Golf is a complicated old game, for the ill educated it may seem really simple. In theory it is pretty simple, however in practice things can seem considerably more difficult.
How hard can golf be? Why is it that a stationery ball is so difficult to hit? It’s a lot harder when so many people have wrongly preconceived how to get the ball airborne.
One of the common preconceptions when hitting a golf shot with an iron or wood is that you need to hit up at the ball, when in actual fact, you need to hit down on the golf ball! Now that advice alone can be quite counter-intuitive, after all, how the heck is the ball going to get any height if you hit down on the ball? The answer lies in the construction of the clubhead.
Irons and fairway woods can launch the ball in the air because of the way their clubheads exert excessive amounts of backspin on the golf ball, coupled with the dimples on the ball this causes the lift you see in your shots. The spin rate placed on the ball directly relates to how high the golf ball flies.
To create this backspin and produce the loft needed, the clubhead should impact the ball on a descending path. This is why you’ll often hear people saying “you need to hit down on the ball.”
I find this advice quite misleading and without proper explanation can ruin your swing, and it could possibly turn beginners away from the game altogether.
How you should hit down on the golf ball
Many people believe that there is some special action involved in hitting down on a golf ball, but this just leads to people coming in too steep on the downswing causing them to hit it fat and taking out a divot before they hit the golf ball.
The ideal swing path to hit down on the golf ball is illustrated in the animation below:
To stop hitting fat and start hitting down (like in the image above), try this little tip the next time you’re at the range. Hit a few shots with a 7-8 iron and make note of where your divot starts and ends. As the club enters the ground it is on a downward swing path and as it leaves the ground it’s on an upward path, so the lowest point of the swing has to be somewhere in the middle of the divot, okay.
Now that you know that the lowest point of your golf swing path is somewhere in the divot, place your golf ball a millimetre behind the divots’ starting point. This will get you hitting down on the golf ball subconsciously. If you think about it too much you’ll start to come in too steep, just place the ball slightly back from where you usually place it and you should begin to start hitting solid shots more frequently.
Good luck, and as always if you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch.