Instruction — Set Up For Success

An often-overlooked piece of the golf swing is how you set up to the ball. The setup is the one thing you can do perfect every time. It also allows you to start the swing with zero mistakes. To me, a sound setup makes the golfer look like they’re getting ready to hit a good shot. On the flip side, I often wonder how someone can hit a good shot from a bad setup.

A characteristic of good setups is all body parts are going in the same direction. You could be set up for a fade/draw or straight shot, it doesn’t matter, but you need to have all the body parts matching. Feet, knees, hips, arms, shoulders and eyes should all be pointing in the same direction.


The next characteristic that I see with quality setups is where the weight is positioned at address. To me, the better the weight is positioned toward the front – or “balls” – of both feet, the better the golfer’s balance can be throughout the swing. The feeling of having the toes able to dig into the ground is a great feeling.

The part of the setup that tends to confuse golfers is how much bend at the hips and knees are necessary. Obviously, the taller the golfer, the more bend from the hips and knees. I like to see golfers bend from the hips first to the point of the shoulders falling in line with the toes. From there, bend your knees to get the club to the ground. The posture doesn’t have to be “military style,” but the sharper the body parts, the better the ability to turn back and thru.


The last piece of the puzzle is getting the neck to be in line with the spine. A quick drill to make this happen can simply be by taking a club and holding in one hand above the head and run the club along the back. The back of the head should touch the club. This way you’re looking at the ball with your eyes instead of bending your neck to look at the ball.

The next time you practice or play, make it a point to improve your setup. Starting with zero mistakes sure makes this game a little easier, and you’ll enjoy the results of your efforts.

Tim Cusick is the Director of Instruction at the Four Seasons Resort and Club/Dallas at Las Colinas. The Northern Texas PGA named Cusick Teacher of the Year in 2005, 2009 and 2015, as well as the 2014 Horton Smith Award winner for education. He’s the author of ‘The Four Keys to Improve your Swing.’ Follow him on Twitter @timcusickgolf and visit his website: