While Al Pacino said football is a game of inches in the movie Any Given Sunday, I think his speech applies to golf too. The smallest things we do make the biggest difference in the golf swing.
One half step too close to the golf ball and you change your swing plane. One move too far inside on your takeaway and you make it nearly impossible to get in the slot and create lag. And even teeing your driver at the wrong height can impact your driving performance.
That’s the crazy part about golf, you can do everything right but the smallest mistake can make a massive difference. A lot of swing faults can be fixed by changing your setup position. It’s why the best golfers in the world are constantly assessing their stance, grip, ball position, and other key checkpoints at address.
One of those aspects include learning how far to stand from the golf ball. As you’ll learn in this article, it’s vital to stand the correct distance away from the ball. Plus, we’ll share how to chip better by changing your position too.
How Far to Stand From Golf Ball 101
Before identifying the perfect stance from the golf club to the ball, let’s discuss what happens when you make one of two critical errors. If you stand too close to the golf ball or too far away it will have a negative impact on your golf swing. Tiger Woods discussed this in detail in his book, How I Play Golf which we’ll reference below.
Standing Too Close to the Ball
The first mistake that some golfers make is standing too close to the golf ball or crowding it. Here is what Tiger said about this position, “This forces my knees into that locked position… my spine is too upright. My arms don’t have room to swing freely.
I can’t turn my shoulder on the correct plane, and I’m destined to swing the club way too upright going back and coming down. The ball can go anywhere from this position and you can bet it won’t go very far.”
Crowding the golf ball isn’t always a bad idea and can help in certain situations. In fact, Ben Crenshaw said in a Golf Digest interview that standing too close isn’t a bad thing. He said, “It’s possible to stand too close to the ball, but nobody ever does.”
The same article also pointed out that crowding the ball can help with you chipping too as most amateurs are too far away from the ball.
Michael Breed said this, “If your chipping is inconsistent, the fix could be as simple as standing closer to the ball. This will encourage you to swing the club more straight-back, straight-through, instead of on a rounded arc. A mental image that works great is to think about swinging the clubhead as if it were a Ferris wheel, straight up and down.”
Standing Too Far from the Ball
The opposite is standing too far from the golf ball which causes all sorts of issues too.
Tiger went on to say this in his book, “This is a horrible position. To reach the ball, I have to extend my arms out from my body. I’m bent over too much at the waist and my knees show too much flex.
The tendency is to lift the spine on the backswing and then pitch forward on the downswing. The ball is bound to go anywhere but straight.”
Standing too far isn’t always a bad thing, especially if you suffer a slice with a driver. Stepping back from the ball slightly can help you with a more powerful in to out downswing that can help you square the clubface.
But in general, standing closer is better than too far away at address.
How Far to Stand From the Golf Ball
Now that you understand the wrong way to address the ball, what’s the right way?
Here’s what Tiger said about the perfect golf stance, “My arms are hanging comfortably, just a shade outside of vertical. My knees are flexed ever so slightly, I’m bent over at the hips comfortably but not too far, and my weight is evenly distributed between my heels and toes.
Now I can turn back and through the ball without changing my spine angle or my knee flex. When I swing, my arms, hands, and club have a great chance of returning to the position I’ve established at address.”
A good way to check your stance is to make sure the butt end of the club is pointing at your belt buckle.
In terms of length, you want to have about six inches from the end of the grip to your body. This will ensure every part of your body is getting you into a strong position to hit great golf shots.
If you’re too far away from the ball, the butt end of the club will point toward your hips. If you’re too close, it’ll point more up towards your chest.
A good position will help you minimize shanks, maximize distance, and hit more shots on the center of the clubface. To get into the right position, here are the key things to remember:
- Start by gripping the golf club and placing it in front of you so the club will run parallel to the ground.
- Get your feet shoulder width apart (for most mid-length clubs).
- Then tilt forward while standing so you get into a strong athletic golf posture. Remember you want your spine in a strong position without a hunch or rolled shoulders.
- Maintain a slight bend in your knees and let the golf club rest comfortably on the ground. Keep moving your feet forward until your club is directly behind the ball.
The most important thing to remember is that you move close to the ball with shorter clubs (since the shafts are shorter) and farther away from the ball on longer clubs. But this setup drill will help you get in the right spot every single time.
Here are the key checkpoints to think about to master your address position.
