For all the focus on the golf swing itself, most flaws can be traced back to the setup.

A poor grip, improper weight distribution, too much or too little bend from the hips… Dozens of things can go wrong at address. One basic element golfers often get wrong is ball position.
There's no single spot to place the ball for every shot. It varies based on the club, length of swing, and desired trajectory, among other factors. Therefore, consistency is key.

Some golfers tend to play the ball either too far forward in the stance (toward the left foot, for right-handers) or too far back. Most instructors recommend playing the driver opposite the left heel, then moving the ball slightly to the right for each club shorter. Generally, this ends with the wedges played in the middle of the stance.

Here's a simple method for checking your golf ball position on the range.

• Place one club on the ground parallel to your toe line.

• Place a second club across and perpendicular to the first, pointing at the ball.

• Use the second club to align your feet properly in relation to the golf ball.

Ball position is one of the commonly overlooked fundamentals in the game of golf.

Can Proper Ball Position Cure Swing Ills?

Despite having a powerful impact on the shots you are able to create, many golfers ignore this part of their setup. If you are willing to take some time to think about ball position and how it works in your game, you just may be able to make meaningful improvements. Since changing your ball position doesn't necessarily mean you have to change anything about the technique of your swing, you could improve faster with this approach than if you tried to overhaul your mechanics.

In this article, we are going to cover the topic of ball position from a variety of perspectives. We are going to talk about how ball position impacts the trajectory of the ball in flight, and how you can manipulate ball position to deal with various kinds of lies. Also, we will discuss how poor ball position can actually contribute to swing problems. In the end, we hope you have a clear picture of this topic, and we hope you will be motivated to head out to your local driving range to work on this element of your game.

Before we get too far into this article, we would like to emphasize the fact that it tends to be the subtle, basic elements of your golf game which are most important to your success. Yes, working on ball position can be tedious, and it is almost certainly not the most fun you will have as a golfer. However, if you are serious about building a quality game that you can rely on from round to round, proper ball position is essential. Those golfers who are willing to take the time and effort to find the right ball position for all of their various clubs will have a big advantage over the competition.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

How Ball Position Impacts Your Shots

How Ball Position Impacts Your Shots

As is usually the case in golf, making progress on this part of your game starts with knowledge. You need to understand how ball position relates to the shots you produce before you can make logical adjustments. In this section, we hope to provide you with the insight necessary to understand this topic all the way around.

Since there are a few different aspects to the relationship between ball flight and ball position, we are going to break up our discussion into various points below.

  • Understanding the arc. The golf swing is an arc. It has to be so, as you are swinging the club around your body, which is in a (mostly) fixed position. Your feet probably aren't moving during the swing, and if they are, they shouldn't be moving much. So, for all intents and purposes, your body is staying in the same place while the club swings around. That means the club has no other choice but to trace an arc. The point along that arc where you contact the ball is going to have a lot to do with the final outcome of the shot. If the ball is contacted while the club is still moving away from your body, draw spin is the likely result. On the other hand, if you have passed the apex of the arc and the club is moving back in toward you, fade spin is going to be the outcome. The end result is actually the opposite of what most golfers tend to think is true. If you want to promote a draw, you need to move the ball back in your stance, since that will cause impact to occur earlier along the arc. Or, if you want to play a fade, you will want to move the ball forward in your stance (to the left). This is counterintuitive to some players, since it seems like moving the ball left in your stance should cause the ball to go left, but that just isn't how it works. Understand the relationship between the arc of your swing and the position of the ball and you'll immediately have better control over your ball flights.
  • Up and down. Not only is ball position going to play an important role in determining the path of your shots from side to side, but it is also going to help to determine the height of each shot. This is a tricky point, however, because it is not as simple as saying you should move the ball up if you want to hit it higher. Yes, moving the ball forward in your stance can result in a higher flight – but not all the time. Since moving the ball back in your stance is going to usually lead to a higher backspin rate, and backspin is crucial in the effort to get the ball up in the air, sometimes moving the ball back will result in a higher flight. That is only true up to a certain point, however. Once you get the ball too far back in your stance, the launch angle will be so low that it won't really matter how much backspin is created – the shot is never going to get high up off the ground. Unfortunately, this is a point which is going to come down to trial and error more than anything else. You are going to have to experiment with various ball positions in order to determine how your trajectory is affected.
  • Unique to each club. Perhaps the most challenging part of working on your ball position is the fact that this element of the game is going to be different for each club. You shouldn't be using the same ball position with your driver as you are using with your pitching wedge, and so on. While the ball position you use for many of your irons will be nearly the same, there are still going to be minor adjustments between each club that you'll need to watch for as you go. One big difference you need to understand is the woods are going to have a different relationship with ball positioning than the irons, due to the fact that you will usually hit down on your irons at impact, but not on your woods. When swinging a driver through the ball, the club is going to be moving mostly level with the ground, if not a bit up. That means playing with a forward ball position will help raise the overall level of your launch, as the club will have time to move up into the ball. With an iron, moving the ball so far forward would only cause problems, since you are trying to hit down slightly. It would be tough to reach the ball with a forward position when swinging an iron, and thin contact would be the likely result.

Ball position can be a more complicated topic than you might expect at first. It's not always easy to understand how the flight of the ball is impacted by the position that you used at address, and there are other variables involved (like the swing itself) which complicate matters further. In the end, so much of this is going to come down to experience. As you continue to play this game, the relationship between your ball position and your ball flights will become more obvious, and you will be able to use that knowledge to your advantage.

One Mistake Leading to Another

One Mistake Leading to Another

There is a close connection between the ball position you use at address and the swing you make once the club starts in motion. It might seem like those two things shouldn't really be related, but they are. As you look down at the ball while swinging, the motion you make is going to be in some ways influenced by the position of the ball relative to your stance. In other words, using the wrong ball position could effectively force you into making swing mistakes. Obviously, that would not be a good thing.

The first place to start on this subject is with balance. You already know that balance is a key part of the golf swing. Without the ability to remain nicely balanced as you swing, it is incredibly difficult to strike the ball cleanly time after time. You may hit a few good shots along the way, but those will be the exception rather than the rule. It is the golfer who stays balanced throughout the swing who is best able to strike the ball on the middle of the face.

Ball position can impact balance because placing the ball in the wrong spot will force you to make an awkward adjustment partway through the swing. The perfect example of this issue is when you place the ball too far back in your stance at address. As you swing up to the top, you are sure to notice that the ball is too far back, and you are going to have trouble making clean contact. So, to adjust, you may hold your weight back onto your right side during the downswing. This will help you to stay behind the ball, and you may be able to make decent contact – maybe. Even if you do, this is not a method that should be expected to work on a consistent basis. Hanging back on your right side can lead to a number of other swing problems, such as the slice.

In addition to balance problems, you can also develop issues with your swing path when you don't place the ball in the right spot. A ball that is too far forward in the stance may cause you to reach out at the bottom of the swing, altering your natural swing arc and leading to an unexpected ball flight. Ideally, your ball position will basically be a non-factor. The ball will be exactly where it needs to be in order to let your swing work correctly. If you are having to adjust on the fly in order to accommodate your ball position, you have made a mistake.

Before you take the time to work on changing some of the fundamental mechanics in your swing, stop and take a moment to think about ball position. Is it possible that your ball position is to blame for some of the issues in your swing, rather than the swing itself? Since this is an easier thing to change, start here and save the swing changes for later. It may be that a simple ball position adjustment is all that is needed to get you on track.