When it comes to the fundamentals, consistency is paramount. If you can repeat the same positions, moves, and methods over and over, you’ll simplify your technique and ingrain the correct habits.
That’s one of the reasons why I maintain one ball position for all shots. Then, to make the setup comfortable and the stance stable, I move my right foot closer to my left as the loft of the club increases.
I realise that many instructors advocate that you move the ball progressively back in the stance as your club shortens. But when you do that, you’re changing the loft on the clubs – if you play the 6-iron a bit farther back than the 5-iron, then you’re delofting that 6-iron so that it’s effectively a short 5-iron. You’re also changing the point at which your swing makes contact with the ball. I have enough trouble maintaining one impact point – I don’t want to have to deal with a dozen of them.
Unless I’m trying to play a special shot of some sort, I position the ball at a point just back of my left heel (for right-handers). Your own position may be a bit farther forward or back, but I encourage you to determine exactly where it is, and then stick with it for every club.
Remember: Suit Yourself!
There is no such thing as the ‘ideal’ ball position. What works for me may not work for you. You might be able to position your ball at least one ball-width forward of where I do and up to two ball-widths farther back.
For each individual, the optimum ball position is at the very bottom of the swing arc. For a short, stout person with a flattish swing arc, that position will likely be relatively far back in the stance. A tall person will have a higher centre of gravity and swing with more lateral movement, which will mean a more forward position. But just as important as your height is how ‘leggy’ your swing is. Players with active leg action, such as Lee Trevino, should play the ball more forward than those with quieter legs and an active upper body, who tend to trap the ball at an earlier point in the swing in the manner of Arnold Palmer.
The ultimate answer, however, is that your ideal ball position is the spot from which you play your best golf. You owe it to yourself, when you’re striking the ball with crispness and consistency, to take careful note of the position of the ball in your stance.
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