I have a lot of golf students ask me, where is the golf ball supposed to be in your stance? Does it make a difference? That short answer to this question is, YES, it does matter where you play the ball in your stance. Each club has a different length which means that the low point of your swing arc changes as you go up and down the clubs in your bag. This concept can be confusing because of all of the different club options and slopes out on the course.
Here to give you my simple guidelines on where the golf ball should be in your stance to achieve the best results!
The driver is the longest club in your bag and has the lowest degree of loft. This means that the ball flight from the driver will be the lowest in your bag. Because of this, it is recommended that you tee up the golf ball on the tee box to achieve maximum distance. In addition, most drivers these days have around 460 cc (cubic centimeter) club heads and large sweet spots in the center of the clubface. Why am I telling you this?
- Because of the of the length of the club
- The large clubhead
- And, the elevation of the golf ball on the tee…
The low point of your golf swing should be slightly “behind” the golf ball so that you are coming UP to hit the ball. To achieve this, the golf ball should be in the front of your stance in line with your front heel, and your weight should be slightly shifted behind the golf ball. (40% front, 60% back). This stance helps create a more “shallow” angle of attack which is key with swing consistency! If you have ever hit a sky ball, (a ball that goes straight up in the air) this is the result of a downswing that is too steep.
Playing the ball high in the stance allows the driver to hit the ball slightly on the upswing creating a higher ball flight (aka more distance!)
Similar in length to the driver, fairway woods need to be played towards the front of the stance in order to utilize the designed loft of the club. Again, the low point of the swing arc with a fairway wood is just inside of the front heel. Your weight should be spread out evenly on both sides of your body. (Weight: 50% front, 50% back) This helps keep the angle of your swing path shallow and not steep coming down at the golf ball. (More of a sweeping swing)
Fairway Woods include:
- 2 Wood
- 3 Wood
- 4 Wood
- 5 Wood
Here is where things can get a little confusing for beginning golfers. Long irons and hybrids need to be played high in the stance, just like the driver and fairway woods. The only difference is you need to have a steeper angle of attack in order to utilize the designed loft of the club correctly. To do this, your weight should be ahead of the golf ball, on your front side, so that you are hitting “down” at the ball. (Weight: 60% front, 40% back)
Long Irons and hybrids include:
- 2 iron/ hybrid
- 3 iron/ hybrid
- 4iron/ hybrid
As you move down your golf bag, each club gets shorter in length, changing where the low point of your swing arc needs to be. For mid-irons, the golf ball needs to be played in the middle of your stance. This allows a steeper angle of attack to “compress” the golf ball and achieve maximum loft. Your weight when swinging with a mid-iron should be more towards your front side. (Weight: 60% front, 40% back)
Mid Irons Include:
- 5 Iron
- 6 Iron
- 7 Iron
Short Irons are played slightly in the back of the golf stance to ensure a steep angle of attack at the golf ball. Your weight should be more over the golf ball than the mid and long irons ( Weight: 70% front, 30% back)
Short Irons Include:
- 8 Iron
- 9 Iron
- Pitching Wedge
One of the most common problems I see in my students’ golf ball position is when golfers hit wedge shots. A wedge has a high degree of loft which is designed to hit the golf ball high in the air and land softly. To optimize the distance and loft of a wedge, you must hit down at the golf ball at a very “steep” angle of attack. I see too many beginners try and help their wedge shots into the air using their wrists.
DON’T FALL INTO THIS TRAP! Keep your weight ahead of the golf ball and play the ball in the back of the stance to be sure you are coming down steeply at the golf ball. (Weight: 80% front, 20% back)
You will start to see an improvement in your ball contact and distance control when playing your wedge shots further back in your stance
Many golfers don’t realize that ball position when putting makes a difference. Just like the driver, your putter requires a shallow swing arc to make solid putts. A putting stroke that is too steep causes distance inconsistencies. So o create a more shallow putting stroke, play the ball higher in the stance so that you are hitting the golf ball slightly on the upstroke. This lengthens the putting stroke and creates a better roll with your putt. (Learn how to putt like a pro here!)
Your weight should be evenly distributed throughout the putting stroke
Sidehill Lie (Ball Below your Feet)
If the golf ball is below your feet, you should play the golf ball in the middle of your stance and aim more towards the left to compensate for the slope. (right handed golfer)
Sidehill Lie (Ball Above Your Feet)
If the golf ball is above your feet, you should play the golf ball in the middle of your stance and aim more towards the right to compensate for the slope (right-handed golfer)
When you have a downhill lie, you have to play the ball in the back of your stance to make contact or else you will top or chunk your shot. By playing the ball in the back of the stance, you change the low point of your swing to have a flatter angle of attack to match the downhill lie.
Playing a ball on an uphill lie, you need to keep the ball in the middle of your stance and club up to compensate for the slope. The uphill lie will cause you to have a very shallow angle of attack which will create a higher trajectory. Clubbing up (ex. 7 iron to 6 iron) will make up for any gaps in distance sacrificed by the high ball flight. (Weight: 60% on front foot, 40% on the back foot)
Hitting Irons on Wet Ground
If the golf course has wet ground, it is imperative that we keep our weight ahead of the golf ball when using long, mid, short irons and wedges. To do this, move the golf ball back in the stance a little more than you would in normal conditions. You need to do this because any transfer of weight too far behind the golf ball will cause the club to hit behind the golf ball and create a fat/chunk shot because of the wet ground. To learn how to play golf when the weather gets bad, take a look at my article here!
Keep that weight ahead of the golf ball!
(Bonus) Ball Flight
All of the information above on the ball positions are given assuming you are trying to maximize your distance and contact with your clubs. You can, however, decide to move the ball either more forward or backward to change your golf ball’s trajectory on the course!
More Height: By playing your golf shots higher in your stance, you create a more shallow downswing which causes a higher ball flight. Remember, because you aren’t compressing the golf ball as much, the ball isn’t going to go as far. This type of shot is used when you need to hit over trees or hit onto an elevated green.
Lower Height: To hit a lower golf shot, you can elect to play your golf shots more towards the back of your stance. Playing the ball further back the stance, delofts your club which is what creates the lower ball flight. This type of shot is common with longer irons when trying to hit a punch shot under trees or stay low during windy conditions.
Ball position is very important when trying to optimize your golf club’s designed loft. Because each club differs in club length, the ball position must be changed to achieve proper contact with the golf ball!
- Driver: Play the ball up in your stance/weight behind the golf ball
- Fairway wood: Play the ball up in your stance/ weight evenly distributed
- Long Irons/ Hybrid: Play the ball up in your stance/ weight more on your front side
- Mid- Irons: Play the ball in the middle of your stance/ weight on your front side
- Short Irons: Play the ball in the back of the stance/ weight on your front side
- Wedges: Play the ball in the back of your stance/ weight heavily on your front side
- Ball below feet: Play the ball in the middle of your stance/ aim left
- Ball above feet: Play the ball in the middle of your stance/ aim right
- Downhill lie: Play the ball in the back of your stance
- Uphill lie: Play the ball in the middle of your stance and club up
Thanks for reading and I know that by following these golf ball guidelines, you’ll see significant improvements with the contact and consistency of your golf swing!