Ball Position

The Principle Of Ball Position

Jack Nicklaus keeps his hands in the same spot just inside his left thigh – you should, too!

Ball position Nicklaus

Driver (left): Play the ball just inside the heel.   5-Iron (center) the stance is a touch narrower.    Wedge (right): The hands are in the same place.

NICKLAUS SAYS: From the time I was very young, my teacher Jack Grout tried to keep my mechanics extremely simple. “Nothing fancy,” he would say.  And that included ball position.

I try to play every shot with the ball opposite a point just inside my left heel.  That is a pure fundamental for me.  The width of my stance and the distance from the ball to my stance line is dictated by the length of the club.   It might appear that I play the ball progressively farther back in my stance for fairway woods, irons and wedges, but that is more a result of my stance becoming narrower.

I start with the club face square to my target, and if I’m swinging properly, it will open going back then return to square at that ball position before closing.

Jack Nicklaus writes instruction articles only for Golf Digest.

FLICK SAYS:  Jack plays all his clubs with the ball relatively in the same position.  Notice how his hands are in exactly the same place in relation to his left leg, no matter the club.  He is meticulous with this principle, and he often asks me to check it for him.

His ball position, slightly forward of standard, is very good, especially for someone like Jack who spent most of his career trying to eliminate the left side of the course.  And that was also ideal for his more upright swing.  But don’t let it get too far forward, which can cause your shoulders to open too much.  If you’re trying to draw the ball, you might need to play it a little farther back. That encourages a swing more from the inside.

Jim Flick is based at the TaylorMade Learning Center in Carlsbad, Calif.

By Jim Flick and Jack Nicklaus | Photo Illustration by Gluekit | May 2010  |  Courtesy of Golf Digest –

This Sean Foley golf tip is on Ball Position and the Position of your hands as you setup!

Golf tips ball position large1Keep Your Ball Position Constant – the starting position of your hands should remain just inside your left thigh.  Then adjust the width of your stance as pictured above – narrow for short irons and wider with mid-irons and longer clubs, especially your driver!

By Sean Foley | Photos By Dom Furore | September 2012

You might have been told that your ball position should change depending on the club you’re using.  For shorter irons, many people contend that the ball should be played in the middle of the stance, but hitting longer clubs requires the ball position to be more forward.  Their reasoning: Shafts vary in length, so you need to adjust because each club will bottom out in a different place.

The problem with changing your ball position for every club is that it becomes guesswork as to where the ball should be played to hit it solidly and a reliable distance.  For example, you might hit your 9-iron 130 yards on one swing, but then hit it 140 on the next because your ball position changed a little.

A far more reliable way to ensure you control your distance is to play the ball in the same spot — no matter what club you’re using.  To tailor your address position to match the club’s length, all you have to do is change the width of your stance (above).  The longer the club, the wider the stance.  You’ll notice that your right shoulder tilts slightly lower than your left as your stance widens.

So where exactly should you play the ball?  If you drew an imaginary line from your left shoulder joint, at address, to the ground, this would represent the low point of your swing.  Because you want to make ball-first contact and then have the iron bottom out just in front of the ball, you should play it just under your left pectoral muscle.  The width of your stance will become second nature once you continue to keep the ball in the same spot.

Sean Foley demonstrates the proper ball position

FOLEY FILES – fairway woods

I often hear people say you need to sweep a fairway wood off the turf to hit it well.  Trust me, if you’re trying to get the ball airborne, you want to hit down on the ball.  Vertical launch comes from the club’s loft at impact and how much backspin is on the ball.  It’s that second part of the equation many people forget.  Say you have a 15-degree 3-wood.  If you strike the ball on a slightly downward angle of attack, you’re hitting the ball with less loft, but the descending blow imparts more spin, which helps the ball take off on a higher trajectory.  So don’t be afraid to hit down on woods, slightly.

FOLEY, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional, works at the Core Golf Junior Academy, near Orlando.

Practice without fear!  Play without fear!  Golf is just a game!

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