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For solid impact, control your low point



Besides “consistency,” the second most common request I get from my students is they would like to hit the ball more solid. There’s nothing like the feeling of a compressing the golf ball, and I firmly believe most people would rather hit the ball in the screws and miss the green for 18 holes than beating it all over the face and hitting the green.

I feel the same way. No one likes sticking it in the ground and coming up short on the front fringe, or half-blading it to the back fringe. Ugh!

Whenever you can’t find the center of the face, it means you have lost control of your “low point,” or the lowest point of the forward swing arc that determines where the club hits the ground. In this article, we’ll discuss a few reasons why people have variance within their low point control, as well as my favorite drill to use in order to find your low point once again so you can hit it SOLID!

**Note: For this article, we will assume that your swing plane is perfect and it’s the pivot of your body that’s causing your low-point issue.**

There are three general places that the club can bottom out:

  1. Just in front of the ball
  2. Too far behind the ball
  3. Too far in front of the ball

First, let’s try a sample drill using practice swings to see just what your low point tends to be. As you can see in the photo below, I have drawn a line in the grass and made a few practice swings. You can see that Swing 1 (left divot) was perfect, Swing 2 (middle divot) was too far behind the line and Swing 3 (right divot) was too far in front of the line.

Stickney Low Point Photo 1

So what does the location of these divots tell us?

If you impact the golf ball “on the line and forward” toward the target (as shown in the left divot in the photo above) you can assume that your pivot — how you twist, turn and move your weight — is under control and it allows your club to hit the ground in the proper place. This is what you should strive for in general on every shot. On hilly lies, this becomes much harder to accomplish, thus the reason why pros take so many practice swings before hitting a shot off a weird lie. They want to better “feel” where their low point will occur so they can hit the shot solid.

If your divot is behind the line then something is causing your low point to occur too early. This is often a issue of an unsolid lower body to the top.

The three reasons why this occurs

No. 1: Your right knee can bounce around on the way to the top, thus moving your weight to the outside of your right foot. From there, you cannot get your weight onto your left foot fast enough. Bam! You hit behind the ball. The cure for this is to make sure your weight stays on the FRONT INSIDE portion of your right foot at the top of your backswing. This position will springboard your weight back into your forward foot long before you impact the ball and solid impact will be the result.

No. 2: From the top you can “spin-out” and not allow your weight to move into your left foot before you begin to rotate your hips. (This is often the cause of the dreaded over-the-top move of the right shoulder as well). Whenever the left hip spins from the start of the downswing, the weight moves rapidly into the left heel and the center of gravity stays back behind the ball. Often when you do this, you will hit behind it. The cure for this is to allow your hips to “bump” toward right field so that your center of gravity moves into your left toe to begin the downswing. From there, the right shoulder lowers and you can rotate through the ball hitting the ball first and the ground second.

No. 3: The second part of “spinning out” moves your low point behind the ball and can also cause you to hit the ball thin or even top it. If you are the type of player who never makes a divot, then this alerts you that your low point is occurring behind the ball and you are pulling up through impact. The best way to solve this issue is to place a tee in front of the ball and do your best to hit the ball first and the tee second. This will move your low point back in front of the ball where it should be.

If your divot occurs too far in front of the ball, then it’s apparent that you have a pivot issues, which causes too much lateral motion in your downswing and moves the low point too far in front of the ball.

**Remember we stated earlier in the article that we are only dealing with PIVOT issues causing improper low-points and not PLANE issues.**

There are two basic reasons why this usually occurs for most players:

No. 1: An overly aggressive hip slide into the ball from the top. Sometimes the feeling of moving the weight back into the ball from your rear foot can cause your hips to slide too much on the way down and past your left ankle. When this occurs and the head follows, you have moved your center of gravity too far to the left, which moves the low point too far left of the golf ball (as is shown in the far left divot above). The key to fix this is to kill the excessive hip slide on the downswing and “post” up on the left leg, hitting the ball with the weight on the inside of the left foot at impact, not the outside.

