A normal – or default – ball position in golf would be one that sees it located in the middle of the stance, in the center. In other words, the ball is located the same distance from the left foot as it is to the right. The following adjustments can be made to that position with the associated consequences listed below.
Moving the ball back in the stance is achieved through moving your feet and body forward towards the target until the ball is closer to the right foot than it is to the left. Positioning the ball likewise has the following effects:
- Delofts the club
- Impact happens sooner in the swing arc
- Lower ball flight
- In order for the ball to remain low and clear branches (or other obstacles), for example in a punch shot.
- In order to mitigate the effects of a strong headwind
- Lower odds of hitting it fat
- Useful for delicate chip shots
- Promotes trapping the ball, i.e., hitting the club while it is traveling down towards the ground
- Higher odds of topping the ball, which is the flip side to lower odds of hitting it fat
- Slightly open face at impact will send the ball right initially
Reduces the Loft of the Club
Positioning the ball further back will change the angle of the shaft in relation to the ground. Also known as the shaft lean, this will lead to a reduction in your clubface’s loft angle in contrast to what it would be if the ball was located in the centre. Ultimately, a reduced loft angle will lead to a lower flight path.
Impact Occurs Sooner in the Swing Arc
Because of the ball’s relative back position, the club will struck it sooner than it normally would and it will do so while the clubhead is descending towards the ground. In turn, this will decrease your chances of hitting it fat. Indeed, a fat shot occurs when the club penetrates the ground before it makes contact with the ball. On the flip side, it will increase your chance of topping the ball. Topping the ball occurs when the club will strike the top half of the ball on a descending blow. Finally, because the club may not have been fully rotated back to the square position at impact contact is likely to be made with an open blade, which would initially send the ball to the right of the target (all other things being equal).
In order to position the ball forward in your stance you have to slide your feet and body away from the target slightly so that the left foot is closer to the ball than the right foot is. It has the following consequences.
- Adds loft to the club
- Impact happens later in the swing arc
- Higher ball flight
- In order for the ball to travel at a higher altitude (flop shot)
- In order to ride the effects of a strong tailwind
- Lower odds of topping the ball
- In order to strike the ground before the ball, essential for solid bunker shots
- Higher odds of hitting it fat or skulling the ball, which is the flip side to lower odds of topping the ball
- Slightly closed face at impact will send the ball left initially
Adds Loft to the Club
Positioning the ball forward in your stance changes the normal loft angle in your club. Indeed, because contact is made past the middle of the stance the angle of the clubface will point towards the sky more than it normally would. This in turn will lead to a higher ball flight.
Impact Occurs Later in the Swing Arc
Having the ball placed forward also means impact with the ball is made later in the swing arc, and presumably after the swing has bottomed out. This will lower the odds of topping the ball but it will bring in the risks of hitting it fat and of skulling the ball. Furthermore, because the release of the club will have more time to proceed the club may meet the ball in a closed clubface position which will tend to send the ball left of the target slightly, at least initially.