When it comes to golf as a pastime, most people are limited to a square stance and start struggling with distance as they advance in age. Others can’t get the perfect driver despite being young. However, the insiders know that the secret to effortlessly adding tens of yards is open stance golf.
For open stance golf, you need to first stand in the right position a few feet away from the ball and assume a square stance by placing both your feet next to each other and parallel to the target line. You need to shift your front foot behind your trail foot so you are open to your target.
While the steps mentioned above bring you into the open stance, this article covers the world of open stance golf, including:
- How you can determine the right distance and position for your stance.
- The best swing to achieve distance with the open stance.
- How open should your stance be?
- What are the key benefits of golfing with an open stance?
- The mistakes you should avoid when opening your stance.
What Is an Open Stance?
Before you know how to get into an open stance, you must understand what the term even refers to. If you are new to golf or aren’t very technical about the game despite having years of experience, you may need to know the three golf stances.
- Square stance: Both your feet are positioned next to each other and are parallel to the target line. From the perspective of an observer standing at the target, the golfer’s front foot blocks the trail foot’s view. That is relevant because you will need to get in this position to move to an open stance.
- Closed stance: In a closed stance, the golfer’s trail foot is slightly behind where it is in an unbiased view. From the perspective of an observer standing at the target, the golfer’s body’s front side is closed off with his or her back showing thanks to the front foot getting the lead.
- Open stance: When a golfer shifts his front foot backward from a square standpoint, the player is holding an open stance. The farther back the front foot, the more open one’s stance is. From the perspective of someone standing at the target, the front of the golfer’s body is more open and visible as the front foot side gives way by moving behind.
How to Assume an Open Stance
Now that you know the three stances let’s talk about opening up your stance. While the benefits are discussed later in detail, it is worth assuming that you want to open your perspective with a result in mind. How much of that you will achieve depends on the current stance you hold.
If the above descriptions indicate that you usually hold a closed stance, you can fix it by having a square view. And if you already own a square stance, then the following section will help you not just shift to an open stance but also know how much to open up and from what position.
Know Where to Position Yourself
An open stance might open you up in the follow-through but trap your arm in the backswing if you are very close to the tee. That is why it is advisable to have the ball at least a few inches farther than if you were using a square stance. This also depends on the path you want the ball to swing and how you swing your club.
If you come from the top right, an open stance can be an obstacle because your trail foot is creating a blockage around your elbow. The best-case scenario is that you end up getting through the ball but making a losing trade-off in terms of accuracy.
Factors to Consider Before Deciding the Distance
When setting up the distance between yourself and the ball in your position, you have to consider the following.
Do You Sway Your Hips?
If you sway your hips when you usually strike, you are positioning the ball too far from your front foot.
Assuming an open stance with the ball placed too far behind, you will launch the ball almost at a right angle to your target, and the strike will not have nearly as much force.
The other possibility that leads to swaying is that you are standing too close to the ball.
If you position yourself too close, move at least far enough away that your arm has to extend at an angle. If you position the ball behind you, then you have to imagine a chest pocket on your trailside and have the ball around that far back at the minimum.
Is Your Club Swing’s Path Too Obtuse?
A golf swing is the golfer’s asset, and every other technique is meant to be an asset to complement it. That is the theory upheld by those who swear by custom golf club fittings.
The position-purists believe that the key is a golfer’s position and the swing needs to be trained to match the needs of the position. The truth lies in the middle.
If you swing from a very obtuse angle, you generate too much power at an angle that will be hindered by your trailside. If your club swings in more of a straight path alongside the target line, you have a lot of room to open up your stance.
If your club swing’s obtuseness makes your club travel too far behind the target line, a closed view will work best for you.
However, if you are a senior golfer, you should train your swing to match the open stance because you will make significant gains in the distance and lift by adopting an open view.
To optimize your distance to the ball when you position yourself, start swinging your club and moving closer to the tee till it feels natural to swing but at the same time does not become too restrictive for the backswing.
You do not want to trade off your follow-through for the energy that is generated at the backswing.
How Far Does Your Ball Travel?
While some golfers may want to change their stance because of their swing path, it is usually the distance and the lift most are after.
If your ball is not traveling far enough, the chances are that you are at the perfect distance to open up your stance.
That is why one of the best ways to get in the right position is to keep getting closer or farther till the ball travels neither too far left nor right of that target.
And when the only issue is the lift and the distance, you know you are at the right distance from the tee to get into an open stance.
Know How Much to Open Up Your Stance
You have probably seen golfers with widely open stances and others whose stances are barely open. Most young open stance golfers can scarcely be differentiated from a square stance.
How much you open up your stance depends on the kind of energy you need to get through the ball. This leads most senior golfers to have open perspectives.