No. 2: The second way this can also occur is to have an excessive head slide from the top. Anytime your head “leans into the ball” from the top, the body will follow. This also moves the low point too far in front of the ball during impact as well. The key to stopping the head slide is to feel that your hips begin the downswing, bumping forward while your head stays back behind the ball at impact. This “hip slide, axis tilt” allows the club shaft and the weight to transition correctly so that your low point is where it should be during impact.
As you can see, your divots should be on the line and forward, but if you have pivot flaws this becomes very difficult. Experiment with these drills I have described above and you will find that your pivot-driven low point issues will be gone for good.
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Tom F. Stickney II, is a specialist in Biomechanics for Golf, Physiology, and 3d Motion Analysis. He has a degree in Exercise and Fitness and has been a Director of Instruction for almost 30 years at resorts and clubs such as- The Four Seasons Punta Mita, BIGHORN Golf Club, The Club at Cordillera, The Promontory Club, and the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. His past and present instructional awards include the following: Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, Golf Digest Top 50 International Instructor, Golf Tips Top 25 Instructor, Best in State (Florida, Colorado, and California,) Top 20 Teachers Under 40, Best Young Teachers and many more. Tom is a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 25 people in the world. Tom is TPI Certified- Level 1, Golf Level 2, Level 2- Power, and Level 2- Fitness and believes that you cannot reach your maximum potential as a player with out some focus on your physiology. You can reach him at tomst[email protected] and he welcomes any questions you may have.



  1. ed

    Aug 31, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    How far ahead of the ball should the tee be placed for suggestion #3? I rarely take a divot and hit both thin & fat, so assume this may be my best drill out of what you mentioned.


  2. Pingback: For Solid Impact, Control Your Low Point | Golf Gear Select

  3. Billy

    Aug 26, 2014 at 1:22 am

    Tom, when you say “The cure for this is to allow your hips to “bump” toward right field”. You mean the left hip for a RH golfer?

    How would one do such a thing? Push off the ground with your right (back) leg? Let your hip drop back towards, 7-6 o’clock?

    You are not supposed to slide, but what would be the best option to “bump” my left hip? I don’t do that and I hit it fat.

    • Tom Stickney

      Aug 26, 2014 at 9:19 am

      Hips are rotated in the bs and pointing rt if you put a shaft along your hips at the top your hips bump slightly in that direction to begin the ds

  4. Cwolf

    Aug 25, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Thanks tom. Great article. I have really been focusing on the “bump to left field” and causing my divot to bottom out in front of the ball.

    How would you apply this teaching to a driver when one should be hitting the ball on the upswing and not the low point?

    • Tom Stickney

      Aug 25, 2014 at 8:15 pm

      Ball forward head back through impact. Must move lp behind ball if you can.

  5. birly-shirly

    Aug 25, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    Nice article – but how do you establish the validity in the particular case of the assumption that swing plane isn’t the issue?

    Would you work on the pivot “cures” first – and if those don’t work reverse the presumption?

    • Tom Stickney

      Aug 25, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      It can go both ways…depends on the student.

  6. Dennis Clark

    Aug 25, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    well put Tom; Once they get the difference in shallow fats and steep ones, they know which pivot corrects it, as you said!

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The Wedge Guy: My top 5 practice tips



While there are many golfers who barely know where the practice (I don’t like calling it a “driving”) range is located, there are many who find it a place of adventure, discovery and fun. I’m in the latter group, which could be accented by the fact that I make my living in this industry. But then, I’ve always been a “ball beater,” since I was a kid, but now I approach my practice sessions with more purpose and excitement. There’s no question that practice is the key to improvement in anything, so today’s topic is on making practice as much fun as playing.

As long as I can remember, I’ve loved the range, and always embrace the challenge of learning new ways to make a golf ball do what I would like it to do. So, today I’m sharing my “top 5” tips for making practice fun and productive.

  1. Have a mission/goal/objective. Whether it is a practice range session or practice time on the course, make sure you have a clearly defined objective…how else will you know how you’re doing? It might be to work on iron trajectory, or finding out why you’ve developed a push with your driver. Could be to learn how to hit a little softer lob shot or a knockdown pitch. But practice with a purpose …always.
  2. Don’t just “do”…observe.  There are two elements of learning something new.  The first is to figure out what it is you need to change. Then you work toward that solution. If your practice session is to address that push with the driver, hit a few shots to start out, and rather than try to fix it, make those first few your “lab rats”. Focus on what your swing is doing. Do you feel anything different? Check your alignment carefully, and your ball position. After each shot, step away and process what you think you felt during the swing.
  3. Make it real. To just rake ball after ball in front of you and pound away is marginally valuable at best. To make practice productive, step away from your hitting station after each shot, rake another ball to the hitting area, then approach the shot as if it was a real one on the course. Pick a target line from behind the ball, meticulously step into your set-up position, take your grip, process your one swing thought and hit it. Then evaluate how you did, based on the shot result and how it felt.
  4. Challenge yourself. One of my favorite on-course practice games is to spend a few minutes around each green after I’ve played the hole, tossing three balls into various positions in an area off the green. I don’t let myself go to the next tee until I put all three within three feet of the hole. If I don’t, I toss them to another area and do it again. You can do the same thing on the range. Define a challenge and a limited number of shots to achieve it.
  5. Don’t get in a groove. I was privileged enough to watch Harvey Penick give Tom Kite a golf lesson one day, and was struck by the fact that he would not let Tom hit more than five to six shots in a row with the same club. Tom would hit a few 5-irons, and Mr. Penick would say, “hit the 8”, then “hit the driver.” He changed it up so that Tom would not just find a groove. That paved the way for real learning, Mr. Penick told me.

