Since I dove so deeply into the grip on Tuesday, let’s stay focused on fundamentals this week – the topic today is ball position. In my observation, golfers’ inconsistency in their set-up . . . their failure to put the ball in exactly the right position with regard to their feet . . . just might be the single thing that holds most back from improved results.
Regardless of your skill level, your golf swing has a basic ability to repeat itself, believe it or not. Your swing is totally your own, but because of that, you have a better ability to do it the same way time after time than you might think. You’ve made thousands of golf swings that way, and there is a muscle memory that you’ve worked hard to earn. And sometimes, that swing produces perfect results, right?
But the way we tend to play golf is in a constant string of swings, misses and corrections, a process that keeps us so out of whack and frustrated that it’s amazing we subject ourselves to it at all. But the good news is that there is one very simple way to make this game much easier . . .
Learn how to set up to the ball where it is in the same relative place with regard to your feet every time.
Now, let me explain a little deeper. Because we play this game with a variety of lengths of clubs, this is a little more complex than that. But what I mean is that you have to develop a routine that puts the ball in the right place for each shot. We are trying to hit a ball that is 1.68” in diameter, with an implement that has an effective hitting area of about 1-1.5” wide. That requires precision. If you vary even an inch from swing to swing, the misses will outnumber the good shots by quite a bit.
A friend of mine in the club-fitting business told me he studied golfers and their set-up consistencies, and found that invariably, the better players were extremely accurate, with any given club, in setting up so that the ball was the same distance from the back of their heels from shot-to-shot. The higher the handicap of the player, the more variance from shot to shot he witnessed and measured. Think about it this way.
If you learn a swing that works, but the ball is in a different place all the time, then your eye-hand coordination has to take over from your learned swing. And the downswing happens so fast that it just cannot do that effectively. But if you learn a swing and then learn how to set up to the ball so that it is precisely in the way of that swing time after time, your results just have to get better, right?
Compare golf to baseball. For the hitter, the ball is moving, and it is in a different place in relation to his body every pitch. That’s why the best of the best completely miss it most of the time, and only catch the ball square a tiny fraction of the time. Would they ever get out of the top of the first if they played tee-ball in the majors? No.
But we golfers have the advantage of being able to ensure that the ball is in precisely the place we want it before each swing.
So why don’t we?