Ball position: The Debate Continues
By Tim Mahoney
One of the interesting concepts about the golf swing is the
position of the ball with-in your stance.
One school of thought mentions a ball position in the same spot and
another mentions a ball position that moves with the club. At the Mahoney and Troon Golf Academy we
believe that the ball position is the effect of the desired swing angle at the
ball and the golfers basic swing tendency.
Keep in mind our ultimate goal is to produce a solid strike every time a
golfers hits a shot. The ball position
is constantly being adjusted during a practice session or a round of golf.
The ball position is the effect of your desired impact
goals, swing tendencies and the design of the club. As the club length is varied and the club
head design is implemented the basic ball position will be adjusted as well. Shorter
irons with more loft the ball will be farther back in the stance and a wood
club with less loft and the shaft behind the ball will have a more forward ball
The desired angle of approach of the club head at impact
will effect the ball position as well. A
short game shot that requires a significant amount of back spin and a steeper
angle of approach, the golf ball should be positioned back in your stance. A
driving club with a golfer’s objective of distance with ground speed requires a
shallow angle of approach or slightly upward, a forward ball position is
needed. All golfers need to keep in mind that the position of the ball at
set-up in relation to your feet and head will effect the angle the club
approaches the ball. Ball back-steep
angle and a ball forward shallows the angle.
During a round of golf the goal is to get the ball into the
hole in the lowest amount of attempts.
Your golf swing is constantly changing as your body and mind set changes
as well. If your swing path is too much
in to out, your golf club will bottom out behind the ball. This swing path will result in a ball position
farther back in your stance. A swing
path that is out to in will produce a swing bottom forward of the ball and a
more forward ball position. Golfers need
to adapt to the playing positions and your golf swing.
Lower scores are the effect of the golfer adapting to the
swing and conditions. Keep in mind that
the golf ball relationship within your stance is constantly moving and being
adjusted. A cemented position will
produce inconsistencies and an adjusted ball position will result in lower
How to Aim
A perfectly struck shot with an imperfect aim results in an
imperfect result. An imperfect shot with
a perfect aim could result in a perfect shot.
The art of aiming I believe is the single most difficult aspect in the
game, due to the fact that the golfer is inside and above the ball line. I have been in the instruction arena for over
30 years and have tried every aiming tip with my students, and have come up
with the conclusion that all good aimers have 2 common traits: a consistent
ball flight and they always aim the clubface first and body second.
Golf swing and pre swing compatibility will develop a
consistent ball flight. For an example:
strong grip, centered ball position, body supports golf club and a reverse K
posture these alignments will produce a controlled draw. Conversely, a weaker grip, forward ball
position, X posture and an arm control will produce a controlled fade. Uncontrolled ball flights make a consistent
aim impossible. Hooks followed by a
slice develop an atmosphere where it is impossible to aim. Develop a consistent ball flight and then
develop your game plan for aiming.
Clubface Followed by
The only contact with the ball is the clubface. Consistent aimers align the club first
followed by the torso. Step 1 of a
consistent aimer is positioning the clubface behind the ball with the completed
grip. During this alignment the golfer
must align the leading edge at right angle to the target line. After successfully aligning the clubface the
golfer must position the body parallel to the intended starting line. The golf ball and club head would be on the
outside rail of a railroad track with the body on the inside rail. The body will be parallel left. A line across the eyes, shoulders, forearms,
hips, knees and feet must be aligned parallel left. Inconsistent aimers consistently check there
feet, when the feet are only 1 piece of the aiming puzzle. Aiming is guaranteed if you aim the leading
edge at your intended target line and then aim your body parts parallel
left. Your golf club will approach the
impact area on a line across your shoulders; as a result it is an imperative
that the golfers position their trunk parallel left.
Develop a consistent ball fight with a compatible set of
pre-swing and in swing fundamentals and as you aim, position the club with your
body aligned parallel left. Consistent
aiming is the effect of a consistent ball-flight not the cause.
