Your ball with position with the driver can make or break your tee box game. When it comes to hitting bombs and finding fairways, most golfers think about the driver itself or swing speed.
As we’ll discuss today these are two important factors when it comes to hitting a driver consistently well. But one of the most important parts is your setup position – specifically driver ball position.
If the ball isn’t in the proper position to begin with, no driver or speed training can overcome this issue. Keep reading to learn more about the proper setup so you can gain more confidence on the tee and hopefully play better golf.
Driver Ball Position
If you want to find the sweet spot more often, hit longer drives and become extremely effective off the tee you need a stable base for a good driver setup.
- The driver ball position is different from fairway woods or irons due to the size of the clubhead.
- It’s also important to hit up on the driver vs. down on it like you should irons or other shots that require divots.
- Since the center of gravity is higher on the club – paired with a bigger clubhead – the tee needs to be higher as well. This is why hitting driver off the deck is so challenging, even for professional golfers.
Keep reading to learn more about ball position with the driver to give yourself the best chance to become a better driver of the golf ball.
Golf Ball Position 101
Golf ball position is a fundamental of golf but one that is often misunderstood. Every club requires a slightly different ball position to optimize the design of the club and loft.
This Golf.com article sums it up perfectly.
“ A basic rule of thumb is that the farther up in your stance the ball is, the more you’ll hit up on it, while the farther back it is, the more you’ll hit down on it. The chart below is a good starting point.
The ball position with the driver should be farthest forward, just inside your left heel, then move progressively farther back until you get to your wedges, which should reside squarely in the middle of your stance.”
Forward ball position is key to optimizing your golf swing with a driver. Since the driver is the longest club in the bag, it needs to be the most forward in your stance.
Your driver, fairway woods, and some hybrids should be positioned more toward the front of your stance. This helps with the proper swing path and accounts for the longer length of each club.
In most cases you want to avoid hitting full shots (with any club) from the back of your stance. This leads to getting too steep and can cause all sorts of mishits.
Having the ball off your front heel will also help you hit up on the ball to optimize launch angle. This is something that a lot of amateur golfers seem to misunderstand.
With irons and wedges, you need to hit slightly down on the ball to compress (or cover) the shot. This ensures you bottom out at the correct point, hit the ball, then the divot.
But if the ball is too far forward with irons and wedges, you’re more likely to hit it thin. If the ball is too far back, it’s easy to hit a chunk shot.
Butch Harmon outlined the proper way to check ball position in Golf Digest.
“Here’s how to make sure your ball position is correct. Tee it up in line with the logo on your shirt, or just inside your left heel. (For shorter clubs, the ball should stay in line with the logo, but the stance should be narrower, making the ball more centered relative to the body.)”
Changing Ball Position
Changing the ball position with irons makes it easier to hit certain types of shots.
It’s a general rule that when the ball is more up in the stance, it’s easier to hit a fade (left to right shot shape). If it’s more in the middle of your stance, it’s easier to hit a draw (right to left ball flight).
With irons, you can move the ball around in your stance slightly (usually within one ball in either direction) to make it easier to shape shots. For example, if you’re behind a tree and need a low hook around it, moving the ball to the middle of your stance can make it much easier to hit sling a draw.
Or, if you need a high fade over a tree, moving the ball to the front of your stance can help create that shot pattern.
However, changing ball positions to hit different shots does not work with driver!
Because there’s only one way to hit a driver – with an ascending blow. Unlike anything off the fairway you do not want to hit down on the ball with the driver. But if your ball position is off, this is exactly what can happen.
Instead, you want the ball off your lead heel to allow you to hit up on the ball to optimize launch angle. This will allow you to use the ground force to push up off your feet and hit up on the ball. Which will lead to longer drives with more carry distance.
A great example of this powerful move is Rory McIlroy or Justin Thomas. Neither of them are tall or overly big but both create extreme power thanks to using the ground and hitting up on their drivers.
Don’t Forget About Stance
The correct ball position is key when hitting any type of shot – from driver to wedge. However, your stance might be the reason you’re not setting up properly and can change your ball position.
Distance to the Ball
As Butch Harmon mentioned in the same Golf Digest article from above, a lot of amateurs stand too far away from the ball. This can open the swing plane and lead to an out to in path which leads to a pesky slice.
