Golf Ball Position: Perfect Your Stance From Driver to Putter
If you want to play better golf, master your setup. Specifically your golf ball position in your stance.
If you ask almost any instructor, they’ll tell you that the setup is the most important part of the game. Not your tempo, backswing, or downswing. Sure, those play a pivotal role, but they are not as important as setup.
It’s why even the best players in the world work on their setup regularly. They know that if your setup is wrong at address, it’s nearly impossible to hit it consistently well.
One of the biggest parts of the setup is your ball position. Similar to the rest of your setup, if this is wrong, your ball striking will suffer.
Golf Ball Position
So why is ball position so significant to a great golf swing?
Because if the ball isn’t positioned properly in your stance, you won’t “bottom out” at the right spot during impact. To make consistent contact with any club, the ball needs to be in the right position for the club you’re hitting. Otherwise, even a perfect swing with perfect tempo won’t get rewarded.
Here is the correct position for each type of shot so you can become a more consistent ball striker.
Golf Ball Position for Driver
Let’s start with everyone’s favorite (or least favorite) club in the bag – the driver.
This ball position is unique as you only hit the driver off a tee, not off the turf. Thus, you need to make some adjustment to find the sweet spot and get the most distance from your longest club in the bag.
The correct ball position with your driver is off your front heel.
If it’s further back in your stance, it’s easy to get steep and produce the dreaded pop-up shot. If it’s too far forward, you will have plenty of timing and accuracy issues too.
Having the ball off your front heel at address will allow you to hit up on it at impact for maximum distance. Unlike other clubs in the bag, you should never change the ball position with your driver.
For example, if you want to hit a draw with your irons you can move it slightly back in your stance. This makes it easier to swing in to out and hit a nice draw. But this will lead to disaster with a driver.
Regardless of if you want to play a fade or a draw, set up in the same ball position. This will help your driving accuracy and total distance off the tee.
Golf Ball Position for Fairway Woods
Fairway woods are a bit different, though… A good rule of thumb is to have your fairway woods off the logo on your shirt (which is normally the left chest piece for a right-handed golfer). This is about two ball lengths from your left heel.
One of the biggest mistakes that so many golfers make is they put the ball too far forward with fairway woods (especially if they’re hitting it from the turf). The common thinking is that it will help you get the ball airborne, when in reality, the opposite is true.
When the ball is too far forward, you are more likely to hit up on it, causing a thin or top shot. Instead, you need to hit down on it to create a very shallow divot. If you need a good example of this, just watch Henrik Stenson, who is basically the Terminator with a 3-wood in his hands.
Try out different ball positions with your fairway woods on the range to see how much it impacts your contact.
Golf Ball Position for Irons
Once you dial in your woods, let’s go into irons. In general, you want your irons in the middle to middle front part of your stance.
The longer the iron, the more you want the ball positioned forward in your stance. For example, your 5 iron should be front middle, while your 8-iron should be closer to the middle of your stance.
This ball position will help you hit down and through the golf ball, creating the perfect divot. In very few circumstances do you want the ball off your front or back foot with irons. Keep them in the center to front-center area for optimal contact.
Golf Ball Position for Wedges
Wedges are a little different from irons, woods, or hybrids. With wedges, you want to hit down on them even more than irons so that you can get backspin that we all love.
To make great contact with wedges, you want them in the middle of your stance (not the back). The only time to adjust the ball position further back is if you’re hitting a knockdown shot.
Here’s how to check the position with your wedges according to Golf.com.
“During your warm-up on the range, check the divots you carve with your wedges. Their position, relative to your stance, indicates the low point of your swing. If you position the ball slightly behind the middle of your typical divot, you’ll begin hitting wedges like Tom Kite—one of the best wedge players the game has ever seen.”
In general, I find that most golfers place the ball too far up in their stance with wedges. I think it stems from wanting to “help” the ball in the air… vs. letting it do its job. Don’t forget, wedges have 45 degrees of loft (or more) so you don’t need to assist it in the air.
Related: Create a Wedge Distance Chart
Golf Ball Position for Putter
Let’s not forget about your putter, either. While everyone has their own unique variation of putting, ball position still plays a role.
In general, you want the ball position in the front-middle of your stance with a putter. This will help you make consistent contact and get the ball rolling on line.
If it’s too far forward, you’ll hit up on and likely leave the put short as you’re missing the sweet spot. If it’s too far back in your stance, you’ll likely hit down on it and cause it to skip as it comes off the face. This can result in putts missing short and hitting more obstacles as it’s bouncing off the putter face.