Impact for Consistency
As you watch golf on TV across all the different
professional tours, you will see different grips, postures, swing shapes and
ball flights. Regardless of the differences in all the unique swings, there is
one constant in all good ball strikers – they look identical at impact. Perfect
impact and your ball striking will improve.
Impact position consists of: a forward leaning shaft, hips
open to the target line, shoulders square to the target line, left wrist flat
and right wrist bent. Establish the
angles and plane during the backswing and maintain these angles at impact. Anticipation of the strike or an in-correct
mind-set will create impact misery and inconsistenctcy. Simply rehearsing impact or an isometric
exercise will assist you with your impact goals. Start at address and move into impact
A drill that will assist you with the motion of impact and
correct alignments is making small swings into an impact bag. Allow the power sources to accumulate on the
back swing and turn into impact. As the
club strikes the bag, note: a forward
leaned shaft, flat lead wrist, hips open and shoulders square.
All golf swings are different: upright, flat, close faced or
opened face. But all great ball strikers
are perfect at impact. Work on impact
and your scores will lower.
Consistency is the number one goal of all players from Jordan
Spieth to Jack Nicklaus. Distance,
Direction and Trajectory make up the elements of the ball-flight. Golfers need all three elements for
consistent ball striking. I believe that
the sequence of learning is: trajectory,
distance and direction. The three
components are interrelated and we cannot have one with out the other.
Trajectory is controlled by:
Selection- the club is designed to provide loft. Allow the manufacturer to get the ball
of Approach- the correct angle of approach provides solid impact and the proper
consistency starts here. Grip, posture,
ball-position, aim, mind-set and tension level are the fundamentals of the
plane- a vertical swing shape will produce high shots and a flat swing shape
will produce lower shots.
speed- without swing speed the golfer has a difficult time producing loft. Golfers with a limited swing speed will
produce the same trajectory for all clubs.
Distance is controlled by:
Selection- longer clubs longer shots.
of motion- increased range of motion will assist in distance.
of contact- hitting the ball in the center of the racket. Path and plane are significant
influences. Vertical plane produces toe
hits and a flat plane produces heel hits.
speed at impact. Body rotation, arm
speed and wrist movement are the biggest influences. Overall swing speed is a goal not club head
Direction is controlled by:
parallel lines of the eyes, shoulders, forearms, hips, knees and heels.
alignment at impact. Clubface at right
angle to your swing path at impact.
path at impact. A swing path that is
from the inside to along the target line to the inside.
Every golf lesson and group activity I participate in every
golfer is in search of consistency. Ball
flight has three elements: trajectory, distance and direction. You master all three in order to gain
Golf Ball curvature is the effect of a misaligned club face
at impact. Your club face is controlled
by wrist cock, arm rotation and release.
All three of these aspects is directly controlled by the hold or
individual grip of the club. The
quickest and simply the easiest means of improving your game is by perfecting
your grip. A perfect grip will improve
an imperfect swing plane, an imperfect swing path and imperfect impact.
Utilizing a gripping procedure will allow you to position
your hands on the club consistently every time you swing the golf club.
Step 1- allow your arms to hang freely by your sides as you
position the club under the heel pad of your left hand with the club planed and
the club face square.
Step 2-elevate the club and establish the width of the swing.
With the club in front of you position your right hand on the club. Connecting the hands by placing your life
line on top of the thumb.
Grip check points include with the left hand include: heel pad on top, thumb to the right of center
and no gap between the thumb and the base of the hand. Right hand check points include: life line covers the thumbs, trigger finger
to the side of the grip and no gap. The golfer has three options to connect the
hands: overlap grips allows for more
wrist cock, an interlocking allows for more direction control and a baseball
grip allows for a higher trajectory.
Perfect your grip and perfect your game. The only contact you have with the club is
your grip. A perfect hold will perfect
your ball flight.