If you put a gun to my head and said…
“give me your best golf tip to help me hit longer drives.”
…here’s what I would say.
Focus on hitting the ball out of the center of the clubface more often (keep reading for details on exactly how to do this).
You do that and you WILL hit the ball longer. Because golf digest did a study, where they found these results for a 100 mph swing…
Center Hit – 258 yards
1/2 inch off center – 243 yards
3/4 inch off center – 237 yards
1 inch off center – 227
So contacting a golf ball an inch off the center of the clubface with a 100 mph swing speed, results in a 31 yard loss of distance!
Now a close second to that advice would be to speed up your swing at impact. That’s because for every 1 mph of swing speed you improve by, you’ll gain about 2.2 yards in distance.
So if you swing at 90mph at impact and you increase that by 10 mph, then you would have gained about 22 yards in distance!
Now imagine, combining swinging faster with hitting the ball in the middle of the clubface more often.
That’s a great combination, and I’m going to give you two things you can do the next time you go to the driving range to help you do that.
The first tip is to help you swing faster, and it’s really simple.
When you’re at the driving range, in between shots turn your driver upside down and swing it as fast as you can. Then carry that “speed” over to your next shot and feel the difference.
By doing that, it will force you to swing faster than you’re maybe used to – which is a good thing, because your mind likes to keep things exactly the same.
Now that increase in swing speed is only going to be of much use if you hit the center of the clubface more often.
To help you do that you need to get some feedback on where you’re hitting your driver.
But sadly, because the drivers these days can be so dead when you hit them, it’s tough to know when you hit it right out of the screws. However, it is doable if you increase your awareness.
And to help you do this I want you to get some impact tape and put it on your driver.
Then, hit your drives with your faster swing speed. After you hit each shot I then want you to predict where on the clubface your ball hit.
The strange thing about this is that often times awareness can be curative. For example, if you think you’re hitting the ball out of the middle of the clubface but 9 times out of 10 it’s on the toe you’ll naturally make corrections in your swing to hit the ball more in the middle of the clubface.
If you didn’t know this, of course you wouldn’t do anything different, because you wouldn’t know there was a problem.
But please remember this… you never want to think about impact or what you’re doing at impact.
Impact is not a position, it’s something you move through and you should not be thinking when you’re doing this.
So when you’re being aware of your impact ball position, do not try to hit the ball on the center of the clubface. Use observation and awareness to improve your results.
So there you go… use those two tips to help you hit longer drives and enjoy playing golf more
Bunker shots no longer have to be difficult. Typically it’s tough for both inexperienced and seasonal golfers to play consistently good bunker shots, but it doesn’t have to be this way. These tips have been prepared to help you become more confident and improve your sand bunker play.
In fact if you’re new to the game you may have already fallen into the trap of thinking an explosion shot is the only way to play out of bunkers. If this is the case, you will hugely benefit from understanding how to adapt your bunker shots based on your lie and the type of sand you are in.
We have all seen coverage on TV where professional golfers have favoured being in a greenside bunker rather than in the semi rough beside it. They simply aren’t fearful of being in the bunker and know within themselves that they will have greater control playing from sand. In fact they relish the opportunity to get it close from the bunker, which may not necessarily be possible from deep rough. By practising the following techniques you will gain a similar confidence and be prepared for any situation you find yourself in.
Undoubtedly solid practice of these basics will enable you to develop a good rhythm and confidence of mind. Ultimately the mental strength you will gain from being an improved bunker player will also help with your approach shots, as you feel less intimidated playing over or between bunkers.
Bunker Shots In A Nutshell
The primary thought for playing out of sand is to think of the bunker shot as one where the club hits the sand creating an explosion of sand that carries the golf ball out of the bunker. When you first start playing this can seem kind of weird because you have to start by learning how to hit the sand first. One mental trick is to forget the ball exists and imagine instead that it’s a rather large grain of sand. Over time experience will teach you exactly how far behind the ball to hit the sand for different shots, but in the beginning a good rule of thumb is to hit 1.5 to 2 inches behind it.
Bunker Shots v. Chip Shots Comparison
If you’re already confident with your chipping but continue to have trouble in the sand, it’s worth making this comparison. Chipping and bunker play are the same in so much you need to break your wrists early and hold this position on the downswing. Importantly though when you play a chip shot the club face hits the ball, whereas with a bunker shot this isn’t a requirement and there’s more room for error in terms of how much sand you take. Thus technically a basic bunker isn’t harder to play than a chip shot. In reality though the real problems in bunkers come from not having sufficient confidence to strike the sand where you are aiming with adequate control and rhythm. Additionally golfers have problems because they never really take the time to understand the construction of the sand wedge and how it differs from other clubs. Therefore if this is you, please read on for an explanation and the specific tips for playing out of bunkers.
Understanding The Sand Wedge
It’s important to appreciate that the sand wedge is constructed differently from the other irons in your bag, due primarily to a feature called the bounce. The bounce is the term given to the sole of the club, otherwise know as the flange. The sand wedge’s club face can vary from 55 to 58 degrees of loft, with 56 degrees being the most common one. The bounce can vary on average from 10 to 14 degrees of loft. Critically you need a club that works for you. Having too much bounce will cause you to bounce the clubhead into the side of the ball. Equally not having enough bounce will cause you to thin the ball because you will end up digging into the sand too much, just as if you were playing with a pitching wedge.
How To Play The Splash Bunker Shot
There are two main ways you to play a bunker shot with your sand wedge. Firstly you can play with a square face where the leading edge digs into sand and secondly by opening the clubface to skim through the sand with the bounce. The latter and most popular is often called an explosion or splash shot.
Here are the 8 exact steps to playing a splash bunker shot
1. Open up the clubface so as it still pointing to the target and take your grip. Generally the deeper the bunker the more you will have to open the face. The clubface is fully open when it is totally flat and if you cared to you could easily balance a bottle on it.
2. Set up with an open stance by adjusting your body so as your shoulders point to the left of your target. Typically aim 10 feet to the left of the target, around 15 – 20 degrees. Opening the clubface will naturally result in the ball shooting to the right and therefore by aligning yourself more to the left you counter this. Read More…
The secret to putting well is confidence.
Putting is the most important part of the game and you can only excel with confidence.
The good news is that putting isn’t difficult, you know you can make a short putt. The bad news is you know how difficult it is to consistently make short putts. Once you start to miss the short putts, your confidence wanes. To start holing them again you need a boost to your confidence, and there in lies the problem. How do you regain your confidence? How do you conquer the game of confidence as putting is often referred to?
Repeatedly missing short putts is no fun and destroys the enjoyment you should have playing this wonderful game. Do you feel humiliated at missing another short putts, it’s simply embarrassing. No wonder it can feel like you are on a slippery slope as your game slips into an exercise of hitting and hoping. Putting with doubt and without confidence is a card wrecker, but I bet it hasn’t always been that way!
Your current putting is probably totally alien to how you played as a kid when there was no fear or tension. Can you remember the competitions you used to play with your mates, there was no room for thinking you would miss. You were all absolutely confident of taking the money. I have fond memories of playing 36 holes as a junior, having something to eat and drink in the spike bar, and then out for evening contests on the practice putting green. There simply wasn’t time for dwelling on the prospect of a three putt, instead thoughts were of how to hole yet another monster putt.
If you analyse what has happened over the decades, you may now find that the second you take your putter out of the bag, you are immediately in a love or hate relationship with the club. Quite simply, are you relishing the challenge ahead of you, or are you fearful of what might happen next? Are you fuelled with positive or negative emotions? Even before you start to read the line are you tentative rather than enthusiastic?
You definitely need the solid belief that stops you from being tentative, one that comes from having real confidence. The kind built on proper foundations because this is the part of the game where you mentally have to be at your toughest. The truth is you need a strong mental game to putt well. The pressure builds up as you get nearer the hole because there is no longer any more room to recover. You can recover from a sliced drive with a good recovery shot to the centre of the fairway. You can even recover from a poor approach shot with well played chip shot. But when it comes to putting there is no where to recover except from duly holing the putt in front of you!
Missing Putts Isn’t Your Fault
If you fail to hole the putt, you may be surprised to hear that for a large part it isn’t your fault. Yes you heard that right. If you are like most golfers, you have been you have sadly been spoon fed three myths that need to be dispelled now before you can start to rebuild your confidence today.
Putting Myth 1 – Exposing The Lie About Putting Confidence
Too many golfers believe that all they need to do is start their round putting well and from there their confidence will grow. This is a myth because you should actually start your round with confidence so as you immediately start to hole short putts on the first green. You should already be confident so as the putts you hole on the first only go to make you even more positive. Read More…
It goes without saying that as with all golfers you would like to hit the golf ball farther. Whether you are struggling to keep up with your golfing buddies, want to carry trouble on a particular hole, reach the corner of a dogleg or simply play your approach shots with more loft, the common denominator is you need to hit the ball farther. You want to trade in being the shortest off the tee for a game plan that allows you to be pull out a long drive at will. You’re disheartened thinking isn’t it about time you said goodbye to the frustration caused by short drives and took advantage of the knowledge that is out there to hit the ball longer and straighter! Wouldn’t it be great to be regarded as the sneaky long golfer in your fourball. Thankfully the tips within this article will make this a reality.
Initially though, while you appreciate the fact you would like to hit the golf ball farther, you are also acutely aware that this needs to be in tandem with good directional control. Obviously hitting the ball deep into the rough due to your newfound length certainly won’t benefit your game. In fact it would be wise to offer this word of caution now before getting carried away with your dreams of monster drives. Quite simply hitting the ball farther doesn’t automatically translate into lower scores. It would be fair to say that in theory the game becomes easier because you are hitting shorter clubs into the greens and the shorter the club the more likely you are to be closer to the hole. However, unless you practise these shorter shots you may have not played much in the past, you won’t fully capitalise on the huge advantage you have been given in hitting the ball a further 20, 30 or even 40 yards. How often have you been outwitted on the golf course by the canny short hitter that puts a far greater emphasis on accuracy than length?
