Here are a few of the worst swing flaws in golf with a description of why they occur and how to cure them:
Topping the Ball
This is the typical shot of a beginning player but there are times when even the average player tops the ball. Let’s understand why you top the ball. There are a couple of reasons you would top the ball. The first, is because your body is raising up through impact. In other words, you started with your body tilted when you assumed you setup position, then you hit the ball on less of a tilt. Because of this raising up, your club comes off of the ground higher than your pre-determined at set up. This raising up causes you to hit the top of the ball.
The next reason a ball is topped is because you set up with your arms extended, and by the time you hit the ball, you do so with your arms bent. This bending of your arms (aka: chicken wing) shortens the swing arc versus the one you started with and again the club comes into the ball higher than when you started.
So how do you stop topping the ball? Answer: Swing easier!!! Think about it for a second. If you are a beginner, wouldn’t you rather get the airborne than hitting it along the ground. Obviously you said, yes! If you get every ball in the air, you are hitting shots with more consistency than if you roll them along the ground. Once airborne, you will gain confidence. Then, you can start to work on distance and accuracy. So for beginners, this should be priority one. Your thought shouldn’t be, “I’m going to crush this one”. Your new thought should be, “I’m just going to get this ball in the air”. Trying to crush the ball is like running before you can walk. Why would you think that you can do something that it took a better player years to master?
For the average player that tops the ball, you have to slow down a little and allow your arms to relax throughout your swing. Again, those topped shots are coming from you trying to hit the ball too hard. Your thought should be that you are never going to swing over 80% of your ability. You are no longer going to try to impress your friends, keep it up to the long ball hitter in your group, reach unreachable par 5’s in 2 shots or take less club and try to overpower the shot. For you, slowing down and swinging easier will eliminate these topped shots. Once you eliminate the topped shots from your game, you will reduce your score giving you more confidence that will take you game to the next level.
This shot not only has your swing path to the left but it also has you with your clubface open at impact. This means you actually have 2 flaws when you hit a slice. Now, if you are someone who hit this type of shot, you have to get the clubface squaring first. Think of a pro for a second. When a pro hits a ball, the clubface is not coming through wide open, it is relatively square. So the next time you go to the range, do some practice swings rolling the clubface closed through impact. Then, keep rolling your wrists over earlier in the downswing until the ball hooks to the left consistently. I know that hooking the ball is still a bad shot but If you can consistently hook the ball … you are no longer a slicer!
Once you get it hooking consistently, it’s time to work on the direction of your shots. So forget rolling your wrists and focus on turning your body to start the downswing. As you turn properly in the downswing, you body will tilt to the right through impact. If your body tilts right, your club will swing out at the ball thus changing your swing path. If you couple this outward path with a squaring face, you will not hit the ball straight or with a slight draw. Now the slice is gone forever!
If you’re skying your drives, your head is moving ahead of the ball at impact. This is because you are shifting onto your left leg too soon, thus, forcing the club to descend as it hits the ball. If the club is descending, and the ball is up on a tee, it will go right underneath the ball popping it up in the air. To cure this type of shot, just feel like your head is behind the ball upon impact. An easy way to fix this flaw is to tee the ball up with the logo facing right where the club is going to make contact with the ball. As you take the club back and swing down, keep looking at the logo. If your head moves forward it will be impossible to see the logo as you hit it. So, try this simple tip and you will stop skying forever!
Typically, a more experienced player will see this type of flaw creep into their game. A shank is caused because you are rolling onto your toes when you hit the ball. This puts you closer to the ball than you were at set up. If you start with the ball in the middle of the clubface at address, then move closer by an inch or 2, the ball will hit the hosel of the club. To remedy this problem, all you have to do is slow down and relax your arms. Then, take the club to the top of the backswing and stop. At this point, feel 80% of your weight load into your right instep at the top of the backswing. Once you feel the weight loaded, gently swing down and though finishing with 90% of your weight on the outside of your left heel. Keep relaxing your arms and doing this “stopping at the top” drill for a few minutes. After you get the feeling of where the weight should be, hit some easy shots without stopping. Keep doing easy shots until you gain confidence. This confidence will allow you to slowly build your swing speed back up and eliminate the shanks forever!
Hitting Behind the Ball (Fat Shots)
This shot can be quite depressing because not only does the ball fly way shorter than normal, but hitting this shot at the wrong time, can cause you to hit the ball into the water, bunker or long grass. Now you’re faced with trying to hit a recovery shot with little to no confidence.
To understand why the club hits behind the ball imagine you have an arc swinging around an axis. This is your club swinging around your body. Now if you tilt the axis closer to the ground the swinging arc will not have enough clearance thus causing it to hit the ground behind the ball.
In tilting your body too much to the right at impact, you will feel that you have a ton of weight on your right foot as you hit the ball. So all you have to do to remedy this shot is allow your weight to come off of your right heel sooner through impact. You should not be flat footed when you hit the ball. If you can get the weight off of the right heel, your body will have the correct tilt through impact allowing your arc to clear.
Those are a few of the worst shots in golf and how to fix them. It’s really not that difficult to apply the correct fix and start making great contact again if you understand “why” they are occurring and what fix to apply. The next time you play, just take note of what your flaws and refer back to this article to apply the correct fix.
All the best,