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Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Ball Position Tip from Seve

This will be a short post because it's a simple thing. But it's unlikely that very many of you will have heard it before. That's because it's a tip from the late Seve Ballesteros... but I found it in a book called The Bobby Jones Way by John Andrisani.

Ball position is one of those things that every teacher seems to have a different opinion about. However, some of those differences can be resolved if you just look at how those folks are addressing the ball.

For example, Andrisani talks about Jones setting up for drives and long irons with the ball opposite his left instep. Many teachers advise placing the ball just inside the left heel for a drive. Still others say that, if you dropped a vertical line from your left armpit to the ground, that's where you should place your ball for a drive. (Obviously these are all righties.)

But if you look at the setup of each of them, you'll see the ball is about in the same place -- under that left armpit. Jones has the ball so far forward because his feet are only about 12 inches apart, so his feet were more under his shoulders than most players.

And of course, as the clubs get shorter, you move the ball back in your stance. At least that's a pretty common teaching, although not everyone agrees.

Seve, being a feel player, had a much more flexible approach to ball position that's pretty neat. Seve based his ball position on how flexible he was on any given day. How does that work? Here's how Andrisani describes it in his book:
He [Seve] suggests that the ball be moved further back of its normal position on days when you feel flexible and swing faster. On days when your body and the club move more slowly than on others, he believes you should position the ball further forward to give your sluggish body more time to square up the club at impact. (p25)
I think you need to be very comfortable with your swing to make that kind of change from day to day. After all, most weekend players struggle just to make solid contact. If you changed your point of contact EVERY DAY... well, you just might go nuts.

But that does make some sense, doesn't it?

Look, I'm not advising you to change your setup every day. But if you're having trouble getting solid contact, perhaps your ball position is wrong for the speed of your swing. As I have been studying the basics of the classic swing -- the slower, soft-shaft swing of a century ago -- I have found that my ball position needs to be more forward in my stance than it does with the swing I've always used, which is the one I teach in the Quick Guides.

So maybe Seve was right. Maybe you should let your swing speed help determine your basic ball position. If you swing more slowly, try moving your ball position a bit more forward (with all clubs) in your stance. And if you have a faster swing, move it a bit back (with all clubs) in your stance. It might be worth a little experimentation on the range -- especially if you're having trouble making good contact.

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