The Loop

Where to position the ball?

October 24, 2008

Golf Digest reader eader Duncan Harris of Calgary, Alberta shares an epiphany he's had about ball position that's led to better contact and scores.


I have a comment on ball position that should help amateur high handicappers (like me) hit the ball more solidly. For year I have followed the conventional wisdom of moving my ball position based on the club used. Driver ball position was at the left heel, with ball moving back in the stance for other clubs until mid-irons were in the middle. For me this has resulted in very solid contact with irons and very inconsistent contact with driver and woods.


Harris points out that the rationale for moving the ball foward with the driver forward is to strike the ball on the upswing. The problem, he says, is that in attempting to hit the wood or woods on an upward arc, one will inevitably swing more out-to-in, already a problem for most amateurs. He suggests a different system:

I have started positioning the ball in the center of my stance for all clubs. My contact with the driver and the fairway woods is now much more solid and consistent, while still getting acceptable height on my shots. I think the majority of high handicappers could benefit from this.

Golf Digest teaching editor Chuck Cook, just back from competing in the Italian Senior PGA Championship, had this reply to Mr. Harris:


Your premise is fine for any player with an early release. The low point in a competent swing is under the left shoulder. Generally the ball position for most irons shots is adjacent to the front cheek, thereby catching the ball on the downswing and from the inside. With the driver the ball should be under the left shoulder to catch the ball at the bottom of the swing. Players with a lot of "lag" can play the ball more forward and catch the ball on the upswing--which increases distance--and hit the ball from the inside as long as the shaft is still behind the lead arm. For players with an early release you idea of moving the ball back can work. Hope this helps.


In short: Late release, ball position more forward with woods; early release, more toward the center.

Thanks for the comment, Duncan.

--Bob Carney