All in all it’s fair to say we are all looking for longer and straighter drives. To be frank, finding that extra distance off the tee without sacrificing accuracy can sometimes seem like the hunt for the Holy Grail. The search for a few more yards continues particularly for those golfers fed up being the first to hit their second shot. This disappointment will always fuel the desire to hit the ball farther. To put it bluntly it can be a real bind for those who are fed up of laying up on a par 5 and not even having the option of reaching in 2 shots. Equally not being able to reach all the par 4s in 2 shots on your home course can also be a downer. Fortunately learning to hit the ball farther will no longer be a mystery. The following swing tips will help unleash longer drives, leaving your mates astounded!
11 Tips To Hitting The Golf Ball Farther
These 11 tips will help give you more length off the tee. Much can be learnt from studying the long hitters in the game today and by carefully studying the key factors that contribute to them hitting the ball further it’s possible to present these tips to you.
1. Open out your left foot
You can create additional power by fanning your left front foot out at a 45 degree angle. By simply doing this you make it easier to quickly clear your hips and lower body as you swing through. The only word of caution is to not fan the foot too much as this can restrict your back swing turn. Read More…
There can be nothing more frustrating on a golf course than three putting. Having correctly executed your shots to reach the green in regulation it is so disappointing to initially have a putt for birdie but ultimately walk off the green with a bogey.
It’s fair to say that three putting is one of the most irritating parts of golf. The unmentionable dreaded three putt demon patiently sits in the background ready to pounce on any unsuspecting golfer! I’m sure you can relate to taking three shots to cover 500 yards and then another three to travel the last 30 feet to the hole. It’s disheartening and a real wake up call because in such a situation 50% of your shots on that hole were played with your putter. Suddenly you realise the importance of having a sound putting technique. In fact your goal in time should be to beat the well publicised statistic that 40% of an average golfer’s score is made up of putts on the green.
The reality is that if you’ll not careful three putting can lead to the destruction of your round. Once you follow up a three putt with another one you immediately start to lose confidence and momentum. How true the old clique of “you drive for show and putt for dough” resonates as you trudge off the green embarrassed and humiliated! Let’s face it, no one enjoys squandering strokes and thus this article has been written to help eliminate three putts from your score. So read on to discover seven drills to stop three putting.
Understanding Why You Are Three Putting
Before suggesting several drills, tips and instructions to improve your putting let’s analyse the key problem areas that are making you three putt. The four main keys to avoiding three putting are good pace control, consistent distance control, having the skills to successfully read lines and the ability to hole short putts. No doubt about it, we tend to three putt most on putts over 30 foot and it makes sense to assume good distance control is the most important of these four keys to improving your putting.
Consider this for one moment, your first putt on a green will either decrease or increase the chances of you three putting. This is obvious and naturally you will feel an element of pressure as you make the putt. How successful you are will largely be dependable on how well you can lag the putt to the hole with a good degree of distance control. This assumes that like most golfers you have read the line, such that the ball won’t be more than 3 foot wide of the line of the putt. In addition your putter acceleration and deceleration were as you intended in terms of imparting a good pace on the ball. On the whole one can make these assumptions, particularly on fairly flat greens but there are exceptions where the slope of the green plays a major part in causing you to three putt on fairly short putts. Read More…
Standing on the tee, you feel relaxed and confident, until suddenly smack, you push your golf ball straight right into trouble! How does this happen you ask yourself, the ball doesn’t curve, but instead flies off straight as a die – right of your target. Fortunately this instructional article will help fix this common mishit, sometimes known as block, and will make sure you know how to stop pushing your driver and iron shots in the future.
Understandably one is right to be concerned about a push, but it isn’t as bad as may think. This is because to start with you are swinging with an inside to outside swing, and this is much more preferable to an outside to inside golf swing. You should be pleased the club head is travelling from the inside to out if like many good amateurs and professionals it’s your intention to draw the ball, but obviously not so happy that you are striking the ball too early in your swing.
To fully appreciate why you are pushing the ball you need to understand that the ball comes off the club face in a straight direction because it is square to the inside to out line it is travelling along at impact. Once you have any form of curve in the resulting shot you are looking at club face angle problems. Sometimes you will see the ball start out straight and then curve to the right, this is due to an open club face and is known as a push slice. A push hook occurs when you close the face.
6 Reasons You Are Pushing The Golf Ball
Here are a number of reasons to carefully consider when you start to push the ball with your driver or with your irons. Read on to discover a detailed explanation of each cause.
1. Sliding your hips on your downswing
One of the main causes for pushing a golf shot comes from sliding your hips too much to the left on the downswing. As a result this makes it extremely difficult to clear the left hand side as you descend into impact. Consequently it generates a feeling of leaving the club behind you. The movement to the left means body and hands are ahead of the ball at impact and in a nutshell you are essentially fighting a losing battle because the club never catches up as it should.
Your hands are late to the ball because instead of properly making a full hip turn you slide your hips to the left too much. To fix this problem you do need to slow down your hips so as you can release your hands properly and prevent yourself from pushing your ball.
There are two common reasons you are swaying to the left on the downswing.
Firstly it can be caused by swaying to the right on your back swing where you then consequently compensate for this by swinging back too much on your downswing to the left.
Secondly you sway to your left by moving your head up as you swing. This action will unfortunately also move your body up. Try to stop yourself from looking up too early to see where the ball has gone. Work on keeping a fixed position for your head and remember to wait for your right shoulder to meet your chin before looking up.
You can also use a mirror to check that you aren’t moving your head, by default if you fix this you will stop your body from swaying.
2. Moving your lower body faster than your upper one
Many of the issues related to pushing the ball come down to timing issues. You need to correct any timing and tempo issues you may have where ultimately you are ending up with no balance as you complete your swing.
You will undoubtedly push the ball when your lower body gets faster than your upper one. As a result the lower body spins open whilst you drop your club far too much inside.
A good tip is to quieten your lower body by practicing shots with a narrower stance than usual.
3. Swinging too much on an inside to outside path
A pushed shot happens when the golfer comes too much on the inside on their downswing. This action sees the golf club moving on an inside to outside path to the right of the target line.
The ball to target line is the line you want the ball to travel to reach its target in one straight shot. A pushed shot happens when the club is to the right of the ball to target line.
Be aware that by playing the ball too far back in your stance you increase the chances of swinging on an excessive in to out swing path. The club head meets the ball far too early and well before it has an opportunity to square up to the target line.
You need to make corrections so as you swing down the line instead of swinging out to the right field. Check that you aren’t positioning the ball too far back in your stance. If you can imagine your club head reaching the ball before the bottom of your swing arc you will find it is still travelling inside to outside.
It’s at the bottom of the swing arc that the clubface is square to the ball to the target line. The ball should be positioned in the middle of the stance for short clubs and pitching wedges and further towards the left foot for the longer clubs. If you are pushing the ball it is likely by moving the ball forward you can correct this fault.
Additionally check your stance isn’t too wide, this can make your weight transference difficult. Learn not to leave too much weight on your toes and make sure you read these golf stance setup tips.
4. You are misaligned right of the target
You should check that your shoulders, hips and feet are properly aligned square to the target line and not to the right of it. Make sure you aren’t tilting your right shoulder down too much at address.
You are also likely to push the ball if the club face isn’t aiming directly at the target.
Ask yourself, are you aligned to the ball properly? Take time out to read these golf alignment tips and drills. One quick recommendation is to align yourself with the club in your left hand as this helps ensure your shoulders aren’t too open which can make you push the ball.
5. Moving your swing axis too much to the left
You may be pushing the ball because you are moving your swing axis to the left. As you do this your swing arc will in effect reach its extreme outside point after the ball has been hit and not at impact as it should.
Thus you maybe inadvertently moving the centre of your golf swing a few inches to the left.
This results from you either swaying to the left on the downswing ( too much of a hip slide) so as you past the position you had at address, or you are playing the ball too far back in your stance towards your right heel.
6. Swinging too hesitantly
When you are hesitant due to nerves and pressure you will often find yourself not making a proper body turn. Without that commitment you are unlikely to fully commit to the shot and release the club head at impact. So it is in effect just like swaying the body to the left on the downswing, the club face will reach the ball whilst you are still swinging on an inside plane and before you square up through impact.
Have you ever fancied putting backspin on a golf ball like the professionals seem to do with consummate ease? If so consider this for one second. It’s a fact that every shot you currently hit has backspin on it, but imagine being able to make the ball zip back towards the hole like the pros do.
Perhaps you have tried it in the past? Certainly it seems a lot easier to perform on the green baize playing pool or snooker than on the golf course. On the table the average player knows how to hit downwards on the back of the cue ball to produce a significant amount of spin. Typically though it seems a lot more complicated to perform on the golf course, especially as there are a number of factors that are outside of your control.
In fact you have probably asked yourself many times how do I get backspin on the ball. Furthermore you may have pondered to what extent will you have to change your swing to achieve this skillful shot. Today you will learn that by hitting down on the ball you can make the it roll up the club face in an anti clockwise direction, producing backspin as it flies forward. Then on reaching the green it will bite, hops forward and then spin back towards the pin.
The good news is that with practice based on the instruction and tips below you will be able to equip yourself with the skills to see your ball suck back for an easy birdie putt. It is definitely possible to add the backspin shot to your repertoire by simply mastering some key principles and ensuring certain conditions are in your favour.
This specific golf swing technique will give you the opportunity to spin the ball from as far away as 125 – 150 yards from the green and much closer for delicate lob shots over bunkers. Putting backspin on a ball is essentially down to how well you can squeeze it off the turf. With enough friction the ball will squirt up the club face, from the bottom groves to the top ones, shoot forward and then react like a yo-yo on the green as it pulls back to the hole.
Why Put Backspin On A Golf Ball?
There are a number of benefits to having the ability to play golf with backspin, apart from increasing your confidence and impressive your playing partners! For instance it’s a real advantage if the hole is tucked behind a bunker or located at the front of the green. Backspin will enable you to get close in situations where typically you would have to play long and reply on good distance putting to score well. Suddenly you can attack pin positions you wouldn’t otherwise have the option to fire at. Backspin allows you play beyond the hole, away from trouble, and see it come back close to the hole.
