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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Using the K Setup with a Driver

Chip tweeted me with questions about hitting the driver, and hopefully this post will answer some questions the rest of you might have as well.

A little background: Chip has been using my Stop Coming Over-the-Top book and he says it has really helped his iron play BUT he's hitting a slight slice with his driver and hasn't been able to figure out why. Since he's hitting his irons okay, I doubt that there's a problem with his grip; I suspect it has more to do with ball position. (I'll come back to that before we're done.) But using the K setup should help him get more distance, so we're going to look at both.

PLEASE NOTE: You don't use the K setup for normal shots, just off a tee when you need more distance.

Every instructor teaches the golf swing a bit differently, so I've picked videos by both Martin Hall and Michael Breed to show differences in the way they teach the K setup. Neither talks about ball position in these videos, although that's important. Again, I'll come back to that.

First, here's the Breed video:

And here's the Hall video (the first 1:40 covers the K setup):

You should notice one difference right off: Hall is having you tilt your upper body more than Breed. Hall puts his trailing hand behind his trailing knee to get the tilt, while Breed only puts his hand on his trailing thigh. The reason is simple: Hall is using a wider stance than Breed. If Breed tried to reach that low, he would be terribly uncomfortable -- assuming he could keep his balance, that is.

Hall also recommends strengthening your grip with the driver while Breed doesn't say anything about it. That goes hand-in-hand with another difference that you wouldn't catch because Hall doesn't mention it in this video. (He mentions it in the first 1:20 of this video but doesn't detail how to do the K setup, which is why I didn't use it.) Breed wants you to aim straight down the target line to hit the ball straight, but Hall says that will cause you to slice. Again, this is due to differences in how they teach the swing. Hall teaches a more extreme lower body move in the downswing than Breed, so Hall ends up leaning backward a bit more... and that leaves the clubface more open at impact.

I lean more toward Breed's approach to the K setup because the Stop Coming Over-the-Top method looks more like Sam Snead's swing than Ben Hogan's. Snead was a power hitter but his swing is simpler because it's a more vertical move in the weight shift, which also puts less strain on your lower back. Although Snead used a fairly wide stance, he stood taller -- more like Breed than Hall -- so his tilt wasn't quite as extreme as Hall's. That's also why Breed can aim straight down the target line without slicing. So obviously I'm going to recommend that you stand a bit taller.

But everybody swings a bit differently. Experiment a little on the range and find out which one works best for you.

Which brings us back to ball position. If you want to get distance with your driver, you need to tee the ball higher and get your upper body a bit more behind the ball so you can hit up on it. (Simple logic there: If you put the ball in the center of your stance, you're going to hit down on it. If you want to hit up on the ball, it has to be placed in the front of your stance.)

You have to experiment a bit to find out where your proper ball position is because -- you guessed it! -- everybody swings a bit differently. A good rule of thumb is to start with the ball even with your lead armpit. Obviously, if you have a wide stance (like Hall), it will look as if the ball is closer to the middle of your stance; and if you have a narrower stance (like Breed), it will look as if the ball is closer to your lead heel.

Likewise, if you slide forward a lot during your downswing (like Hall), you may need to move the ball even farther forward in your stance to hit up on it. And if you don't slide forward as much (more like Breed), you may need to move the ball back a bit.

Now the big question -- which I answered for Chip and will now answer for you -- is:
Q: How do you know when the ball is too far forward?
A: You'll pull the ball.
Again, simple logic: The club swings around you so the clubface closes as it moves around you. The farther forward the ball is, the more time the clubface has to close. And, by the same logic, if you push the ball, it's probably too far back in your stance -- before the clubface begins to close.

Hopefully this will help you use the K setup -- and find your proper ball position to use with it -- so you can hit straighter and longer drives off the tee. And if you have questions, just ask them in the comments below this post.


  1. During a recent clubfitting, I found out that when using steel shafts, my wrists release too much and balls go left. With graphite shafts, balls push right. Divots where shallow, but began inside aimline.