What Exactly Is Square in Set-Up?

If you’re like me, you read and watch a fair share of golf instructional tips.  Whether from the Golf Channel, or Golf Magazine or Golf Digest or some other golf communication outlet, there is no shortage of opportunities to learn exactly how to do it correctly.  Not to mention learn just what you are doing INcorrectly!

Start Our Square

From putting, to driving, to every shot in between, one of the very basic fundamentals is to be “square” at set-up.  But what does that mean?

As Rickie Fowler says, it’s hard to do, and it’s difficult to know what exactly is “square.”

How I Do It

One of my (many) fundamental weaknesses is that I tend to be open to my target line on almost every shot.  Whether putting or driving, that is something that I constantly have to guard against doing.  If I can easily look up and see the target line, it’s almost guaranteed that the rest of my body is actually left of where it should be.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve hit a really solid shot, then looked up to see it going left of the target.  Immediately, I wonder, “Did I pull it, come over the top, or aim left?”  And based on past experience, the likely answer most of the time is, “I aimed left.”

I received some really good advice during a lesson a few years ago.  And, paraphrasing, it was something like this:

When you look down your target line, you should just barely be able to see the flag over the top of your left shoulder.

In other words, the top of my left shoulder should be facing the target, not just my eyes or head.


I also have the same weakness in putting.  I’ve had Alice squat down behind me, and using alignment sticks, check my alignment on the green.  Roughly half the time, my feet will be square, but my body will be left.  I will invariably need to torque my hips and torso a bit to the right in order to truly be “square.”

Therefore, the lesson, such as any lesson from me can be, is that when squaring up for a swing, it’s important that everything is square:  shoulders, torso, hips, as well as feet.  It’s not something I’ve seen written about very much, but there are a lot of parts to the body, and it’s easy to have shoulders open, while the hips are square, or hips open while the feet are square, or some other variation.

Pros on the driving range use alignment sticks all the time, and a lot the time, they are checking for alignment issues.  I do too, and not because the pros do it, although that’s certainly a valid reason, but because I have such a hard time getting square.

If you battle this issue, maybe this will help.  Lucy succinctly explains in A Charlie Brown Christmas (at the 35 second mark):

Thanks for reading, be careful in the snow, and enjoy Shooting Your Age!

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