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How to hit down on the golf ball



I have a lot of students who struggle to hit down on the golf ball, which often results from a basic misunderstanding of what it actually means to hit down. Hitting “down” is not something that most golfers can simply choose to do or not do — it requires a downward angle of attack (AoA), and golfers need to understand exactly what that means before they can execute.

Let’s start with the concept of Vertical Swing Plane (VSP). Doppler Radar Launch Monitors — I use FlightScope — measure the movement of the sweet spot of the club head relative to the ground, or the vertical movement of the sweet spot. If that sounds complicated, think of it this way: If the club was dragged along the ground through impact, it’s VSP would be 0 degrees. If it was swung from directly overhead, it’s VSP would be 90 degrees.

Now let’s discuss AoA. Somewhere on a club’s swing arc we strike the golf ball, and where we strike the golf ball on that arc is called AoA.

If the golf ball is struck before the club head gets to its lowest point, we are hitting down on the ball, which means that we have a downward AoA — Trackman and Flightscope indicate this as a “minus (-)” or negative number. If the ball is struck after the club reaches its low point, we are hitting up on the ball, which means we have an upward AoA, “plus (+)” or positive number. To hit any shot on the ground, we have to strike the ball before the low point, which means we have to have a downward AOA.

How do we hit the ball earlier in the arc, or before our swing plane’s low point? An obvious fix would be to move ball position back in our stance to hit downward and earlier in our arc, or to move the ball forward in our stance to hit upward or later in our arc. But that’s not it at all. I can have a back ball position and still have an upward AoA and a front ball position and still have a downward AoA.

So what do should you do?

What’s important to understand is this — to create downward AoA, your hands must stay in front of the club head and your weight center must be over the ball or slightly ahead of it. If you’re setting up with a wide stance and your spine is tilted “back,” or angled away from the target, you will have difficulty hitting down on the ball. So narrow your stance, keep your hands ahead of the club head and try to feel like your sternum is over the ball if you want to hit down on it.

When we look at the radar results, touring professionals have an average AoA of about -4 degrees with a 6-iron and I think that’s a good number for most to strive for when they’re hitting mid irons from the turf.

Above: A iron shot struck with a downward angle of attack (AoA). Notice that the club path is leftward. More on that below. 

Hitting a driver is different. Touring professionals have an average AoA of -1 degree with their driver, while most amateurs should strive for a positive value, or upward A0A for their driver. The reason for the difference is speed. The best players in the world average around 115 mph club head speed with their drivers. With that much speed, they are looking for a launch angle of 11-to-12 degrees to optimize their distance. Amateurs at 90 mph need as much as a 15-to-16 degrees launch angle. It is simply not possible to get that much launch hitting down on the driver, so an upward swing is best for slower speeds. High speed players can get into trouble sweeping up that much, but when hitting irons, the goal should be similar to the top players.

Finally, a word about path. If hitting downward is the goal — and it should be for any shot off the ground — you will need to aim or swing a little left if you’re a right-handed golfer, or a little right if you’re a lefty.

Why? Because a downward hit on any inclined plane is an outward swing as well, which means that the sweet spot of the club is moving away from the body at impact. That’s why you see a lot of “laggers” with excessive forward shaft lean setup open to their targets. They are countering the outward movement of their path.

Tricky business this hitting down stuff, but once you feel it, you’re on your way to better golf. There is no need to fear hitting from tight lies if you can learn to move the swing bottom forward.

Drills to help you hit down on the ball


Downhill lie drill: Find a hill with a moderate-to-severe downhill slope. Hit balls off that lie — all day long. Typically, I use this drill with more skilled players, but it can help anyone who does it.  If you reverse weight shift in the downswing or flip the club head past the hands into impact, you will hit the hill every time. Soon you’ll feel what leading with the hands feels like.

Aim Stick drill: Place an aim stick perpendicular to your target line and two inches behind the ball. Set your club head on the stick and hit balls without hitting the stick. This assures a definite downward movement of the club head into impact.


