The Best Golf Ball Position for Each ClubPublished on 03/14/2023 · 8 min readGolf Expert Andrew Howard explains how your stance relative to your golf ball should change with each type of club and how it effects your game!
Photo by Will Porada
Golfers! What impact does having the golf ball forward in your stance, middle of your stance, or farther back in your stance have? A lot! Let’s read on!
Ball position relative to your stance is a factor in the types of shots you are trying to hit, and changes for each club you are using, ranging from the shorter wedges to the longer clubs like the driver. Here’s why it matters and how it will impact each club.
The Effects of Changing the Ball Position
Firstly, ball position matters because it will dictate the trajectory of the golf ball as it leaves the clubface. To illustrate, let’s grab a 6 iron and try this out together. If we put the golf ball on our back foot and make a normal golf swing, we will notice the golf ball will start much lower and start out to the right, instead of flying straight. On the other hand, if you position the golf ball off your front foot and take a swing, it will start out much higher and left of the target line. You will see then that moving the position of the ball has a great influence on both the direction and the trajectory of the ball's flight. If you want to see a visual representation of what I’m describing, watch this video, preferably the next time you are at the practice range.
As the video shows above, ball position will impact your ability to have consistency in your golf swing. If you put the ball position in the front of your stance with shorter clubs (wedges, short irons), you will have to compensate to be able to hit the ball at the low point of your swing. This will affect your confidence in your ability to hit the golf ball solidly, as well as your accuracy.
Ball Position for Your Putter
It may not be your putter that is causing your issues with making putts, but how you address the putt in the correct ball position. First off, the width of your stance is not that important—this part is up to you to decide what is most comfortable for your putting stroke. However, when setting up to the golf ball, first put your feet together and match the ball with an alignment that intersects directly in between your feet. After you have done this, separate your feet to the desired width that you would like to have, just making sure your stance is even on both sides to build a solid base.
A helpful tip is to always line up your putter in relation to your sternum (placket of collared shirt). This may not be perfect, depending on the length of your putter, but this is a good reference point to build consistency in your putting.
Follow along with this video for a visual demonstration of the whole putter setup.
Ball Position For Chipping / Pitching
A reason you might struggle with chipping or pitching could be due to your ball placement relative to your technique. There is a common misconception that we need to set up for chips with the ball off our back foot, with a fair amount of forward shaft lean, to hit down on the ball to keep it low. However, we won't be consistent with this technique because you will have to time up the impact perfectly, which can be extremely hard to do. Instead, like putting, we want to use our sternum (placket of collared shirt) as our starting point of reference for ball placement when hitting different types of chips and pitches.
Low Chip / Pitch Shot
As in our 6-iron example above, when we are trying to hit a low shot, we should have the ball positioned off our back foot, with our weight slightly forward (60% front and 40% back), with the club shaft leaned slightly forward.
Mid Chip / Pitch Shot
If you are trying to hit a mid-trajectory shot, it will be the same position as putting. Have the ball lined up with the middle of your sternum and hold your hands slightly forward (with lesser shaft lean).
High Chip / Pitch Shot
You probably guessed it—if we want to hit a higher shot, we just need to have the ball slightly forward of center in your set-up. The same hands-slightly-forward direction applies here as well.
For demonstrations of all of these tips on chips and pitches, follow along in this video.
Ball Position For Wedges (Intermediate Pitches / Full Swing)
Many golfers, in trying to hit their wedges, will have the ball positioned too far back in their stance with their hands too far forward. If we want to build consistency for a standard shot, we should stick with having our ball positioned at the center of our sternum with a narrower stance. This will allow us to be more precise and accurate to hit shots closer to the flag. Also, like in the short pitch/chip shots, it is good to have your weight slightly forward more on your front foot (lead foot).
For a great visual on this, watch PGA Professional Todd Kolb demonstrate how to hit various wedge shots.
Ball Position for Short Irons
When we refer to short irons, we typically mean the 8 and 9 irons (some may say pitching wedge as well). It may sound redundant, but from a simplicity standpoint, you will be happy to know that we are going to put the ball in the middle of your stance again, like with the wedges. With short irons, however, we want our stance a little wider, about shoulder-width apart, and our weight ever so slightly forward, including our hands. This will ensure that we will compress the golf ball and make more consistent strikes.
In this video, Scratch Golf Academy does a great job of keeping it simple to achieve the best ball strikes with short irons each time.
Ball Position for Mid Irons
Our mid irons have traditionally been classified as the 7, 6, and 5 irons. However, due to the stronger lofts on recently produced irons, it would be more appropriate to call a 5 iron a long iron. So for now, let’s focus on the 7 and 6. For these clubs, we want the ball positioned just slightly ahead of our belt buckle or sternum, due to the lower lofts and longer shaft lengths. In terms of ball position, we want it just slightly ahead of our belt buckle or sternum, due to the length and lower lofts of mid irons. This will help us find the low point of the swing and help us battle against the chunks and thin shots.
Ball Position for Long Irons
The long irons of modern sets are going to be the 4 and 5 irons. It could be the 3 iron as well, but that is not as common of a club to carry in the bag for the average golfer these days. This club is generally harder to hit, and not as necessary as it once was because the modern-day 4 iron is the standard loft of a 3 iron from just a decade or so ago.
Ideally, we want to have the ball slightly ahead of the center of the stance, with our feet shoulder-width apart. However, we won’t need to apply much forward shaft lean, if any at all, because the loft is significantly lower than our 7 or 8 irons. As Scratch Golf Academy explains here, it could be helpful to play around with the ball position for the long irons, to see what our capabilities are.
Ball Position for Woods and Hybrids
With our woods and hybrids, we definitely want to have the ball a little more forward in our stance, because irons and woods/hybrids require different swing paths to the ball. With irons, we are trying to hit down on the ball, versus woods and hybrids, where we are trying to hit the ball on a bit of an upswing. Ball position is pivotal for consistency with these clubs, and good ball placement is just inside of your lead heel (left heel for right-handed golfers, reverse for lefties). In terms of the stance, it is ideal to have our feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, to build a solid base.
Ball Position for Driver
Similar to the woods and hybrids, with the driver, we want to have the golf ball positioned forward in your golf stance. It will be just inside our front heel, just slightly closer to it than with our fairway woods and hybrids. We can also have a wider base, more than shoulder-width apart, to allow us to generate more power in the golf swing. If we put the ball too far forward in our stance (in line with our lead foot, or past it), there is a possibility that this could further enhance a slice, if that’s something you are struggling with. In that case, just be sure to have it inside your front heel, or an inch or two back. This way you can see what your abilities are with the driver and where you can build the most consistency.
Putting These Tips into Practice!
Try implementing these tips for ball positioning the next time you are at the practice range. For wedges to the mid irons (7,8, and 9) keep the ball position in the center of the stance for a normal shot. If we want to play a long iron shot, make sure it is slightly ahead of the center. However, if you are lacking consistency with the long irons (4 and 5), move it back to the center of the stance. With the woods, hybrids, and driver, be sure to keep the ball forward in your stance, just inside your left heel, or just slightly behind it.
I hope these tips help you to build more consistency in your golf game! For further help and guidance with your equipment, a Golf Expert here on Curated will assist in finding the right gear for you!