Ball placement: a whole article? Surely you just put the ball down and hit it. How hard can that be? If you are just starting out in golf, it can seem harsh indeed.
The truth is it can still be a challenge when you are an experienced amateur or even a professional. That first shot is a moment of high tension whoever you are and however long you have been playing.
The first thing you do when you start a round of golf is to put your ball down on the tee. Getting this right can set you up for a good day.
Place it badly, and you may have one of those days you would rather forget. It is no wonder that ball placement causes such anxiety. But do not worry. Proper positioning of your golf ball is easier than you think.
Ball placement and your stance
Many golfers get worried about where they place the ball because they believe, or have been told that it should be in a different place according to the club they are using. A rule you may have been told is that for shorter irons the ball should be played dead-center of your stance. For the longer irons, the ball should be further away from your body, forward from your position.
What happens then is you focus on the ball rather than the ball in relation to your stance.
In our opinion, this is not the place to start, especially if you are new to the game. There are so many golfing factors to consider when you are analyzing your shots. Your stance, your swing, the conditions, and your club all affect your accuracy and your distance. If you add the ball position to this, then it becomes even more complicated.
If you move the ball a lot, you will find it hard to replicate your good shots and to rectify your bad shots. This is especially true if you place the ball without any rules or guides which control the ball position.
Our advice when you are starting out is to leave the ball in the same place as much as possible. Moving it a little is not going to make much difference. What will make a difference is the choice of club and your stance.
Instead of moving the ball, practice getting your stance precisely right. Here is a firm rule for getting your stance right. For the longer clubs widen your stance, so your stance should be widest when you are playing with your driver. As you broaden your stance your shoulder position will change, your right shoulder will naturally fall lower than your left.
After a time, the position of your shoulders at the different widths of your stance will begin to feel like second nature. The wider stance with a driver than with say a three iron will feel natural and you will start to adapt and refine your position as you become more experienced.
Getting the ball in the right place
You may be asking: “Okay, I get the stance bit, but where exactly should the ball be?” There is so much discussion about where to put the ball, but we think it is best to keep it simple.
Here is an excellent guide to how to get that ball in precisely the right place.
Here Brad Skupaka gives a clear and straightforward way of getting the position correct. What he suggests is that you take your three iron and get into your usual stance. Then pull the club back to your ankle and position the ball in a direct line from the hosel of your club.
For the driver, the ball will be in line with the toe of the club. You can get his right in thirty seconds. Take a quick look at this golf instruction video to see how to do it
Another technique which many golfers find works for them is to concentrate on your chest bone, your sternum. This is what you are going to measure your position against. Keep your feet together and your sternum directly over the ball. Then adjust your stance (according to the length of your club as suggested above). Remember that when you are changing your posture, you aim to get into the very best position to hit the golf ball on the downswing.
A drill with your hands
We have seen that the stance is all important if you are to get off to an excellent start to each round you play. It is worth practicing until your golf stance starts to feel completely natural to you. You do not even need to have a golf club.
Here is a drill to get you started.
Stand in your regular golf stance. Focus on your arms and swing them gently to release any tension. Bring your palms together so they are lightly touching and your fingers are pointing at the ground. That is the position where you should place the ball.
As you develop your game, you may want to move the ball a little when you are taking a shot with your longer irons. Using the same hand position, shift your right hand down your left hand until the fingers of your left hand are at the middle of the fingers of your right hand. As you do this note how your upper body naturally tilts a little to the right. Notice where the fingers of your right hand are pointing. That is the perfect ball position for your long iron shots.
That leaves the shots you will play with your driver. Stand as before with your hands pointing down. This time move your right hand down your left hand until the fingers of your left hand are at the base of the fingers of your right hand. Let your body tilt in the way it wants to go. Follow the line to the ground. That is where you will want to place your golf ball for the perfect driver shots
Hit down to go up
We hope this article has solved the mystery of the placement of the golf ball. There is one more thing we would like to stress as this can be the source of many mistakes. You want the ball to go up, so you need to hit it down. This is counter-intuitive, so it is easy to get it wrong.
Focus on where exactly you want to hit the ball. You want to hit down on impact. That way you will avoid topping shots and get to hit the sweet spot of the ball much more often. We stress hitting down at impact because it is easy to make a mistake. You will be concentrating, and perhaps visualizing, hit the ball up, so it makes a beautiful arc and flies through the air.
Of course, when you are playing golf, that is what you want to do. But to get the ball to go up, you need to hit down on the ball. Getting the ball airborne depends on the angle of the club at its impact with the ball and how much spin you put on it. To do this, you have to hit down.