Column: ball position dictates swing
Today’s topic is the very interesting and exciting … ball position!
The position the ball is placed in relation to you body often dictates your swing. Placing the ball too far back in the stance (closer to the right foot for a right-handed golfer) leads to a variety of swing faults.
With the ball back in the stance, the loft of the club is decreased, creating the illusion that to get the ball up in the air you must lean back and hit up. This is the most common of swing faults, the reverse pivot (trying to hit the ball forward whilst leaning back).
Placing the ball too far forward in the stance (too close to the left foot for a right handed golfer) causes the golfer to slide laterally through impact, almost certainly resulting in an outside-to-in swing plane. The result of the this swing path is the dreaded slice.
The most common school of thought for ball position is that the driver is placed opposite the left heel and the ball is moved a half-inch back for each club.
This concept is simply incorrect.
First, playing the driver opposite the left heel is too far forward for the majority of players. The only players that should play the ball this far forward are the golfers with a tendency to hook the ball. The ball placed forward in the stance tends to promote a steep angle of attack, desirable for a golfer with the tendency to hook – very undesirable for a golfer that slices.
Also, moving the ball further back for each club leads to playing the short irons behind the center of the stance, this leads to a poor body motion and the golfer being unable to pivot to the front foot. The result is an ascending blow through impact, tending to open the clubface (turned to the right).
The difficulty of selecting the correct ball position is that there is not a hard and fast rule. Each golfer must find the optimum ball position for their swing. Golfers with an inside-to-out path through impact (hooker) benefit from the ball being placed further forward in the stance. Golfers with an outside-to-in path (slice) benefit from the ball being placed more in the middle of the stance.
The practice ball position, start with the short irons, and position the feet in a little inside the width of the shoulders. Position the club head in the middle of the body – this results in the ball being placed slightly forward of center.
For the middle irons, do not change the ball position, simply widen the stance by moving the right foot an inch to the right. This results in the ball position being a little more forward in the stance.
For the long irons and tee shots, a good guideline is to position the ball in line with the left ear. Practice these ball positions using a mirror, and always remember that the ball must never be behind the center of the stance for a full shot.
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Terry Gingell is a PGA Class A Professional and is the owner and operator of The Golf Learning Center, an indoor golf school specializing in video golf lessons and professionally custom fit golf clubs. Send golf questions and comments to Terry at firstname.lastname@example.org.