Why A Narrow Stance Matters So Much | Swing Surgeon - Don Trahan Peak Performance Golf Swing

Why A Narrow Stance Matters So Much

Wed, 06/27/2012 - 01:11 -- Don Trahan

I did a lesson by phone the other day with one of my regular students. His question was about why he was having difficulty making a weight shift to his forward foot. He was often getting caught in the middle or even ending up with a reverse weight shift.

There are a number of things that could be causing this so we started down the list: Poor alignment...Over-turning...Over-swinging...Playing the ball too far back. None of these things resonated with my student as to the cause. So on we went! I asked him to check the width of his stance, and lo and behold, he perked up right away.

It turns out that he had let his feet spread way outside of his shoulders so rather than have the ankles, knees, and hips in alignment under his shoulders like the walls of a solid building, his ankles and knees ended up being far outside of this shoulders creating what I refer to as the Eiffel Tower Effect. In conventional rotational theory, this wide stance is held up as the correct way to set up. As with much of that type of thinking I believe that is dead wrong. Why? Because by taking a wide stance you are placing your forward and back legs in opposition to each other. This often causes a reverse weight shift that allows a lot of lateral movement, and as we have discussed before, that is never a good thing.

In addition to causing all sorts of swing problems, wide stance often leads to significant lower back and hip pain, according to Dr. Ned Armstrong, my long-time mentor on all things having to do with the human body.

The narrow stance that I espouse makes it easier to make your weight shift a.k.a. The Bump. So to achieve a dynamically balanced swing, your swing mantra is "Load...Shift...Swing Up to a T-finish".

Keep it vertical!

The Surge

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Bruce's picture

Submitted by Bruce on

Best tip I have seen in a long time. Keep the stance no wider than the shoulders.
Now I just need to fine tune where to play the 3, 5 & 7 woods in my stance.

Ggoetz1's picture

Submitted by Ggoetz1 (not verified) on

Hi Don,
  Recently I've been hitting a lot of shots near the toe.Balls going straight but I'm losing distance and when I do hit it flush I'm on or over the back of the green.What are some of the reasons that could cause this?Also,I recently saw a video of the great Moe Norman and couldn't help but notice some similarities in his swing and your's.Did you ever get a chance to see him play?Thanks for your time.Gary

T Medley's picture

Submitted by T Medley (not verified) on


I will use this opportunity to Once More Spread The Word. This site has a great search engine. Just go to the search block, lower right column and enter blocked shots. Here's what you get.

 Please folks give this great tool a try when you have questions. The truth is already out there and just needs the correct word or phrase entered in the search block on this page.

PMG and use our search block for further info on great video tips. Another great site here. All the videos in one spot/location

Jonq4u's picture

Submitted by Jonq4u (not verified) on

Hey Surge,
  When I was a user of the NG golf technique,I was able to hit a decent 100-130 yard punch shot.Since I've converted to the Surge Swing,I haven't been able to get the technique to get that shot back.Can you do a daily video on this shot,please.Thanks,
Jon Quinley

Tom Jans's picture

Submitted by Tom Jans (not verified) on


I am not sure what you are asking us to do. When
Transitioning From PLHR To The FUS was originally published that day, the link to the image file was incorrect, but we straightened that out as soon as it was brought to our attention. As far as i can tell, everything has been working properly since then. If you are still having problems, send me an email and give me as much detail as possible on what you are seeing/not seeing.

Tom Jans

T Medley's picture

Submitted by T Medley (not verified) on


It's basically just a shorting of your follow through to the desired trajectory. It might also help to move the ball back just slightly in your stance.

Klusik's picture

Submitted by Klusik (not verified) on

best lecture in many many............surge came across very clear and technically defensible...........back to basic physics and basic swing points.....ppgs......easy to follow and believe in true, clear swing mechanics

Robert F's picture

Submitted by Robert F (not verified) on

Did you watch the Natural Golf comparison video that Surge put up yesterday? It answers the stuff about Moe Norman. As for hitting it on the toe, either you're set up too far from the ball, or you're pulling your arms in closer as you swing through in an attempt to gain speed.

Robert F's picture

Submitted by Robert F (not verified) on

Actually, you don't want to move the ball back in your stance, as that would increase the angle of attack and create spin that would take the ball higher into the air. You want to start with the weight evenly distributed rather than preloaded right, and swing through to an abbreviated finish like throwing an underhand fast ball. I practice this shot a lot in the winds here. ;-)

T Medley's picture

Submitted by T Medley (not verified) on

I do actually move the ball back in my stance, which basically amounts to de-lofting the club at contact making, say a 5 iron into a short 3 iron and gives less height to the overall shot. For a punch under trees etc, I actually play it off of my rear foot/toes and my hands well forward at contact. It works for me anyway.

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade (not verified) on

Surge, as others have already said this one is right on point!! No "day late and a dollor short" for us! This one reminds me of what Jonny Miller mentioned a couple of months ago, that golfers often 'sway and stay", that is they sway back to their back foot and never transfer to the forward foot during the FUS. That narrow stance with the wide knees alllows us to transfer easier if (and it's a big IF) if we PLHR as was recently discussed. This has made a giant difference for Cindy lately. Now I simply remind her just before her swing. 'Load right and finish left'. The way I've explained it to her that finally clicked is that if we pre-load correctly we are then already there and will only have one way to move, FORWARD. No more sway. Her head stays right where it starts at set up till impact and the weight is then on her front foot and she has hitting alot of solid shots now.
Surge, you are a swing genious. Keep 'em coming.

