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Top 3 Faults Caused By Standing Too Close To The Ball

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that cause the most problems in the golf swing. The misstep of standing too close to the ball at address can lead to a whole host of swing problems. This is likely why this is one of the toughest games in the world to master. The act of standing too close to the ball can ultimately lead to one of these three common swing faults: shanks, over-the-top swing path and poor contact. In this article, we’re going to explain how this mistake can lead to a host of problems, and why it’s so incredibly important to check your address position before each and every shot.

Fixing The Shanks

Alright, so this video below actually explains it best, but here’s a summary: Your arms need room to swing the club down to impact. If you’re standing too close to the ball, you’re reducing the amount of ‘room’ you have. This then causes one of two things – either your arms will come into impact in a more upright position (which we’ll go into more detail a bit later), or, your hands will push out from your body as you swing into impact. This move is what causes a bunch of heeled shots, and ultimately the inevitable shank. The simple fix to this fault is to stand further away from the ball, but you may find that your swing has grooved this “pushing-out” move. You’ll have to shock your swing out of it. Try this drill: First, address the ball in the correct position, but set up a tee about 1″ off your ball perpendicular to your target line. Your goal is to make a swing, hit the ball, and miss the tee. You will likely feel like you’re pulling your swing inside, but don’t worry, this is just because you’re so used to the pushing-out move. Hit 10-20 balls like this, and then address the ball normally and swing. You should see a big difference.

Fixing Over The Top

The next two faults, sort of go hand in hand. When you stand too close to the ball, your swing is immediately forced to be more upright. When this happens, keeping your swing path in check as you come into impact becomes very difficult. Your ability to swing the club with lag and attack the ball from the inside also disappears. Ultimately you have no choice but to come over-the-top into the ball. This move is often accompanied by an early wrists release, that robs you of power and the chance of solid contact. For this fault, we recommend the baseball swing drill, as it emphasizes the importance of your swing path into the ball. Without a ball, grab a club and swing it as if it were a baseball bat. This move lets you feel an extremely flat swing path and should help ween you off your upright one. When you address the ball after performing this drill, really focus on getting yourself into the right posture as indicated by this video.

Inconsistent Contact

A poor swing path is often accompanied by poor ball contact. Your golf clubs are designed to lie at a specific angle. If you lay your club’s sole flat on the ground, you should be able to address the ball without moving the club much. If you do have to move the club, or find that either the heel or toe of your club is in the air – you’re either not fitted for your clubs, or your posture needs some attention. Regardless, your swing path ultimately dictates your club’s approach to the ball. An upright swing path usually causes the heel to be above the ground as you approach impact, this then means that the toe of your club is hitting the ground first. As this happens, the toe of the club slows down, and the clubface opens at impact, and the result is most commonly a weak fade or slice. Depending on how much your push out your swing from your body (previously discussed), you can also get heel-first or even thin contact. The best drill for this type of fault is to get a friend to check your address position and see how your club lies – or better yet go to a fitting professional and get fitted for clubs. For those of you a little on the frugal side, addressing the ball in front of a mirror should give a bunch of feedback on your address position, and how your clubs are lying.

You can see how gone unchecked, a simple fault can lead to a whole host of problems. And for many of us, we tend to focus too much on the end result in attempts to fix the fault. For example, a common result of this fault is fade or slice, and many people out there will try and fix this by simply making a stronger grip, or closing their stance, but unfortunately, the root of the problem remains. We hope these drills will help you rid your setup of this annoying, but common fault.

Give it a try!


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  1. Standing to close to the ball will not cause a shank. I think the exact opposite to what is in this post.

    The human body adjusts and moves dynamically. If the ball is positioned in more, you will instinctively bring your arms in closer to your body, clear your hips more – to give yourself room.
    Getting the ball to far away from you with out a corresponding increase in spine angle (needed if you put the ball out eg Moe Norman, Lee Trevino) can make golfers lunge at the ball and shank or heel the shot.

