I have been playing the game of golf for 25 years, and golf ball position is still something I'm yet to work out. Over time, I find that the ball will move forward or back in my stance with different clubs, and I just don't know why!
Along with grip and posture, ball position is considered to be one of golf's "fundamentals" and is essential to play consistent golf.
But like most things in the game, ball position can be complicated. There are different positions for every club in the bag, and these vary player to player in relation to a few factors like width of stance, grip and stock shot shape.
Confused? Don't worry - I'm here to help you out!
Let's look at the correct golf ball position for every club and get you playing better golf now.
Here's a printable chart for you to use.
Golf Ball Position: The basics
When talking about golf ball position we are going to mention the front, middle, and back of your stance. Your stance is how you stand when playing a golf shot.
To keep things simple, in this article all positions are for right-handed players. If you're a lefty like Phil Mickelson, just flip things over so they make sense for you.
Here's what we mean when we talk about front, middle and back of your stance.
- Front - The golf ball is closer to your fornt or lead foot. This is the left foot for a right handed player.
- Middle - The golf ball is an equal distance from your front and back foot.
- Back - The golf ball is nearer to your trailing foot. Right foot for a right handed golfer.
With the basics out of the way, let's see how we can use these terms in relation to the clubs in your golf bag.
Golf Ball Position For Driver
The driver is the longest club in your bag, and for many golfers is the hardest club to hit.
Having the correct golf ball position longer clubs, especially the driver is essential for making clean contact.
We will most likely be hitting our driver from a tee, raising the ball into the air.
A tee gives us the best chance of getting the ball to fly further but we need to combine this with putting the ball forward in our stance. We want to hit up on the ball with our driver with an upward attack angle. To do this we have to make sure our swing arc allows us to hit the ball as the club is moving up, not down.
Using a wider stance and placing the ball just inside your front foot will encourage this upward strike and hopefully stop the dreaded slice from happening.
Golf Ball Position For 3 wood (and other fairway woods)
Like the driver, the 3 wood has a longer shaft and requires us to try and hit up on the ball. We will also be using a tee raise the ball up of the ground, so we should do the same as out driver and have the golf ball positioned forward in our stance.
As the number of the fairway wood increases (e.g. 5 wood or 7 wood), you can move the ball more towards the middle of your stance to offset for the shaft length getting shorter.
Golf ball position for hybrids
Hybrids, sometimes called rescues or utility golf clubs, are in between fairway woods and long irons when it comes to their length.
This means the correct golf ball position for hybrids is almost halfway between your front foot and middle of your stance.
Hybrids are different to fairway woods in that we want to hit down on the ball with them like you would with an iron. If moving the ball more towards the middle of your stance helps promote this downward strike, try it out. Keep a close eye on your ball flight, as moving the ball closer to the middle can cause a slice with a longer club for some golfers.
Golf Ball Position For Irons: 3-Iron to 9-iron
The average golfer will have between 5 and 7 different golf irons in their bag. Most modern iron sets start at a 5 iron and end with a 9 iron, and the ball position for every iron is slightly different.
The keep it simple, I just remember that – the longer the club, the further forward the ball needs to be in your stance.
When hitting a 5 iron, the bottom of your swing arc will be after the middle of your stance so play the ball slightly forward, closer to your front foot.
When hitting an 8 iron, your swing will bottom out pretty much at the centre of your stance so the ball needs to be almost in the middle.
You might see professional or expert golfers play the ball from behind the middle of their stance. This is usually to hit a specific shot like a low draw or punch shot and isn't advisable for the average player. It will more than likely cause you to duff or chunk the ball.
It's also worth noting that if the ball is too far forward in your stance, you can thin or blade the ball, which can be both painful and disastrous for your round.
Golf ball position for wedges
Most golfers will carry at least two specialist wedges in their bag and these short clubs have a big impact on your score. These are the shortest clubs and golf ball position is influenced by this.
