All beginning golfers start out topping the ball because they think they have to help get the ball airborne. Golf is a game of opposites -you need to hit down for the ball to go up.
There are a number of reasons for topping the ball. Pay attention to the following areas of your swing:
- Wrists are usually the real culprit. If wrists are uncocking before impact, you are going to hit the ball fat or top the shot.
- “Flipping the wrists” rather than letting the arms swing. When the wrist flips, the club head raises and you top the ball.
- Arms must extend at impact and not before.
- If your knees are moving up and down, you will top the ball. Instead, the target knee needs to stay flexed on the backswing and the trail knee needs to be flexed at impact.
- Having a reverse pivot can cause a topped shot. You need to shift your weight correctly to the trailing side instead of keeping your weight on your target side.
- The ball must be hit with a descending angle of approach using the leading edge of the club.
- You must maintain your “spine angle” throughout the shot. Many golfers have their hips moving toward the ball at impact instead of rotating toward the target.
- Fear of hitting the ground. Some golfers tense up, and the club never makes contact with the grass, thus topping the ball. The grass under and in front of the ball is your friend.
- Finally, playing the ball too forward in your stance can cause you to hit the ball on the upswing.
Here are some tips and drills to practice to help you improve.
- Take a divot after the ball (Slanted tee drill. Put tee 1 inch in front of ball with head of tee slanted toward the ball). Club must hit tee out of the ground.
- Hit practice balls off a powder line and get rid of the powder and the grass in front of the ball.
- Put a penny or ball marker under the ball and practice hitting the penny.
- Place some face tape on the clubface and get the leading edge of the club to hit first and have the ball’s image high on the face tape.
If all else fails, give your local golf professional a call.
Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at local courses. firstname.lastname@example.org; golfdoctorjean.com