    Contrary to popular belief – Ben Hogan who had a flat-arms-close-to-the-body-type-swing stood CLOSE to the ball. It was only on a driver where he was not trying to take a divot where his hands where away 1.5 hands width away from his pants. For his short-irons his hands are practically brushing his pants.

    See in this youtube video right here (this is not my video, I just found it online):

    Many old pro’s addressed the ball on the hozel? Why because it makes them adjust and come from the inside. This is an “anti-shank move. ”


  2. Anthony, what you have said might be true for you but my experience is that standing too close to the ball does cause shanks and whole load of other gross shots. Everything in this article is correct, in my experience. When I force myself to stand what feels like much farther away from the ball I find I can actually swing the club freely. I’m no longer slashing at the ball but am swinging properly. I get an immediate increase of about 30 yards with my long irons. Standing too close to the ball is my number 1 mistake and everything written here has rung true for me.

    • Right on…………standing too close to the ball caused me to hit shanks, come over the top and have inconsistent ball striking. Standing further away cured the shanks, created a in to out swing path and more consistent ball striking. Thanks.

    • Luc,

      Anthony is, mostly, correct.
      Correct, in every way, re Hogan.
      I would add, only, that the main reason standing farther away is more likely to cause a shank than standing closer, is because, if you take each to the extremes, the weight is more on the toes, rather than the heels, the farther away one stands. The more the weight is on the roes, as the swing reaches the top, the more likely you are to move the weight even further towards the ball; hence the club be delivered further towards the heel at impact.

  3. I agree entirely with this article as well. I had been shanking for a few YEARS prior to this year. Very nearly quit the game. The last few months I somehow came out of it and had been hitting the ball straight but with no power at all. It was so ridiculous that I was hitting all my irons roughly the same distance, not compressing the ball whatsoever. I saw a video on youtube that outlined how to address the ball properly and I realized that I’d been standing way too close. Just got back from the range and I gained probably 30-40 yards on my irons and 60-70 yards on my driver. Couldn’t be happier right now.

  4. i totally agree. I occasionally get the shanks and have devised my own drill of addressing the ball, extend the arms with club then place the club to the ground .This is where the ball should be.
    If the club/ball are too close to you when you swing to contact you automatically extend your arms and the club then makes contact with the hosel.
    That’s my method anyway.

  5. This article/opinion couldn’t be farther from the truth. Keeping the hands farther away from the body allows for more margin of error in hand/clubhead path in the downswing since the hands can return both inside and outside their original position at address. In other words, one’s hands can be “sucked in” towards the body or pushed out in a subconscious effort to reach for the ball.

    Keeping them closer to the body (about a one to two fist widths away) forces a more on plane takeaway because it doesn’t allow much room to suck the hands inside, which causes a more upright swing and results in better compression of the ball.

    If one starts with their hands close to the body (no more than 2 fists away from their groin area, then it is very difficult to pull the hands in any closer on the downswing. The farther out ones hands are from the body at address also tends to move one’s weight out towards the balls of their feet, and that is a recipe for disaster though loss of balance in the downswing, causing over the top moves which can result in shanks and early hip extension which can also result in shanks. An early hip extension causes the golfer to have to stand up in their downswing and pull the club back in since it’s usually already crossed the plane line.

    Sure, Moe Norman swung a club like this and made solid contact, but he also had ZERO power and probably hit his driver about as far as today’s PGA pros hit their 6 irons.

  6. IDK if standing too close to the ball causes shanks or not (although I shank it regularly), but standing too close to the ball definitely causes an over the top swing and closer to the hozzel than I want.

    When the ball is too close, I can’t open my hips (if I want to hit it straight), because if I do, the club head has to come closer to the body to make contact. My hands aren’t “out” per se, but they end up that way because the club head has to come in too far.

    I guess what I’m trying to say — and the article says – is that It’s OK for the hands to be slightly away from the body if the club is headed on an outward swing path. If one looks at a baseball player, extended arms generate more power than hands too close to the body. Of course the hands cand be too far away from the body too, but “reaching” for the ball is a much easier problem to detect (and fix) because it’s far more awkward for most people.

