In a perfect world every golfer would have perfect alignment. The hips, shoulders, and feet would be square to the target before the backswing ever begins.
But as you know, golf is far from perfect. The golf swing is a complex move at high speeds that can frustrate even the best of players.
However, so much of the golf swing happens before you ever take the club back on your takeaway. The stance plays a huge role in shot shape and quality of strike.
Most everyday amateur golfers tend to have a closed golf stance compared to an open stance. Let’s review how this impacts your swing and what you can do to hit it better than ever.
Closed Stance Golf
Alignment, alignment, alignment.
That’s what one of my first golf coaches taught me early on in my golf career. Even 20 years later I still remember that lesson, so I guess he did a good job teaching.
So, why did he repeat this lesson over and over again?
Because he knew what all great ball strikers of the game know, alignment is the foundation of a golf swing. If you don’t know how to aim, you’re going to make this sport 10X harder on yourself.
There are three common golf stances; an open, closed, and square golf stance. Let’s review each of the following below and impact on ball position + target line, with an emphasis on the closed golf stance.
Before getting into a closed stance, let’s talk about the opposite which is known as an open stance.
If you’re a right-handed golfer, an open stance means that you are aimed left of the target (aka open). Your toe line is left of the intended target and promotes an outside in swing path to hit a power fade. If you visit a driving range you’ll see very few golfers aimed in this direction as most tend to have a closed position (more on that in a second).
An open stance promotes a natural fade and a higher ball flight than a closed stance. For a lot of golfers, this isn’t ideal as the majority of the golfing population struggles with a fade already. An open stance can make this even more amplified into a banana slice if you’re not careful.
Playing golf with an open stance can also make it hard to play in the wind (due to the higher trajectory) and lose out on some distance too. Since most golfers want to hit it longer than shorter, this is another downside for some players.
I’ve also found that an open stance adjusts your weight slightly more toward your back foot. This is key with driving as you want to swing up to increase launch angle (since you’re hitting it off a tee). Personally, I like to play an open stance with my driver and neutral stance with my irons and wedges.
As I mentioned earlier, in a perfect world, golfers would set up squarely to the target at address position. This is known as a square stance as your feet are parallel left of the target with your shoulders and hips straight.
A square stance makes it easy to hit all kinds of shots; whether it’s straight ball flight, a draw, or a cut shot. Since you’re neutral to the target it’s easy to adjust your clubface and swing path.
If you watch a lot of PGA Tour golf on TV or LIV golf online, you’ll see plenty of neutral stance golf swings. This position is something to strive toward as you look to shoot lower and lower scores. But as you play more golf, you’ll see that sometimes you need to adjust your stance based on the club you’re hitting, shot shape, and any obstacles you might need to hit around.
The final way to address the golf ball is with a closed stance.
If you’re a right-handed golfer this refers to your body being right (or closed) of the target. The target is more over your left shoulder than where your body lines are aimed. Your right foot is typically back and promotes the golf club to have a more in to out swing.
My bet is that if you go to the driving range at your local course, you’ll see more closed stances than open ones. Some of these players are intentional with this type of stance while others are doing it accidentally.
Benefits of a Closed Stance
Like an open stance, there are benefits to addressing the golf ball without being neutral to the target.
The first benefit is that it can help promote a draw swing. Since most golfers suffer from a pesky fade that often turns into a slice, this promotes a more in to out swing. It’s easier to roll your hands over from this position.
Another benefit is that it leads to a lower ball flight as you’re delofting the club at impact position. If you’re someone that has a ton of natural speed and struggles with hitting it too high, this stance can help promote a lower trajectory. This is ideal if you’re playing in the wind and hitting a lot of knockdown shots.
Not to mention, this type of stance is good to use when you need to bend a hook shot around a tree too.
Downsides of a Closed Stance
One of the biggest downsides to a closed stance is also the biggest benefits. Since you’re aimed right, it is easier to “turn it over” aka, hit a draw. But if you have an inside takeaway that leads to a steep downswing, it can also lead to a lot of pulled shots.