Fairway bunker drill: Go into a fairway bunker and draw a line in the sand. Make some practice swings taking sand on the front or target side of the ball. Sam Snead used to hit balls barefoot in fairway bunkers to feel balance and a downward strike. This is tough, but I guarantee this: If you can consistently strike the ball first and the sand after in a fairway bunker, you are well on your way to learning how to hit down on the golf ball.

For some of you this might be the first time you’ve ever taken turf in front of the ball — it’s a great feeling when you do!

As always, feel free to send a swing video to my Facebook page and I will do my best to give you my feedback.

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Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional. Clark has taught the game of golf for more than 30 years to golfers all across the country, and is recognized as one of the leading teachers in the country by all the major golf publications. He is also is a seven-time PGA award winner who has earned the following distinctions: -- Teacher of the Year, Philadelphia Section PGA -- Teacher of the Year, Golfers Journal -- Top Teacher in Pennsylvania, Golf Magazine -- Top Teacher in Mid Atlantic Region, Golf Digest -- Earned PGA Advanced Specialty certification in Teaching/Coaching Golf -- Achieved Master Professional Status (held by less than 2 percent of PGA members) -- PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Golf Professional of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Presidents Plaque Award for Promotion and Growth of the Game of Golf -- Junior Golf Leader, Tri State section PGA -- Served on Tri State PGA Board of Directors. Clark is also former Director of Golf and Instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. He now directs his own school, The Dennis Clark Golf Academy at the JW Marriott Marco Island in Naples, Fla.. He can be reached at [email protected]



  1. Rick Wright

    May 16, 2017 at 9:16 am

    Very nice piece of instruction on a very difficult golf topic hard to grasp but needed in your game with mathematical certainty appaulds many… Rick

  2. Josh

    Dec 21, 2014 at 6:19 pm


    Nov 23, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Mr. Clark you said, “If hitting downward is the goal — and it should be for any shot off the ground — you will need to aim or swing a little left if you’re a right-handed golfer”. I see the flight scope readout in the article shows the shot was a fade. If I wanted to hit a draw wouldn’t I want to still hit down but aim right or have a rightwards path?

    • Dennis Clark

      Nov 23, 2014 at 4:35 pm

      Yes you would need a path inside where the club face is aimed at impact. Don’t confuse path with swing direction. Thx

    • Dennis Clark

      Nov 24, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      the only time to swing left with a downward hit is when you want to get a ZERO path; for a draw you dont want that. Get it?

      • James

        Dec 15, 2014 at 8:02 pm

        So if I am swinging down 6 and 2 left with a driver Im not hitting a draw?

  4. Jason

    Nov 22, 2014 at 9:24 am

    Great article, thanks Dennis! I hit the ball hard but have been having difficulty getting the ball to stop up where I need it to which adds a lot of strokes to my game. I’ll work on these drills and hopefully stick more. (I still consider myself quite a novice at 15+ but a lot of those strokes are due to inconsistency which is the most frustrating part of this *blessed* game! Ha)

    So refreshing to see a well written article by someone who takes the time to follow up on reader questions to the extent you have. Good on you, and count me in on your future articles!

  5. Bob Tosh

    Nov 21, 2014 at 8:32 am

    I have been what they call a sweeper my entire 30 years of playing golf (I’m 40 now) I’ve been as low as 4 and since kids, oldest being 10 right now, my handicap has hovered around the 8-9ish mark for the past 3 or 4 years. At the end of Aug this past summer, two moons aligned for me. I had just heard the Paulson brothers once again talk about the values of the Tour Striker training club on their Sirius show and a long time playing partner finally said “you just fall back on so many shots”. I knew nothing about the tour striker besides what little the Paulson guys say about it. Well I bought one and within 10 minutes my entire golf game was transformed. My 8.9 cap went to a 6 in a matter of 4 rounds. I actually hit it well on my first try. Then hit or miss on the next ten. I’ve given it to some friends who tried to hit it 30 times and can’t do it and some hit it perfect right out of the gate 10 out of 10 times. They don’t need the club, they don’t have the issue I have. I now know exactly what position I should be in and what it feels like to be in that position and my ball flights have gone from fairly OK to good most of the time to penetrating, straight and solid. Even my miss hits still go straight, just not as far as they should but still solid and straight. I can’t imagine any golf lesson could produce the results that club produces in minutes. You can’t explain it to a student. You can’t hold most amateurs arms and club and go through a swing and stop at the impact point and say “here is where you want to be” and expect that they will feel it or get it. I have plenty of teachers, pros, my dad trying to show me or explain where I should be but it’s all on paper basically. This club does it for you. Either you hit it properly or you get nothing. I just ran out of warm weather. Can’t wait for spring.

