You know you’re supposed to be in an athletic position at address, but what you might not know is that you’re not always supposed to have a 50-50 weight distribution on your right and left legs. In fact, to smash drives like the big hitters you may want as much as 70 percent of your weight on your back leg, while for soft short irons you might place 60 percent of your weight on your front leg.
So how do you know how much weight goes to each side? Use your club as a guide. SWINGING YOUR DRIVER
The driver swing is much different than your swing with your irons. For example, the driver swing demands a slightly ascending approach angle with a shallow and wide bottom to it. To encourage this wider, shallower bottom for the driver, you should set up with about 60 to 70 percent of the weight on your back leg at address. Your stance should be wider than your shoulders to ensure that your center of gravity (the middle point between your hips) is behind the ball at address. This wider stance also puts your head and spine slightly behind the ball at set-up—another power key—and will encourage you to naturally make an ascending blow to the ball at impact.
Did you know that virtually all the long drivers in the National Long Drive Championship set up this way? They even appear to leave 60 to 70 percent of their weight on their right leg at impact. The most accurate drivers (players like Fred Funk, K.J. Choi and Kenny Perry ) all have very wide, shallow downswings. Next time you’re watching a tournament, watch how these players set up with their weight back and even look as if they are releasing the club a little early from the top of the swing. This almost imperceptive move tends to widen out their downswings and makes them very accurate drivers of the ball. SWINGING YOUR IRONS The iron swing is very different than the driver swing so you need a different setup. For iron shots, you need to make a descending blow, hitting the ball first and then taking a small amount of turf just in front of the ball. To ensure a descending blow, you should set up with 50/50 weight distribution with the medium irons and hybrids, and 60/40 (front/back) distribution for the short irons. A good rule to follow is the shorter the shot, the more your weight should favor your front leg. Your stance should be narrower than your driver swing, with your center of gravity positioned directly over the ball. The best iron players tend to have higher golf swings with a steep and narrow approach to the ball. Jack Nicklaus in his prime is a great example.
Great iron players all have two things in common: 1.) They all get their weight to their front leg before impact; and 2.) They all have their hands in front of the clubhead at impact. This is easier to do if your weight is distributed slightly to the left leg at address. DRILLS To get a feel for the correct weight distribution at address, try this drill. For the driver swing, find a slight upslope. Take your right shoe off and take your driver setup. It will feel like you are hitting up the slope with the weight on the right leg at address and through impact—that’s the feeling you want on the tee.
For the iron swing, find a slight downslope. Take your left shoe off to feel the correct weight distribution for the iron swing. It will feel like you are hitting more down and getting your weight aggressively to the front leg at impact.
If you watch your weight distribution at address, it won’t be long before you are hitting both your irons and your driver with confidence and consistency.
Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Jim Suttie, Ph.D., is director of instruction at the Suttie Academies at TwinEagles in Naples, Fla. You can read more tips from Jim at www.jimsuttie.com.