Tee It Up with The Little Pro: Ch. 2


Welcome to the second tee box in our Tee It Up with The Little Pro series. As we identified in our previous post, we are going to cover all of the elements of the “Set Up” in detail to provide you with an in-depth understanding of the address position.

The 6 Essential “Set Up” Elements are:

  1. Posture
  2. Balance
  3. Ball Placement
  4. Stance Width
  5. Weight Distribution
  6. Alignment

The 4 Elective components of the “Set Up” are:

  1. Waggle
  2. Wiggle
  3. Looks at the Target
  4. Forward Press

Here is a review of Posture, which we “teed up” in our last posting…..

Posture should be as natural as possible. Normal posture has us stand perfectly erect, not slouched. A great way to gain a sense of normal posture is to address and grip the club in mid-air, standing erect with the club raised up and in front so that it is easy to get the relationship between grip, club and body. Then, lower the club to the ball with the arms and hands, measuring the distance to the ball while simultaneously tilting the straight spine forward (toward the ball) at the hips with the weight settling evenly between the heels and the balls of the feet while flexing the knees. Coincidentally, the head will naturally move a bit forward (toward the ball) and the rear end backward (out, away from the ball) as the body naturally finds it’s center. When properly postured, you should feel solid, stable, athletic, and poised to move.

There was a student of mine that was one of the most well balanced and graceful individuals on the planet. Fred Astaire loved the game of golf.

Fred Astaire didn’t walk, he glided through the grill room at Bel Air while his brown suede shoes hardly touched the floor. He was always impeccably dressed, always wore an ascot, and if he wore a jacket, there was always a handkerchief in the pocket. He was by all means a gentleman and beautiful to behold. As a golfer, he was just as graceful with great posture and balance. But he had the average golfer’s lament:

“Little Pro”, he would ask, “How do I get more distance?” He could strike the ball solidly, but he wanted to hit the ball farther, like all of us.

Fred Astaire was slightly built and blessed with exceptional grace, balance, rhythm, and timing. I concluded that he had to first feel his forearm strength at impact. To convey this feeling, I placed my foot on top of his ball and asked him to set his clubface to the back of the ball and press the handle with all his might, as he would at impact. This way, he could feel his total body strength emanating through his forearms and sequencing into his body, torso, and finally his powerful legs. He could feel every ounce of strength at impact. All the while, during this workout, Fred Astaire never perspired, never loosened his silk belt, not did he remove his ascot. He was at all times cool and balanced.

Here is a clip of Fred Astaire dancing his way through his swinging routine:

Balance is the second essential element in the “Set up”. Balance is influenced by a number of factors including Stance Width and Weight Distribution, both “Set Up” essentials that we will detail in future postings. Balance throughout the swing is influenced by the same straight spine angle that was established in Posture. The spine angle remains perfectly constant throughout the swing. There is no bobbing up and down or swaying side to side during the backswing to forward swing. The spine serves as the axis around which the body rotates during the swing.

In order to maintain this sense of balance it is imperative that every joint within the body be free, not tensed or locked. An example of what not to do would be when you lock your elbow in place in an effort hold your left arm straight during the backswing. This locking of the elbow impedes the flow of the backswing and the downswing as it restricts the natural movement of the muscles. The muscles must be in a relaxed yet athletic state and the joints free to allow the muscles to control the tension, motion, and tempo of the movements. Without this freedom, swing blockage will occur because the muscle system cannot freely swing the club from start to finish. Thereby loss of balance will surely occur.

We’ll talk about Ball Placement on the next tee. Until then, keep swinging.

Eddie Merrins "The Little Pro"

Affectionately known as “The Little Pro”, Eddie Merrins has long been revered as a golf guru. “The Little Pro” has had success at every level throughout his career.

During his 14 years as UCLA men’s golf coach, the team reached #1 and won an NCAA National Championship. Eddie also had a stellar professional career playing in over 200 PGA Tour events including 8 US Opens, 6 PGA Championships, and 2 British Opens. While playing professionally he managed to leave his mark as a Club Professional at some of the most famed clubs in the United States, including Merion and Bel-Air Country Club where he is currently the Golf Professional Emeritus after a 40 year run as the Director of Golf.

Throughout his career he’s had the opportunity to instruct some of the biggest names in entertainment, as well as some of the highest-level professional and amateur golfers. His teaching philosophy propelled him into a class of few peers. He’s listed as a Top 100 Golf Magazine instructor and has been elected to numerous Halls of Fame, and most recently, as an inductee to the PGA of America Hall of Fame.

“The Little Pro” has a unique ability to effectively communicate the golf swing, as he displayed by authoring a best-selling book “Swing the Handle, Not the Clubhead”. This book led to the success of the “Swing the Handle” video series. You can purchase both here.

"The Little Pro" is passing along his knowledge through these articles with the help of his longtime friend Rick Oldach.