Stop striking it heavy
Fat strikes, in which you either take a divot before the ball or come in too steeply and take a very deep divot, are something every golfers has suffered from. Before we look at ways to stop striking it heavy, let’s address three common causes – hopefully you can identify which of these relates to your game.
1) Over the top
The first is the classic over the top move, where the right shoulder works in the wrong direction and moves forward in relation to your target line as you swing down, sending the club outside the line. From here, you will not only come in too steep, but you’ll also be cutting across the ball leading to a poor strike. If you struggle with this ‘over the top’ move, you will likely also suffer with slice shots off the tee. These faults go hand in hand and will require some technical changes to resolve.
2) Body too active
For others, the club bottoms out early as a result of the body getting too active. This, in turn, drops the club too early so you lose the critical angles in the downswing. The club then comes in way too shallow making it very difficult to compress the golf ball and make good contact as it bottoms out too early. To identify if this is an issue for you, think about your sternum during the swing – it should be over the ball, even as your weight shifts back and through. Ensuring your sternum is over the ball through the strike is one of the most important keys to good contacts.
3) Early release
Then there’s the early release, which is where your right or dominant hand releases the angles too soon in its enthusiasm to do the hitting! This results in a big loss of power, and more importantly, an early divot as the club bottoms out before the ball as opposed to at the ball or beyond. In this instance, retaining the angle in your wrists for longer in the downswing is the key.
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4) Store the angles, then release
If those are the main issues, what should you be doing? At the top of your backswing you will create angles in your wrists and right elbow, and it’s all about storing these angles in the downswing.
You need to lead a little bit with your body on the way down – your left knee should work away from your right knee, and your left hip should work slightly towards the target. This has the effect of ‘softening’ the right side, arm and shoulder so the club just drops into a different plane. The beauty of this is that it stores those wonderful angles, and also your power.
By storing, then releasing these angles later as you come into impact, you will compress the ball between turf and clubface and strike it much more purely.
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5) ‘Soften’ the arms
The problems we’ve highlighted generally come from a similar area, and it can be quite a tricky one to work on. But you can practise the key moves in your garden without a ball to groove the feeling of the left side working first, with the club and arms just dropping a little and ‘softening’.
That, for me, is the key word. Let the arms soften so your shoulders and arms don’t lead and dominate the downswing. Get this right, and you’ll stop striking it heavy, with your ball-striking improving dramatically as a result.