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How far should my hands be in front of the ball?

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First, I'm completely new to golf. I've been hitting around for a few months, but hadn't had any lessons yet.

I was hitting at a driving range today, and a nice gentleman offered me some advice. He told me that I had a nice athletic stance, a nice grip, and that I rotate nicely... However, he said that my hands, my head, and the ball were all in the same plane. He told me that my hands should be in front of the ball, and my head should be behind the ball.

I made the adjustment, and he was nice enough to give me a few balls to try it out with.

After the adjustment, my swing feels a lot more natural, and I hit the balls more consistently. I tried the new swing out with a pitching wedge and a 7 iron. My distance with the pitching wedge didn't increase, but the height is completely different. With the new swing I was trying out, the ball goes 3-4 times higher than it did before... I also made nice contact with the 7 iron and hit it 150 yards out pretty straight, which has never happened to me before. I know it sounds lame, but I still haven't found comfort in hitting any irons until now.

So here are my questions..
First, why have I never heard of this before? It seems like the kind of thing you tell somebody who is trying to hit a golf ball for the first time, and not somebody who has been messing around with the game for so long... Is this a generally accepted way to set up your stance?

Secondly, how far in front of the ball should my hands be? My hands were about 3 inches in front of the ball, and my head was about 2 inches behind the ball.

Thirdly... In every video of Tiger Woods I see on Youtube, his hands are behind the ball. Does he do this for the driver only, or for all of his clubs?

Sorry if this question is the equivalent of asking what 1 +1 is on a graduate level mathematics forum, but it seems pretty important.


Thanks!
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The shorter the club, the more in the front your hands should be.

Consider that, with irons, you need to hit the ball on a descending path, and having your hands in front of the ball will allow you to do that.

With your driver, the correct way to hit the ball is based on an ascendent path, that is why in this case, your hands don´t need to be in front of the ball.

Hope this helps.
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Or, you can think of it this way...

The position of the hands at setup never change, but the ball position within your stance does.... giving the impression that your hands are well forward for short irons and even or behind for long irons and woods.

In my setup, the hands are aways at the middle of my left thigh (or closest to the target).
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Or, you can think of it this way...

Hmmm... Interesting. That's actually a wonderful way to explain it. I didn't think of it that way.

The swing that Iuse (now that my hands are further up in my swing) feels a lot more natural, so that's good to hear. Thanks!
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it's more important for the hands to be in front of the club head, than it is for them to be in front of the ball.
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