This month we continue with our focus on the basics of the game and an element that is fundamental to playing better golf. Often the most neglected element in the setup is the ball position. The ball position should change continuously according to:
- the club being used;
- the flight a golfer requires; and
- the shape one would like to hit the ball.
There are various methods of getting the ball in the correct position but I prefer to see a player relate their ball position to the centre of their body. I believe this awareness gives the golfer a better opportunity of achieving a good body position at the top of the backswing which will help produce consistency in their ball striking and accuracy.
So where do we begin? Let’s take the two extremes in a set of clubs – the sand wedge (shortest club in the bag) and the driver (longest club in the bag). I encourage students to position the ball in line with their sternum when playing the sand wedge whereas the ball position for a driver will be opposite the left heel for a right handed golfer which position has the sternum well to the right of the ball, so allowing the player to get behind the ball at the top of the backswing.
Based on the ball positions described above I would encourage you to practice getting the ball position correct – wedges below your sternum and as the clubs get longer in length so the ball position moves towards the left until you have the longest club in the bag hitting the ball opposite your left heel. This process will apply to a golfer hitting a standard shot from a flat surface, but there are many occasions whilst playing a round of golf when the golf ball may have to be manipulated for any number of reasons – be it wind, rain, slope, lie, pin position, obstacles etc where the ball position will be altered to accommodate the shot the golfer has decided on.
Try the following on the range when you next find a little time to practice and would like the challenge of manipulating the ball.
- Move the ball to the right in your stance (right handed golfer) so that your sternum is either above the ball or slightly ahead. Maintain this body position during the swing and you will find it a lot easier to lower your ball flight. Moving the ball further back in your stance will also help you shape the ball from right to left as the clubhead swing path is travelling from in to out when the clubface makes contact with the ball.
- Conversely, move the ball further left of your sternum to give you a better chance of hitting the ball higher – you would like to hit the ball over a tree or make use of a tail wind. Moving the ball further to the left in your stance will also make it easier to have the swing path move from out to in when the clubface makes contact with the ball which in turn will make the ball move from left to right.
If you practice manipulating the ball by changing ball position it will give you more confidence on the golf course and a greater ability to meet the challenges that are faced when playing this fantastic game. And it should definitely lower your handicap!
Director of Coaching