Do you want to swing like Freddy Couples?
Then an open stance might be just what you need. What every golfer loves about Fred “Boom Boom” Couples is his amazing tempo and silky smooth swing.
But if you hear him describe his swing interviews it’s quite different. He describes it as aiming left, swinging right, and hits a perfectly straight shot.
His open left foot stance allows him to clear his hips but the club doesn’t follow his body lines. Instead, he swings out toward the target and is top 5 all time golf swing still today.
Keep reading to learn more about playing with an open stance, pros/cons, ideal ball position, impact on target line, and frequently asked questions.
Open Stance Golf Swing
There’s no “one way” to swing a golf club.
People who learn how to “swing their swing” tend to be the most successful golfers out there. Because when things go bad on the golf course, they know how to fix it and adapt quickly.
Swinging your swing will help you play with more confidence compared to someone who is always tinkering. One of the best ball strikers I know plays with an open stance and he swears it’s his key to consistency.
The truth is, there are a lot of ways to set up the ball and hit it well. The stance is a big part of your golf swing and can affect your distance, trajectory, and shot shape. Let’s compare a closed, square, and open stance to see which one works for you.
Closed Stance Golf Swing
The first type of stance in golf is a closed stance; this means your toe line is aimed right of the target. I find that most everyday golfers are typically aimed right if they aren’t square.
This happens for a few reasons…
First, a closed stance promotes a draw ball flight. Since most golfers know the right rough all too well from a slice, this position makes it easier to roll your hands over. Similar to a baseball swing, it’s easier to feel the right roll over and hit a draw.
Or, at least straighten out that slice. Not to mention, a closed toe line can also lead to a lower trajectory since you’re delofting the club at impact position. This is great for playing in the wind and also adds some extra distance too.
Finally, a closed stance is also needed if you need to hit a hook shot around trees too. But there are some downsides too. Read our full article on a closed golf stance.
A square stance is a position that most golfers strive toward early on in their playing career.
The more neutral you can start your swing, the easier it will be to make solid contact and develop good habits. But it’s easier said than done, especially if you don’t use an alignment rod at the driving range.
So many golfers “think” they have a neutral stance but a quick video of their swing and it’s easy to see otherwise. This is why we suggest recording your golf swing regularly to ensure things don’t spiral out of control without you realizing it.
If you watch the best players in the world, you’ll find that most of them have a fairly neutral stance. This allows them to shape the golf ball in both directions and adjust trajectory as well.
Open Golf Stance
The final way to set up to the golf ball is with an open stance; this refers to your body lines being aimed left of the target (assuming you’re a right-handed golfer). An open stance isn’t as common as a closed stance in my experience but has plenty of benefits.
Benefits of a Open Stance
So, what are the benefits of an open stance?
First, an open stance makes it easier to hit a fade or cut shot. If you’re someone that fights a draw that can turn into a hook with bad timing, an open stance can help you out. Not to mention, a cut is a more reliable shot with your driver and can result in fewer big misses (assuming it’s a power fade, not a slice).
Another benefit to an open stance golf swing is that it helps you hit it higher. If you’re someone that has a very low trajectory and struggles holding the greens, this stance position can help. You’re not compressing the golf ball quite as much as a closed stance, which leads to higher ball flight.
Finally, the biggest benefit of an open stance is that it makes it easier to clear your hips. This is one of the most important moves in the golf swing and vital to create lag. If you don’t clear your hips fast enough, you’re losing out on tons of power.
As Ben Hogan said in his book, Five Lessons, “The downswing is initiated by turning the hips to the left. The shoulders, arms, and hands – in that order – then release their power.” But this can’t happen without clearing your hips to allow your upper body through the golf ball.
So if you’ve struggled with lower body movement, this stance helps a ton!
Downsides of an Open Stance
While there are some great benefits to playing with an open stance, there are downsides too.
First, you’ll likely lose some distance with an open stance (in some cases). If you don’t clear your hips fast enough currently, you might actually gain distance. But if this isn’t an issue, you might lose a few yards since you’re adding some loft to the golf club.
