Golf Ball Position Explained: Get It Right

So much can go wrong during your golf swing. You can slide, reverse pivot, lift your head, lose your balance, or “come over the top”.

The golf swing sequence can be complicated, but many golfers actually make mistakes before they even start to take the club back.

Golf ball position is something you can check prior to your swing. Get it right and the odds of you hitting a great golf shot improve.

Like most things in golf, the golf ball position is more complicated than it seems. Did you know it changes based on the club and the type of shot you are hitting?

Don’t worry – we can help.

Below we explore the correct golf ball position for every shot and club you may need on the course.

Add “golf ball position” to your pre-shot checklist and eliminate one variable that can cause you to lose strokes.

Golf Ball Position Explained Get It Right

Golf Ball Position 101 – Defining The Basics

Let’s start with some basic terms. When we discuss golf ball position we will reference the front, middle, and back of your stance. That is your golf ball position in stance.

To keep it simple, we will describe the golf ball placement for right-handed players, but if you happen to be a leftie, just reverse it!

For the golf ball position in stance, the front of your stance would be even with or close to your left foot and the back of your stance is towards your right foot.

The middle of your stance is pretty self-explanatory – approximately halfway between your left and right foot (a bit closer to your left foot).

Now that we have these terms defined, let’s talk about the different clubs in your bag.

Driver: “The Big Dog”

We all love to let the “big dog eat”, but golf ball placement is important if you want to get the most out of your tee shots.

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Tee it High and Let it Fly is a common phrase from golf instructors when discussing the best way to hit your driver.

While that is true, it leaves out a crucial pointyour golf ball position when hitting a driver should be at the very front of your stance.

Pay attention to PGA & LPGA tour players – many even tee the ball in front of their left foot.

Tee it Forward, Tee it High, and Let it Fly!

Golf Ball Placement For Irons: 3-iron –> Wedge

Your golf ball placement for irons is slightly more complicated – it should change depending on the club your select.

The simple rule – the longer the club, the further forward (towards your left foot) the ball should be in your stance.

For example, when hitting a 3-iron or hybrid, the golf ball should be near your left foot. In contrast, an 8-iron shot would be closer to the middle of your stance.

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Unless you are trying to hit a “fancy” shot (see the section below) the ball should never be behind the middle of your stance.

When hitting approach shots, always keep golf ball position in mind. When you select your club, make a conscious effort to set up correctly.

The wrong golf ball position can lead to bladed or topped iron shots.

Putter: Get Creative

The putter is the one club in your bag that doesn’t have any hard and fast rules related to golf ball position.

The majority of golfers place the ball in the middle of their stance when putting, but if more forward helps you make more putts, go for it!

We do believe there is some flexibility in where you place the ball when putting, but we would not recommend placing the ball back in your stance.

Back in your stance will cause you to shut the face leading to you pulling the ball and make it hop off the ground. The goal of your putting stroke should be a smooth roll.

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Golf Ball Position: How to Work The Ball

What is the goal of all golfers? To get better! Reduce your average score and watch your golf handicap drop.

One thing you will notice about experienced players is their ability to work the golf ball. On-demand, they can hit a draw, a fade, a low ball, and a high ball.

Why is it important to be able to work the ball? It gives you options. It allows you to play to different targets and to handle different conditions.

In order to become a scratch golfer, you will need to be able to hit a low ball into the wind or draw one around a tree. On the golf course, it is always better to have options.

Did you know that golf ball position plays a key role in executing these shots?

Let’s explore how changing your golf ball position will help you “work the ball”.

First, if you want or need to hit a draw or hook, you should slide the golf ball slightly back in your stance (towards your right foot).

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As you might guess, the opposite is true when trying to hit a fade or a slice. Move the ball slightly forward in your stance.

By adjusting the golf position you have made it easier to hit the type of shot you are trying to execute.

Next, what if you need to hit the ball high to clear a tree or keep it low when hitting into the wind? Golf ball position plays a critical role here as well.

How far to stand from golf ball?

If you want to hit it high, move it forward in your stance (similar to your driver golf ball position). Need to keep it low? Move it back in your stance.

Practice these shots on the driving range. See for yourself how changing your golf ball position impacts how the ball behaves.

Golf Ball Placement: Advanced Studies – Unique Shots!

Even if you play the same course every weekend, no two rounds are exactly the same.

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Due to the weather conditions, course setup, or your shots, you will end up in “unique” spots on the course.

Your ability to handle these unique requirements will determine your score. Can you recover from the greenside bunker or escape from the woods?

Anyone can stand on the driving range and hit shots, but your ability to play well will be determined by how you handle the course.

A great golfer has options and can use different types of shots to navigate even the most challenging holes or conditions. Golf ball position plays a key role in executing these unique shots.

Let’s review the different types of shots and the proper way to position your golf ball in your stance when attempting them.

  • Chip – no one hits every green in regulation, so you will be forced to chip. Getting “up and down” can save your score. When hitting a normal chip shot make sure your golf ball position is slightly back in your stance.
  • Greenside Bunker – to escape from a bunker near the green, you want to blast the ball out. Place the ball in the front-middle of your stance to properly execute.
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  • Fairway Bunker – in a fairway bunker you want to pick ball off the top of the sand – golf ball position should be forward from a normal shot.
  • Flop Shot – a flop shot is a high chip shot that lands softly on the green. You open the face of your club and swipe under the ball. Golf ball position should be forward.
  • Stinger – Tiger Woods made the stinger famous. A low, straight shot that goes straight through the wind. To execute a stinger, you will need the golf ball back in your stance.
  • Punch – in the woods and need to keep the ball under a branch? You need to hit a punch shot. In order to do so, place the ball back in your stance.
  • Bump-n-Run – a “bump-n-run” is a type of chip shot designed to run along the ground. The golf ball position for this shot is back in your stance.
  • Knockdownyou need to hit an iron shot to the green, but there is a strong wind in your face. It is time for a knockdown. Place the ball back in your stance to hit this shot.

Simply changing your golf ball position won’t create these shots, but it is a good start.

Work on these different “unique” shots in practice. The more of them that you can confidently execute on the course, the better.

When you get stuck with a challenging shot on the golf course, the more options the better.

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The next time you watch golf on TV pay attention to the caddie-player conversations. You will hear them discuss these different options.

Golf Is Hard – Remove A Variable By Getting Your Golf Ball Position Right

Golf is a challenging sport. When you play 18 holes you encounter numerous variables that can impact your score.

Wind, rain, tough pin placements, your inner demons, lakes, and deep woods. The more you can simplify the game, the better.

Sure, golf would be easier if you hit every fairway and hit every green, but that isn’t realistic.

In order to improve, you need to remove as many variables as possible. Golf ball position is a perfect example.

Add it to your pre-shot checklist. Pick a club, decide on the type of shot you want to hit, and determine the correct golf ball position.

Now commit to the shot and execute your swing! Click here to check out our article to hit more solid golf shots!

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Ray has been playing golf for 35+ years, including being part of his High School and College golf teams. While he still enjoys playing in amateur tournaments, Ray now focuses on growing the game of golf through teaching and coaching. He has two sons that both play golf competitively and loves spending time watching them compete. Ray continues to play in local amateur golf events and currently has a +2 handicap.

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