Golf Stance 101: Everything You Need To Know For a Great Setup

golf stance

When it comes to improving your golf game, most people look for the next fancy gadget or quick fix. Whether it’s speed training, a new driver, or a different type of putter. We always want something that works instantly. 

But in reality, consistency and playing your best golf comes down to fundamentals. While those other things can help, nothing will help you play more consistent golf than a proper setup position. 

Specifically, your golf stance and how it relates to each shot that you want to play. 

Golf Stance Basics

Let’s start by covering the basics from the ground up in your golf swing. When you build a sturdy base and proper alignment, golf gets so much easier. 

Width and Feet 

The first thing to think about is the width of your stance. 

If you’ve played golf for any time, I’m sure you’ve realized the difference between a wedge vs. driver stance width. Your width differs based on the club in hand. I’ll get more into specifics for the ideal width for each club in the next section. 

You also want to look at your feet too. Your toes play a big role in a proper stance, and it’s usually a good idea to have the lead foot facing slightly toward the target. This will help rotate through the ball and allow for plenty of release on your downswing.

While the back foot should remain at a 90-degree angle or slightly out. You don’t want your back toes facing the target ever! 

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Square, Closed, or Open

The second part of your stance is whether it’s square, closed, or open to the target.

  • Square: This is a neutral position where your feet are parallel to the ball and target. This is known as “parallel left” of the target. Since you’re standing to the side of the golf ball, you don’t want them square to the target itself but parallel to the left. 
  • Closed: With a closed stance, your feet point more towards the target or even right of the target. This will help promote an inside to outside swing that will produce a draw shot.
  • Open: With an open stance, your feet are much further left than “parallel left” of a square stance. This will help promote an outside to inside swing that produces a cut shot. 


Another thing to think about during setup is your weight or balance between your feet. Each shot requires you to move your weight differently, and it’s important to set up correctly.

For example, with a driver that is teed up, you want to hit up on the golf ball. But if your weight is 70% on your lead leg, this is nearly impossible and will likely lead to a pop-up. Instead, you want roughly 60% on your trail leg so that you’re more likely to hit the ball on an upward angle. 

Similarly, with wedges, you want your weight more on the left side to promote a descending blow. If too much weight is on the back leg, you’ll hit the ball with the bottom grooves and thin it.

With irons, you want your weight roughly 50-50 between legs. This is a huge factor in setting up the golf ball correctly. 

Ball Position

The final checkpoint is your ball position. It will differ depending on the club and shot you’re about to play, and I’ll break down each one in the next section. 

Golf Stance For Each Type of Clubs


To make the right move with your driver, stance and ball position are key to success. With a driver, you want the ball off the left heel so that you hit up on it at impact to increase launch angle. Remember, it’s teed up, so you need to adjust accordingly. 

You also want your feet shoulder-width apart, or even slightly more. Doing this will allow for a full-body turn and create maximum power in your swing. 

For fairway woods off a low tee or the deck, you will need to adjust ball position again. Since it’s not teed up high, you want to actually make a descending blow. A great example of this is Henrik Stenson, who is basically a robot with a 3-wood (check out this video).

You want the ball position front of center, but definitely not off your left heel like a driver.


With irons, you want the ball position in the middle to middle front of your stance. For longer irons or hybrids, go with front middle. With shorter irons, play them in the middle of your stance (not back) to hit down on the golf ball. 

You also want your feet about shoulder-width apart and narrower than a driver or fairway wood. 


With wedges, your stance is usually much more narrow than with irons or woods. Since most of us only hit wedges under 130 yards or so, you don’t need a huge stance. Distance isn’t the goal with these shots; instead, it’s all about accuracy and control.

Another thing to evaluate with wedges is the ball position itself. You want it more in the middle of your stance (unless you’re trying to hit it extra high). Adjusting it to the middle will help hit down and through the shot.


The last type of shot to think about your stance is putting. 

Your putting stance is unique, as it’s more about feel and confidence than technique. If you watch the best players in the world, you will notice that no two people putt the same.

Some use mallets; others use blades, some set up open, some take it straight back, while others prefer an arc style. The point is, putting is extremely individual, and I recommend finding what works best for you. 

When mastering your own putting, experiment with:

  • Stance.
  • Posture.
  • Ball position.
  • Feet alignment.
  • Different types of putters. 

Wrapping Up

There are a lot of components to getting the right stance and setup. But when you master this part of the swing, everything becomes easier as you set yourself up for success.

For the basics, make sure to:

  • Have an athletic stance with the lead foot pointed slightly out.
  • Remember the three types of stances to match your ideal shot shape. 
  • Adjust your weight and ball position to execute the shot and trajectory.

Don’t forget, your stance will change based on the shot you face. Your driver setup vs. a short wedge is very different, so make sure to adjust accordingly. 

Once you’re set up correctly, commit to the shot and swing away! 

Do you feel confident about your address position? Or, is this something you’re constantly working on?

Let us know down below in the comments! 

Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard is a full-time writer, author, creator of Wicked Smart Golf and +1 handicap amateur golfer. He left his corporate, national sales career in 2017 to pursue entrepreneurship and professional golf; since then, he’s competed in 160+ tournament days and went to Q-school in 2019.

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