Here’s something you probably already know:
Consistency is the greatest challenge of all in golf.
Almost every golfer can hit at least one or two excellent shots during a round—it’s repeating those quality shots hole after hole that separates the good golfers from the average ones. With that in mind, anything you can do to improve your consistency on the course is something that you should consider.
One of the best ways to improve your consistency is to make sure that your ball position is the same each and every time.
Once you find the right ball position for your swing—which we will discuss below—you then need to make sure that you are repeating that position time after time so your swing can be as consistent as possible. You still aren’t going to hit a perfect shot each time, but with proper ball positioning your chances of success will go way up.
Unfortunately many golfers take ball position for granted.
The average player will just walk up the ball, set the club head down behind the ball, take a look at the target, and swing away. That approach just isn’t going to be good enough.
If you have designs on becoming a better player, you have to have a plan for how to position the ball correctly before each and every swing.
Understanding Proper Ball Position
The first step of this process is to understand exactly where the ball should be positioned in your stance for each club in the bag.
That’s right, we said, for each club in the bag.
Your ball position should change gradually with each club because of how your swing changes in response to the different lengths of each club shaft.
If you are currently trying to play all of your shots from the same ball position, you’re making the game harder than it needs to be.
To start, the ball position that you use with all of your wedges should be dead in the middle of your stance. For a ‘normal’ shot—that being one that you aren’t trying to hit low—you never want your ball position to drift behind the midpoint in your stance.
A center ball position with your wedges will allow you to make a balanced swing in which your weight doesn’t move dramatically in one direction or the other. The swing you make with your short irons should be almost completely rotational, and positioning the ball in the center of your stance will facilitate that technique.
On the other end of the spectrum, shots hit with your driver should be positioned off the inside of your front foot.
As you set up to hit your driver, try to align the ball with the inside of your left heel (for a right handed golfer). That position is forward enough to allow you to hit up into the ball at impact, but not so far forward that you are forced to slide to the left to reach the ball.
If you wish to maximize your distance and accuracy off the tee, proper ball position is crucial.
Now that you have the ball position for your driver and your wedges under control, you can find the right position for all of the rest of your clubs.
Each club between the driver and wedges will land somewhere on the ‘scale’ of ball positions. For example, the three wood will be just slightly behind the driver, and the nine iron will be just slightly ahead of the wedges. There isn’t an exact measurement for this—it is something that needs to be done by feel, and through plenty of practice.
As long as you understand the concept—that your ball position should move slightly forward from the center of your stance to the inside of your front foot as you move from wedge to driver—it shouldn’t take long to learn how to accurately line up prior to each shot.
Adjusting Ball Position to Affect Ball Flight
Ball flight and ball position are directly related. The ball flight that is achieved when the ball leaves the club face is a direct result of the ball position that you used for the shot, in addition to a number of other factors. With that in mind, you can use adjustments in your ball position to create different shots on command. This is a valuable skill to have as you try to work your way around a golf course.
The most-common use for changing ball position is to hit the ball either higher or lower. The Following is a basic guide on how to achieve those two modifications to your ball flight successfully:
Hitting it Higher
There are plenty of reasons you might need to hit a golf shot higher, including stopping it faster on a firm green, or getting over a tree that is in front of you. Whatever the reason, doing it correctly starts with moving the ball up slightly in your stance.
So, for a wedge shot, you would move the golf ball position up a few inches forward from the center of your stance. With the ball position adjusted, you then want to make a swing that is as close to ‘normal’ as possible.
DON’T change anything about your swing except the ball position.
As long as you keep your head down through the shot, the ball should climb the club face and rise high into the air.
Hitting it Lower
Wind is a common reason for needing to hit the ball lower. When the wind starts to blow, the first adjustment you should make is moving the ball back in your stance. At the same time, choke down an inch or two on the club for added control.
Unlike when you are hitting a high shot, you actually do want to modify your swing slightly for a low shot.
Don’t swing as hard as you normally would, and don’t swing all the way into a full finish. Think about making a “soft” swing when trying to hit the ball low. Spin is what sends the ball high in the air, and speed is what creates spin. Make a soft swing and you should be able to keep your ball flight down on command—after adjusting your ball position properly.
Properly positioning the ball in your stance is one of the fundamental skills of the game of golf. If you can get this seemingly small detail correct shot after shot, your game will quickly improve from a consistency standpoint.
Take some time to practice finding the right ball position when hitting shots on the range so that it comes naturally to you out on the course.
Golf is a game of details, and this is one detail that you just can’t afford to get wrong.