Today’s post will focus on two large pieces that I focus on with students who are having trouble controlling their low point, or where the club is bottoming out and hitting the ground. I talked last week about the order in which a player should learn how to play the game, or where a player should look first when they are struggling to make solid contact with the golf ball. The easiest way to check this or practice this first fundamental to playing the game of golf is to scratch or paint a line on the ground, and see if you can take small divots on the forward or target side of that line. If you’re having trouble doing this, or not hitting the ground at all, here’s two tips to get you on the right track.
Where’s the Weight?
Often times golfers shift their lower body, upper body, or their overall weight profile too far back or away from the target in the backswing, and fail to return their centers of gravity far enough forward in the downswing. The golfer on the left in the picture below is a great example of this. He has shifted everything back behind the ball, severely complicating contact. The golfer on the right has kept his weight centered, and turned his shoulders in a circle without moving them back behind the ball. He is poised in a position to make contact with the ground slightly ahead of the golf ball, over, and over again.
Now let’s take these two golfers just past the impact position. Our higher handicap golfer on the left has failed to transfer his weight back to the golf ball, and hasn’t made contact with the ground at all. Although he makes contact with the golf ball and gets this shot airborne, it’s not a reliable way to move your ball around a golf course. Our centered golfer on the right has continued to push his lower body weight onto the target side of the golf ball, helping ensure a correct downward strike, and a nice shallow divot in the green light zone!
Lean it Forward!
We’ve covered the weight portion which helps control the low point of the golf swing, but there’s one other major piece that I look for when a golfer is hitting fat or thin shots and struggling with contact. You can see in the picture above how there’s a nice angle formed between the right forearm and the clubshaft in the lower handicap golfer on the right. He hasn’t scooped, flipped, or tried to lift the ball up into the air like the golfer on the left. Now let’s fast forward a few frames and take a look at the picture below. Our green light divot golfer on the right has maintained that angle, and by doing that helped control the low point of his swing. The scooper on the left has dumped out that angle, and combining that flipping motion with his weight behind the golf ball has bottomed his swing out well behind the golf ball. To combat this move, most golfers will start to lift up or pull their arms apart so they don’t hit it fat.
Armed with a better understanding of these concepts, see if you can better control your low point during your next range session. If you’re one of those golfers who moves off of the ball in the backswing, try to keep more weight on your front foot and make a centered shoulder turn. If you’re a flipper or scooper at impact, setup with the handle of your club leaning a little more forward, keep pushing your weight towards the target, and hit some half shots trying to maintain that angle through impact.
Aaron Olson is a Staff Teaching Professional with JRG/TSGA programs at the Raven Golf Club Phoenix. In addition, he is Assistant Director of Nike Junior Golf Camps hosted at the Pebble Beach Resorts on the Monterey Peninsula. Aaron has been fortunate to learn from PGA Tour Instructors Mike Bennett and Andy Plummer. Click Here for more information on private and group coaching with Aaron and the entire JRG/TSGA Staff.