Factors That Dictate the Openness of Your Stance
While many golfers may unfairly judge others because of the unconventional stances, the idiom that ‘if it works, it ain’t stupid’ holds for both the openness and the closeness of one’s stance.
How open your stance is depends not just on age as briefly mentioned above but on several factors listed below.
Where Do You Lose the Game?
When you’re learning anything about improving your golfing, the ultimate result you seek is to lower your score. At this stage, you have to ask yourself where you lose your games?
If your games are held back by not hitting the right drivers earlier on, you have to open your stance a lot and get as much lift as possible, especially on bigger courses.
On the other hand, if you start scoring too much around the fairway, you may need to open up your stance just a little bit.
Either way, you should learn to swing well with both wide open and slightly open stances so that you can adjust your position throughout the game and aren’t just effective at launching drivers.
Strength of Your Swing
Critical to deciding how open you have to make your stance, especially during drivers, is how much strength you have behind your swing.
If your backswing is the most vital part of your launch, you may not want to sap it by using an open stance closed from behind.
If you are in your early twenties, it is recommended that you rely on working out your upper body to add strength to your swing.
But if you are older than fifty, you have more to gain by using your stance to add strength to the strike.
Usually, this dilemma doesn’t exist among golfers who know they want to have an open stance. That is because it is the downswing where they need the most energy.
However, it is worth stating that if you bring energy into your downswing with an open stance, some of the backswing power would be traded off.
Where Do You Win the Game?
If your game relies on precision and usually gets the ball in the hole from an intermediate distance, you may want to keep practicing your current stance alongside an open stance.
That is because not only does your stance affect the swing path but also the precision.
For instance, one of the critical features of the open stance is that it helps the club achieve significant outside-in swing. As a result, you can hit the ball so that it spins from left to right.
Of course, this would require you to adjust your target expectations accordingly. On the other hand, if your natural stance is closed, which creates a right to left spin, you may be used to launching at a different angle.
Finally, the square stance that promotes minimal sidespin establishes the expectation for a direct path. You should know which stance to use, but the rule of thumb is that the closer you are to the target, the more you need your stance to be square.
This doesn’t mean that the farther you are, you closer your stance should be.
A closed stance and an open stance are the most relevant in launching drivers and occasionally when shooting at intermediate distances only because one has little control over adjusting the target’s angle.
The Variety of Swings in Your Arsenal
This factor is not as critical as the others because you can train to use multiple swings. But aside from your natural swing, you have to consider the other types of swings and angles you are comfortable at swinging your clubs.
There are mainly three types of swings. And while it is possible to explain each swing by angle and direction, a swing is best known by the fruits of its labor.
Therefore, the three types of swings are presented below using the resultant spin in the ball. See which one of the three describes your natural path the best, assuming you are a right-hander. The sides described below switch if you are a left-handed golfer.
Inside Square Inside Swing
If you naturally swing the golf and the ball launches in a straight path, the chances are that you are employing an inside square inside the swing.
More importantly, it predicts an open stance will help add distance to your drivers and earlier intermediate shots.
But as mentioned earlier, the swing path and direction in which the ball goes will shift, so you will need to correct it. You can open your stance by one foot at maximum and get relatively similar accuracy results.
Outside in Swing
When you swing your club, and the ball naturally spins left to right, you will notice the ball travel not at a direct angle from where you have launched it but to your front left side.
If this description fits you, your natural swing only creates the spin that an open stance further accentuates. It is best not to open your stance too much in such a scenario or see diminishing returns. Do not open your stance beyond a few inches.
Inside Out Swing
This is the opposite of what you read above. With an outside-in swing as your natural swing, the ball will spin right to the left. As a result, you may need to turn your head over your left shoulder to see the ball after you have launched it.
In case this is your natural swing, it is advisable to restrict open stance use only to drivers. An open stance will get in the way of your swing, so you will need to train with more of an outside-in approach.
If you can launch the ball in all the ways described above, you can open your stance as much or as little as you please because you can switch between swings.
On the other hand, it is advisable to follow the openness mentioned above if you only have one swing in your arsenal.
Benefits of an open stance
Now that you know where to position yourself, the distance at which to be, and how open to be, you understand that opening your stance has consequences in the swing path.
So why would you want to train with an open stance? In this section, we look at various benefits of using an open stance.
Perfect for Senior Golfers
Understand that while it is perfectly normal for the young golfer to use an open stance, senior golfers stand to benefit the most from using an open stance because of the efficiency it brings to the strike.
Younger golfers may have inefficient swings, but they can afford to compensate for the loss with upper body strength because they have more energy.
For senior citizens, inefficiency can spell a loss of distance. As a result, the most significant gains to be unlocked in opening up one’s stance are for senior golfers who rely much more on the brain than brawn.
