Science Proves Traditional Golf Ball Position Is Wrong

Learn the 3 Tour Pro Consistency Secrets You've NEVER Heard!

Watch part 2 now to see how you're moving your body in the opposite direction of the pros!

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Published: February 16, 2014

Updated: 7/16/2019

Are you tired of hitting shots fat and thin? Do you have inconsistent divots? Do you know if you have the correct golf ball position?

There's one thing you need to do before anything else:

Check your golf ball position.

In this video I'll explain why traditional golf instruction is once again wrong, and how you can employ science and physics to become a more consistent ball striker by just changing the golf ball position. If you think that your golf ball position should change for each club, then you better read this article!

hybrid golf ball positionRST Instructor teaches you where to position the ball for irons, hybrids, woods and drivers in this video.

Stock Iron Shot Golf Ball Position

Golf ball position is simple with any "stock" iron shot being hit off the ground.

(By stock shot, I mean a shot at normal trajectory with straight launch direction and no curvature. To hit shots like fades, draws, penetrating wedges, max-distance drives, etc., small adjustments to golf ball position can be made and are covered in our videos on those specialty shots.)

First, let's look at what you are trying to accomplish with a stock iron shot off the ground:

  1. Solid Contact
  2. Hit Ball Before Ground
  3. Make a Repeatable Swing with No Manipulations

Assuming you are using correct Rotary Swing Tour principles based on science, the bottom of your swing arc will always be under the left shoulder.

So, in order to accomplish our goals listed above, we need to place the ball...

...slightly behind the bottom of the swing arc.

This is why the golf ball position for all stock shots off the ground is under the logo of our shirt or the left ear.

Having a constant golf ball position allows for clean contact every time.

The Driver Golf Ball Position

As I mentioned, these principles typically don't apply to the driver. Why not?

Well, let's look at what we are usually trying to accomplish with that club:

  1. Maximum Distance
  2. High Launch
  3. Contact High on (or Above) the Sweet Spot

In order to achieve the criteria listed above, we no longer want to swing steeply down and through.

It would be more efficient to make contact with the ball as the club head is moving much more level. This means moving the ball to the bottom of the swing arc.

In order to achieve a good blend of distance and accuracy, the left heel is, roughly, your desired ball position.

(Keep in mind this is a simplified explanation of how to maximize your driving distance. Check out our 9-part Bomb Your Driver series for the most in-depth information you'll find anywhere.)

On the other hand, if you would like more accurate, lower drives when max distance is not an issue, play the driver like a stock iron shot, off the logo of the shirt.

Stock Hybrids and Fairway Woods Golf Ball Position

Many golfers struggle to hit a 3-wood off the deck, and others don't know whether to play a hybrid like an iron or a "wood."

Be sure to check out the golf instruction video above because it clears up misconceptions about proper golf ball position for these clubs.

Summary of Key Points on Golf Ball Position

It's time to give yourself the best chance at consistent contact by using science to your advantage!

  • Stock Iron Shots: Ball Position Off Logo of Shirt / Left Ear
  • Driver - Maximum Distance: Instep of Front Foot
  • Driver - Increased Accuracy: Logo of Shirt / Left Ear

Checkpoints for Practice

  • No matter what you swing, the bottom of the swing arc (and divot) is always below the left shoulder
  • For maximum consistency the ball should be placed off the left ear for ball-first contact with every club in the bag
  • For a consistent swing with the driver, use this same ball position
  • To bomb your driver, place the ball off the inside of the left foot then close your stance to compensate
  • Use the left ear ball position for irons - placing it too far back leads to chunks, blocks & hooks

Video Transcription: Correct Golf Ball Position

I'm going to talk to you today about correct golf ball position. That's one of the most widely misunderstood issues in the golf swing. You hear a lot of different things when it comes to ball position in golf.

Swing arc bottoms out at left shoulderThe swing arc bottoms out below the left shoulder

We want to keep it simple with the Rotary Swing. We're going to have one constant ball position, whether it's with irons, the driver, 3 wood, hybrid...anything through the bag, you're going to have one ball position.

Let me explain this to you. As you're swinging a club back and through, you can imagine this club swings on an arc. You can imagine this as a circle.

If you have the proper golf swing fundamentals, the bottom of this swing arc is going to be directly under your left shoulder. That's going to be the longest point in the swing. That's going to be the bottom of your divot.

Obviously we don't want to hit the ball at the bottom of your divot, so we need to place the ball a little farther behind this. What we recommend is off your left ear. If you set up and your golf ball position is off your left ear, you're going to swing down, make ball-first contact, then the divot is going to be in front of your ball every time.

It's going to ensure you the best contact and the most consistency in your golf swing. We want to play that with all irons, every club in the bag. It doesn't matter if it's a pitching wedge or a 3 iron; one ball position in golf.

Inside of left footTo bomb your driver, place ball at left instep

Let's talk about the driver. Again, if you want to remain consistent, if you want to make the exact same golf swing with every club, you're going to use that same golf ball position. The ball position is going to be off your left ear.

This is a little bit different than what most people recommend, but it allows you to be consistent. You're actually going to be hitting a little bit down on the driver, just as they do on the PGA Tour. The average attack angle for a driver on the PGA Tour is negative 1 degree, so that means they're hitting down and through. It's a very slight amount, but they're still hitting down and through.

If you want to bomb your driver, you want to get maximum distance, get a really high launch angle and hit it as far as possible, you're going to need closer to a positive four 4 attack angle. What that means is we're going to place the ball a little bit farther forward, more off the inside of your left foot.

That's going to allow you to make the same swing again, and you're going to be catching the ball a little bit more on the upswing.

Club works on an arcThe club moves on an arc - hitting it farther forward will send it left

When you do this, you're going to have to make some compensations. As I mentioned, this swing is on an arc. If I move this ball forward, my club's actually going to be moving back to the left as I make contact with the ball. That means the face is going to be closing a bit, so the compensation you're going to have to make is line up everything a little bit to the right.

That means your feet, knees, hips, shoulders, club - everything's going to be lined up a little bit more to the right. That way as your club starts to release as you're hitting it more on the upswing, it's going to be dead straight.

If you don't want to make any compensation with your golf swing, you're going to need to line up a little bit right and make the same swing.

Again, for maximum consistency one ball position, everything off the left ear, no matter if it's a driver or a pitching wedge. If you want to bomb your driver, you can move the golf ball position a little bit forward but you're going to have to close your stance.

One of the mistakes I see with irons constantly is people playing the golf ball too far back in their stance. When you get the ball too far back in your stance - you can imagine if I'm playing the ball back here on my right foot - this is really going to steepen the angle of attack. This can lead to a lot of chunks. It can also lead to a lot of blocked shots or hooks.

Club works on an arcThe club moves outward initially - placing the ball back sends it right

Let me explain that a little bit. If the ball is back in my stance...remember, as we move the golf ball position forward with the driver the club started to swing back to the left. If we move it too far back, now the club is going to swing out to the right because this is at an arc.

If I don't square the face, I'm going to hit a block. If I square the face too much and my path is going that far to the right, I'm going to hit a hook. Plus, I'm coming in really steep.

The key, again, make sure you have one constant ball position off the left ear for every club in the bag, and you're going to have maximum consistency and play some great golf. Keep it simple. I look forward to seeing you guys more in the future, and good luck with your golf game.

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