I used to play golf with someone growing up who notoriously aimed right at the target. Ironically, he never knew this until I recorded his swing and showed him. He couldn’t believe how far right he was aimed.
But he made it work because of his takeaway and would pull it back toward the target (instead of hitting it straight with a draw). It sometimes worked but other times led to massive pulled shots and, overall, inconsistent contact. So yes, a closed stance can work but you need the right takeaway to hit a draw.
Another big downside is that while it does promote a draw, it can lead to a hook shot rather quickly. A closed stance snap hook is nearly as frustrating as a slice and can lead to some serious trouble on the left side of the golf course. Not to mention, the ball tends to have a ton of over spin and extra roll since your hands are coming over the ball at impact.
Believe it or not, your stance position has a big impact on your weight and balance too. Recently I was struggling with hitting thin shots and a coach suggested I hit with 90% of my weight on my left foot. I dropped my right foot back like a kickstand and had all my pressure on my right toes.
This led to a closed stance as almost all of my weight was on my left leg. Almost instantly I started hitting it better because I was able to transfer my weight properly.
So if you’re struggling with thin shots, even using a closed stance in practice for some drills can help. I also like to use a closed stance when hitting wedges since you need most of your weight on your lead leg to create a descending blow.
Shoulder vs. Hip vs. Feet Alignment
Now that you know about the pros and cons of each type of stance, I wanted to emphasize the shoulders in alignment. So many golfers understand where their feet are at address (in any of the three positions) as you can use an alignment stick at the range.
But most golfers aren’t aware of their shoulder alignment target line.
For example, a lot of golfers play a closed stance which can help them hit a draw. But so many of them don’t have their shoulders on the same path. Instead, a lot of golfers have open shoulders with a closed stance.
I know because this was an issue that plagued me for years. Since my “lines were crossed” I wasn’t committed to one shot and was working against myself. It led to a lot of takeaway issues which negatively impacted my downswing.
So it’s okay to test out different angles and stances, just make sure your lines are all in sync. In a closed stance, you need to make sure your feet, hips, and shoulders are all right of the target. Record your golf swing to double-check and I can almost guarantee it’ll make a huge difference with your overall ball striking.
FAQs About Square Stance vs Open or Closed
Do you have more questions about getting the right stance and alignment in your golf swing? If so, keep reading to learn more now.
Do any pros play with a closed stance?
Yes, some professional golfers have used a closed stance to play at an extremely high level. Some of the best examples are Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer. They are two of the best golfers to ever swing the club and clearly it worked well for them.
Is a closed stance good in golf?
A closed stance has some benefits and disadvantages too.
One of the biggest benefits that can help the everyday golfer is the ability to hit a draw (or straighten out that nasty slice). Since you’re aimed right of the target, this makes it easier to roll your hands more at impact.
By having more of a baseball swing, it’s easier to have an in to out golf swing. This can help hit a more penetrating trajectory, help you avoid trouble, and likely increase distance too. Since the club is delofting at address slightly and it creates more topspin, drives should send up longer.
Should senior golfers use a closed stance in golf?
A closed stance might help senior golfers as it increases topspin for more distance with the driver. Not to mention straighten out a fade or slice for more distance. It’s best to experiment on the range before taking it to the golf course.
Can a closed stance cause a slice?
A closed stance promotes a draw since you’re aimed to the right of the target. This should make it easier to hit a draw and fix your slice. Hopefully this in to out swing can help you create more lag for extra distance!
Final Thoughts on Closed Stance Golf Swing
Your stance has a big impact on your ability to hit the golf ball consistently. If you change your stance, it can change your balance, weight transfer, and shot shape.
Ideally, you want a neutral stance on most golf swings. This makes it easier to hit the shot pure and with plenty of power, not to mention accuracy.
But a closed stance does have some benefits as well. It can help with lower trajectory, hitting a draw, and better weight transfer. Experiment with different stances at the driving range to see if one works better than the other for your golf swing.