But putting is different from other parts of the game as there is “no one way” to putt. Jack Nicklaus is different from Tiger Woods or Gary Player. Make sure to experiment on the putting green with different setup positions to see which will benefit you the most.
It’s also a great idea to record your putting stroke with the help of a friend or tripod. This way you can see how different stances and ball position impact the quality of your putts. Plus, it’s great to have a video of a good putting motion to fall back on if you get into a slump.
Other Ball Positions
Now that we’ve covered the main shots in golf, let’s talk about a few specialty shots that you need in your bag.
- Punch shot: If you need to keep it low, so many players think they need the ball positioned off the back foot. When in reality, this will make you get steep and usually lead to poor contact as well. Instead, if you need to keep it low, put it in the middle of your stance and take a less than full backswing and follow through. This will ensure you flight it down lower which is great for hitting in the wind or keep it under tree branches.
- Bunker shot: If you struggle hitting from the sand, your ball position might be to blame. In the bunker, make sure to have the ball front-center of your stance for most shots. If it’s on an uphill lie, move it slightly forward. If it’s a downhill lie, move it to the middle of your stance to adjust for the slope. Experiment with different positions in the sand to see what works best for you.
- High shot: If you need to launch a shot high over a tree, move the ball up in your stance. Then, make sure your weight is 70/30 on your lead leg to hit down on it, thus causing it to launch higher. Don’t forget to have plenty of speed too as you need it to launch the ball high.
Do you want to learn even more about the right golf ball position? Then keep reading our frequently asked questions and answers below.
What is the correct ball position in a golf swing?
The location of the ball in your stance is always dependent on the club you’re hitting. For longer clubs you want them more forward in your stance. With shorter clubs you want them more toward the middle of your stance to ensure you “bottom out” at the correct position.
With putting, you can change the ball position and stance more than most clubs. Experiment on the putting green to see what works best for you.
What does ball position mean in golf?
Ball position in golf refers to the area in your stance where the ball is relevant to your feet. If you’re a right-handed golfer, if a ball is more “up in your stance” it’s toward your left heel. If the ball is back in your stance it’s more toward your right heel.
When should the golf ball be in the middle of your stance?
A middle ball position is great placement for a lot of wedges and irons. This will ensure you hit down on the shot and take your divot ahead of the ball, not behind it.
But a middle ball position is terrible if you’re hitting a driver or 3W. This position will make it easy to get too steep and hit down on the shot, resulting in a pop-up.
Where do pros put the ball in their stance?
It depends on the club, distance, and type of shot they’re playing. PGA pros can easily change the ball position to hit different types of shots.
For example, if they want to hit a punch shot they’ll move the ball more toward the middle of their stance. With a shortened follow through and hands ahead at impact, it will hit a much more flighted trajectory shot.
Or, if they want to hit a moon ball they’ll put it more up in their stance and take an aggressive swing. This will help the ball launch high and land soft.
Related: How to Hit a Stinger in Golf
Should your head be in front or behind the golf ball?
Your head should be pretty much centered over the golf ball at all times – at least at address position. It’s okay to move your head slightly for a big shoulder turn, but you don’t want too much movement.
One of the biggest mistakes most golfers make is laterally swaying their head and body. This makes it hard to time the downswing properly and can lead to a lot of inconsistencies.
With putting, you want minimal head movement throughout the stroke. Tiger Woods is a great example of this as his head remains still the entire time. Paired with the right ball position, you will become a more consistent putter overnight.
Should you tee the ball up high or low?
It depends on the club you’re hitting. With wedges and irons, you want the tee completely in the ground so the ball is barely off the grass.
With hybrids and woods you’ll want it slightly higher so the ball is above the club. And with a driver you want the ball teed up the highest as you need to hit up on the shot.
If you’re trying to play a lower shot with your driver (which is great when hitting into the wind), tee it lower. But if a higher launch is the goal, tee it high and let it fly.
Having the right ball position is key to becoming a better ball striker with any club in the bag.
From driver to putter, your golf ball position is vital in executing the shot the way you want too.
Every time you’re on the range, make it a priority to emphasize ball position above all else.
This is especially true if you’re in a slump and aren’t sure what to do next. When this happens, look at the setup and ball position first!
The good news is that you can tinker with different ball positions on the range and putting green.
Do you regularly check your setup during practice sessions, including ball position?
Let us know in the comments below.