Ball Position: Ball Placement
How To Position The Ball In Your Stance
Ensure a Consistent Ball Position
Teachings on ball position have somewhat changed over the years. They have gone from a "move the ball progressively forward in your stance with each club" idea to a more simple "play all your irons in one position" idea. This is largely due to the changing of several factors that affect trajectory such as shaft design, ball design and swing styles. Even in modern times though, there is no one way fits all approach. Finding the ideal ball position for you may be more than just following the masses.
If you have a particularly steep golf swing, are playing a high trajectory ball or have low kick points in your shafts, you are going to need to play the ball further back in your stance than the average player. Assessing your equipment, along with your swing is necessary to come up with the best recommendation for ball placement. With that being said, for the purpose of this article, I am making a general recommendation and one that I feel is best if you have correctly fit equipment and a solid swing.
When I was young I remember seeing Nick Price on television talking about ball position. His comment was that he wanted to play all his irons in the same place in his stance. It made a lot of sense to me when I thought about consistency. Golf is a game of predicting. If you can predict the flight of your ball on every swing, you will know exactly where to aim to get it to go to the pin. How then can you predict the flight of the ball if you play 14 different ball positions? If that is the case, you would be attacking the ball at 14 different angles. That would require hours and hours of practice on the range. Most people just don't have that amount of time. It's much easier to practice one position that allows trapping the ball at the correct moment in the arc. For an iron, that would simply be where the club hits the bottom of it's arc. If one is properly transferring their weight as they come down into the shot, that bottom point would be just forward of center.
Position the Ball Properly
Tour player after tour player have recommended playing your irons just forward of center. Why then do so many people still play short irons back of center? I believe the reason is two fold. First, there are still hoards of old time books and videos circulating out there that recommended that method. Second, there is something either in their swing or equipment that gives them better results when they play higher lofted clubs back of center. To me though, that means ball position becomes a band aid. Instead of making a proper swing and shifting their weight through the shot, a lot of players that play the ball back continue to be lazy with their weight shift and continue making swing compensations.
For simplicity's sake I preach 3 different ball positions. One for irons, one for fairway woods and one for driver. Hybrids fall into both the iron and the fairway wood category depending on the number of the hybrid. For 4, 5 and 6 hybrids you can usually get by placing them the same as irons. For 3 and 2 hybrids the fairway wood position seems to work best for most.
You want to figure out how to get a consistent ball placement routine.
Lay a club down parallel to your target between your feet and the ball. Then lay a club down perpendicular to the one on the ground forming the letter T. Place your ball at the top of the tee in line with the perpendicular club. Simply take your stance with the perpendicular line in the middle of your feet. For a pitching wedge through a 5 iron make sure the line is one ball closer to your front foot. Thus, you are playing all your irons one ball forward of center. For a fairway wood move so that the line is now another ball closer to your front foot. This way you are playing fairway woods 2 balls forward of center. For your driver, try to get the club on the ground to line up opposite of your front armpit (approximately 3 balls forward of center). Driver is tricky because depending on your angle of attack, you may need to play it a bit further forward so it will take some experimentation on your part.
Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.