When hitting approach shots with your wedges, we want to maximise spin, trajectory and control the distance the golf ball travels. To achieve these things, it's really important we play the ball from the correct position in our stance.
If I'm playing a full shot with a pitching wedge or gap wedge, I'll have the ball in the middle of my stance. This allows me to make a golf swing that creates a downward strike on the ball with a square club face.
Any shots that have a shorter swing, right down to chips have the ball more towards the back of my stance. If I'm playing a bump and run with a wedge, I might even have the ball in front of my back foot to take height off the ball flight.
This is what works for me, and it will change depending on your technique and how you feel over the ball, but I think these are good pointers for most players.
Golf ball position for putter
Putting is a dark art and an area of the game that no one practices enough.
Unlike irons, hybrids and woods, there is no definitive correct ball position for your putter.
The vast majority of players will set up with the ball in the middle of their stance. This is a great place to start as it will most likely be at the bottom of the arc of your putting stroke.
Some players find that having the ball forward, more towards their front foot encourages a cleaner "hit" with the clubface and gets the ball rolling on line, end on end without side spin.
Joe who writes for the site is a taller guy and he find that having a narrow stance with the ball more on his back foot stops him pushing the ball right with his putter.
Try taking a video of your putting to see what type of stoke you have and work from there.
How far to stand from golf ball?
Knowing how close or far you should stand to the gold ball is a big question for beginners. A simple trick I use when showing new players the basics of the game is to put the club head behind the ball, then move the grip of the club straight down. It should hit your knee on the way, which tells you that you're standing the correct distance from the ball.
If it hits your thigh, you're too close. If it hits nothing, you're too far away. This will become second nature once you play more golf, but try this out next time you're on the course or at the driving range to get a feel for what is comfortable for you.
Golf Ball Placement: Specific shots
As you play more golf, you're going to recognise that very rarely do you get to hit the ball from a perfect flat lie like at a driving range. On the golf course, often the ball will be above or below your feet, on either and up or down slope, and in a variety of different grass types. This doesn't even take into account hazards like bunkers and trees!
A seasoned golfer with decent ability has options and can use different types of shots to navigate even the most challenging holes or conditions. Golf ball position is essential in executing these unique shots.
Let's look at some different shots you might encounter and the proper way to position your golf ball in your stance when attempting them.
- Chip – The average mid handicap player is hitting 7 greens in regulation a round. Even the best players miss greens, so you will be forced to chip to get “up and down” to save a score. When hitting a standard chip shot, make sure your golf ball position is slightly back in your stance.
- Bump-n-Run – a “bump-n-run” is a type of chip shot designed to run along the ground. Ofter played with short irons like a 7 iron, the golf ball position for this shot is off your back foot.
- Greenside Bunker – to get out of a bunker near the green, you want to splash the ball out. Have the ball in the front-middle of your stance to properly execute and slap the sand with the sole of the golf club.
- Fairway Bunker – in a fairway bunker you want to pick ball off the top of the sand and avoid a fat shot. Your golf ball needs to be positioned forward from a regular shot. You almost want to feel like you're going to top it.
- Flop Shot – a flop shot is a floaty wedge shot that lands softly on the green. You open the face of your wedge and cut across the golf ball. To play this shot, your ball position should be forward in your stance.
- Stinger – Tiger Woods is MR STINGER. It's a low, straight shot that pierces the wind. To hit a stinger, you will need the golf ball back in your stance to reduce the spin on the ball.
- Punch – The punch is useful when playing in windy conditions and from under trees. The key here is keeping the ball low, so like a stinger, place the ball back in your stance.
Now let's be clear, just changing your golf ball position won't magically make you hit these shots, but it is a good start.
Final thoughts on golf ball position
Golf is hard, but it's so much fun. Things like golf ball position can unlock new parts of your game and allow you to hit difference shots at different targets.
Get out there and try a few different things to find what is suitable for you.