Here’s his solution to standing the right distance from the golf ball.
“As for distance from the ball, the butt of the grip at address should be about six inches from your body. Check this by setting up and then taking your right hand off the grip, moving it about a foot to your right. You shouldn’t feel like you have to reach to put it back on the club.”
Once you’re the proper distance from the ball, then check the width of your stance.
Another common mistake among amateur golfers is having a stance that is too narrow.
When this happens it can move the ball more toward the middle of your stance which can steepen your swing plane. This results in a steep, over the top move that can lead to the dreaded pop up shot.
If you’ve ever hit a pop up you know the frustration that comes with it… not to mention a potential skymark. So if you find yourself hitting this shot, check the ball position and stance width first and foremost.
While a narrow stance can lead to some bad tee shots, more width isn’t necessarily better either. If your stance is too wide it makes it hard to get the right amount of weight transfer and can lead to swaying.
Instead, keep your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart with your driver.
Finally, the last part of a good driver stance to consider is slightly flaring your feet externally.
As Golftec mentioned, “Many pros in this manner flare their feet out slightly at address, as opposed to high-handicappers that often set up with their feet in a straight or “square” position that’s perpendicular to the target line.
While the latter restricts turn and can even increase the chance for injury, slightly flaring your feet out at address (about 10 to 15 degrees) helps to free up your hips (and subsequently your shoulders) to turn more.”
With the right ball position, proper stance width, and flared feet you can hit it longer than ever.
FAQs About Hitting Driver
Do you have more questions about hitting drivers? If so, keep reading through the most frequently asked questions and answers now.
Where should the ball be when hitting a driver?
The easiest way to get the ball in the right position with the driver is to set it off the front heel.
How do you hit a golf ball straight with a driver?
To hit the driver straight you need a neutral face at impact. If the face of the club is open it’ll lead to a fade or slice. If the face is closed it’ll lead to a draw or hook.
What is the correct way to swing a driver?
To optimize a driver club head you need proper tee height and setup. Here’s the easiest way to think about it:
- Position the ball off the lead foot with your stance slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
- Add some side bend so your lead shoulder is higher – this helps create an ascending swing plane.
- Start the backswing with your upper body then use your lower body to finish the backswing and begin the downswing.
- Turn your shoulders roughly twice as much as your hips like professional golfers to maximize distance.
- Accelerate on the downswing and swing through the shot.
How do I hit a driver lower?
To hit a lower ball flight with your driver do not change the ball position!
As a reminder from above, this will make it easier to get steep and not in an ideal position at impact.
Instead, to hit a driver lower simply tee the ball lower. This will help cover the ball slightly and tends to lead to straighter shots too.
To hit the driver high as many golfers want, tee it slightly higher. Click here to learn more about proper driver tee height.
Anytime I’m struggling with my driver I always start by checking the fundamentals including ball position, stance, alignment, and weight distribution. 9 out of 10 times one of these issues is the reason my driver swing isn’t working.
At the driving range, test out how different ball positions and tee height changes your golf ball trajectory and distance. If possible, use a portable launch monitor to measure the distance, clubhead speed, apex, and more.
With a monitor it’s easy to see that how the right driver ball position makes a huge difference in your game. Finally, make sure to always check this position in practice to develop positive habits that translate to the golf course.
Final Thoughts on Driver Golf Ball Position
Before buying a new driver, changing your grip, or making another big change, always start with the fundamentals. In a majority of cases altering the ball position, alignment, or stance can make all the difference.
The proper ball position for the driver is just off your left foot (for right-handed golfers). This perfect ball position will make it easy to hit the golf club properly and maximize distance.
Another important point to remember with a driver is that you can’t (let me say shouldn’t) change the ball position to hit different shot shapes. While you can move the ball around more in your stance with irons to hit draws and fades, this is a recipe for disaster with the driver.
Once you get to a point where you’re hitting the driver well, then look into golf workouts and speed training. After a good base is established, getting stronger and faster will help you hit it longer off the tee (and with every club in the bag). Which can make the game a lot easier.
Check out these popular articles to hit your driver longer than ever.