Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hit down on the ball?

One of the basic teaching points which has been considered an absolute must is, hitting down on the ball, at least with irons.  The belief is that by hitting down on the ball this motion causes the ball to spin backwards and get airborne.  One of the hazards in taking this advice, and one I believe is the cause of more bad shots than anything, is that instinctively hitting down on the ball 99.9% of the time can only be done if you come over the top.  Take a club now and try it.  You'll see your instinct is to chop down on the ball and your right side will dominate coming over the top.  The second bad thing is that your right hand dominates.  If you set your arc with the left arm and then try to hit with the right hand that extension of the right wrist will change the arc causing the clubhead to hit the ground before getting to the ball.  Fat shots come from this and/or not shifting your weight to the front foot.  So what can we do to get rid of these problems and still get the ball airborne with back spin?  Easy, hit up on the ball.  Take your club and swing from 4 o'clock to 10 o'clock hitting the inside quarter of the ball.  You will immediately see that the only way you can hit up on the ball is by coming from the inside, which is as it should be.  The loft and grooves on the clubface take care of the spin.  It is the speed of the clubhead that creates the spin.  Count Yogi in his book Five Simple Steps To Perfect Golf states that he hits up on every shot.  Try it.  You will get better and more consistent results.

I recall seeing a tournament telecast where Peter Kostis was describing Ernie Els' iron shot in super slow motion and a close up of the clubhead at impact saying, "Look at how Els' clubhead is coming down, compressing the ball against the ground causing the ball to go up."  Kostis must not have been looking at the screen as Els' clubhead barely nipped the grass catching the ball cleanly.  Stop digging up the fairways and start hitting the golf ball instead of the one you're standing on.


Anonymous said...

A downward strike has been the trademark of great ball strikers period. Ernie is known to flip at the bottom. I have never seen a piece of Hogan film where a divot has not followed his shot or any other real player. You seem to be a knowledgeable guy but not taking a divot is terrible advice. So many problems creep into that philosophy. Flipping, casting,coming out of posture etc. How can you have a 3to 4 inch divot after the ball if you barely hit the ground by sweeping.

Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

That is not what I said. The stroke has to be in an upward fashion however the ball is contacted on the downward portion of the stroke.