A good golf swing starts with the proper golf stance. But what does that mean?
Today we’re going to walk through the correct posture and set up position to get the ideal shot from every iron.
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What Do We Mean By ‘Ball Position?’
There are lots of little things to remember when you’re lining up for a shot. Straighten your elbow, bend your knees, and assume a proper golf stance.
So, what’s the ball position?
Your ball’s position is where it sits relative to you as you line up for your shot.
If you draw a straight line (or lay your club down) directly in front of your feet, your club should point toward your target. You can also picture this line as the bottom of a rectangle drawn on the ground. The sides of your rectangle are drawn out from your feet and straight in front of you. The top of your rectangle runs through the ball.
If your ball is closer to your front foot (the one nearer to your target), it is forward in your stance. If it’s closer to your back foot, it’s back in your stance. If it’s right in the middle, it’s centered.
If you move your ball so that it is inside the rectangle, you’re carrying it closer to your body. If you push the ball outside of your rectangle, it’s farther or away from your body.
The Proper Golf Stance For Long Irons
You will stand closer or farther to your golf ball, depending on the length of the club you’re using. It is because each club is a different length. If you tried to stand the same for your 3-iron and 9-iron, you probably wouldn’t be happy with the results.
Let’s start with the long irons.
Stand facing your ball, with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Take the club you’re playing and rest it on your leg, about an inch above your knee. The distance between your body and the clubface shows how far away from your ball should be.
Next, let’s find your center. Stand with your feet together as you face your ball. Your ball should be centered in a straight line in front of your feet.
Take a small step forward with your forward foot and an equally small step back with your back foot. Your ball should be centered between your feet, aligned with your belt buckle, and also your nose.
We don’t want the ball centered for long-iron shots, though. The centered position is for your shortest clubs. For each club longer than your wedges, your ball should be half an inch forward of center. A 9-iron would be played about an inch forward of center, while you would play a 7-iron about two inches forward.
Moving the ball forward helps get the best shot from longer clubs so that you don’t hit down on it as steeply.
Just as you can use your nose to find your center, you may find it helpful to align clubs with your body. Use your left earlobe (or your right earlobe for left-handed golfers) to line up a 5-iron shot. When you’re hitting your drive, line up with the inside of your front foot.
The Proper Golf Stance For Shorter Irons
Your stance changes slightly when you play your shorter irons.
Just as your distance from the ball changes with the length of your club, your stance also changes. Longer clubs require a wider stance than shorter clubs.
When playing your shortest irons and wedges, your feet should be about shoulder-width to slightly less than shoulder-width apart.
Avoid pointing your toes outward. Your back foot should point perpendicular to your target line. Your front toes can point slightly out toward your target.
Lock your knees and then relax them. Center your body weight between your heels and the balls of your feet.
Bend with your hips, not your knees, to address the ball. Your knees will be slightly bent, but you don’t want to lower yourself with your knees. It is also known as the athletic position.
Your ball should be centered or in line with your nose when you’re playing a wedge. It will give your swing a steeper angle of attack.
Your wedge shot will drive the ball higher, have more backspin, and less roll when it lands. That lack of roll makes wedges useful in your short game when you want the ball to stick to the green.
Signs That Your Ball Isn’t In The Right Position
There are lots of things you can adjust to attempt to improve your shots. Bend your knees more. Bend your knees less. Lock your elbow. Don’t peek!
How do you know if your ball position is the cause of that duffed shot?
You have a divot behind your ball.
The ideal iron shot will hit the ball while you’re still on your downswing. If you’re hitting the turf before you hit your ball, the ball is too far forward in your swing arc. Try positioning your ball closer to your back foot and see what happens.
You keep slicing.
If you’re in the proper golf stance, but your golf goes wide, it could be the ball position. If your ball consistently goes right (left if you’re a lefty), try moving the ball further forward in your stance.
If you’re consistently hooking the ball (to the left for righties, to the right for lefties), try moving the ball further back.
You’re missing the sweet spot.
You know that feeling when you just hit the ball poorly? There’s a dissonant clunk, and an unpleasant vibration rises through the shaft to your hands.
It happens to all golfers sometimes. If you’re hitting the ball with the heel or the toe of your club, take a look at your ball position.
If you’re toeing the ball, try standing a little closer to it; if you’re catching it on the heel of your club, back away a bit.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The best way to deal with annoying foul shots is to work them out on the practice range. Grab a bucket of balls and experiment with your ball position. With a bit of focused practice, you’ll be getting the most out of all your irons.
When you’ve zeroed in on your ideal ball position, take your game out for a round on the course.
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