posture and two things that every good golfer must have. It is the foundation of your swing and if you want to be consistent than you must have great fundamentals.

  • This is something that I clearly remember you telling me about in the fall. I was always worried that moving my body closer to the ball would lead to shanking the ball, but I found out quickly that it really only leads to crisper and more consistent ball contact.

  • I have been working on getting comfortable closer and more upright on the ball at address. This will promote a higher softer trajectory. This will also force me to have a steeper swing plane. In the fall I frequently go stuck at impact because of my flat plane. This caused a weak slap fade that I HATED. I have been working on separating my hands and body by getting closer to the ball and forcing myself into a steeper plane.

  • Coach,
    I can remember one of my first range sessions at Skidmore and this is something we talked about. I was struggling with my driver and you filmed my swing a couple of times. We figured out that I was standing too far away from the ball. This is always something I have to be cautious about; I tend to reach for the golf ball instead of getting all the pieces you explained aligned.

  • Balance really starts with a good setup. The straight line that you talk about drawing down from the shoulders, the butt end of the grip, and the toes is a great way to see if a player will have good balance before he even begins his swing. My tendency is to set up too close to the ball, so I dont really have the reaching problem you discuss, but actually the exact opposite. This is a great thing to work on if your getting video taped and it can really lead to much more consistency across all clubs in the bag. Thanks for the tip!

  • A good swing starts with a good set up. A good setup produces a good swing plane and better balance. I like your point about lining up your toes the but of the club and your shoulders. That gives me a nice and easy visual image to think about before I set up to the ball.

  • This is something I used to really struggle with. I used to stand very far way from the ball and it caused a lot of errant shots. But I have moved closer and closer to the ball over the years, I have noticed my ball flight has gotten a lot tighter, and my miss hits are only fractional rather than huge.

  • Mitchell Campbell

    Coach, lately I have been standing slightly far away from the ball and it has put my ball striking off just a little bit! I had never really thought about having all three of those points touch the same line. Ever since I read this article I have really applied this to my practice especially when I have someone else watch my swing for me. Great way to look at it!

  • Great article Coach this is something i use to struggle with until you showed me this set up

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