Second, since you’re adding loft, the ball tends to produce a higher trajectory, which isn’t ideal for windy days. So if you’re playing links golf or just a windy day on the course, an open stance might make it harder to gauge distance control.
The biggest downside for the everyday golfer is that you might slice it more than hit a power fade due to an outside in swing path. Since most golfers struggle with a slice already, this type of stance might compound the issues and lead to even bigger misses on the tee.
Different Stances for Different Shots
As you can see, there are a lot of pros and cons to each type of stance. But don’t feel like you only have to use one for every shot shape.
For example, I use a square stance for almost all full swing shots. But for my driver, I like to use a slightly open stance as it helps me clear my hips faster, which leads to more distance.
Plus, I prefer to hit a fade with my driver for more consistency, which an open stance also helps with. I can aim left of the target, swing hard, and depend on an open golf stance for a power fade most of the time.
The opposite is true with my wedges and short irons. I actually use a slightly closed stance to get more weight on my lead leg and hit with a more descending blow. This helps flight the golf ball lower and produce less backspin too.
The main thing to remember is that you need a game plan for each shot. Don’t just step up to the golf ball and hope for the best. Make a clear plan in your pre-shot routine so you can give your mind a good idea of the shot you want to hit.
Then, as you make practice swings, take the stance that will help you hit the shot you want. Finally, make sure you always test out these new swing theories on the range before attempting on the golf course.
FAQs on Square Golf Stance vs. Closed Stance
Do you have more questions about getting the right stance and alignment in your golf swing? Wondering if you need an open or closed stance? If so, keep reading to learn more now.
Is it okay to play golf with an open stance?
Yes, as mentioned above, there are several benefits to playing golf with an open stance. If you’re someone that struggles with hooking the golf ball, dropping your left foot back can straighten your ball flight by adjusting yoru swing path.
Not to mention it can help you clear your hips faster and create more lag in your golf swing. This should lead to more power, more consistency, and hopefully, lower scores!
Do any pros play with an open stance?
Yes, a lot of professional golfers have used an open stance golf swing to play at a high level. Rory McIlroy tends to play with a slightly open stance and might be one of the reasons he’s such a consistent driver of the golf ball.
Other golfers to excel with an open stance include Freddy Couples, Jack Nicklaus, Bubba Watson, and others.
What stance should I take?
While you can swing a golf club with all three stances, it’s best to use a square stance with putting. Don’t get me wrong, as history has shown, there are tons of ways to putt well – Jack Nicklaus famously putted with an open stance. But for most everyday golfers, especially new players, it’s best to build a solid neutral stance foundation.
This will help your putter make a great stroke on the way back and hopefully on the way through. If you set up closed to your aiming point, it can lead to a lot of putts missed left. Conversely, the opposite is true with an open stance.
Keep it neutral to roll the rock consistently.
Make sure to use a putting mirror like the Back to Basics model to also check your eye and shoulder alignment. These are two of the most important factors in putting.
Does Tiger Woods putt with an open stance?
No, Tiger Woods putts with a neutral stance.
He has one of the most conventional putting strokes in the game, including his setup and takeaway. He also still uses his trusty blade putter that has helped him become one of the most clutch putters of all time.
Should senior golfers use an open stance in golf?
Seniors would usually benefit more from a closed stance as it helps promote a draw. Since most senior golfers want to add distance (due to losing clubhead speed), a closed stance can help.
Does an open stance cause a draw?
No, an open stance tends to create a cut shot as it changes the swing path. This is why it’s recommended to golfers who hit a hook shot and need to straighten out their ball flight.
Final Thoughts on Open Stance Golf Swing
An open stance can help you hit a cut shot, launch it higher, and clear your hips faster. This is why some golfers (like Fred Couples) prefer this stance vs. a closed or neutral position.
But it does have some disadvantages as well. Since most golfers struggle with a slice, this might only compound the issue further. Not to mention, it can lead to shorter distances too.
However, it can help you learn how to hit a slice around the trees if you get out of trouble. Not to mention, teach you to clear your hips faster. If you’re someone that needs to feel your hips getting out of the way to start the downswing, this is a great position to learn.
Remember, there is no one way to swing the golf club. There are plenty of great players who used an open stance and produced incredible results.