Ggoetz1's picture

Submitted by Ggoetz1 (not verified) on

Thanks Robert.I think you may be correct about the arms being in to close.I tend to turn my hips to quick which may cause this problem.I'm still working on the bump move.

G Key's picture

Submitted by G Key (not verified) on

Thanks so much Don, I had been guilty of exactly the same thing lately, feet to far apart and reaching out to far for the ball when sinking into my stance was causing me to mishit just about everything. The other day you had a video about going back to the basics .... so I did. I played a game yesterday, narrowed up my stance and let my arms hang which brought the ball back into my sweet zone. What a relief to strike the ball well after about 4 games of struggling. This video today is a perfect reminder of why the ppgs works so well. Thanks again for all you do.
Greg C
Co-organizer for www.bcgolfpages.com/meetup group, the largest golf meetup group in the world!

Ftrupiano's picture

Submitted by Ftrupiano (not verified) on

I have always struggled with having too wide a stance; thanks a lot surge.  Next time I'm at the range, I'll be practicing a more narrow stance which I believe may help me to become more consistent.


Steve Smith's picture

Submitted by Steve Smith on

 I do too. It's not what Surge teaches but maybe he doesn't get in the woods as much as I do where I might have a ball that I would like to scream along a few feet above the ground for as far as possible.

I've even hit both irons and woods with the ball behind my back foot, with a closed club face to compensate for it, when I had a very, very long shot that I couldn't allow to get over a few feet high.

Not a simple shot to control but I've had plenty of practice.

Very sad story from Chattanooga today on the news. Two children went out to play and when their mother went out to check on them they had both died from overheating.

Lynn42's picture

Submitted by Lynn42 (not verified) on


I could be the poster boy for your tip today.  Lately when I get in trouble with my driver or fairway woods it's due to getting too wide in my stance.  As you said, it gives a false feeling of being a more powerful position to help get the extra distance.  It results in reverse weight shift and lost distance.

I've found the best way for me to correct it is to concentrate on taking my practice swing with a stance that allows me to easily shift my weight to my front foot and a full T finish.  Thanks for the reminder. 

Larry McMillen's picture

Submitted by Larry McMillen (not verified) on

Don,  Great video on stance.  A statement attributed to the late Byron Nelson was "If you want to hit the ball farther, narrow your stance and stand closer to the ball".  I have short legs.  Twenty-nine inch inseam.  If I stood with feet shoulder width apart I could never get through the ball and come up to a T-finish.  Legs would be useless as you have stated. With Byron stating get closer to the ball I would have to take that to mean, get more vertical which goes along with your teaching.

T Medley's picture

Submitted by T Medley (not verified) on

Sounds like me. I've even hit the driver out from the trees if, big if, it happens to be sitting up on pine straw or clump grass. Even then I'll play it off the back foot though, hands well forward through impact and the club hooded.

Russty Kiwi's picture

Submitted by Russty Kiwi (not verified) on

I think most of us are guilty at some time or other of a big wide stance, which  seems to just come naturaly when we try to hit the green off the tee on a par 5. We need to anchor ourselves to the ground to go after the ball. Never know where the balls going to end up, so I dont Know why we bother.
 A narrower stance is a great way to rein in an over exuberant swing, as we need to keep our ballance throughout the swing. This might be a good way for me to pick my ball off the mud , we are faced with here at the moment, rather than having a crack at the ball and ploughing the fairway. Less power, more swing. I just need to get out there to test  this out. Can't rain forever.

Kevin McGarrahan's picture

Submitted by Kevin McGarrahan (not verified) on

 Larry,  I too have a 29" inseam - I'm 5'8" tall. My shoulder width is 16" from the centers of the shoulder joints.  Setting my knees 16" apart at their centers gives my 11-1/2" between them. For my ankles, 16" on-center gives me the same 11-1/2" between the arches of my golf shoes.

Awhile back, I made a simple 2x4 box, 11-12" wide, that I straddled to in-grain the feel of the wide vertical lower legs.  Since then, I found that my piano bench was perfect for this and the padding is great.

At any rate, I straddle the end of the bench and make my BUS.  I have found that I swing much more vertical and smoothly, getting to the top in a nice "relaxed" position.  After getting the feel of the BUS and bump, I step to the ball, take the same stance and make the same movement,  from which the bump happens naturally and quickly, causing me to accelerate through the ball much faster to a much improved T-Finish.

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade (not verified) on

Anyone can just hit it down the middle and then on the green with a pw the conventional way. I get to use the hooded 4/5 iron off the back foot frequently from out of the trees and under branches.. I've actually pulled off some great shots that end up by the stick. Then the next hole miss the green from the middle of the fairway. What a game.

C_dan_partain_06's picture

Submitted by C_dan_partain_06 (not verified) on

On June 21 you posted block shots but video discussed shaft myths can you repost the block video

P0kerstar's picture

Submitted by P0kerstar (not verified) on

i hear most instructors using shoulders as a guide to stance width. i have wide shoulders and i have always felt more comfortable with a wider stance, but someone the other day made a comment that made me think: she said, "you have narrow hips". today, i narrowed my stance for the driver from the standard shoulder width to a stance most people would use for a 5 iron (measured with the heels and not the flared toes). a few things happened: my swing was a touch shorter, my hips were quicker and smoother through impact (the bump), timing was better, more lag, etc. all this resulted in more distance. i haven't hit a 9-iron (under normal conditions) 150 yards in 10 years. my normal 9-iron is approx 135 yards.