    • kw

      Nov 21, 2014 at 9:52 am

      This is wonderful article which really makes sense. Lee Trevino used to aim to the left to counteract his amazing lag and was in top .001 % of iron players to ever live. I will try the downhill lie sounds like a real training aid versus the bs many swing aids are claiming create lag.

    • Dennis Clark

      Nov 22, 2014 at 11:01 am

      Its a good tool. Remember you can be a sweeper and play well. Tom Watson comes to mind…but “sweeping” in their case is less down than other elite level strikers, but DOWN nonetheless. Thx for reading

  6. Steve

    Nov 20, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    With a downward strike should I feel like I’m covering the ball with my chest? When I do it feels like I am over the top.

    • Dennis Clark

      Nov 20, 2014 at 3:48 pm

      Generally yes but there is some right side bend. Over the top you’d need FlightScope or Trackman to tell true path. Some players who go too far under need to feel over it

  7. CJ Bell

    Nov 20, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Dennis a little confused with your suggestion to set up open to the target for excessive laggers – why not fix the problem of excessive lag? If that type of lag (the ridiculous drill seen in thousands of instructional videos, with shaft parallel to ground, hands pushed wayyy forward) is actually held onto thru impact, that ball has nowhere to go but miles right, unless your timing/ability to flip the face thru is impeccable. Joe Mayo, Mark Crossfield, Steve Buzza, several teachers showing that the flip/wrist extension/whatever you call it is what’s really necessary near impact. Excessive lag isn’t storing more energy, it just causes balls lost deep in the rightside woods.

    • Dennis Clark

      Nov 20, 2014 at 12:20 pm

      I totally agree. That’s why I’ve been teaching release for 30+ years long before it was in vogue to do so. Lag is bad for 90 % or more of all golfers. What I said was great players, whose swing nobody would change, who have lag built into their DNA aim left to compensation for the excess lag. Thx for interest.

  8. Dennis Clark

    Nov 19, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    It should also be noted that at the bottom part of the arc we are discussing, the club head is VERY stable…there is nothing we can about it at this point. Any change of path or face needs to programmed much earlier in the swing.

    • Golfnut

      Jan 2, 2015 at 10:56 pm

      Dennis, I have played off +5 left handed and now play off +2 right handed after an industrial accident. I am a fan of your instruction generally, but we can all have differences of opinion on some technical matters. I think your post I am replying to is relevant to all aspects of the golf swing – what happens before, causes the next effect. Perhaps you need to drive home this principle a little stronger. With respect to release, I think there is too much analysis on what happens during this phase, rather than the timing of it and the trigger which makes it happen effectively. Over the top and stuck on the inside is essentially the same cause for players of different abilities. I would suggest that for both, the issue of triggering release at transition is what alters posture and spine angle, rather than not manipulating the club correctly through the release phase. Proper positions in release, I believe, is a result of a passive transition and the right timing of release, together with an appropriate release trigger.

  9. Dennis Clark

    Nov 19, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    Keith, feel free to send private message to continue if you’d like. I’d be happy to offer whatever I know o the subject.

  10. Jm

    Nov 19, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    Also keep in mind these systems dont actually “measure” face angle at impact. It only estimates it based on ball flight.

    Its not all an exact science like everyone wants you to believe

    • Dennis Clark

      Nov 19, 2014 at 7:06 pm

      No exact science, but clearly light years ahead of the technology of by gone days

      • Jm

        Nov 19, 2014 at 10:06 pm

        It basically comes down to the same thing it always has. Watch the ballflight and that should tell you what you need to fix. The biggest problem is still getting students to actually improve.

        • Dennis Clark

          Nov 22, 2014 at 11:41 am

          Jm, In most cases that’s true. ballflight is a good indiscator of impact. I can, however, slice with a closed face and hook with an open one with either heel or toe contact. Just have to know face to path relationship and check for point of contact. Thx for interest.

      • Jm

        Nov 19, 2014 at 10:29 pm

        True the technology is better but does it actually make you a better teacher or your students better players?

        Or does it help people improve faster? I always hear how great all of this technology is but i neve hear anyone give any statistics on how it actually effects teaching results.

  11. DG Jei

    Nov 19, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Wow. Problems are solved. I was always curious about why tour player’s average AoA for driver is minus one. Swing Speed matters!

    • Dennis Clark

      Nov 19, 2014 at 7:08 pm

      DG, you’re welcome; it would be difficult for the average golfers to get sufficient launch angle hitting down regardless of manufacturer loft.

  12. KP

    Nov 19, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    this was a good article..of course it will be picked apart by everyone..

  13. Jose

    Nov 19, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    You should never think hit down on the ball. You would lose your objective which is the target.

    You swing to the target and collect the ball in the downward portion of your swing. Thus the sequence ball, grass, ground happens instinctively, almost automatically.

    Example: The feet together drill. Since you can not shift your weight, where your swing bottoms out is fixed. You can then tee the ball up center, off your left foot pinky toe, off your back foot big toe. Thus each teed ball position will teach you the feel of collecting the ball in a different part of the swing: The feet together drill teaches you:

    • With the ball teed off the front pinky toe you will collect the ball on the upswing like a driver.
    • With the ball teed center of your stance. you will have a ball, grass, and barely skim the ground feel.
    • With the ball teed off the big toe back foot, it will feel like the centered ball position feet apart swing with an equivalent ball, grass, ground result.

    Why don’t you simply pick the ball with the ball in the center? Lag, If you have been focusing on swinging to the target AND the body has gotten out of the way you will have a proper lag/shaft lean. That lag/shaft lean allows the bottom of the swing to happen just past you center of gravity. In a normal golf swing your weight shifts forward and so does the bottom of the swing.

    The arc of the down swing of the arms and the downswing arc of the club head vary. The arc of the club head is shifted forward due to wrist cock and the resulting lag.

    When you shift your weight forward the bottom of the arc of the downswing of the arms and hands follows your center of gravity. Again the bottom of the arc of the club head is slightly forward of that due to lag.

    It is just basic physics.

    • Dennis Clark

      Nov 19, 2014 at 12:56 pm

      Is that what you teach your students?

  14. Gary McCormick

    Nov 19, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    It would be nice to have an illustration that demonstrates this statement:

    “…a downward hit on any inclined plane is an outward swing as well, which means that the sweet spot of the club is moving away from the body at impact…”

    Does this assumes that contact with a negative angle of attack comes at a point before the club has reached the furthest point (in its swing circle) from the body, and is therefore still moving (slightly…) away from the golfer’s body?

    Also, I wouldn’t say “…where we strike the golf ball on that arc is called AoA.”, more like “…where we strike the golf ball on that arc determines AoA.”

    • Dennis Clark

      Nov 19, 2014 at 1:10 pm

      If we had a perfect vertical circle, for example a hula hoop standing straight up, every point in the swing would be directed at or perfectly away from wherever the hula hoop is pointed. There would be NO left or right
      movement of a club swung on that that 90 degree arc. Now if we tilt the dual hoop down to 45 degrees as we might in a driver swing, the downward part of the swing is no longer swinging exactly where the base of that hula hoop is pointed. It is swinging to the right of it until it hits low point and then begins to swing left of it as it begins to ascend. The sweet spot, when the face is square,will be at right angles to the plane, IOW coming coming OFF the plane and swinging OUT to the right (of the base plane line) as it descends.

