Open Stance Golf Swing: How It Can Help Your Ball Striking

Open Stance Golf Swing

Do you want to hit the golf ball as pure as Lee Trevino or Jack Nicklaus? Okay, maybe not as good as Lee or Jack, but do you want to clear your hips, generate more power, and shallow the club?

If so, the open stance golf swing might be just what your game needs. 

While there are a lot of ways to set up to the golf ball, this strategy has worked for great players like Jack Nicklaus, Fred Couples, and countless others. 

Keep reading to learn more about this unique way to address the golf ball and how it can help your ball striking overnight

Open Stance Golf Swing 101 

Your setup plays a big role in helping you hit the ball consistently and your stance is the foundation of it all. Before diving into the details of the open stance golf swing, it is important to understand each type of stance

Open Stance vs. Closed vs. Square Stance 

There are three types of stances as you set up to the golf ball; open, closed, and square. Let’s review each below and how your stance affects ball flight, swing path, and more. 

Please note, all examples are assuming you’re a right-handed golfer. If you’re a left-handed golfer, replace left and right feet in each example. 

What Is an Open Stance?

An open stance in golf is when your left foot is behind your right foot. Meaning, if you drew a line on your feet they would be left of the target. 

This type of stance changes the club as it increases the loft as it opens the face. The ball should go higher than normal and produce a more outside to inside swing path. This will make it easier to not roll your hands and instead, hit a cut or slice. 

As you will read about below, there are tons of benefits to this setup position. 

Open Stance Diagram

Closed Stance 

The opposite of an open stance is when your feet are closed relative to the target line. If you drew lines from your feet and golf ball, the lines would cross. This is when your feet are aimed right of the target. 

This changes the club significantly as it decreases the loft as it closes the clubhead. The ball should go lower than normal and produce an inside to outside swing path. 

A closed stance will make it easier to roll your hands over and create a more right to left ball flight. If you want to hit more draws, this can help you as long as you’re coming at the ball from the inside and swinging out. 

But there are plenty of downsides to a closed stance too including getting too steep. 

Closed Stance Diagram

Square Stance 

The final way to stand over the golf ball at address position with a square stance. This is a neutral stance where both of your feet are parallel to the target line. 

Ideally, you want to make sure the heels of your feet (not the toes) are lined up properly. The heel is a better way to measure as a lot of players flare their feet and make it harder to ensure they’re on the same path. 

With this type of stance, the loft isn’t altered and should lead to a straighter path. For a lot of players, this is ideal as you’re in a neutral position and what is taught by most instructors. 

Square Stance Diagram

Benefits of an Open Stance

As I teased, the open stance has some advantages over the other two types of setup positions. An open stance is great for a few reasons: 

Clear Your Hips Easier

One of the biggest moves most amateurs struggle with is clearing their hips. When you don’t clear your hips properly, you leave tons of distance on the table. 

Justin Thomas is a great example of someone who clears their hips to generate insane amounts of power. Despite only weighing 155 pounds, he clears his hips so much that he’s basically facing the target at impact. 

Clearing your hips will lead to more power on every shot and an open stance can help tremendously. 

Shallow The Club For More Power 

If you want to generate power and improve ball striking, you need to shallow the golf club. Unfortunately, most golfers start the downswing with their upper body and never shallow the club. 

Instead, they swing with their upper body and come over the top. Again, this is a distance killer! 

Luckily, the open stance makes it easier to shallow as your hips more consistently. 

If you need a great example of someone using an open stance, just watch Fred Couples. He aims left, swings right, and is able to shallow the club beautifully in transition. This shallowing leads to arguably the best sequencing in a golf swing (ever) and some of the best ball striking too. 

How to Start an Open Stance Swing 

If you want to try this method out, it’s pretty simple. On the driving range, pick a target and setup square as normal. Then, follow the instructions below to set yourself up for success. 

Step 1: Start With the Feet and Hips

Once you’re square to the target, simply drop your left foot back so it’s behind your right foot and your feet line is left of the target.

The lower body will naturally open and aim left to the target. It should feel like your left leg is out of the way, which will make it easier to clear your hips on the downswing. This should help you generate more power and get through the golf ball at impact.

How far left depends on your personal preference. As the instructor in the above YouTube video stated, “Better players tend to open less than someone who can’t break 90.” This is all about personal preference and I’m sure you will test out different left foot positions to see what feels best. 

