Why Should You Open Your Stance During the Golf Swing
When taking a neutral golf stance, your feet should be parallel to each other and if you laid a golf club in front of your toes, it should point directly at the target. An open stance refers to shifting the front foot slightly farther away from this target line. Taking an open stance serves several purposes, depending on your playing ability and desired shot outcome. Many famous golfers, such as Ben Hogan, Fred Couples and Jack Nicklaus, favored an open stance throughout their careers.
Fade or Slice
The main purpose of opening your stance is to open the clubface through impact. As you open your stance, your hips will rotate through the impact zone earlier, causing the hips and hands to be far ahead of the golf ball at impact. This will help you fade or slice the ball, which is critical on dogleg holes or to curve the ball around hazards.
Just as an open stance will help open the clubface and cause you to fade or slice the ball, this stance will also help prevent hooks and draws. Opening your stance promotes a more outside-in swing path, in which the club is taken back away from the body and then drawn back in during the down swing. This will help produce left-to-right spin and prevent hooks. However, opening your stance is not an ideal method for preventing chronic hooks, as a mistimed outside-in swing will produce the dreaded pull hook.
Because an open stance allows the hips to rotate earlier, the hips and hands are much farther forward at impact. This "lag" produces a powerful downward compression on the golf ball resulting in increased backspin. An open stance is ideal for shots around the green, in which you need to stop the ball quickly.
As an open stance increases backspin, it can also help you hit the ball much higher than with a regular stance. Additionally, because the hips rotate earlier in the downswing and the clubface is left open, this also serves to "de-loft" the face of the club. This can help you hit the ball over trees and other obstacles. You will typically see professionals take an open stance when they need to hit the ball very high.
Ben Hogan believed that the hips were the most essential component of the swing, as a powerful hip-rotation produces increased clubhead speed. By assuming an open stance, the hips play a much more dynamic role in the swing and rotate much more forcefully through the impact zone than with a neutral or closed stance. Be cautious, however. Over-swinging with the hips can produce a big slice.
- Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf; Ben Hogan and Herbert Warren Wind
- A.I.M. of Golf; Mitchell Spearman
Graham Ulmer began writing professionally in 2006 and has been published in the "Military Medicine" journal. He is a certified strength-and-conditioning specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Ulmer holds a Master of Science in exercise science from the University of Idaho and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Washington State University.