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Missing Shots Off the Toe
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Published: February 18, 2014
Golfers learning a one plane swing, or a more rotational rather than upright golf swing can begin finding themselves hitting shots off the toe as a common miss.
If you find yourself doing this, take heart, it probably means you're doing a key component of the swing correctly.
Hitting shots off the toe, if all other things in the swing are proper, is due to the rotation of the body through the shot and the fact that the shoulders are more open at impact than they were at address.
This effectively increases the distance between the left shoulder and the ball, and thus, the butt of the club is further away from the ball than it was at address.
You will find that all golfers have a slightly different way of dealing with this issue depending on how they have figured out what works best for them.
For some golfers, they will increase their spine angle on the way down to effectively close the distance and get the club back on the ball in the center of the club face, an example being Ben Hogan.
Others will simply set up with the ball more towards the heel of the club, an example being Vijay Singh. Vijay tends to stand up slightly through impact with his right hip getting closer to the ball and his spine angle decreasing somewhat, so it makes more sense for him to set with the ball off the heel of the club.
Ben Hogan actually did a little of both, setting up with the ball off the heel of the club and increasing his spine angle. Clubs back in Hogan's day were a little different than today, and the sweet spot was a little closer to the heel, so this also contributed to his setup.
But if you find yourself making good swings and just missing toward the toe, try setting up with the ball more towards the heel of the club and see if that doesn't get you more solid contact.
To learn more about this, watch the video above.
Note the picture of Vijay Singh at address here from the main website here hitting a three wood with the ball setup well into the heel of the club.
Checkpoints for Practice
- Because the golf swing is dynamic, your body rotates more open at impact than it was at address
- This effectively shortens the distance from your left shoulder to the ball
- A ball set up off the center of the club face may actually be hit off the toe
- If you're making a good swing but hitting the ball off the toe, simply move the ball position closer to the heel of the club
Video Transcription: Missing Shots Off the Toe
A common miss for golfers new to a one plane swing, or even experienced with the one plane swing, is for golfers to hit the ball more off the toe, rather than the center of the club face. There's a simple reason for why this happens.
If I set up to the ball, I'm going to set up at this point with the ball off the center of the club face at address. Because my body is not going to be returned back to square at impact - I'm not going to be setting out to turn my shoulders and hips and everything there square - I'm actually going to be a little bit more open.
This, in effect, pulls my left shoulder more to the left. Again, we're swinging left. Everything is going to be slightly more open.
What happens is, as I rotate open, you can see that the club, if I do nothing to manipulate it, gets pulled back to the left with me.
What happens is the effective distance from my shoulder to the ball increases, so I'm no longer able to get the club back to the ball. I would completely whiff it if I rotated aggressively here, if I didn't get the club to release or get my arms to go after the ball. Obviously, we don't want to do that.
A simple fix for this, if you find yourself coming in and swinging left and making a good swing and everything's just coming off the toe because, effectively, we're more open at impact than we were at address, is simply to set up with the ball a little bit more towards the heel of the club.
There's nothing wrong with this. People always think that the setups have got to be very static, and everything's got to be set up very square and there's no room for wiggle here, but it's not true at all.
In fact, a lot of the top Tour pros - you'll see Vijay Singh, as a matter of fact - will tend to set up with the ball more off the heel of the club. This is because he makes a great rotation to the left, and if he set up with the ball in the center of the club face he would also hit everything off the toe.
What you'll find, if you set up just a little bit more off the heel of the club, as you rotate and you get just slightly more open, you'll see that the ball is in fact in the center of the club face as I come into impact.
There's nothing wrong with doing this. It's perfectly OK. You'll find many, many Tour pros who do it. Don't think that you have to just set up with the ball right in the center of the club face. The only way that you would be able to make solid contact is either to make sure your body is completely square at impact, or to go after it with your hands.
Again, the golf swing is dynamic. It's just not about setting up into these static positions. You've got to get to the point where you start to realize the dynamics in the golf swing are going to make certain changes at impact, compared to where you were at address, because the positions are not the same.
Nothing wrong with setting up with the ball a little bit more off the heel. As you come into impact it'll be more off the center of your club face. See if this doesn't help minimize a lot of the misses off the toe.