There is a drawback though that must be highlighted in order for you to have a fair overview of the advantages and disadvantages to playing with backspin. Namely when the ball hits the green it is unpredictable and may roll back into the bunker it has carried or into the fringe at the front of the green. Sometimes professionals impart so much backspin on the ball that it zips back past the hole and further away than if they had simply played with minimal spin. It takes a lot of hard work to ultimately control how much the ball hops forward and spins back. Nevertheless the pros do significantly out weigh the cons and it’s definitely worth using these tips to practice putting backspin on shots where appropriate.
Key Factors To Putting Backspin On A Golf Ball
Here are the key factors that will determine how much backspin you can put on the ball. It is important though to not compare your success with the shots you see professionals playing on TV. Remember they are playing in optimum conditions and have spent their lifetime perfecting this particular shot.
Setting up to the ball
Finding the perfect ball position does take some experimentation and practice but the following tips will guarantee you have the basics right. Set up with an open stance, aiming slightly left of target with your hands in front of the ball. Whereas you would normally have the ball positioned in the middle of your stance for a wedge shot, it is important to play it a little further back than normal. The art of creating backspin comes from hitting the ball first, something that is much easier to do if you move the ball back right of centre. Next ensure you have approximately 70% of your weight on your left foot with the club face open so as you can slide under the ball. Finally narrow your stance a touch in order to swing on a steep plane.
Making the golf swing
If you already have an upright swing you will find it easier to put backspin on the ball. An upright swing sets you up you to deliver a descending strike with good acceleration and club head speed. Effectively you are chopping at the ball and this is far easier if you are set up to swing with a steep plane. A hard crisp shot with a steep angle of attack is best suited to generate backspin.
Set up with an open stance with your weight on your front foot, ensuring your hands are ahead of the ball. This is crucial because at impact your hands need to be in front of the ball as you effectively pinch it off the fairway.
Now start with an upright backswing with minimal body movement. Take the club back straight and don’t bring it inside and low, have your hands and arms swing in front of your body. As you swing consciously keep the weight distribution you set up with at address.
Focus on hitting down on the ball. Keep your eyes on a specific dimple to ensure you hit the back of the ball.
Unlike your normal swing you need to prevent yourself from releasing the club. Your arms should not roll over. Keep the wrists firm and and don’t release the club, there should be limited wrist action as you maintain good hand speed through impact.
As the club accelerates and hits down making a clean contact between club face and bottom half of ball, it will jump up and start to spin backwards. By hitting hard with a descending blow, you compress the ball against the club face, thus imparting considerable backspin.
Finally take a shallow divot.
The ideal lie to play from
The best conditions for imparting backspin are closely mown fairways. This makes it far easier to nip the ball off the playing surface. Hitting with the lower grooves on the club face with no interference will help produce the optimum amount of backspin.
In the rough grass can get trapped between the ball and clubface, as a consequence the longer grass removes the all important necessary friction and reduces the ability to put spin on the ball. It is essential to get a clear strike at the ball, obstructions like long grass make it so much more difficult. Thus tight fairway lies are perfect for executing backspin shots.
Additionally it is possible to backspin from a good firm lie in the bunker and any hardpan lies out on the course. As on the fairway remember to strike the ball before the sand. Try to find a fairway bunker about 50 yards from the green to practice from, this makes for ideal practice conditions where you can nip the ball off the sand and see the reaction on the green.
The best ball to play with
It makes a massive difference if you don’t play with the correct ball. You should play with a multi layer ball with core and soft cover to produce backspin on the ball. A good example would be the Titleist Pro V1 ball with its Urethane Elastomer™ cover, this is superb for compressing the ball onto the club face. The groves are able to grip the ball and increase the backspin. This simply won’t happen with a two layer ball with core and hard cover. They have lower spin rates and won’t grip to the green as you would like when they land. These balls are good though for high handicap players because they reduce the severeness of a hook or slice. Whilst soft covered balls exaggerate slices and hooks because of their high spin rate.
The right clubs to use
The more loft on the club the easier it is to spin the ball. Thus it is recommended you stick with your wedges through to 7 iron. All these clubs give you a decent amount of loft to work with. The longer the shot the more you will need to allow for a touch of fade.
Anything longer than a 7 iron and it can be near impossible to get backspin. Longer irons and woods produce a low trajectory ball that simply does not spin back.
You also need to pay attention to the actual grooves. Make sure they are clean and you have removed all of the dirt. You can use use a special groove cleaner or brush to achieve this.
It is worth noting the rusty club faces found on some wedges add spin due to their rough surface. This leads to more friction that transmits more spin to the ball.
Understanding the effect of wind
The wind direction makes a huge difference to how easily you can spin the ball and see the impact on the green. It is easier to spin a ball into the wind. A headwind increases your chances of spinning the ball. It is extremely difficult to create sufficient spin to see the ball back up on the green with a tailwind.
Factoring in the condition of the green
You definitely need to factor in the condition and slope of the greens. Soft receptive greens make it easier to spin the ball. They are perfect for accepting the shot that allows the ball to spin back. If the greens are firm, you are much less likely to spin and the ball will bounce on.
It’s very difficult to to backspin on concrete like greens.
It is easier to spin the ball back when playing into an up slope. Sometimes we see an excellent shot spin back on TV but don’t realise how much the slope of the green has played in creating the spin.
Hitting a shot with backspin like the pros is certainly achievable. There is though a small margin for error and you will need to be accurate but there are huge benefits to perfecting this shot. With consistent practice and a thorough understanding of the factors listed above you will find yourself sucking the ball back and amazing your friends!
It’s a great feeling to stride off the first tee knowing you have hit your ball straight down the middle of the fairway. It’s a huge boost to your confidence and any self doubt you may have had immediately disappears. It’s a given that when you hit it straight from the very start you set up great momentum for the rest of your round.
Hitting it straighter generally means less trouble and not surprisingly this is why we strive to master this shot. With straight drives and iron shots comes a new found confidence. All of a sudden you are no longer second guessing where you may or may not hit it, instead you know exactly where your ball will land. It’s a great feeling and one we continually try to replicate on the course.
Learning To Hit The Ball Straight
Today you will be taught exactly what to check for in your swing if you are struggling to hit the ball straight with your driver or irons. By reading this article and taking the initiative to add straight shots to your repertoire you can be assured of seeing a significant improvement in your scoring.
Maybe to date you have put up with the inconsistencies in your game, but now is the time to address the key problem why you often lose out to much shorter but straighter players. We all know the low handicappers in our clubs that whilst they may not be as long as us they do score lower by virtue of being much straighter. It’s even more frustrating when a number of these players are a good few years older than you and whilst they wouldn’t beat you in a long distance driving competition they are the ones that consistently sign for lower scores. Admittedly it may be down to superiority in other areas of the game but certainly being straight is a massive confidence booster and definitely keeps them out of trouble.
We all want the belief we can hit a straight drive when we need to, that we are almost robotic, able to repeatedly make the same swing. In reality though it’s unlikely even when everything is in sync we will hit the ball dead straight with no deviation. Whilst we may desire perfection in actual fact this isn’t at all easy to do. In fact Jack Nicklaus is quoted with saying “any straight shot with a long club is a fluke”, and as a consequence a professional tends to play a controlled fade or draw.
Is It Better To Play A Draw Or Fade?
Consider this, if a European Tour or PGA Tour pro hits about 70% of fairways that is considered very good. Thus if the elite aren’t hitting it straight down the fairway every time, you can guarantee the rest of us are going to struggle to perform anywhere near that statistic. It’s fair to say that in the majority of cases the professional golfer has worked out they are better off playing a draw or a fade. Aiming to hit the ball straight down the middle leaves the player with half the fairway as room for error on each side. If they decide to deliberately to draw a drive from the right side of the fairway or fade in from the left side they have immediately given themselves the whole fairway width as their landing area. Altogether this is a classic lesson in scoring well by understanding your individual limits.
Furthermore whilst we may be adamant we want to want to be able to hit the ball straight, shouldn’t we also be looking to control the ball flight movement in a similar way to the professionals. It’s definitely worth considering as we improve, though it’s unlikely to happen without some error along the way. Whilst a professional can play for a fade or draw, to find the centre of the fairway, your same intentions can sometimes see a ball aimed off the left side of the fairway for a fade turn into a lazer straight shot into the left hand side rough. This unfortunately happens because high to mid handicap players sometimes swing too much across the line by not rotating their shoulders, rather than down the line.
Generally if you are a low handicapper you are currently successfully drawing the ball and less likely to be too concerned about hitting the ball straight. You appreciate the extra length you get with a drawn shot and on the whole you can control it. On the other hand if your handicap is in double digits it’s likely you have less control of the ball off the tee and in the main slice your drives. Typically though the habitual slicer will settle in their mind for nothing less than the perfect straight shot, not appreciating the exact mechanics and precision required to do this. There are simply too many variables to control time and time again. The reality is that the ball flight will curve even if it is miniscule.
Thus it is only fitting that the next section describes exactly what has to happen in a fraction of a second for you to produce a dead straight shot, it may surprise you!
The Mechanics Of Hitting The Golf Ball Straight
So you may be asking “why do I struggle to hit the ball straight, particularly with my driver?” The answer is simple in so much the longer the club is the harder it is hit it straight. As a result it is rare to go a whole round hitting every fairway with your driver. Let’s face it, it’s incredibly difficult to consistently hit your driver straight drive after drive and you may well benefit from adopting a more shallow swing, using one with greater loft or using more forgiving clubs like the 3 or 5 wood. As for shorter clubs it gets a little easier, particularly if you acknowledge these two key fundamentals to help you hit the ball straight.
These two specific things need to happen simultaneously in a few milliseconds as you strike the ball, but before we discuss them it is important to explain these 2 terms:
The ball to target line is the line you want the ball to travel to reach its target in one straight shot.
The path the club head has to follow from the start to impact and then to follow through is known as the swing path.
Firstly at impact your clubface must be travelling straight along the ball to target line on the swing path and secondly it needs to point directly square at the target.
So let’s take a closer look at each of these points and why it can be challenging to achieve the two together.