      Agreed om the phrase “determines”. Thx for interest. DC

  15. Oliver Heuler

    Nov 19, 2014 at 9:34 am

    I think that everything you wrote is correct, but I am surprised that you didn’t include a warning for all slicers (which should be the majority of your readers) that it is not helpful to try to hit down on the ball as long as your ball curves to the right on all long shots. Or do you think otherwise?

    Oliver from Germany

    • Dennis Clark

      Nov 19, 2014 at 12:08 pm

      On the ground vs off a tee. Read again where I mention “driver is different”. Up for T ball down for turf shots.

  16. gary

    Nov 19, 2014 at 8:58 am

    So although the launch monitor reads it as a leftward path, its actually a rightward path because the golfer is lined up left? How confusing, therefore the launch monitor only reads in respect to the target line? Also doesn’t explain the 2.1L face angle which should of caused a draw shape?

    • Dennis Clark

      Nov 19, 2014 at 12:10 pm

      20 MPH left to right wind. Path is left not right. And path to face curvature is ONLY on balls hit in middle of face. Even a slight off center all bets are off

    • Dennis Clark

      Nov 19, 2014 at 12:13 pm

      Another thing to look at is HSP which is swing direction. Path is a 3-D value derived from seing direction and AoA. I think HSP here is 4.6 or so

  17. Keith

    Nov 18, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Any chance you can do a follow up on how wrist set affects AoA?

    Meaning…if you set with radial deviation and release with ulnar deviation versus setting with Dorsifelxion and holding through impact…I would assume this would have a significant affect on AoA.

    Which is correct…or easier to repeat? This is something that has always been a question of mine and it seems to have a different answer depending on who you ask.

    • Dennis Clark

      Nov 18, 2014 at 6:08 pm

      i think it’s confusing because there is some of all the motions, not simply one or the other. In swinging the golf club, there is radial, ulnar deviation, flexion, extension and pronation and supination. Clearly At impact the right wrist is extended or dorsi flexed and the left wrist is flat, having gone from radial deviation to a neutral position. So what I see happen is ulnar and radial D when supinated becomes a dorsiflexed position. Of the two you described I would think dorsi flexed and held on describes it better buts it’s too simplistic. thx

      • Keith

        Nov 18, 2014 at 11:32 pm

        Thank you very much for the reply.

        That’s just it…it’s incredibly complex…but isn’t this ‘the move?’ if you understand and can apply how the wrists truly function wouldn’t that be the missing link for AoA?

        Outside of changing your body angles (frowned upon) how else to you return the club back to the ball after you set your wrist? Shoulder turn, hip turn…all very easy moves to understand and apply. Your wrists…more specifically combination of wrist movements to correctly set and release would be most helpful.

        Maybe I am not seeing the forest for the trees…but I feel like this is the part that instructors continue to gloss over given the complexity and say things like just release it…isn’t that going to be the most vital part of AoA?

        • Dennis Clark

          Nov 19, 2014 at 7:09 am

          Keith have you read my two articles on release in this site? If not do so and get back to me…

          • Jay

            Nov 19, 2014 at 12:14 pm

            I have a difficult time getting my left wrist flat at impact. I shoot in the upper 70’s to low 80’s, but tee shot accuracy is my huge downfall. What kind of drills can I do to learn/feel how to keep the left wrist flat? Thank you

          • Keith

            Nov 19, 2014 at 12:48 pm

            I have not, thank you for the direction!

          • Keith

            Nov 19, 2014 at 3:07 pm

            Alright…I read (3) different articles you pointed me to.

            I guess why I am questioning in my own mind is lines like “The release is the unhinging of the wrists and the rotation of the forearms in the downswing. And a handful of drills to feel proper release…golfers including myself continue to leave storkes on the table because that still doesn’t answer what the release actually is.

            I’d like to think I am a smart person (debatable)…but…if ‘feel’ isn’t working…why not throw a little science our way? Let’s get into the weeds of what is really happening when you ‘feel’ your wrists and forearms do something. I don’t want to trick my mind into making something work…I want to understand what my body needs to do and then make it do exactly that.