Your stance will change based on which club you’re hitting. The longer the club, the wider the stance so you can stay in an athletic position.
If your feet are too narrow with a driver and longer clubs, it’s hard to maintain balance and stability. If your feet are too wide, the harder it is to turn your hips and shoulders during the swing. It’s a fine balance between the two but vital to hitting consistent shots.
If you struggle with proper stance width, make sure to check out the Down Under Board 2.0. This training aid can help you master stance width and learn how to use ground force to generate more power with every club in the bag.
Knees bent for an athletic position
Your knees need some flex so you look like an athlete at address.
Too many golfers squat down too much which makes the club rest on the heel. Conversely, if you are too upright without any flex, it’s hard to get your lower body active in the swing.
You want some bend in your knees so you can use the lower body and sequence the rest of your swing.
As Tiger referenced in the quote above, your arms need to be hanging comfortably at your sides, close to your body. If you’re overly extended and too far from the golf ball, you won’t have a solid upper body connection. And if you’re too close to the golf ball, you will move the handle up which also impact the lie angle.
Don’t forget your spine angle too.
When you’re the proper distance from the golf ball, you will have a straight back without a rounded back. You should bend at the hips so you’re not straight up and straight down.
Distance from Golf Ball
Finally, don’t forget that your position to the ball will change based on the club you’re hitting. Unless you’re using single length irons like Bryson DeChambeau, you will be closer with shorter golf clubs and further away with longer clubs. But despite the change, your arms, weight, spine angle, and everything else need to stay in the same consistent position.
Start Practicing Stance
Before taking any of these ideas to the golf course, test out different stances at the driving range. Specifically, check to see how far you are away from the golf ball and see how it impacts your shot shape and distance.
The cool thing is that you can easily test this out at the driving range and get immediate feedback. Maybe crowding the ball slightly or stepping back a little is just what you need to hit it longer and make better contact.
Once you find the right distance that looks good (we always recommend recording your swing), stick with it. Make it part of your pre-shot routine so you always set up the golf ball consistently and have a great setup position.
FAQs About Golf Stance and Proper Distance
Do you have more questions about figuring out the ideal stance to hit it better than ever? If so, keep reading to check out the most common questions and answers below.
What happens if you stand too far from the golf ball?
When you stand too far from the golf ball it’s easy to suck the club back too far inside on the backswing. As most golfers know, this can cause trouble because you’re more likely to “throw” the club over the top on the downswing. This results in a lot of upper body movement, not enough lower body, and a big cut or slice.
As Tiger illustrated earlier in this post, standing too far away (or reaching for the golf ball), makes it hard to maintain your spine angle. When your spine angle changes in the swing, it’s hard to hit it in the sweet spot. Plus, you’re likely losing out on distance too.
Is it better to stand closer to the golf ball?
It depends on your type of swing and ideal shot shape but in general, yes, closer is better. As referenced above, most amateurs stand too far from the ball instead of too close. This makes it hard to generate power, have a consistent swing plane, and maintain spine angle.
Plus, standing closer to the ball is also a great idea for chipping too. It’ll make it easier to reduce arc and make better contact so you can chip it closer and save par when you miss the greens.
How far do you stand from the ball with the driver? Where do you stand when driving a golf ball?
To hit the driver properly, you will stand the farthest away from the driver than with any other club. Since the club is the longest at nearly 45 inches, you will need to give yourself some room. But remember the Golf Digest advice and don’t think you need to be too far from the ball.
Test out different positions at the driving range so you can find the right setup position.
How do I get a perfect golf stance?
Use the steps above to get each body part in the right position so you’re the proper distance from the golf ball.
Where should your feet be when hitting an iron?
The shorter the iron and into wedges, the more you want the ball in the center of your stance. While longer clubs will be more in the front of your stance.
Hopefully these tips can help you on the course and in practice hit better shots. Don’t forget, it’s the little things that make the biggest differences in this crazy game of golf. If you notice your ball striking is trending down and can’t figure out how to fix it, start with your setup.
Being the correct distance with your golf club will:
- Improve ball position
- Let your arms hang freely
- Improve your club path and swing plane
- Allow you to generate more power and increase accuracy thanks to proper weight transfer and sequence of swing
Find the ideal distance on the range then commit to the same process on every single swing. If you have to err on standing too far away or standing too close, listen to Ben Crenshaw’s advice and crowd it slightly.