The clubface must travel straight along the ball to target line
For the ball to be hit straight the club head needs to be travelling along the ball to target line. Having said this you might find it difficult to imagine how this actually happens with a circular swing path because the club head is only momentarily travelling towards the target. The clubface doesn’t travel on a straight line but instead it travels around our body in a circular motion. The flight and direction of the circular club head path determines the type of swing plane. All players swing around their body on varying swing planes but unless your plane is in to straight to in the club head will not be travelling along the ball to target line.
We can look at this in even more detail, almost as if we are zooming into that very moment the clubface contacts the ball and starts to compress it. We have all seen the slow motion images of the golf ball contracting and expanding and it’s true to say when a player swings inside to the ball and then carries on inside the clubface is even closing slightly during impact.
That being said it is far easier to imagine the clubface travelling along the ball to target line a couple of inches before and after where the ball is positioned at address. Afterwards the player continues to follow through and continues on an inward plane.
Consider Jim Furyk with his looping swing as clarification that it’s what happens at impact, those couple of inches before and after that really counts.
The clubface must point directly square at the target
Secondly in order for you to hit the ball straight you need to make sure the he club head must be square to the ball to target line. Being square is so important because the angle of the clubface determines the type of spin imparted on the ball. The clubface needs to be vertically square because the loft on a club makes it spin upwards and horizontally so as the ball isn’t sent left or right. Ideally your straight drive will have little backspin.
Earlier we referred to how difficult the driver can be to hit straight and you may forgive yourself for struggling when you understand that the shape of a club is designed to spin the ball. The toe of the club shapes the ball to the left and the the heel of the club shapes the ball to the right.
Tips And Drills To Help You Hit A Straight Shot
Realistically speaking it’s a fallacy to think you can hit dead straight golf shots all of the time. The explanation above highlights the technical expertise required on a consistent basis to achieve this feat.
Before you can set out to hit it straight you must first determine whether your swing plane is suited for the job.
To date you may be struggling with a slice and these articles “Golf Slice Correction – How To Fix Your Slice” and “How To Fix A Slice” will help fix this problem. They address how to correct your open clubface and your outside to inside golf swing in full detail. One tip to implement straight away is to ensure you slow your swing down. Coming down too quickly will increase the chances of you moving off plane. If it is open you will typically hit it to the right and if it is closed the ball will go to the left.
Assuming you have control of your swing plane and aren’t too prone to slicing or to hooking the ball the following tips and drills will increase your chances of hitting a straight shot. Remember the essence of performing drills is to concentrate on one swing improvement tip until you can incorporate it into your swing without any conscious thought. You need to be comfortable with one swing change before you move onto the next. Essentially you need to reinforce these techniques until you can trust your subconscious mind to hit the ball.
Try to avoid being too tense
Work on removing tension from your wrist and forearm muscles and learn instead to swing freely. A cluttered mind will always add tension and therefore start to improve by reducing the number of different swing thoughts in your head. It is far easier to release the club through impact without tension because a relaxed muscle is faster than a tense one. In addition less tension tense makes it far easier to rotate your shoulders and hit the straight shot you are looking for.
Remember feeling uptight with the driver, namely the club with the longest shaft and most flexible shaft, never bodes well for a smooth swing.
Hit with a neutral grip
The key to hitting it straight comes from maintaining a neutral grip, one described fully in this article “How To Grip A Golf Club Correctly”. It’s recommended reading and focuses on some of the key check points including counting the number of knuckles you can see when you address the ball. Ideally you will see only two knuckles on your left hand, anymore and you are likely to hook the ball. Equally check the number of knuckles visible on your right hand, you should see no more than three, anymore and you are likely to slice the ball. In conclusion the right hand controls the swing path and the left hand controls the angle of the clubface.
Set up correctly to the ball
Line up your feet, hips and shoulders parallel to the ball to target line at address. In lining up square to the ball to target line, make your life easier by picking a spot about six feet out in front of the ball to represent this imaginary line. Check that your left shoulder faces the target, perhaps the flag stick on a par 3.
Let the clubhead do the work for you
It’s important to let the speed of the clubhead do the work. Do not rely on trying to hit the ball hard, this is a recipe for mis-hits and far from straight shots. Making a quick upswing or lunging at the ball on your downswing will not serve you well. Your actual clubhead speed only matters in the foot or so through impact and in actual fact achieving maximum club head speed comes from having complete control and developing good tempo. Concentrate on your core fundamentals and rely on your hips and legs to generate the power and don’t hit from the top with your arms. In essence you will be well served by a good swing where you naturally put a solid controlled descending blow on the ball.
Learn to control your tempo and balance
Hitting a straight ball comes from keeping your downswing controlled and balanced. It is all too easy to change your angle of attack and swing plane by speeding up your downswing. This drill will help improve your tempo. Set out 2 parallel rows of 8 tees, each row should be about an inch apart. The rows need to about 8 inches apart. Then place a tee in the middle of the 2 rows. Practice swinging between the 2 rows with your driver and learn to consistently and smoothly swing through without touching the tees. Finally move onto hitting a ball for real keeping an even tempo and copying the technique you used practised without the ball.
Check the direction of your divots
Check your divots to determine whether you are hitting the ball with a square clubface. Your divots will clearly tell you he angle at which you struck the ball. If they aren’t pointing directly at the target you need to go back to basics making sure your feet and shoulders are lined up properly.
Determine the correct ball position for each club
The bottom of the swing arc represents the spot that the clubface is square to the ball to target line. It varies for each club and therefore it is critical you set up your ball position correctly at address. For pitching wedges and short clubs the ball should be positioned in the middle of your stance. For longer clubs the bottom is more towards the left foot. The clubface will be open if you play the club back in your stance and closed if played forward and past the bottom on the arc.
Only start your downswing when you have fully completed your upswing
Don’t attempt to start the downswing until you have completed the upswing as this can lead to open shoulders at impact. In this unfortunate position the club cuts across the ball creating a slice. Furthermore make some practice swings and assess whether your shoulders are parallel to the ball to target line at impact. Finally ensure you follow through letting your hands release naturally.
All too often the pleasure of walking up to the result of a beautifully struck tee shot is quickly replaced by the misery of thinning your approach over the green or worst into a hazard. There is no doubt the thinned golf shot is one that immediately dents your confidence. It leaves you feeling foolish and perplexed at how inconsistent your golf game really is!
The reality is that you may just get lucky with such a shot, because when you play a thinned approach it usually travels in a straight line and often further than you intended. Where your ball finishes is really in the lap of the gods and you may end up with either a good “bad one” or in trouble. Let’s just say it’s particularly ugly when you thin a chip close to the green, first you see the ball fly over the green, then the fringe and finally into deep rough or a bunker. The bottom line is that this is one shot you need to remove from your repertoire, it’s just too costly to have a golf swing prone to thinning the ball.
I’m sure you are all too familiar with the thinned shot hit on a winter’s day, where you feel the shaft shudder and a definite sting in your hands. It’s definitely true to say newer clubs are more forgiving but I certainly remember as a child some very painful thinned shots. Today the club heads are thicker, and perhaps the feeling isn’t as painful, but nevertheless the sheer frustration is just as great!
This article concentrates on how to avoid thinning the ball in the future by explaining the necessary corrections you can easily start to practice on the range before building into your full swing. First tough, before we jump into the specifics it important to clarify that apart from being called a thinned shot, some people call it a bladed shot, some also call it a skulled shot. Either way it’s definitely an exasperating mis-hit and only luck determines how penal it will be in each circumstance. Whilst it’s fair to say you haven’t topped the ball, an altogether more agonizing shot, as described here in “How To Stop Topping The Golf Ball” it’s equally safe to say you haven’t exactly hit the ball like you know you can.
In many situations the sight of the ball scuttling along the ground is instantly followed by an analysis of what occurred just seconds before. You can almost hear the golfer’s thoughts as they work overtime to fathom out how they can swing so well one moment and not the next. Unfortunately this is an all too common occurrence and typically the golfer needs to prevent themselves from thinning the ball again by investigating their own core swing fundamentals. All of which are addressed in the instructional advice and tips described below.
Fortunately you will soon know how to stop thinning balls. In time you will learn how to compress the whole of the golf ball and not just hit half of it. The following tips explain exactly what is meant by hitting the ball thin, the main reasons it happens, the exact causes for this mis-hit, and several cures to prevent this from happening again. Then finally you are presented with a set of drills to practice elements of your swing that are making you thin the ball. Successful repetition of the drills will allow yourself the opportunity to swing naturally and consistently without any conscious thought of any swing mechanics.
The good news is that you will shortly hitting balls out of the sweet spot, but before that happens we need to define exactly what a thinned golf shot is and how it is caused.
What Is A Thin Golf Shot?
A thinned shot is one where the leading edge of the club face strikes below the equator but not at the very bottom of the ball. If you hit above the equator you will top the ball and send it only a few yards forward. Ideally the ball should hit the middle of the club face, as you drive the ball forward allowing the loft of the club to do the lifting. Unfortunately as we are all too aware this doesn’t always happen and thus I would like to draw your attention to 11 different causes for thinning the golf ball.
What Causes A Thinned Golf Shot?
To prevent you from thinning it’s important to firstly understand what is causing it to happen. There are a number of reasons as to why you are hitting thinned golf shots, all of which are explained in full detail below.
Each one addresses why the leading edge of your club is striking the ball on its equator or below, but not at the bottom. They clarify what’s preventing you from hitting crisp shots off the fairway with a descending blow that creates a divot after the ball.
So let’s highlight and clarify several swing fault causes related to thinning you may have never considered. Only when you understand these causes can you move on to work out a remedy.
Here are the 11 reasons why golfers thin their golf shots.
1. You raise up during your backswing or downswing
During your backswing or downswing it is important not to raise your body otherwise you will be likely to thin the ball. The leading edge of an iron will thin a ball if a player slightly straightens their hips during their swing. Refrain from lifting up during the backswing because in doing so you pull your swing arc up a fraction and this is enough to significantly alter the point at which the ball is struck. Thus it is crucial to try and keep a consistent height throughout your golf swing. Try not to move your head up and be aware that your spine angle needs to be the same at address and impact.