Though younger golfers can add yards to their drivers with an open stance, they have the option to achieve the same distance by just working out and using a square stance, a luxury not available to those at an advanced age.
With that said, even if you are eighteen, you should train an open perspective because, at some point, you, too, will be a senior golfer.
Adds Lift to the Ball
It is often wrongly assumed that all one needs to add distance to their driver is energy. If that were the case, bodybuilders would be pro golfers.
What good is strength if you launch the ball straight into the foot of a hill? Besides precision and power, you need a technique to throw the ball farther and with enough lift to cover a great distance without hitting obstacles.
There have been instances where just a single score could have lost the victor a key victory in specific tournaments. That is why the lift is essential even at close ranges.
Your club gets a relatively higher loft with an open stance, and you can make the ball flight higher.
Even though ball lift was mentioned in close ranges, it is advisable not to use a very open stance to create a lift closer to the target.
You can switch to a club with a higher loft and achieve lift at short distances, but using a wedge as a driver is unheard of, so you need to use your stance to help the ball lift.
Stop You From Swaying Your Hips
One of the key ways to add multiple yards to your driver is to rotate your hips. This allows you to leverage strength that comes from a very natural swing and get through the ball.
However, many golfers find themselves swaying instead, making it impossible for the golfer to rotate his hips. This saps almost all of the potential energy generated at the backswing when you are at the downswing stage.
That is why you may have felt that you need to muster extra energy to get through the ball.
While swaying is visible to people standing directly behind your back, it is almost impossible for you to know whether you are swaying.
So how can you determine if you have this problem? Pay attention to your feet on the backswing.
Do you shift your weight mid-swing? If you notice your weight shift from your front foot to your trail foot, you are in an impossible situation when it comes to rotating your hips.
With an open stance, you are put in a position where swaying is not needed, and your body does not naturally end up wanting to shift weight midswing.
Consequently, you are no longer sapping your strength at the downswing.
It is said that gaining distance in your driver is a game of letting go of the tension. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as commanding yourself to let go.
Some of the physical actions we do introduce tension into our natural swing. Tension may come from one’s grip, the weight shifted discussed earlier, or simply from thinking one requires too much effort.
As an open stance leads to less effort and introduces hip rotation as an aide to one’s driving force, the momentum lets you relax, and you do not have to get tense.
The hip-swaying discussed earlier can may your upper-right side tense up if you are trying to get an inside square inside the swing. An open stance sets you up to have a relaxed swing that has great follow through.
Natural to Physics
While your current stance may be natural to you, from the perspective of physics, the open view is the natural way to launch a golf ball at a distance if one wants the ball to have the right lift. This means that when you use your natural stance, you are fighting physics for distance.
On the other hand, you are fighting your habit when you fight your natural stance to get into an open stance.
While both fights can be fought, it takes physical energy to fight physics and use a closed stance or a square stance to get a good distance.
But it only takes willpower to fight your habits and develop a healthy open stance.
Helps You Get Through the Ball
Most people are off in their golfing game by one or two factors. And usually, they are painfully aware of what stands between them and success. If you feel like getting through the ball is where you lose the yards, you already know that you need energy on the downswing.
This energy could be mustered by your upper body when you are in the downswing. But you can leverage speed and momentum with an open stance to help translate more of your chemical energy into your downward swing and produce a strong follow-through as you retain much more energy around the downswing.
Mistakes to Avoid When Opening Your Stance
If the path to golfing success shifted from a square stance to an open one, everyone would have an open stance, and the competitive advantage would go away. It is not only opening your stance but also avoiding the common mistakes where the advantage lies.
- Using an inside square inside swing without adjusting the position. If you insist on the inside square swing, you will compromise the accuracy and the direction of the ball.
- Not practicing enough. There is nothing more embarrassing than learning a technique and rolling in without enough practice to a game. Avoid this by repeatedly practicing the stance at varying degrees of openness.
- Relying only on the stance. If you only leverage your stance, anyone with enough practice or a natural view can get an edge over you. That is why it is important to use a combination of stance openness, upper body strength, practice, and custom fitting of your club to your new stance.
- Not using your natural stance enough. As mentioned earlier, your stance’s versatility is an asset, but if you switch entirely to an open stance, you may get negative results when you go back to a square stance. This will lead to poorer performance the closer you get to the target. Make sure you train your current stance alongside an open stance.
It feels natural to stick to a single stance throughout your hobbyist golfing career, but a much more efficient approach is to train different stances for different swings. Aside from versatility, it helps you decrease your score. The best stance to cover a longer distance is an open stance.
Let’s recap how you can open your stance.
- Start with enough distance between you and the ball.
- Make sure the ball is closer to your trail foot than your front foot.
- Assume a square stance.
- Bring your front foot as far behind as is required.