We are all taught to overcome golf’s biggest mistake – scooping – by trying to hit down on the ball. “Hitting down on the ball” is good advice only if you know what it means. For Golfing Machine aficionados, not only do you hit down, but also out, and also forward.
First, understand the perspective. This advice makes sense if you imagine a camera positioned above your head that is looking down your head, shoulders, torso, hips, arms, grip, shaft to the ball. Given this perspective, the club head travels in an arc that bottoms out on the target side of the ball (see photo). Unfortunately, when your club head bottoms out at the backside of the ball, three significant things happen:
1. loss of compression
2. loss of distance
3. loss of accuracy
For PGA Tour professionals, accuracy is within inches of their target. Recently, Tiger Woods credited his ability to “flight” the ball consistently as the reason for his improved accuracy. So much so that he hit the flagstick on hole 15 during the Masters when the ball caromed back into the water. He can do this because he controls the compression.
Second, again from the afore mentioned perspective, the club head travels in a curve that goes back – up – and in as you swing the club over your right shoulder. Then it travels down – out – and forward through the ball. Then it goes in – up – and back as the arc is completed over your left shoulder. If this path were vertical, it would resemble a Ferris Wheel. If this path were horizontal, it would resemble a Merry Go Round. Our paths vary based on our size, posture, and style. Some more steep; some more shallow.
The third and final piece is the notion that the club head travels forward. Whenever we throw something: “Hey, toss me that apple, or baseball, or candy bar, or football”, we are target conscious. This target consciousness for the golfer ensures that the club head doesn’t stick in the ground. The club head is just an extension of your right arm. The club head hits the ball first – driving the ball into the ground as the tee indicates (see photo) and as the forward motion continues the club head comes out of the ground on the way to the target.
In reality, the ball won’t go into the ground because it bounces off the face angle of the club you are using. Your goal is to try to drive the ball into the ground rather than “scooping” it into the air.
Practice hitting down – out – and forward. Start with short iron half shots. Soon your ability to “flight” the ball will result in lower scores and more fun. We can’t all hit 300 yard drives, but we can all develop extremely accurate shot shots.
Even us older folks!
Ed Sehl, PGA teaches golf at the Tega Cay Golf Club and can be reached through his website, EdSehlGolf.com.