  7. I believe I have an over the top swing with my driver. I came to the conclusion today that I was too close in my own little epiphany and afterwards found this article whilst seeing if my hunch was true.

    I stepped back maybe an inch and stopped slicing my drive.

    • Just came from range where I broke down and bought some impact tape. My normal setup resulted in impact low and towards heel. Tried moving a couple inches away from ball and began hitting in center of club face in the sweet spot. This was repeatable. Balls were flying high and far with a little draw instead of flying low, short and with a fade. Wish I would have bought the tape years ago and hope I’m on to something. I think there’s truth in what the Golf Drill Guru posted.

  8. Guys your all correct if you can’t get your arms to swing free either to close or to far away you will shank it some body shapes can handle being close others farther away remember to far can cause a hip slide get jammed and your hands move out to far. Remember the common denominator to a shank is they are always low screamers there’s no such thing as a high shank so no matter how you stand if you slide forward with spent energy you will hit a shank the resin this is true is because to hit it low your body it a head of arms stay behind the ball and you will not hit a shank find what works for your body type and practice getting your arms in front of you and passed your body just get your arms free moving some do it with hip turn some with posture there’s no magic guys relax your arms and swing the club don’t hit a ball swing the club I promise all the other won’t help its your body find what works for you I teach ppl not golf as everyone does it different don’t get to technical just let it swing thx guys

  9. My instructor had me stand closer to the ball. This screwed me up all season long. I was chunking shots, casting with my wrist which caused me to duck hook or, if I didn’t close the face, wicked slice, and a tremendous loss of distance. Another instructor told me to get back to my old stance and my game was back on. I will NEVER stand close to the ball again.

  10. To close was bad for my golf ,ball going left ,slicing, no distance with both irons and driver, put my stance 2 in back from the ball problem solved.

  11. I started shanking all my wedges and figured out I had my hands inside my shoulder line. When I stood so my hands were hanging directly under or just outside my shoulders I hit pure shots from inside. This was discovered when I placed a club shipping box just outside the ball and when I saw I was delivering the club steeply from outside because I hit the top edge of the box a foot behind the ball.

  12. I recently bought a new set of irons. They are similar to my old ones but this encouraged me to buy a new gap wedge too. The gap wedge I bought is a little heavier than my other irons and when I held the club at address (with the head just above the ground) I noticed that my arms naturally wanted to swing out away from my body due to the weight of the club.
    Doesn’t sound like a revelation but what this has highlighted to me is that my arms were not positioned directly below my shoulders which is where they will naturally want to go when I play the shot. I will now concentrate on making sure my arms swing down vertically from my shoulders at address and will use this as a guide to how far I should be away from the ball – lets hope this cures my shanks

    • maybe the best golf tip i ever got from an instructor “let your arms hang like cooked noodles”……. now you can stand further from ball by moving your back further and further from vertical…… and tom watson book maintained that maintaining body angles is the key to consistency while hitting it miles. my tour teacher concurred 100%

  13. Would it be easier to swat a wasp with arms extended or bent in? The actual path of your swing and loading power will only increase by standing further from ball at address. If you are an athlete , do yourself a favor and stand further away. My drives over 300 plus the further away I am.

    • but don’t almost all top PGA golfers stand close to the ball… i realize BDC has sort of turned this on its ear but that’s very recently and just one top player.

  14. but don’t almost all top PGA golfers stand close to the ball… i realize BDC has sort of turned this on its ear but that’s very recently and just one top player.

  15. i wish one of the top big golf magazine (GM and GD) would simply take a bunch of players, measure how far away from the ball they stand. and the angle of their backs at address and contact……….. i don’t think most of us really know if we stand close to the ball or not. or have strong grip or not……

    i only figured this out going to a golf pro…….. standing close far from the ball vs. close isn’t necessarily “reaching” vs. NOT for the ball. your back being near vertical vs. near horizontal and your hands hanging from shoulders will represent drastically different space between your belt buckle and and your hands. i think matt kuchar is a great example.

    does brooke henderson stand far-ish from the ball? there’s someone who pounds the ball for her size. and wins.

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