How Far To Stand From A Golf Ball: A Simple Rule To Follow

To know how far to stand from a golf ball, do this trick that I learned 42 years ago:

  • Get into a good setup position, with good posture, and address the golf ball.
  • Your hands should be two fists from your lead thigh with your irons.
  • If you’re using wedges, you’ll be slightly closer.
  • If you’re using a driver or woods, you’ll be slightly further away than two fists.

That checkpoint will let you know if you are standing a correct distance from the ball.

Starting as a six-year-old, this is how I ensured I was the right distance from the ball at setup. Now, it’s how I teach my students.

However, there are a few more points to consider with this as well. You want to get this distance right because if you stand too close or far away, you’ll never reach your potential.

Read on: How to Swing a Golf Club: 7 Simple Steps To Follow

How To Setup So You’re The Right Distance From A Golf Ball

You can use the "two fists" rule to determine how far to stand from a golf ball featured taken by Brendon Elliott, PGA Professional
My student shows the “two fists” rule

Whatever your gender or experience level, keeping your hands two fists from your front thigh will keep you in the sweet spot.

Here’s how I instruct my students and clients to get into a good setup to be at the ideal distance:

  1. Stand straight, feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  2. Hold the club in front of you, hands at waist level.
  3. Tilt forward from the hips, keeping your back straight, and spine angled 25-35 degrees towards the ball.
  4. Ensure your arms hang naturally from your shoulders.
  5. Rest the butt of your club about 1-2 inches above your lead leg knee.
  6. Check the club’s bottom is flat or slightly raised on the toe side.
  7. Regrip the club as previously mentioned.
  8. Your hands, gripping the club, should be two fists’ length from your lead thigh for irons or slightly further for driver and woods.

Now, if you want to shape your shots, try these tweaks.

  • For a draw, you should get a bit further away from the ball.
  • For a fade, you should get a bit closer.

These modifications will be slight. Doing them too much may lead to bad shots. Golf is funny that way. What may seem like a horrible shot only needs a tiny adjustment to get things straightened back out!

More great information here on Golf Span: Average Golf Club Distances: Charts for All Skill Levels

How to Know if You Are Standing Too Close to the Ball

Standing too close to the ball taken by Brendon Elliott, PGA Professional

When you stand too close to the ball, your hands have less space to hit it. This allows them to swing down from the top and strike the ball with force at impact. The body also needs that space to move and rotate as it should.

Any one of the following can result:

  • Shots hit more toward the heel of the club
  • The dreaded shank
  • Fat or heavy shots
  • Slices
  • Balance issues
  • Shots that are simply not hit solidly

In the picture above, you can see a student who occasionally gets a little too close to the ball and leaves shots a little out to the right because of it. What you see above is him with a driver in his hands.

Check this out: Golf Ball Position Chart: Are You Striking the Ball All Wrong?

How to Know if You Are Standing Too Far From the Ball

Standing too far to the ball taken by Brendon Elliott, PGA Professional

When you position yourself too far from the ball like this, here’s what can happen:

  • Pain in your back and knees
  • A lack of balance
  • Shots off of the toe of the club
  • Hooks
  • A shank can happen due to a lack of balance and falling forward toward the ball on the downswing
  • Thin shots or even missing the ball altogether
  • Shots that are simply not hit solidly

In the picture above, my student demonstrates this for us. In this case, a driver is the club being used. With these longer clubs, you will have your hands a little further away from the body and, thus, be a little further from the ball with your body.

The example above is just a little bit too far, however. The result was a pulled tee shot left.

If you are too far from the ball, beyond the “two-fist” checkpoint, you must adjust to reach it with the clubhead. This compensation will have to come from excessive knee and spine bending.

Read more: Benefits Of Standing Closer To The Golf Ball


Is standing too close or too far from the golf ball better?

Neither is optimal. The right distance allows for a full range of motion, ensuring solid contact and balance throughout the swing. A proper stance promotes accurate, powerful shots while reducing the risk of common errors like slices, shanks, and mis-hits. Use the “two-fist” rule as a guideline to maintain the ideal space between your body and the ball for optimal performance.

How far should you stand from the ball when chipping?

You should stand closer when you’re chipping, similar to putting. This will promote a more upright swing path, like a pendulum stroke. This differs from the full swing regarding setup and distance from the ball.

Brendon is Class A PGA Professional and founded Little Linksters, LLC, and its nonprofit arm, the Little Linksters Association for Junior Golf Development. He won 25+ prestigious industry honors, including the 2017 PGA National Youth Player Development Award. He graduated from the PGA of America Management Program and has a handicap index of 7.8.

He has played golf for over 40 years and currently plays twice a month at the Eagle Dunes Golf Club near Sorrento, Florida. He loves Srixon clubs and plays a ZX5 driver with Z 585 irons. He's written over 60 articles on GolfSpan and specializes in sharing tips to improve your golf game. You can connect with Brendon at LinkedIn, X, IG, FB, his website, or

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