2. You sway during your golf swing
Once you swing in a manner that alters your swing arc you are likely to mis-hit it on occasion. One way to change your swing arc is by simply swaying while you swing. This results in the lowest point of the arc moving an inch or so before the golf ball. Thus you will strike the ball on your upswing with a tendency to hit it just below the equator causing a thinned shot, or worst above causing a topped shot.
3. You swing too flat or steeply
A swing that is too flat can create a position at impact where it is difficult to make a solid contact. Equally this can happen if you are swinging too steeply whereby you are making a limited should turn and lifting the club too abruptly.
4. You hit from the top
The natural tension you build up in your backswing should be the driving force for a solid downswing. Overriding this with an emphasis on starting the downswing with your arms and hand is recipe for disaster and is known as hitting from the top. This leads to a number of common swing faults including thinning the ball.
5. You look up too early to see where your ball has gone
Most golfers are guilty at some stage of looking up to see where their ball has gone before actually hitting it. Unfortunately this can lead to thinning the ball because in moving the head up to look the body also rises up at the same time. As the body moves up, the clubhead finds itself on a new swing plane, one that will typically be an inch higher than intended. Thus the net result is the leading edge of the club hits the ball further up and nearer its equator than planned, leaving the golfer to ponder if only they had kept their head down than they would have never thinned their shot!
6. You are incorrectly transferring your weight
Too many players thin the ball due to poor weight transference. This is a situation where they are left leaving their weight on their back right foot as they try to lift the ball. The worst example being where one swings with a reverse pivot. This happens when the player’s weight is on their left side at the top of their backswing. Thus from this position they can only swing down and incorrectly transfer their weight away from the target to the right. The end result is a steep downswing that leaves the player susceptible to a thinned shot.
7. Your grip is turned around to the right
You can easily prevent a proper release through the ball at impact by having your grip turned around too much to the right. This makes it difficult for you to keep the club close to the ground after you have hit the ball. It’s recommended you refer to this article on “How to Grip a Golf Club Correctly” if you feel your grip is causing you to thin the ball.
8. You aren’t taking divots
Generally a low handicap player will consistently take a divot and this is because they commit to hitting down on the ball with a descending blow. Typically a larger divot is taken with the clubs with the greatest loft because the player is hitting down more. A beginner is often afraid to take a divot and believes that they should be hitting the ball flush off the fairway. This leads to an array of thinned and topped shots because there is too small a margin of error for someone who has just started playing the game.
Remember you need to commit to hitting down, and make a descending strike on the ball. Forget about trying to lift the ball up, let the loft on the club do the work. The ball will roll up the clubface when you hit down on it.
9. You have tension in your golf swing
Tension will cause you to shorten your swing arc resulting in the club being pulled away from the ground by a matter of a few millimeters. This is enough for you to thin the ball. As tension creeps in we begin to lose our tempo and start to rush our golf swing. By rushing we swing too hard and too quick. This leads to the arms bending at impact and in effect contracting them and narrowing the width of the swing arc. You will find yourself swinging with your grip behind the ball, thus increasing the chances of the ball being hit below its equator but above the ground.
Crucially the left arm should be straight at impact with a slight bend in the right arm. Make sure you don’t stick your right elbow out towards the target at impact, this “chicken wing” position should be avoided. You need to keep the arc as wide as possible and this can be achieved by keeping your left arm straight.
10. You swing with your ball too far forward
By setting up with the ball too far forward in your stance you will find you can only actually hit the ball on your upswing. In moving the swing arc forward you produce a divot behind the ball and only catch the ball as you move past the bottom of arc.
11. You don’t rely on the club’s loft to get the ball into the air
Remember the loft of your golf clubs will automatically lift the ball into the air. Many beginners forget this. Please resist from pulling up your arms during impact as a way to get the ball in the air. This can easily happen when playing fairway and long irons because you subconsciously believe these clubs have insufficient loft. This is a beginner’s trait but it can haunt an experienced player as they start to get in the way of themselves and simply don’t let the club do the work it was designed to do.
You only have to bend you arms a touch and you will automatically narrow the swing arc. This simple action will make you thin the ball because the club head hits the ball around the equator due to a reduction in the width of the swing arc. Thus the key lessons to learn are to trust the loft on your clubs and start to stretch your arms if you in anyway feel you are bending them.
Having learnt the reasons why you are thinning the ball you are now in a good position to use the following 6 cures to fix this fault.
How To Cure A Thin Golf Shot
Thankfully there are ways to cure your thinned shots. The following 6 cures will show you how to hit down and through the ball. As ever it is important to keep a good posture and ensure your left arm extends through impact with your elbows together. Learn to make this happen so as you can guarantee the clubhead will make impact in the same position each time at the bottom of the arc.
1. Keep a constant body height during your golf swing
As mentioned above raising your downswing or upswing will lead to you thinning the ball. This can be cured by ensuring you are rotating around the spine. Additionally work to keep your weight on your right side during your backswing and prevent yourself from straightening up by flexing your knees.
2. Ensure your golf swing has an arc as wide as possible
Create a wide arc by learning to take the club back low to the ground for the first foot of the takeaway. At the same time maintain a straight left arm and make sure you don’t collapse your wrist at impact. Working on maintaining good posture also leads to a wide golf swing arc.
3. Make a divot after the ball and not before
The concept of taking a divot can be an alien one for many beginners. Instead they look to hit it flush with not much success and in doing so they top and thin the ball. Thus I recommended you learn to cure your thinned shots by striking the ball on the descent so as you create a proper divot after the ball. A good tip is to remind yourself of this fact particularly with your fairway woods and hybrids as they also should also be hit with a downward blow.
4. Make sure the ball is positioned no further forward than your left heel
Position the ball no further forward than the left heel so as you avoid hitting on the upswing that can lead to thinning. Read this article “Proper Golf Stance Setup Tips” for advice on how to set up properly.
5. Keep your eye on the ball
You can cure your thinned shots by making a conscious decision to keep your eye on the ball and your head down. Only through the momentum of the follow through should your head come up. This way you won’t come out of the swing too early.
6. Check your weight transference
If you feel your left knee and shoulder dipping during your swing it means you have more than likely moved your weight to your left side. In this position there is no where to go and you have to transfer the weight to the right thus leading to a thinned shot as you raise the swing arc and your left side together. If you can correctly cure your weight transfer so as it is on the right side at the top of your swing you will reduce your chances of thinning the ball.
Having learnt what a thinned shot is , what causes it and 6 cures you can now move onto the next step to ingrain these corrections into your full swing. Thus make sure you add the following drills and fixes into your practice routine.
Drills and Fixes To Stop Thinning Golf Shots
These drills can be used to fix your problems thinning the ball. Learn to burn them into your subconscious so as they naturally become part of your swing.
1. How to avoid swinging with a flat swing plane
If you are tending to hit thinned golf shots due to a flat or rounded golf swing you should consider using this drill. Tee the ball up with a seven iron and about four inches behind it place another tee into the ground. Now if you swing with your flat swing you should find your club is catching the second tee behind the ball. Equally with the same swing you are likely to catch the second tee on your downswing. To improve your swing and make it steeper you should make a correction to your takeaway whereby you lift your club to avoid the tee behind the one you used to tee up your ball. Having lifted your club you should go on to make a full swing, over time by practicing this drill you will fix the plane of your swing so as it’s steeper and less likely to cause thinned shots.
2. How to swing on an upright plane
As mentioned previously a flat golf swing will make you prone to thinning the golf ball. If this is the reason you believe you are hitting poor shots along the ground you should consider using this drill to help you swing more upright. Set up as if you were going to hit a ball with your back just several inches from a wall. Now slowly start your takeaway keeping a careful eye on your clubhead. You can confirm the fact that you have a flat swing by hitting the wall fairly early on in your swing. Compare this to a golfer with a good upright swing plane where they will almost be able to complete their swing without touching the wall. Use the wall to alter you swing plane and recognise by what degree you need to change your flat swing.
3. How to take a divot correctly
It is important to hit down on the ball and create divots. Doing this will compress the ball and create a far better ball flight. One way to practice this is by playing half shots. Take your club back to a 9 o’clock position and follow through to a 3 o’clock position and simply concentrate on taking divots. I recommend mentally picking out a blade of grass in front of the ball and force yourself to drive down through the ball so as you cut right through the ground below the grass blade you are concentrating on. Once you have mastered this you can try some full shots to see whether you can take the same sized divots you did with you half swing.
4. How to hit the golf ball with a descending blow
It is paramount you make a descending blow so as you strike the ball properly. By learning to hit down on the ball with a good angle of attack you will quickly be able to say goodbye to your thinned shots. Try this drill. Take a stance with your weight evenly distributed, then pull your right foot back a foot and lift this foot so as you are are perched on your toe Next more your right foot slightly towards your left left. In effect you have made your stance narrower and all of your weight is on your left hand side . This setup forces you to strike down on the ball and in doing so create a divot. After several shots this way go back to your full swing and try to replicate this action of hitting down.
5. How to stop from swinging too steeply
Just like a flat swing can cause you to hit thin shots, one that is too steep will also cause this problem. The steep swing starts with the club being lifted and a limited amount of shoulder turn. This action results in a sliding motion, one that makes it difficult for the golfer to make full contact with the ball. You can correct this by concentrating on taking a wide swing with your arms and making the effort to have your back face the target at the top of your swing. In doing so you will wind up your body rather than sliding and consequently decrease the risk of thinning.
I recommend you also look at the drills on how to stop topping the ball as the difference between a topped and thinned shot can be fractions.
It’s safe to say we have all been left dumbfounded as we follow up a glorious fairway splitting drive with a miserable topped golf shot. Left perplexed we ponder how on earth we have only managed to hit the very top of the golf ball and as a consequence see it literally bounce a few yards down the fairway. A thinned shot may have at least maneuvered us a decent distance towards the green, but a topped leaves us fuming at the sheer waste of a shot we can ill afford to squander in this way.
I’m probably not the first to think at least a good whack with the putter would have resulted in an altogether more fruitful shot!
The reality is that in a fraction of a second our confidence is knocked and we immediately start to analyse why we made this school boy error. We quickly hunt for a cure as quickly as possible, knowing full well the topped shot is just lurking around the corner ready to pounce again when we are least expecting it.