The hips are kind of at the midway point between the target and the feet. But they’re not fully in line with the legs.  

Step 2: Square Clubface

Once you move your feet left, do not move the clubface as well. If you aim the face of the club with your feet, you’re much more likely to hit a cut or slice. Or, hit a big pull that isn’t easy to manage either. 

This is probably the most important of the setup. Dropping the left foot back is easy but squaring up the face to your target will take some focus on the driving range. 

Step 3: Proper Swing Path 

Once your setup is good to go, you want to evaluate your swing path. 

A lot of golfers try to swing along their feet, when in reality, you should swing along your shoulders. If you swing along your feet with them aimed well left, you’ll hit a pull, cut, or slice more often than not.

The key here is to swing out and not over the top. 

Step 4: Smooth Downswing 

Finally, make sure you slow the swing down so you get the proper sequence as you start the downswing. If you need some inspiration, just watch this Fred Couples slow motion video

You can see that he has incredible tempo and doesn’t rush the downswing. Instead, he allows the club to set at the top of the swing before clearing his hips and unloading on the way down. 

Top Questions About the Open Stance Golf Swing 

Is open stance good in golf? 

Depending on your swing, age, body, and other factors, it can be very helpful. If you’re someone who struggles with clearing your hips and generating power, this is a great way to set up to the golf ball.

By simply adjusting your left foot back, you can make it easier to clear your hips and drop the club in the slot. The slot (also known as shallowing the club), will help you generate more power and improve your ball striking

Can you hit a draw with an open stance?

Yes! This is one of the reasons I love an open stance as you can play a cut or a draw. If you want to play a draw with this type of setup, just make sure you swing out to the target, not on your feet line. 

Do any pros play with an open stance?

Yes, quite a lot of professional golfers play with an open stance golf swing. The legendary Jack Nicklaus, Freddy Couples and Bubba Watson to name a few.

Why does Bubba Watson have an open stance?

Bubba is a shot-maker and loves to shape the golf ball with any club in the bag. He’s also known to open his stance depending on the shot he wants to play.

In a Golf Digest interview, he said, “Lining my feet open to the target stops my hips from turning too far on the backswing, and that makes it easier to unwind my hips coming down.”

Wrapping Up

Don’t forget, there is no one way to swing a golf club. That’s what makes golf so great, you can swing your swing and find what works best for your swing, body, and ideal flight. 

An open stance does have a ton of benefits and I think compared to a closed stance, is better for most golfers. With an open stance, it’s easier to time the swing better and create more power with a bigger hip turn.

Like any new swing change, this is something you need to work on the driving range first. Make sure to use alignment clubs to set up your feet and another stick to aim the face toward the target. 

You should also record your swing on your phone occasionally to check your stance and shoulder alignment. When they’re both in the correct position, you can create a wildly effective golf swing. 

Do you play with an open, closed, or square stance? 

Let us know in the comments and why you decided on that method. 

Picture of 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 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.

7 thoughts on “Open Stance Golf Swing: How It Can Help Your Ball Striking”

  1. I play with a closed stance. I tend to fade the ball and try to compensate to play a left to right ball flight. It is not working very well. I still fade the ball.

  2. Open stance is teaching males how to SLICE.
    Great for baseball, to see pitch with both eyes.
    Pronate v Supinate.
    I close front foot on men, like a duck, at 1 o clock, and move back foot back an inch or two to force the turn to get a full backswing.
    Head down, hands thru, adjust till you find the ball.
    Women need open stance because weak and can’t get heed thru quick enough.

    • Well, played a lot of Hockey, and most Slap Shots have Open Stances and the Puck Flight is either a Draw or Straight with incredible Speed, broken enough Hockey Sticks driving that Lead Shoulder into the puck.

  3. I think body shape can dictate whether an open stance is good for your swing. E.g if you have wide hips open is better, if you have narrow hips it’s much easier to square them.

  4. I play with an open stance. As I take an open stance I pivot the top part of my body and make sure my shoulders are square or even slightly closed. It creates a tremendous amount of torque as the backswing will be shorter but the unwinding on the downswing creates a tremendous amount of torque and power effortlessly. Where some get into trouble is forcing the swing and over swinging which will cause the shoulders to open too fast causing you to come over top causing a slice or a duck hook.


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