One of the most important points, that influences a golfer's consistency in striking the ball well, is the position of the golf ball in between the feet at the set up position. Here is a really simple exercise, using two tour sticks, to help set the correct ball position every time we address the ball.
Firstly though, why is the position of the ball so important in the set up? If we think about the arc of the golf swing as a circle around the body, that would mean that the lowest point of the circle in the swing is underneath the centre of gravity, the middle of the feet, and therefore, this is where the club will strike into the ground. If the ball is positioned too far forward, near the front foot in the stance, the club is more likely to bottom out in the swing too early, hitting the ground first. If it misses the ground, it will catch the ball too much on the upswing, sending it too high. Likewise, if the golf ball is too far backwards in the stance, there is more likelihood of slamming down on top of the golf ball, and sending the ball too low or driving it into the ground.
Where the ball is positioned in the stance depends on the club that is used, as the ball needs to be set in different positions between the feet for each club.
For the short irons such as wedges, 9 and 8 irons, the ball should be played from directly in the centre position of the stance in between the heels. This encourages a strike into the ball correctly and cleanly, as the ball is hit first in a downward motion through the ball into the ground. This uses the loft of the golf club to lift the ball into the air, rather than trying to scoop under the ball, which is more likely to catch the ground or hit the top of the golf ball.
For mid irons such as 7, 6, and 5 irons, the ball should be played slightly forwards of the centre of the feet, approximately two to three inches closer to the front foot. There is still a need to hit downwards through the ball to strike the ball correctly, but as these clubs have slightly less loft, the amount of strike downwards needs to be slightly reduced by moving the ball forwards to just past the bottom of the swing arc.
The fairway woods and hybrid clubs are then played with the ball about two to three inches inside of the front foot. This is now much further forward of the bottom of the arc and promotes a sweeping motion through the grass into the ball, picking the ball off the top of the grass and sending the ball forwards and upwards into the air.
Finally, the driver should be placed the furthest forward in the stance, positioned so that it is opposite the inside of the foot heel. This allows the ball to be hit off a tall tee on the upswing, driving the ball forwards, up and out into the air, with as little backspin as possible, which maximises the distance of the shot.
To help practice these different ball positions, use two tour sticks to mark the position of the golf ball in the stance. Place one tour stick across the feet, parallel to the target, to help align the body in the correct direction. The second tour stick needs to be set across the first to make a ‘t’ shape, which is used to mark the position of the golf ball in the stance. There is now a very visual line to position the feet against, and to get the ball position consistently correct in practice.
Using the tour sticks in this way maximises the opportunity to strike the ball well and sets a correct practice position every time.