Golf would be a lot easier if every shot were exactly the same. You could just step up to the ball, swing with the same strength, same path, and same speed, and the ball would respond the same every time.
You’d be able to practice one shot over and over again until you perfected it and just had to repeat.
Of course, that’d make the sport a lot more boring as well. Part of the beauty of the game is that no two shots are alike. You’re always having to tweak something to make the ball do what you want.
One of those things that you need to change is your ball position.
I’ve noticed that not all amateur golfers do though. It’s amazing how many just step up to the ball, put it in the middle or front of their stance, and swing.
Or, they change it every time, but don’t know why; “it just feels right” they might say. There’s a middle ground between these two scenarios; no change and no consistency.
What is ball position? Why is it important?
You’ve probably heard other golfers refer to ball position before. If not, ball position is where the ball is located in your stance, between your feet. The position changes because your swing changes.
It’s all about the impact position. Ball position allows you to make contact with the ball at the right angle and with the correct face angle.
If you never change your ball position, you’ll probably struggle to hit some shots because your clubs weren’t all meant to be hit the same.
Also, if you are always playing by feel, you can’t have any consistency or muscle memory when it comes to specific clubs or types of shot. It’s important to know how ball position impacts your golf ball’s distance, direction, and height.
- The farther back a ball is in your stance, the lower the ball flight, higher the spin, and more difficult it’ll be to square the face.
- As you move the ball more forward, it gives you more time to square the face (or even close it), comes off the face higher, and with less spin.
In general, ball positions don’t have specific names or exact measurements, that’s what make them difficult. To one person, a forward or front ball positon may look like a couple inches inside the front foot. To someone else, it might be right off the inside of the front toe. It’s all so vague. There’s really no universal correct answer.
There are suggestions, but if it doesn’t work for you, then it’s not correct. You need to find the ball position that works for you for each club.
For most players, the longer a club hits the ball, the farther forward the ball position should be.
This will help to get the ball up in the air with the correct ball flight. The tough thing is, if you’re setting up with a 4 iron, you might not remember exactly where you put it last time when it worked or what your previous 5 iron looked like in comparison. Then, you’re just guessing. In this article, my goal is to give you a simple way to find the right ball position for each club.
How to Consistently Nail Ball Position?
Like I just said, longer clubs require a ball position that’s more forward. Some teachers will teach to move the ball up about a half-ball to a ball length for each club up you take. That’s great, but difficult to judge from shot to shot.
How do you create consistency with that approach? An easier way to do this is to divide your stance into quarters. Let me tell you what I mean…
- Look down at your feet for a second. Imagine a line running from in front of you to behind you, cutting right in the middle of your feet; directly below your nose.
- Then, imagine two more lines, running parallel to that line just inside each foot. At this point, in your mind, your stance should be divided into two sections; a front and a back.
- Divide each of those sections one more time with another line in the middle.
- Now, you should begin to visualize four sections.
- Imagine each one of those lines as a possible ball position; front, mid-front, middle, mid-back, and back. You can even number them if you want, call them whatever works for you.
This may seem too simple and that’s because it is. Most people don’t think of ball position this way, but it’s really not very hard. Create a chart with each ball positon at the top and write in the clubs you want to hit at each placement.
Remember, you’ll rarely hit a normal full shot from a ball position behind your middle position. The back and mid-back ball positions are for chipping, pitching, and punch shots.
So, for full shots, you’ve got three options. Assuming you carry 13 clubs that you could possibly hit full (and one putter),
- Put your longest four clubs in the front position
- Five middle distance clubs in the mid-front
- And the shortest clubs in the middle.
Once you try that out for a bit, you can move some clubs forward or back. If you struggle to hit a club, it goes too far right (for a right-handed player), or flies too low, try moving the ball forward a bit in your stance. If the opposite is true, move it back.
Drills to Improve Your Ball Position
The best thing to do to get used to ball positon is just try it out and record your results. You want to get so used to placing a ball in the correct position that it’s second-nature. Muscle memory will be your friend on this.
In order to get a good feel for where these positions are,
- Get a roll of string that you can cut off a couple 1-2 foot pieces off of.
- Then, when you hit balls at the driving range, lay those pieces of string down, so they divide your stance into four sections. Think of each of those lines as a ball position.
- Then, when you’re practicing, you won’t have to think about ball position each time, it’ll just become natural.
If you’ve perfected this drill, feel free to divide the front sections again. That way, you’ll have five forward positions that you can use for your full shots.
The more consistent and accurate ball positions you have in your repertoire, the easier it’ll be to hit all the shots the game of golf demands.
If you’ve always wondered where you should be putting the ball in your stance, then adding a layer of intentionality and consistency to that will really help you. It’ll mean one less thing you have to worry about when setting up to a golf ball because it’s so normal for you.
Moving the ball forward and back also allows you to add different and unique shots to your game. As you probably know, the game of golf is about creativity, the ability to dream up a shot, and execute that shot. With different ball positions that you can include in your swing, you get closer to making that a reality.