            Anyway…you’ve given me too much of your time already and I appreciate your engagement on the topic. Thank you for that.

  18. Dennis Clark

    Nov 18, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Yes. Lateral slide of body can produce too much right side bend and result in the reverse C look which creates a very shallow attack angle.

  19. Brandon

    Nov 18, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Do you think the rotational movement of the body helps in any way with this?

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What you can learn from Steve Elkington



When you think of great golf swings from the past and present time, Steve Elkington’s golf swing instantly comes to mind. His playing career has included a PGA championship, two Players Championships and more than 50 weeks inside the top-10 world golf rankings. This article will examine not only key moves you can take from Elk’s swing but learning to take your swing to the golf course.

As opposed to looking at a swing frame by frame at key positions, viewing a swing at normal speed can be just as beneficial. This can give students a look at the sequence of the swing as one dynamic motion. Research also suggests learning a motion as one movement as opposed to part-training (stopping the swing at certain points) will enhancing learning.

When viewed at full speed, the simplicity of Elk’s swing is made clear. There is minimal motion as he gets more out of less. This swing pattern can correlate to a conversation he once had with five-time British Open winner Peter Thomson.

When asking Thomson keys to his golf swing and it’s longevity, Thomson explained to Elk, “You have to have great hands and arms.” Thomson further elaborated on the arms and body relationship. “The older you get, you can’t move your body as well, but you can learn to swing your arms well.”

So what’s the best way to get the feel of this motion? Try practicing hitting drivers off your knees. This drill forces your upper body to coil in the proper direction and maintain your spine angle. If you have excess movement, tilt, or sway while doing this drill you will likely miss the ball. For more detail on this drill, read my Driver off the knees article.

Another key move you can take from Elk is in the set-up position. Note the structure of the trail arm. The arm is bent and tucked below his lead arm as well as his trail shoulder below the lead shoulder – he has angle in his trail wrist, a fixed impact position.

This position makes impact easier to find. From this position, Elk can use his right arm as a pushing motion though the ball.

A golf swing can look pretty, but it is of no use if you can’t perform when it matters, on the golf course. When Elk is playing his best, he never loses feel or awareness to the shaft or the clubface throughout the swing. This is critical to performing on the golf course. Using this awareness and a simple thought on the golf course will promote hitting shots on the course, rather than playing swing.

To enhance shaft and face awareness, next time you are on the range place an alignment stick 10 yards ahead of you down the target line. Practice shaping shots around the stick with different flights. Focus on the feel created by your hands through impact.

Twitter: @kkelley_golf

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Dennis Clark: Hitting from the turf



I have seen as much as 4-5 MPH increase in clubhead speed when my students hit form a tee compared to hitting off the turf. Why?  Fear of FAT shots.

First question: Are you better hitting off a tee than on the turf?

Next question: When you play in a scramble and you have the option of dropping in the fairway or slightly in the first cut, do you choose the rough-especially when hitting over water or sand?

The answer to all these the same: Because the vast majority of golfers do not have a bottom of the swing arc safely in front of the golf ball consistently.

Consider a PGA Tour event, Korn Ferry, Champions Tour, LPGA Tour, whatever…You might see missed fairways, missed greens, hooks, blocks, etc. but we rarely, if ever, see a FAT shot. They simply do not hit the ground before the golf ball. Of course, there are exceptions, into the grain on short pitches, for example, but they are just that-rare exceptions. On the other hand, go to any golf course and watch average golfers for a while. Fat shots are not uncommon. In fact, they, or the fear of them, dominate most golf games.

The number one mistake I have seen on the lesson tee for over 35 years is unquestionably a player’s inability to control the bottom of the golf swing. I have seen everything from hitting 4 inches behind the ball to never reaching the bottom at all It has been my experience that that hitting fat shots is the number one flaw in most golf swings.

Let’s start with this fact: elite level players consistently reach a swing bottom (low point) some 3-4 inches in front of the golf ball-time after time after time. This happens for a variety of reasons, but the one I’d like to look at today is the position of the golf club at impact with the golf ball.