My “bonus” tip addresses the difference between practicing on the course and keeping a real score. Don’t do both. A practice session is just that. On-course practice is hugely beneficial, and it’s best done by yourself, and at a casual pace. Playing three or four holes in an hour or so, taking time to hit real shots into and around the greens, will do more for your scoring skills than the same amount of range time.

So there you have my five practice tips. I’m sure I could come up with more, but then we always have more time, right?

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The Wedge Guy: Anyone can be a better wedge player by doing these simple things



As someone who has observed rank-and-file recreational golfers for most of my life – over 50 years of it, anyway – I have always been baffled by why so many mid- to high-handicap golfers throw away so many strokes in prime scoring range.

For this purpose, let’s define “prime scoring range” as the distance when you have something less than a full-swing wedge shot ahead of you. Depending on your strength profile, that could be as far as 70 to 80 yards or as close as 30 to 40 yards. But regardless of whether you are trying to break par or 100, your ability to get the ball on the green and close enough to the hole for a one-putt at least some of the time will likely be one of the biggest factors in determining your score for the day.

All too often, I observe golfers hit two or even three wedge shots from prime scoring range before they are on the green — and all too often I see short-range pitch shots leave the golfer with little to no chance of making the putt.

This makes no sense, as attaining a level of reasonable proficiency from short range is not a matter of strength profile at all. But it does take a commitment to learning how to make a repeating and reliable half-swing and doing that repeatedly and consistently absolutely requires you to learn the basic fundamentals of how the body has to move the club back and through the impact zone.

So, let’s get down to the basics to see if I can shed some light on these ultra-important scoring shots.

  • Your grip has to be correct. For the club to move back and through correctly, your grip on the club simply must be fundamentally sound. The club is held primarily in the last three fingers of the upper hand, and the middle two fingers of the lower hand. Period. The lower hand has to be “passive” to the upper hand, or the mini-swing will become a quick jab at the ball. For any shot, but particularly these short ones, that sound grip is essential for the club to move through impact properly and repeatedly.
  • Your posture has to be correct. This means your body is open to the target, feet closer together than even a three-quarter swing, and the ball positioned slightly back of center.
  • Your weight should be distributed about 70 percent on your lead foot and stay there through the mini-swing.
  • Your hands should be “low” in that your lead arm is hanging naturally from your shoulder, not extended out toward the ball and not too close to the body to allow a smooth turn away and through. Gripping down on the club is helpful, as it gets you “closer to your work.
  • This shot is hit with a good rotation of the body, not a “flip” or “jab” with the hands. Controlling these shots with your body core rotation and leading the swing with your body core and lead side will almost ensure proper contact. To hit crisp pitch shots, the hands have to lead the clubhead through impact.
  • A great drill for this is to grip your wedge with an alignment rod next to the grip and extending up past your torso. With this in place, you simply have to rotate your body core through the shot, as the rod will hit your lead side and prevent you from flipping the clubhead at the ball. It doesn’t take but a few practice swings with this drill to give you an “ah ha” moment about how wedge shots are played.
  • And finally, understand that YOU CANNOT HIT UP ON A GOLF BALL. The ball is sitting on the ground so the clubhead has to be moving down and through impact. I think one of the best ways to think of this is to remember this club is “a wedge.” So, your simple objective is to wedge the club between the ball and the ground. The loft of the wedge WILL make the ball go up, and the bounce of the sole of the wedge will prevent the club from digging.

So, why is mastering the simple pitch shot so important? Because my bet is that if you count up the strokes in your last round of golf, you’ll likely see that you left several shots out there by…

  • Either hitting another wedge shot or chip after having one of these mid-range pitch shots, or
  • You did not get the mid-range shot close enough to even have a chance at a makeable putt.

If you will spend even an hour on the range or course with that alignment rod and follow these tips, your scoring average will improve a ton, and getting better with these pitch shots will improve your overall ball striking as well.

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Clement: Don’t overlook this if you want to find the center of the face




It is just crazy how golfers are literally beside themselves when they are placed in a properly aligned set up! They feel they can’t swing or function! We take a dive into why this is and it has to do with how the eyes are set up in the human skull!

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