Picture the scene, you have 175 yards left to reach the green, there’s hardly a breath of wind and the sun is beating down on the back of your neck. Everything is right with the world and one solid swing and you will be safely clear all of the danger including a stream running immediately in front of you. Then all of a sudden the expectant sound of a crisp iron shot is replaced with a thud as your ball bounces immediately in front of you before disappearing into the water hazard. There’s no doubt the topped shot in golf can sometimes be a card wrecker, and on other occasions you can take it in your stride if you have had the fortune to have avoided trouble. What’s guaranteed is that this all too common swing fault for beginners can rear its ugly head for even the most experience player and the result is never predictable. Bunkers either side of you, that you never imagined were in play, have a habit of wonderfully catching the most horrible topped shots that shoot off at an angle!
History shows that a player will immediately assess all parts of their swing following a topped shot, wanting to know exactly what caused them to top the ball and how to prevent it in the future. Many will default to the fact that they looked up at the moment of impact without truly looking into why they only managed to hit the very top of the ball. Others will ask themselves are they standing too close or too far away, is their swing too flat or steep, are they shifting their weight properly, are they dipping, are they swaying and the list goes on.
It can be a real struggle to pinpoint the answer and fix it.
Fortunately the instruction below will show you how to stop hitting topped shots on the golf course, it’s definitely time to end the frustration caused by topping the ball. Reading this article will enable you to understand what causes a top, the various cures to eliminate it and finally the drills to make sure you never top the ball again. No longer will you see your ball woefully bobble along the fairway, instead of successfully being airbourne ! Without a shadow of a doubt this swing fault can easily be fixed and see you once again consistently hitting out of the middle of the club again.
So let’s take a closer look at defining the topped shot and what specifically causes it.
What Is A Topped Golf Shot?
A topped golf shot is caused by a player hitting the ball above its equator. Compare this to a thinned shot where the leading edge of the club face catches the ball below the equator but not low enough to make full contact. If you hit the very top of the ball it will literally go only a few yards, a thinned shot will fly with a low trajectory and sometimes fly further than planned due to the large amount of top spin. A professional may indeed try to play a shot slightly thin when the shot in front of them calls for it, but they will never deliberately try to top the ball. There may only be fractions between how thinned and topped shots are struck, but they are poles apart when it comes to what the average golfer deems acceptable as part of their own game.
Now let’s look at 8 different causes for topping a golf ball.
What Causes A Topped Golf Shot?
The first step to prevent you from topping again is to understand exactly what is causing this occur in the first place. There are several reasons as to why you are hitting the top half of the ball and all of these are explored in detail below. Each explanation will help clarify different reasons as to why you are striking the ball in a manner that causes you to top the ball.
Here are 8 reasons why golfers hit topped golf shots.
1. Looking up too early
This is the most common reason why beginners top the ball. Far too frequently they look up too early to see where their ball has gone. As they look up, their head moves up and in doing so they raise their body at the same time. This consequently leads to the club head being pulled away from the intended swing plane, thus leading to only the top of the ball being struck. They are effectively coming out of their swing too early.
2. Hitting the ball on the upswing
The topped golf shot is often the result of hitting the ball on the upswing rather than on the downswing. By hitting above the equator you force the ball into the ground and from there it bounces along without ever properly getting in the air. It is critical to understand that the golf club should hit the ball on the descent, and in doing so you should be hitting a divot. Remember you should be hitting the ground under and in front of the ball. Often a beginner will falsely believe that they should be trying to hit the ball as they swing up. In fact they demonstrate this by moving their ball too far forward in their stance, thus increasing the chances of striking the ball incorrectly on their upswing.
3. Trying to hit the ball too hard
All too often a topped shot happens when you are trying to hit the ball too hard. Typically you have played a poor tee shot on a par four and you have still left yourself with a fairway wood or hybrid to the green. As a result you get tense, feel the need to swing harder, and bend your arms as you come through impact. By contracting you arms in this manner you inadvertently swing with your grip behind the ball resulting in the leading edge of the club striking the ball above the equator. At impact the left arm should be straight and the right arm slightly bent, avoiding at all costs the “chicken wing” position at impact where the elbow points out toward the target. Bending your left arm will prevent you from swinging with the widest arc possible.
4. Not relying on the club’s loft to get the ball into the air
The beginner will often feel the need to lift the ball into the air, when in fact they must appreciate that this will happen automatically due to the loft on their golf clubs. Thus if you are new to the game try to resist an action during impact where you try to get the ball in the air by pulling your arms up. You can unconsciously find yourself doing exactly this with your fairways woods and long irons because you believe the low loft found on these clubs isn’t enough to get the ball sufficiently into the air. By pulling your arms up you inescapably bend your arms and in doing so you narrow your swing arc. The reduction in the width of your swing moves the club head closer to the body and leads to the bottom of the club face hitting just the top of the golf ball. The lesson is to stretch your arms out and trust the loft on your clubs.
5. Raising up during the backswing or downswing
You will top the ball if you raise your body up during either your backswing or downswing. All too often a player will straighten their hips slightly and in doing so this motion will lead to the sole of the driver hitting the top of the ball. It is important to maintain the same height throughout the swing.
6. Swaying during the golf swing
Swaying can cause topping simply because you are in effect moving the arc of your swing. This action moves the lowest point of the arc to a position an inch or so before the ball. As a result you are more than likely to hit the ball on your upswing and above its centre, thus producing a topped shot.
7. Hitting from the top
A golfer hitting from the top with their arms and hands rather than letting the natural tension built up by the body initiate the downswing is prone to an array of miss hits including a topped shot.
8. Swinging with a reverse pivot
You may top the ball if you have swung with a reverse pivot. This means you have incorrectly transferred your weight to the left side at the top of your backswing and as you swing down you move it over to your right side away from the target. Typically the downswing will be steep and can be the catalyst for a number of faults included topped shots.
Now that you understand what may be happening within your golf swing to cause you to top, you will be in a better position to use the following 6 ways to cure this problem.
How To Cure A Topped Golf Shot
The following section gives you 6 cures to hitting topped golf shots. You will learn how to hit down and through the ball without topping it. By staying down on the shot the ball will be struck correctly and go up in the air as intended.
1. Resist from changing the height of your body during your golf swing
Raising your body during your downswing or upswing will increase the chances of topping the ball. To prevent the possibility of this happening I recommend you learn to rotate around your spine, keeping your weight on the right side during the backswing. Additionally keep your knees flexed through the swing, don’t them straighten up.
2. Maintain a wide arc in your golf swing
Set a wide arc from the beginning by taking the club back low to the ground for the first foot or so. Simultaneously ensure your left arm is as straight as possible so as you avoid it collapsing along with your wrist through impact. Furthermore increase your chances of performing a wide arc in your golf swing by maintaining a good posture.
3. Learn to take a divot after the ball
Working on taking a divot after the ball can be a difficult concept for the newbie golfer to grasp. Instead they try to hit the golf ball flush and not surprisingly often mishit with the result being a thinned to topped shot. You will cure your topped shots once you can consistently strike the ball on the descent, creating a divot after the ball. This also applies to hitting your fairway woods and hybrids as they also need to be hit with a small downward strike.
4. Position the ball no further forward than the left heel
To avoid hitting the ball on the upswing and consequently topping it I recommend a cure whereby the ball is positioned no further forward than the left heel. Look at this article titled Proper Golf Stance Setup Tips for further advice.
5. Keep your eye on the ball
By keeping your eye on the ball you will be forced to keep your head down during your downswing. Your head should only come up with the momentum of the follow through. This simple cure will help prevent you from coming out of the swing too early.
6. Check your weight transference
Check you don’t have too much weight on your left leg during your backswing. It is important to have the majority of your weight on the right side at the top of your backswing. You will feel you have swung incorrectly if your left knee and shoulder dip during your backswing. If you have most of your weight on your left side at the top of your swing the inevitable will happen as you start your downswing, namely all of your weight will move to the right side. Next your left side will raise up along with the arc of the swing, consequently leading to the club face hitting the ball above its centre.
Now that you have read what a topped shot is, what causes it and 6 proven cures, it’s time to study 5 drills and fixes for you to incorporate into your next practice session on the range.
Drills And Fixes To Stop Hitting Topped Golf Shots
All of the following drills can be used to help prevent you from topping any further shots. Apply these corrections on the range so as in time they naturally become part of your swing.
1. How to restrict dipping and swaying
As mentioned previously it is important to restrict the amount you dip and raise your body during your golf swing. A good drill here is to have a friend place his out stretched hand on your head whilst you make a swing, making sure the friend’s stance is such that you won’t hit his feet on your downswing. If you start to move your head up, your friend and you will definitely feel it and you will know you haven’t maintained a fixed head position.
When your head comes up, you will also pull your upper body up and hence your arms and club. It only takes for you to rise up half an inch to catch the top of the ball with the bottom edge of the club face. If you have a tendency to bend your knees you will also need to maintain that position all the way through impact as well.
Your friend will also be able to tell whether you are swaying your body even if you can’t feel the movement yourself. If you are alone and it’s sunny, you can also check how much your body sways by studying the shadows.
As a final word on this drill it is worth reading the free chapter on The Backswing from The New Magic Moves To Winning Golf if you haven’t done so already, so as you can benefit from knowing how to reach the top of your swing without swaying to the right.
2. How to maintain good swing rotation
Hold a club horizontally across your chest, held with your hands folded flat against chest. The handle should point to the target and when you swing correctly with a good shoulder rotation the grip should point to the ball. Use this drill to practice the correct backswing body rotation.
Next continue the drill with a downswing through impact. A clear signal that you have swung through correctly is when you face the target with your right shoulder lower than your left. If you find you are swinging through with your right shoulder level or above the left shoulder it is likely you have raised your body on the downswing. This often occurs due to an incorrect set up and poor posture and the need to compensate during the golf swing.
3. How to stop looking up too early
It’s recommended you spend time on the range working on delaying the action of looking up. This way you can counter any instinct to go looking for your ball. By keeping your eye on the ball you maintain the angle of your swing and don’t run the risk of topping because of any angle changes. It is important though to not restrict yourself too much and the exact amount can only be accurately determined by working on the range.
