What’s the correct ball position for every club? Let this legendary teacher explain

person puts ball on tee

Ball position is an important fundamental that can affect your shot before you even make a swing.

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Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book should be required reading for golfers looking to improve their games. Penick had a gift for making the complex seem simple, and his teachings ring true to this day. With the PGA Tour heading back to Penick’s home of Austin this week for the Dell Match Play, there is no better time to revisit the best secrets from his Little Red Book. Today we hear from Harvey on the proper ball position for every club in the bag.

Part 1: How to lower your handicap by five strokes
Part 2: What golfers get wrong about their practice swings
Part 3: The simple fundamentals for hitting a perfect bunker shot
Part 4: The 2 most important psychological elements of golf
Part 5: Dispelling one of the biggest golf-swing myths
Part 6: Why swinging harder will help you hit your approach shots better
Part 7: How to tell where you’re *really* aimed

Fundamentals. They’re immensely important to your golf swing, but mind-numbingly boring to work on. Range time should be for hitting bombs, not agonizing over the ABCs of the golf swing, right? Well, not unless you want your handicap to remain in the double digits.

The fundamentals might be boring to work on, but they have a huge impact on your game. Yes, it’s cliche to harp on, but it wouldn’t be a cliche without some element of truth to it.

Ball position falls squarely in the center of a Venn diagram with “boring” on one side and “important to your game” on the other. No one wants to spend precious practice time focused on it, but your handicap will thank you if you do.

Harvey Penick stressed the importance of ball position so much that he wrote in his Little Red Book that “position of the ball is second in importance only to the grip.”

“Mistakes in grip and ball position are mistakes made before the swing that may ruin any grand plans you have for the shot,” he said.

So what’s the correct position for the ball? Penick suggested to start at your lead heel for the driver and 3-wood and move back a fraction of an inch for each club until you reach your 9-iron.

“If you have any doubt where to position the ball for any iron, take a couple practice swings and note where the clubface brushes the ground,” he said. “Another way is to put your iron down on the grass with a square face, and you will see where the manufacturer designed the club to be played.”

Nail your ball position and you’ll be well on your way to crisp strikes.

Want to overhaul your bag for 2022? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf. 


Zephyr Melton

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at zephyr_melton@golf.com.