Ball Position

This variable is so critical to hitting your best shot and it is so easy to get right. Along with grip and aim, getting ball position right makes the difference between success and failure before you even start your swing. You can get everything else right but if the ball is in the wrong position for your swing you will only hit a weak, glancing blow and be robbed of your full power.

There are two dimensions to ball position — how far it is away from you, and where it sits forward or back of the center of your stance. Figure out how far away the ball should be by setting up without a ball. Swing a few times and watch where the top of the club flashes past you toward the target. That is where your swing delivers the clubhead, and that is where the ball goes. Simple.

The forward and back matter is also easily resolved. Harvey Penick told us in his Little Red Book that all you have to do is pick up the club, take your grip and stance, and set the clubhead down on the ground. It will go by itself to the right place. Try it. Pick up your 7-iron, take your grip, get into your stance and lower the club to the ground. It will probably land in the center of your stance, midway between your left foot and your right.

Now do the same thing with a 3-iron. I would bet that if you do nothing to influence the outcome, the club will land about two balls in front of center — about halfway between the center of your stance and the inside edge of your left heel. You have read that longer clubs need to be played progressively closer to your left heel, but you were never sure how close. This method shows you.

Remember, don’t take this little detail for granted. Ball position is a critical element of good ball-striking. Get it right before you make any stroke at the ball.

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4 thoughts on “Ball Position”

    1. I think “left heel” is correct in both places it is used. In the first one, “right heel” suggests playing the ball back of center with a 3-iron. We certainly don’t want to do that. In the second case, I was saying that while shorter clubs should be in the center of your stance, longer clubs get played progressively forward of center, not back of center. “Right heel” makes sense here only if you are a left-handed golfer.

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