The club is leaning forward, toward the target, the hands are ahead of the club head, never straight up over it, never behind it-always, always leaning forward is the only way to consistently bottom out in front of the golf ball.   

A player cannot hit a ball consistently from the turf until he/she learns this and how to accomplish it. For every golfer I teach who gets into this position, I might teach 50 who do not. In fact, if players did not learn how to “save” a shot by bailing out on the downswing (chicken wing, pull up, raise the handle, or come over the top, (yes over the top is a fat shot avoidance technique) they would hit the ground behind the golf ball almost every time!  Hitting better shots from the fairways, particularly from tight lies, can be learned, but I’m going to be honest: The change required will NOT be easy. And to make matters worse, you can never play significantly better until you overcome the fear of hitting it fat.. Until you learn a pattern where the bottom of the swing is consistently in front of the ball, the turf game will always be an iffy proposition for you.

This starts with a perception. When first confronted with hitting a golf ball, it seems only natural that an “up” swing is the way to get the ball in the air-help it, if you will. The act of a descending blow is not, in any way, natural to the new player. In fact, it is totally counterintuitive. So the first instincts are to throw the club head at the ball and swing up to get the ball in the air; in other words, it makes perfect sense. And once that “method” is ingrained, it is very difficult to change. But change if you must, if your goal is to be a better ball striker.

The position to strive for is one where the left wrist (for a right-hander) is flat, the right is slightly dorsiflexed, and the handle of the golf club is ahead of the grip end. Do your level best to pay attention to the look and feel of what you’re doing as opposed to the flight of the golf ball. FEEL that trail wrist bent slightly back, the lead wrist flat and the hands ahead. It will seem strange at first, but it’s the very small first step in learning to hit down on your tight lies. If some degree of that is not ultimately accomplished, you will likely always be executing “fit in” moves to make up for it. It is worth the time and effort to create this habit.

My suggestion is to get on a Trackman if possible to see where you’re low point actually is, or perhaps you may just want to start paying close attention to your divots-particularly the deepest part of them. I’m sure you will get into a pattern of bottoming out consistently in front of the ball when you begin to learn to get the hands ahead and the club head behind. And best of all, when this becomes your swing, you will lose the fear of hitting the turf first and be free to go down after the ball as aggressively as you like.

Ok, so how is this accomplished? While many players are looking for a magic bullet or a training aid which might help one miraculously get into a good impact position, I dare say there is not one. It is a trial and error proposition, a learn-from-the-mistakes kind of thing achieved only through repetition with a thorough understanding of what needs to be done. The hardest thing to do is IGNORE the outcome when learning a new motor skill, but you must do it. A couple of things you might try:

  • Start with 30-50 yard pitch shots, paying close attention to the hands leading at impact. Again ignore the outcome, look only at the divot.
  • Hit a TON of fairway bunker shots. Draw a line in the sand 3-4″ in front of the ball and try to hit it.
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What you can learn from the rearview camera angle



We often analyze the golf swing from the face-on view or down-the-line camera angle. However, we can also learn how the body moves in the swing from the rearview or backside view.

When seeing the swing from the rearview, we can easily see how the glutes work. The trail glute actually moves back and around in the backswing. This means the glute moves towards the target or towards the lead heel. Note the trail glute start point and endpoint at the top of the backswing.

To some, this may seem like it would cause a reverse weight shift. However, this glute movement can enable the upper body to get loaded behind the ball. This is where understanding the difference between pressure, and weight is critical (see: “Pressure and Weight”).

This also enhances the shape of the body in the backswing. From the rear angle, I prefer to have players with a tuck to their body in their trail side, a sign of no left-side bend.

This puts the body and trail arm into a “throwing position”, a dynamic backswing position. Note how the trailing arm has folded with the elbow pointing down. This is a sign the trailing arm moved in an efficient sequence to the top of the backswing.

Next time you throw your swing on video, take a look at the rearview camera angle. From this new angle, you may find a swing fault or matchup needed in your golf swing to produce your desired ball flight.

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