It Affects More Than Trajectory
Learn the Proper Ball Position Placement
The lessons on ball position have changed over the years. This is largely due to changes in equipment and in swing styles. Just as shafts and heads react differently than they used to, the modern golf swing approaches the ball in a different way. Think about the old classic pictures of golfers in knickers, overswinging with wooden shafts. Obviously that angle of approach is quite different from the compact, flat swings with steel shafted clubs that is more common today. While lessons have changed on ball position, it is still quite common to see the old style of positioning the ball taught and utilized. The reason being is that it was advocated for a very long time and is forever printed in some of the classic golf instruction books still sought after today.
What was the old style approach to ball position? It was mostly taught that you should start at your rear (right) foot with your shortest club (pitching wedge) and then with each club that got longer position the ball progressively more and more towards your front (left) foot. While this style may work depending on a particular individual's swing, in general it is not ideal and makes positioning the ball way more complicated than it needs to be. Can you imagine mastering fourteen different ball positions for the fourteen different clubs in your bag? Wow would that take hours of practice!!! It is much easier to master 3 which is what I advocate for most students. Sure there are certain situations that call for a variance ie. wind, uneven lies, hazards, but most shots in golf can be played with a consistent ball position. One for irons, one for fairway woods and one for your driver.
The Importance of Ball Position is Underrated By Golfers
It is my belief that ball position is grossly underrated in importance by most student's. I will see them unknowingly change it from swing to swing and then wonder why they are getting different results. The important thing for student's of the game to learn is that changing the position of the ball changes more than the ball's trajectory. Changing ball position can alter among other things:
- Trajectory of the ball
- Direction of the ball
- Alignment of a player's shoulders
- Weight distribution at address
- Weight shift during the swing
- Club head path on the takeaway and on the downswing
A Poorly Positioned Ball Can Wreak Havoc
Let's just explore how the wheels can come off if I decide to play my ball too far back in my stance for a 5 iron. I could lean back at address to accommodate for the ball position. As this happens, my shoulders could close in relation to my target line forcing too much of an inside out takeaway. Now since the ball is back, I feel like I have to hang back to catch it and I don't properly shift my weight causing a serious loss of distance. I then swing into the ball on a severe inside out approach swinging up on the ball hitting it thin and blocking it way to the right of my intended target. This is just one example of how a poorly positioned ball can wreak havoc on your game! Thinking a little more about the importance of ball position now?
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.