Jim Suttie: Where should I put my ball in my stance?

One of the main questions I get is, "Where do I place my golf ball in my stance?" The answer to this question is quite important when you consider the fact that the golf swing is a circle on a slant.

It is the bottom of that swing that is probably the most important of all the fundamentals. It is that swing bottom that tells you where to place your ball. It is generally said that the driver should be played off your left armpit, your fairway woods and hybrids one roll of the ball back of that position, and the short irons and wedges off the sternum.

But it is interesting to note that Jack Nicklaus said the ball should be placed off the left heel for all the clubs, whereas Lee Trevino would say that the ball should move around in the stance. No wonder the golfing public is confused!

It is not a matter of who is right or wrong, but a matter of personal preference and what works for each golfer. Since the driver is a longer club than the short irons, it will make a flatter swing circle than the short irons. This would be one reason to place the ball more forward for the driver, and a little farther back for the shorter and more upright irons and hybrids.

Another consideration would be the golfer's swing style. For example, Champions Tour player Tom Lehman has a lot of lateral leg drive and forward weight shift in his swing. As a result of this style, he will place the ball more forward than many players, although when you look at him it will appear his ball is in the center of his stance. This illusion is created by his open body position at address. Another player might have a pure rotational swing with very little weight shift forward. This style will require a more centered ball position.

As equipment and shafts have gotten better, golfers can get away with one, or maybe two, ball positions. Old-style golfers like Snead, Hogan, Armour and others used to move the ball all over in their stance because they were more shot-makers and had to manufacture shots. Now everything is power and one ball position.

The biggest error I see amateur golfers make is playing the ball too far forward. This opens up their body at address and makes them cut across the ball. Expect a slice or a pull.

I would much rather see the average player have the ball in the center of their stance for their irons, and two inches forward of this with their driver. To find your best ball position and the one that fits your personal swing style, just make a swing without a ball and try to make a divot. When you see a consistent divot pattern, put your ball two inches behind those divots. This gives you the best chance to have your hands ahead of the ball at impact and create a slightly downward motion.

Once you find your own personal ball position, you are bound to become a more consistent ball-striker. Good luck!

Dr. Jim Suttie, 2000 National PGA Teacher of the Year, is available for lessons at Suttie Golf at the Club at Twin Eagles North Naples and Cog Hill Golf Club, Lemont, Ill. For lessons and program information call 800-765-3838 or Jmsuttie@aol.com

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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