Set Up For Success

John Stahlschmidt
PGA Director of Instruction
JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

More Information

Golf is a game where we have to get a ball in a hole. The goal is in the fewest strokes possible. It goes without saying that controlling the golf ball is paramount in successfully accomplishing this task. Controlling the ball encompasses the ball’s initial starting direction and curvature once airborne.  

Do you keep the ball in front of you or does it tend to misbehave and find trouble? Think back towards your last round of golf. What were the tendencies? Did your tee shots start left or right? Did the ball tend to curve more right or left? This game is all about patterns and if you diagnose yours correctly, you can simply adjust your setup mid round to get back on track.

In order to make the correct setup adjustments, we must first have to understand ball flight laws. The club face, to a large degree, determines the balls initial starting direction – if you strike the ball with a face that points to the right, your ball will start to the right and vice versa. The curve is influenced primarily by the path of your swing. The more the club swings to the right, the greater chance for the ball to curve left. The more the club path moves to the left, the greater chance the ball will curve right. Given the above information, you can simply adjust your alignment in order to successfully change your ball flight.

The biggest error for most golfers is a slice, which generally gets more exaggerated with the driver. This is a ball that curves excessively from left to right – for a right-handed golfer. If this sounds like you, try the following fix.  While setting up, shift your target line to the right. Align your shoulders and feet so they are pointed well right of the target. In addition to this, make sure the club face is pointed at the target. The goal is to swing along your stance line.  By closing your stance, effectively you have shifted your swing direction to the right, allowing the ball to curve back to the left. Most golfers, when hitting a slice, will aim more to the left. This will make it easier to swing more left resulting in a bigger slice. If you tend to overdraw the ball to the left, generally a better player’s error, simply perform the opposite maneuver.  

Oftentimes, we make the game much more complicated than it needs to be. If you simply understand how the face and path affect ball flight, you can simply adjust the club face and the body’s alignment at address. It is amazing to get a chronic slicer of the golf ball to see a draw. If you follow the above protocol, I know you too can better control your ball. The result will be lower scores and much more enjoyment of the game.


John Stahlschmidt, PGA is a Master Instructor for the TOURAcademy at TPC Sawgrass. To comment email John at