CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The second most important golf fundamental is posture. How you stand over the ball influences both distance and direction.
To get into good posture, start by placing your feet shoulder-width apart and stand up straight with your chin up not tucked. Now, bend where the waist connects to the hips. As you bend over, your back should remain straight and your fanny will be out, not tucked under or in a sitting position.
The key is to tilt the upper body until the shoulders are over the middle of the shoes - this is about a forty-five degree angle. The knees will be slightly flexed and your weight will be on the balls of your feet. Your arms will hang directly under your chin, which will always put you the proper distance from the ball.
I think the only way to learn posture is to use a mirror. This gives you not only the feel, but also a visual picture of what it should look like. Feel can be deceiving - you need to have a visual sense, as well. Remember that this fundamental will always need work, so once you learn it you have to maintain it.
Why is posture so important? There are three very important reasons. First, it is the foundation that supports the motion of the swing. The body can only produce a consistent swing that is supported by proper posture. Most people are not aware of their posture when they walk into a room or are simply standing around. Developing good posture off the course will assist you in better posture on the course.
Common problem areas in posture are slouching shoulders and having the back in a slumped or curved position. When you are just standing around, take note of your posture.
Are you balanced on both feet with back straight, shoulders back with the ears in line with the shoulders? If you can start working on your everyday posture before you start with the golf posture, the transition will be less awkward.
The second reason is that poor posture affects the plane of the swing and prevents proper rotation or pivot. I relate posture to strength training. If you are in poor posture while lifting weights, you not only risk hurting yourself, but also improperly working the muscle, and the results will be meaningless. Your body must support the activity you are doing with the proper posture.
Golf, just like all other sports, requires sound basics that are simple, but very important in all aspects of the swing.
The last reason for good posture is balance. When the body is not properly set-up, the swing and speed of the club, along with poor posture, adds up to being off balance and losing control of the club. The body weight at address must be in a balanced position with the weight on the balls of the feet and posture, as I described above.
Remember that at the beginning of the season working on fundamentals first will get you a fresh start and ahead of the game for the entire year.
Dana Rader, Director of Golf at Ballantyne Resort, Charlotte, N.C., is owner and founder of the Dana Rader Golf School. She is the author of "Rock Solid Golf, A Foundation for a Lifetime."