As golfers, we like to pay attention to the details.
Most players know that their success or failure in this game largely depends on how well they manage the small fundamentals that make up the golf swing. So, if you get the little things right, the big things should take care of themselves.
The ‘small fundamental’ that we are going to address in this article is the distance that you stand from the golf ball at address.
It’s actually easy to overlook this one while you are thinking about the various other things you need to manage before hitting a shot. However, standing the right distance from the ball is important, so you’d be wise to pay some attention to this point during an upcoming practice session.
When It Goes Wrong
Currently, you may be making the game harder than it needs to be by standing either too close to the ball, or too far away.
Standing Too Close
When you place your body too close to the ball at address, you will feel crowded, or ‘stuck.’ Your hands will be in close to your body before the swing begins, and you may feel that you are standing too upright.
Once the swing does start, you’ll probably lift the club high into the air, as you really won’t have room to make a nice turn with your shoulders. On the way down, the club will approach from a steep angle, and a slice is a very likely outcome.
Nothing about this position is appealing, and it is always going to be tough to produce good results.
Standing Too Far Away
On the other end of the spectrum, some golfers find that they are standing too far away from the ball before the swing begins. While this generally isn’t as much of a problem as standing too close, it still does present challenges.
You will probably be hunched over at address, having to slump your shoulders and reach out awkwardly just to set the club head behind the ball. From there, it’s quite common to stand up out of your posture once the swing starts, since you were in such an awkward position to start with.
Changing your posture as the swing moves along is going to make it hard to strike the ball cleanly, and most players struggle to develop power, as well.
Additionally, as with standing too close to the ball, when you’re too far away it can limit your ability to rotate properly through the swing, thus robbing you of both power and accuracy.
So, we can see that standing in the right place is important, but how do you make it happen? Let’s keep going.
Put Away the Tape Measure
The first thing to understand here is that you do not want to be too specific or mathematical in your approach to this part of the game. It’s not a case of figuring out how many inches away you should stand, as you aren’t going to be able to measure your stance while on the course, or anything like that.
As with so many things in golf, this is going to be all about ‘feel.’ At address, you should feel comfortable, balanced, and ready to make a great swing.
It Starts with Great Posture
The role of posture in this equation cannot be overstated. Believe it or not, if you use solid posture to start your swing, you will probably wind up in the right spot with regard to your stance.
The three points below are crucial when trying to establish proper golf posture.
#1 Back Straight
You want to keep your back as straight as possible from your waist on up into your neck. Standing over the ball with a straight back is going to make it easier to rotate both back and through during the golf swing.
#2 Knees Flexed
Along with a straight back position, you should also have your knees flexed at least slightly. With flex in your knees, you will be ready for the dynamic action required to make a golf swing.
#3 Tilt Forward from the Hips
Many golfers go wrong here. You need a way to get your upper body out over the ball, so some golfers decide to just slump their shoulders. That’s a mistake – you should be tilting forward from your hips while keeping your back straight.
This is the last piece of the posture puzzle and it will prepare you nicely to make a swing.
Once those three points are checked off – back straight, knees flexed, tilted from the hips – you’ll be in a great position. Then, you can simply let your arms hang down and allow the club to fall where it will.
The precise distance that you stand from the ball is going to depend on your body, your posture, your equipment, and more. You don’t need to stand the same distance as anyone else – you just need to stand in a spot that works for you.
Be Ready to Adjust
One of the great challenges in the game of golf is the fact that you can’t just repeat the same swing and shot over and over again. You are going to encounter countless different situations on the course, and successful golfers are able to adapt to those changes.
This certainly applies when talking about how far you stand from the ball. You should have a ‘stock’ stance that you use on many of your shots, but you should also work on adjusting from that point in order to suit the demands of a given situation.
For example, you will want to stand a little closer to the ball when the ball is resting below your feet. Or, you will need to stand a little farther away when the ball is above your feet.
You can also use the distance between your feet and the ball as a way to manipulate your ball flight. Standing a little closer usually promotes a fade, while standing a little farther away will encourage a draw.
The matter of how far to stand from the ball is something that definitely warrants your attention and focus during practice. Make sure you are comfortable with this point so you can allow yourself to deal with other matters when on the course.