How far you stand from the golf ball at address will affect your swing. Standing too far away can force you to reach out with the club, with your arms completely straight and your elbows locked -- ruining any chance of a nice, easy swing. It’s generally a good idea to stand as close to the ball as possible and adjust from there until you establish a nice, comfortable position.
Some golfers may be surprised to hear instructors say that it's difficult to stand too close to the ball. Tom Watson, one of golf's all-time greats, told "Golf Digest" that he rarely sees anyone stand too close to the ball. Two other golf legends, Byron Nelson and Johnny Miller, have made similar statements, according to Watson.
"Golf Digest" offers a simple solution for determining how close to stand to the ball. It all begins with taking a good stance at address. Place your feet shoulder-width apart with your knees slightly flexed and a natural bend at your hips. This places you in a balanced, athletic position. Let your arms hang freely, then simply bring your hands together without reaching out. This establishes how far your thighs should be from the butt of the golf club.
Exactly how far you are from the golf ball is determined by the club you’re using. The driver has the longest shaft of any club, so you’re naturally farther away from the ball with the driver than you are with a sand wedge, which has a much shorter shaft. The most important key, regardless of the club, is the distance between the butt of the club and your body.
“The Complete Encyclopedia of Golf” offers an easy test for determining if you're holding the club the proper distance from your body. The book recommends taking your stance at address and placing your right hand vertically against your belt buckle so your outstretched fingers point to the ground. Place the butt of the club on the tip of your thumb. That space -- from the top of your thumb to your belt buckle -- represents how far your body should be from the end of the club. From that position you can simply place the club on the ground behind the ball to achieve the proper stance.
It’s important to overcome unwarranted feelings that you’re standing too close. Standing too far away can cause you to pull the club too far inside during your swing and hit the ball off the toe of the club.
Stance and posture are easy to work on at home. After becoming comfortable with how far to stand from the ball you can check yourself periodically by looking into a full-length mirror after taking your golf stance. If you’re new to golf have a PGA or LPGA professional provide pointers on your posture or stance.