4. How to stop raising your swing arc
Here are some pointers and checkpoints to stop you from raising the arc of the swing.
Ideally you should set up with your knees only slightly bent. Bending too much only means you will straighten up too much as you begin your backswing and as a consequence raise your swing arc. To determine further whether you are moving your head, set up with your head up against a wall and swing maintain your swing angle and preventing yourself from lifting your body as you make a golf swing.
Another checkpoint is to pay attention to your right knee. Make sure you aren’t straightening the right knee into a locked position at the top of your swing and thus raising the arc of your golf swing. The right knee should be slightly bent throughout the swing. I recommend keeping your right heel on the ground a fraction longer in order to prevent topping the ball by raising the swing arc.
5. How to correctly take a divot
As pointed out earlier it is critical to hit the ground under and in front of the ball. If you are currently having problems doing this I recommend you mentally pick out an piece of grass in front of your ball in order to create a divot. This should make it easier to hit the ball on the descent and thus make a divot after ball.
Time and time again we see a player boom a drive straight down the middle of the fairway only for them to hit their approach just a few yards, as they hit a truly awful fat golf shot. I believe we have all been there. It’s hard to forget that feeling as your body jars and you quickly check to see if you have hurt your hands or wrists – amidst the embarrassment of having played one of the worst shots in golf. There’s no doubt, a fat shot instantly knocks your confidence, especially when the divot flies further than your golf ball!
Typically players will rack their brain for answers and question every part of their swing in an effort to work out why they hit it fat and how to stop it. They question how in one minute can they drive with perfect swing tempo, nailing the ball into position A on the course and then next derail with a horrendous shot where they strike the ground before the ball. It can certainly cause a fair amount of panic as they frantically search for a cure to help them stop hitting any further fat shots in the future.
Fortunately there is a way to fix this ghastly swing fault and it starts with understanding exactly what a fat shot is and what precisely causes it. This instructional article will aid you with the specific reasons as to why you are hitting the ball fat and then run you through several drills and fixes to help you eliminate it from your game.
So let’s move on to defining what a fat golf shot is.
What Is A Fat Shot?
A fat shot occurs when you hit behind the golf ball. The club head impacts the ground before the ball resulting in a poor shot covering hardly any of the intended distance. As well as being called a fat shot, you will also hear it called a duffed shot, or a sclaffed shot. When a player hits a fat shot around the green you will also hear the expression “chunked”.
Quite simply instead of cutting into the grass after the ball, a divot is created before the ball when the club head cuts in to the ground an inch or so behind the ball.
The next section analyses what causes a fat golf shot to occur.
What Causes A Fat Golf Shot?
It is important to understand the causes and reasons as to why you may be hitting fat shots before you start to work on the fundamentals to correct this golf swing fault. If you have an inconsistent swing it isn’t good practice to simply compensate for your problems with quick fixes. It is much better to discover the underlying problems and work on rectifying them.
Below you find the 5 reasons why golfers hit fat golf shots.
1. Swinging too steep into the ball
A steep over the top swing causes a fat shot. This is a common fault because it typically occurs for golfers that slice the ball. A steep swing results in an angle of approach that is far too sharp. If this sounds like you, you are most likely tilting your shoulders instead of turning them. It is far better to have a golf swing that turns around the body and not an awkward steep up and down movement. You should work to ensure you have a shallower plane where the shoulders are level. All too often golfers with a steep swing drop their right shoulder on the downswing and inadvertently catch the ground in front of the ball.
2. Swinging too shallow into the ball
Generally a low handicapper will hit a fat shot by swinging too shallow into the ball, rather than being too steep. A shallow plane is usually evident in someone who hooks the ball. Often the club comes in too close to the ground and unfortunately catches it before the ball. The shallow fat shot is rarer than a steep fat shot.
3. Leaving your weight on the back foot
The key to any good golf swing is the transference of weight from your right side to your left side. If you move your weight over to your right on your upswing, but leave it there on your downswing you are likely to hit a fat shot. It is critical on your downswing to move your weight over to the left side. All too often a fat shot is caused by a player leaving their weight on their right side because they have tilted to the left rather than made a deliberate transfer of weight from right to the left side.
With too much weight on the right side, a golfer can drop their right shoulder and curve their body like a bow. In this position it’s difficult to make the necessary lateral shift and far too easy to hit it fat.
4. Ball too far forward or too close
Check your posture because a fat shot can be caused by having the ball too far forward at address. This is also true if you are standing too close to the ball. Such a setup creates a situation whereby the lowest point of the swing is behind the ball, thus making you prone to hit a fat shot.
5. Forcing the shot
Picture the situation, you’re standing on the fairway and you convince yourself it’s better to hit a club hard rather than taking it a little bit easier with a longer club. Effectively you are pressing too hard for distance with your chosen club and in such situation it is far too easy to end up lunging at the ball because you aren’t totally comfortable. In an effort to hit the ball hard you make too sharp a transition at the top of your swing and descend with a steep strike too far behind the ball.
Fortunately whilst you may be susceptible to hitting fat shots due to some of the above reasons, there is hope in the form of the 5 ways to cure your fat shots set out below.
How To Cure Your Fat Shots
The following 5 cures will help you fix the things that are currently making you hit the ball fat. In the process you will learn the importance of swinging on the right plane and how to shift your weight correctly.
Fixing your tendency to hit the ball fat literally comes down to getting the fundamentals right. To begin with you need to maintain your posture and minimise any sway as described in the first cure below.
1. Check your posture and setup
Make sure you check your posture and setup. By keeping your chin up and your head away from your chest you will make it a lot easier to swing through. It is important to keep your posture without lowering your head. Check that you are leaning forward, around 20 degrees from your hips.
A low posture leads to fat shots. Don’t dip your body. Check you aren’t bending your left arm due to a low posture. When you take the club away check you don’t hit the ground a few inches behind the ball. If you are too low you will more than likely hit it fat unless you straighten up.
The grip isn’t usually a factor in these situations; though remember to follow the principles in this article titled “How to Grip a Golf Club Correctly”.
2. Check your balance
Ensure you are balanced without your weight going forward onto the ball of your foot. Keep balanced by having it between the heel of each foot and the ball with a slight favoring towards your heel. I recommend you read this article titled “Proper Golf Stance Setup Tips”.
3. Transfer your weight correctly
Learn to shift your weight properly on your downswing from right to left. On your upswing your weight will move to your right side and on your downswing you should transfer it to your left side. Remember 80% of your weight should be on the front foot at impact.
4. Check your swing plane – nether too steep nor too shallow
If you are swinging on a steep plane you should flatten your shoulder turn to encourage a shallower plane. In doing so try to swing more around your body. For the shallow swing you should push the club away on the upswing, so as it doesn’t come inside so much. This way when you turn through the bottom of the swing will move forward, thus ensuring you strike the ball at the right point on your swing arc.
5. Keep your eye on the ball
Finally a classic tip we have all heard before but very pertinent for this situation, namely keep your eye on the ball – don’t go looking after the ball flying down the fairway, before you have even hit it. By making a deliberate point to keep your eye on the front of the ball you will improve your hand eye coordination.
Having discussed ways to cure a fat shot, it is now appropriate to list 4 drills and fixes for you to work with on the practice range.
Drills And Fixes To Stop Hitting Fat Shots
Having determined what is causing you to hit fat shots, the next step is to practice drills that will improve your golf swing. Whilst you will almost certainly apply conscious thought to any swing correction made during practice, the end result should be no more fat shots when you swing unconsciously on the course. You will play your best golf when you rely on muscle memory out on the golf course, due to the fixes becoming a natural part of your golf swing. Through dedicated practice you can definitely make the necessary fixes to your swing.
1. How to check whether you are hitting it fat
This drill allows you to determine how fat you are hitting the golf ball.
Place a tee two inches away from the golf ball, but lined up with the spot you want to make impact, namely the front of the ball. This way you can look down having played the shot and see exactly where you made a divot. Ideally the divot will start where you placed the tee, if it’s in front then you have hit a fat shot. Divots should always be created on the target side of the ball.
If you are on the range you will probably prefer to use a coin instead of a tee, but place the coin directly behind the ball with just enough space from the ball to strike it without hitting the coin. This works well because on the range it is difficult to tell to what extent you are hitting fat shots. If you don’t move the coin you know you have hit the ball before the ground.
2. How to improve your weight transference
To aid your weight transference it’s good to learn how to push through the ball. You can train yourself to do this by moving the ball so as it is adjacent to the left toe. Learn to stay down as you transfer your weight from right to left. In doing so learn to focus on stretching out towards the ball, ensuring you fully transfer your weight to your left side.
3. Drill A: How to develop a shallower swing plane
As mentioned above you should work to ensure you have a shallower plane where the shoulders are kept level. This can be done by crossing your arms across your chest, taking a stance without a club and then turning as if to make a golf swing but keeping the shoulders level. As you practice this technique make sure the left shoulder is kept up and doesn’t dip down.
4. Drill B: How to develop a shallower swing plane
This is a great fix for golfers hitting fat shots due to having a steep swing plane. A steep plane will be someone tilting their shoulders rather than turning them. Simply practice your golf swing on a hill lie so as the ball is above your feet, as this encourages you to play with a flatter swing.
The golf shank will come as a complete shock, occurring completely out of nowhere. You can be playing perfectly well with no hint of what’s about to happen on your next shot, then suddenly you are left dumbfounded questioning all parts of your game. Some golfers call the shank the worst shot in golf because in one instant you can lose total confidence in your golf swing. It can demoralise a player and cause panic for the rest of the round. They are left cringing and embarrassed at executing a truly awful golf shot, desperately seeking a cure as quickly as possible.
In a nutshell the shank is a golfing nightmare, but fortunately the tips and instruction below will enable you to quickly and easily cure your shanking. You will also learn what causes this dreadful mis-hit and how to stop your shanks with several different drills listed below.
What Is A Shank?
A player suffers from a shank when the ball hits the hosel (neck) or socket of the golf club instead of on the club face. The hosel is the part of the club where the club face meets the shaft.
