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Choosing a Ball Position When Chipping
3 Options; 3 Results

Ball Position is Your Preference

Learn how ball position when chipping affects the trajectory and roll.  Choosing Ball Positions

With just about anything you attempt in life there are laws, principles and preferences. In golf we call these the "Ball Flight Laws". Laws are unchanging and pretty much determined by the nature of things. In golf they are the face position, the direction of the path, the angle of attack, the centeredness of the hit and the speed. Principles directly influence the laws. Swing plane, width of arc and release are examples of principles in your swing. Pre-Swing Principles are things such as grip, aim and set up. Ball position falls under that category. Preferences are related to the principles, but are purely your choice. This is the one area of golf where you can make your own unique decisions to influence your ball flight. Ball position when chipping is a principle, but where you play it is really one of these preferences and when you are chipping there are 3 main ball positions you can choose from.

Different ball positions affect the height and trajectory of your golf shots. Controlling the height and trajectory means controlling the spin and the roll out of your ball which is critical around the greens. If you can't get the ball to check up and stop in time, you just won't be able to get the ball close to your target. Of course along with choosing the right ball position you obviously have to hit the ball solid and make good contact in the face. Assuming you are going to hit it solid, ball position is the one decision that can make a big difference in your control.

3 Choices

The 3 main ball positions are of course, forward, middle and back. Here's how each ball position will affect your shot:

  • Forward - Playing the ball forward of the middle of your stance will help you to get more loft on the ball. When the ball is forward of the bottom point of your arc by time you get to it you will already be on the upswing and more loft will be on the face of the club. This allows for more height and less roll out. Playing it forward is great idea if you have to carry over something or if it is a slick downhill shot and you require more backspin on the ball to get it to check up.
  • Middle - There isn't a whole lot to say about this ball position. It simply gives you a good medium trajectory with a medium roll out. There is nothing fancy here and this position can be used for the majority of shots you face around the green. Playing the ball in the middle is definitely the safest position for most golfers as they are more likely to catch the ball solid and in the center of the face from here so I suggest using it whenever you can.
  • Back - When you position the ball back of the center of your stance you will catch it on a such a down arc that the face will be somewhat hooded. This of course allows for less loft and a lower trajectory on the shot. A ball hit with low loft will roll out quite a bit more. This is a great choice then if you have a lot of green to work with and need the ball to roll to a back pin. A back position makes it much more difficult to stop the ball so be very careful with downhill shots.

Left for Loft

I tell my students an easy way to remember the ball positions and their influence on the trajectory and roll of the ball is "Left for Loft" and "Right for Roll". This of course applies to a right handed player. Keep in mind that your stance is so narrow anyway when you chip (I recommend that your feet are one clubhead away from each other) that the ball position doesn't have a huge affect, but it has enough of an affect to influence the roll out and the overall distance of the shot.

The Situation:

You are trying to decide where the position the ball in your stance when chipping.

The Solution:

Position the ball forward in your stance for a more lofted shot that will have increased backspin. The ball will come out higher and with less roll. This is a great choice when chipping downhill or if there is something that you need to carry over before reaching the green. Play the ball in the middle for a nice average or medium trajectory with a medium type release and roll. This is the safest position and where you should play the majority of your short game shots. Lastly, position the ball back of the center of your stance when you are looking for a lower trajectory with maximum roll out.

Maria Palozola

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.

Who is Maria Palozola?
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