While there are instructions on all sorts of things relative to the golf swing, such as grip, stance and weight distribution, it is important to consider the individuality of the golfer and his abilities and techniques. This is no less true when considering ball position. An imaginary line running out from the center of the golfer, perpendicular to the stance, is what we refer to as the index line. The position of the ball, relative to this line, will vary from club to club.
Difficulty: Moderately Easy
Begin with a your 5 iron. Although there is some variation among golfers, generally speaking, the position of the ball when hitting a 5 iron is in the direct center of your stance. Take a few swings to confirm a comfortable ball position for solid contact and note this as your center line or "a" position.
Move on to your 6 iron. Because the shaft is slightly shorter on the 6 iron, moving the ball back in your stance slightly will be conducive to a good downward strike without a major variation to your stance. For each club difference, move the ball approximately 1/2 the ball width. This is a general rule for your irons. Using this technique, your 3 and 4 irons--or hybrids--will be slightly forward in your stance.
Using your 3 wood, set up in your stance. The ball position in this instance should follow the above rules. Because woods tend to have a longer variation in shaft lengths from irons, the ball position may be a bit more dramatic in difference from club to club. For instance, you may find that the ball position difference between the 5 wood and 3 wood is a full ball width. This takes a bit of experimentation. Remember that the fairway woods should also be swung so that downward contact is made with the ball. A common mistake is to swing the fairway woods like a driver, and try to hit the ball at the bottom of the swing arc or on the upstroke.
The driver is the only club that you want to make contact with the ball on the upswing. This utilizes the loft of the driver to achieve the most distance. The ball position during the drive should be forward in your stance. Typically, a good starting point is to line the ball up off of the heel of your leading foot.
Wedges are another type of club that break the index rule. Sometimes the tendency is to play each wedge farther back in the stance as the loft increases. All wedges, however, should be played in the same position, slightly back of the position you would have with a 9 iron. Wedges are designed so that the swing remains constant, and the loft dictates the change in result.
Tips & Warnings
The less skilled you are as a golfer, the more you will benefit from having the ball back in your stance. You may want to begin with your "a" position slightly behind center.
Many instructors advocate ball position to be center of the stance and forward, For beginner and intermediate golfers, a rearward ball position is the easiest adjustment to promote a downward strike.