The ball will typically fly sideways to the right (for a right handed golfer) at a 45 degree angle. This is because of the rounded surface of the hosel. Sometimes the angle that the ball flies off at can be even more acute. Not surprisingly this can be disastrous as the ball often flies into a bunker, deep rough, or even worst out of bounds. Normally a shank will be followed with another one in the course of a round and perhaps like you are experiencing now, a player takes it upon themselves to research why they are shanking and how it can be cured.
What Causes A Shank?
A shank happens when the player moves the club head further away from their body on the downswing in comparison to how they set up at address. Generally this happens when they are hitting short irons or chipping, because there is less time to correct the swing and the hosel is larger on the pitching and sand wedges than on the other irons. At the same time the open club face accentuates the chances of the ball being hit with the hosel.
In order to fix this problem it is important to understand the major reasons for hitting a shank. Once you can define the exact reasons for your own shank, you will be in a better position to cure it.
1. Shifting your weight forward
A shank will occur if during your downswing you shift your weight from your heels to your toes. As your weight moves forward you will begin to lean forward. As this happens the club head will move out from the body about an inch and a half. This forward movement means the hosel is now positioned where you intended the centre of the club face to be. Thus the result is a shank as the ball is hit with the hosel.
2. Standing too close to the ball
You may find that you are standing too close to the ball, resulting in a steep swing arc because of the difficulty one has in turning their shoulders from a position like this. This isn’t the perfect setup and you will naturally try to correct it, but in doing so your club head will move away from your desired swing path. The taller you stand the more tendency you will have to throw the club further out and away from your body. On your downswing your arms will move away from your body and thus the club head moves off the correct swing path. Again inadvertently you will find yourself striking the ball with the hosel and not the centre of the club face.
3. Swinging outside to inside
You will be prone to occasionally shank if you have outside to inside swing. This is particularly true if you are too tense and try to hit the ball too hard. Ideally a golfer should always swing inside their target line until the moment of impact, but unfortunately for the vast amount of golfers this simply doesn’t happen. When a player comes over the top they swing on an outside to in path pulling their arms across their chest and further away from the body. Likewise with the previous two causes a shank occurs due to the position of the club head in relationship to the ball.
4. Excessive body turn
When the body rotates too much, you can create a situation where the arms aren’t able to catch up. This also results in a player having an open clubface at impact where by the hosel is more likely to make contact with the ball than any other part of the club head.
5. Hands in front of the ball
If you have your hands in front of the ball at address there is a tendency to fan open the club face on your upswing. Consequently on the return it will go too far out in front as you come back down. Typically you do not have enough time to rotate your wrists in time to prevent hitting the ball with the hosel.
6. Sitting back in your stance
Are you sitting back in your stance? This can also cause a shank. By this I mean are you leaning back too much on your heels. If you set yourself up in this position you will naturally counter balance it and move your weight forward towards your toes on your downswing. In doing so you will involuntarily move your club face further away from your body, thus increasing the chances of hitting the ball with the hosel and not the club face. This particularly happens with the short irons where you can easily bend forward and as a result you will fall forward on your downswing.
How To Cure Your Shank
The following instructional tips explain several different ways to cure your shank. They will give you the confidence to succeed and start to play good golf again. Naturally you will feel less anxiety and stress once you know you have addressed the main reasons why you are shanking and have worked on aspects of your game to fix this swing fault.
1. Stay balanced
Before you swing make sure you check your posture and maintain the feel of your weight in the centre of your feet. Stay balanced without sitting too far back or the opposite of leaning forward too much.
2. Make room
Don’t be cramped when swinging, there is no reason to limit the space you have to swing in. Always check the distance between your zipper and your club grip, it should be about one hand span. Your arms need to hang away from you, not dropping directly down.
Relax your grip and remove some tension. Sometimes you try to hit the ball hard and this can lead to an outside to inside swing. Always remember to check your divots to see if you are coming from the inside, or from the outside chopping across it.
4. Hit off the toe of the club
One quick tip to cure your shank during a round is to align the ball more towards the toe of your club. If you are finding that you have a tendency for the club face to swing through more away from your body then a quick fix is to deliberately hit the ball with the toe of the club.
Drills To Cure Your Shank
Once you have highlighted a particular cure for your shanks it is important to work on drills that further ingrain the correct swing fundamentals. By applying these drills you will minimise the chances of a shank happening again.
1. Hit shanks shots on purpose
As strange as this may seem by knowing and feeling how to recreate a shank the less likely you are you play one on the course. You become acutely aware of your own swing characteristics and weaknesses that may open you up to a shank if you aren’t mindful to regularly check your posture and takeaway.
2. Place a ball under each toe
By placing a ball under each toe you effectively put yourself into a position where you aren’t reaching for the ball. Hitting shots like this will get you used to the feeling of not falling forward in your downswing.
3. Place a basket next to your ball
On the range place a basket or club head cover next to the outside of the ball. The aim is then not to hit the basket as you make your swing. If you find you are hitting part of the basket you should study the various reasons for a shank above and determine what you are most likely doing wrong. You can also set up a row of tees as an alternative, if you are playing off grass.
4. Take a closed stance
Set up to the ball and then move the foot furthest from the target back a foot, as if you were going to move forward. This stance encourages an inside to outside swing and limits excessive body movement. This way you can practice rotating your hands and releasing the club head properly, without leaving it open at impact and increasing the risk of the hosel catching the ball before the club face.
5. Place a towel under your arms
Place a towel under your arms to maintain a controlled swing where your arms will feel connected to your body. This prevents your arms from getting pushed out and away on your downswing.
The most infuriating problem faced by good golfers around the world is the hook and therefore it isn’t surprisingly that they will hunt high and low for a cure or at least a way to reduce the damage this frustrating swing fault can cause. Luckily by purely following the simple pointers below you will be able to easily implement the right adjustments to prevent any further hooks in your game. Without doubt the right golf swing corrections will see you hit lazer beam straight shots, with no fear whatsoever of ever snap hooking again.
What is a hook?
A hook is where the golf ball will start straight and curve to the left, assuming you are a right handed golfer, or start out slightly to the right and then curve to the left. This type of shot is due to two factors.
The two main causes for hooking the golf ball
One the golfer is swinging with an inside to out golf swing and two at impact the club face is closed. By this I mean the golf club face is closed in relation to the direction the club head is following at the moment of impact. If you were to draw a line perpendicular to the face you would notice it goes to the left of where the player intends to hit the ball.
Your natural assumption may therefore be that with a closed club face, shouldn’t the ball fly to the left of the intended line of flight in a straight line. In actual fact with the force of the club head being applied with an inside to out swing the closed face will result in the ball curving to the left. When you see the ball come off the face to the right and then curve in a wide arc to the left you can guarantee the player has swung far too much from the inside.
If the force of the club head is applied with an outside to in swing the ball may hook to the left or effectively stay straight. If it goes left of the target in a straight line this is a pull and at the moment of impact the face will be square to the path of the club head.
Sometimes a player can close the face so much that the ball immediately curves to the left, this is called a snap hook. If the club face is closed even further the golfer actually smothers the ball, resulting in a shot that hardly leaves the ground.
How to cure your golf hook
Thus to cure your golf hook you need to fix your closed club face.
Fixing your closed club face
All golfers should aim to have a square club face (parallel to your left forearm, at a 45-degree angle to the ground) at the top of their golf swing. A closed club face at the top will almost inevitably mean a closed one at impact. A fully closed face will cause a hook.
Therefore I recommend if you are suffering from a hook you should ask yourself what is causing you to have a closed face at the top of the swing. Fortunately I have the answer for you, it is caused by one or a combination of three things. They are poor grip, bad backswing and a domination right hand.
Three steps to curing your golf hook
Let’s study each of these points in order to fix your hook.
1. How to fix a poor grip
All too often a closed club face is caused when you can see more than three knuckles on your right hand at address. This results in the right hand being too prominently on top of the shaft. Equally you need to check whether the left hand is under the shaft too much because again this will also lead to a closed club face.
Whilst you may set up with this faulty grip and address the ball with a square club face, you will find as soon as you start your backswing your hands will instinctively rotate to the left to regain a more natural comfortable position. In doing so your club face will close and remain so all the way to the top of your golf swing. So at the top your hands have returned to a relaxed position but the clubhead has turned in such a manner that the face is closed.
As a consequence the club face remains closed on the downswing unless the wrists are rolled to right on the downswing.
To fix this problem simply read how to grip a golf club correctly.
2. How to fix a bad backswing
Let’s look in detail at how your bad backswing is causing you to have a closed club face at the top of your golf swing.
Typically there are two types of backswing that cause this problem.
The first bad backswing is one that starts too flat. In these circumstances the golfer will open the club face quickly and then follow this by closing it just as quickly. This results in the face being closed tight. Compare this to a batter in baseball where the wrists are rolled to the right as he swings around his body. Typically though the golfer will roll his hands back too much to the left on his downswing and hence close the club face. Thus if you find yourself hooking the ball take a moment to check your backswing is not too flat.
The second bad backswing is one where will see golfers pick up the club with a dominate right hand and cast the club over their right shoulder. This action will result in a closed face. This kind of swing more than most makes it far too easy for the right hand to dominate at the top of a golf swing. Generally though this is a beginner’s fault where the player has a complete lack of understanding of how the golf swing should move in one piece.
3. How to fix right hand domination
A third reason after poor grip and bad backswing as to why you may hook the ball is you could have a dominate right hand on your downswing. This will happen when you have a weak position at the top with your left wrist sitting under the shaft. In this position the right hand will control the downswing.
When you hook you will notice your right hand gripping more than your left hand. When in actual fact the left hand should grip more than the right because this is the one hand that dominates in the golf swing. This happens naturally with the grip we teach because left palm does the majority of the gripping. The left hand should always make a stronger golf grip than the right.
A dominate right hand is prone to make you swing outside to in with a rolling of the wrists. It is vitally important to work on maintaining a strong left hand position with the right hand under the shaft to avoid a pulled hook.
To cure your hook always check that your right wrist is under the shaft and that the left hand is strong at the top of your swing.
In conclusion to stop hooking and to cure this fault you need to be aware of the shape of your swing, your grip and the angle of your club face. The reality is you may need to work on all three of these factors or just the one in order to cure your golf hook.