Day 4: How to Hit Low, Penetrating Golf Shots
Have you ever been to a PGA Tour event or seen a really great player hitting golf balls? You may have noticed that the sound of a really great player's ball striking sounds like a cannon coming off the club.
Why is that? It's all about getting compression on the golf ball, and that's what we're going to discuss today, Day 4 of the "9 Days to Amazing Ball Striking" series.
- Do you swing harder and harder trying to get more distance, but just end up sending the golf ball higher and higher instead?
- Do you have trouble getting enough spin on your golf ball - do you ever spin the ball back on the green?
- Do you feel like you're flipping through impact?
All of these issues are related to the same problem.
It's All About Loft
It all comes back to delofting the club face, having your hands in front of the club head at impact, and really compressing the golf ball.
We're going to show you exactly how to do that, and give you step-by-step instructions so you can learn to compress a golf ball like you've never done before.
Day 4 is all about using the left hand correctly so we can get some forward shaft lean at impact, deloft the club head, and get great compression. That's how the pros hit it so far.
If you're flipping the club through impact and your hands look like the photo at left, you're adding loft to the club. You're taking a club face that already has a certain amount of loft to it, and adding more.
No matter how hard you swing, you're not going to hit it very far if you're adding loft. You have to get your hands leaned forward, get the left hand into the proper position, and deloft the club face.
When you deloft the club you're taking, for example, an 8 iron like the one in the photo and turning it into a 6 iron. That's how you get compression and distance. We're going to give step-by-step instructions on how to do exactly that.
Step 1: Bow the Wrist in the Downswing
We're going to start out working on the left hand only, without the club.
Get into a simulated impact position. Set up in neutral joint alignment and bump your weight up onto your front foot. Your left ankle, hip and shoulder will be stacked vertically, creating the kind of position you would be in at impact.
Let your left arm hang down. Then, keeping your weight on your left side (70-80% of your weight should be on your left foot) turn back as if you were going to shake someone's hand.
Be sure to keep your left wrist nice and flat. You're not bowing it yet. Just keep it in a nice, flat position, about waist high.
Now, with your weight already on the left, let your wrist stay very, very soft as you transfer and start your downswing. Let the momentum of your left arm swinging down bow your left wrist.
As you return to the impact position with your left arm straight down, the logo of your glove should point down toward the ground.
Again, keep your weight to the left, turn back, and bring your left hand to about waist high, keeping the wrist flat.
Don't bow it on the backswing or you're going to get into all kinds of trouble getting the club way too far to the inside on the real backswing. Just keep it nice and flat, like you're shaking someone's hand.
As you swing back down, allow the left wrist to bow with the momentum of your arm, so the logo of your glove points straight down at the ground by the time you get to the impact position.
Do this drill 20 times. It's a good idea to watch the video for this lesson a couple of times to make sure you're getting all the pieces correct, and watch yourself on video to check that it looks the way you think it does. Seeing it on camera really makes a difference.
Once you're sure you're doing it correctly and you've done your 20 repetitions, you can move on to Step 2.
Step 2: Repeat With Club & Impact Bag
In Step 2 you're going to repeat the same movements, this time making some mini swings with a club & impact bag. Hold the club in your left hand with a nice neutral grip. The face should be vertical.
You might be tempted to get a very strong grip, moving your left hand over to the right to grasp the club.
It's true that would help you deloft the club, but it would prevent you from using your arms correctly in the swing, so be sure to use a nice neutral grip.
Preset the weight on your left side, just as you did before. Turn back to about waist high, keeping your wrist nice and soft, and then allow it to bow forward with the momentum of the club as you change direction and start into the downswing.
As you swing down, your left wrist should feel as though it's pointing directly down at the ground. The logo of your glove will face the ground as you come into the impact position.
If you look down at your club face you'll see that you have taken all the loft off the face and really bowed the shaft forward.
Again, this is a very exaggerated position. That's what you need when you're first starting out. We exaggerate the position as much as possible and hit extremely low shots, like a stinger shot that you might see Tiger Woods play sometimes.
Again, keep your weight on the left, make a little half backswing with the left wrist flat, and then let the wrist bow forward as you change direction so it feels like the logo of your glove is pointing down at the ground.
Stop and Check
Stop after impact and check to check that your club face is square as it comes into the impact bag.
Go ahead and hit the bag, then look down at the club face to make sure it's perfectly in line.
One thing we see people struggle with when they first start this drill is, if they're not used to getting forward shaft lean they tend to bend the wrist forward but leave the face wide open.
If you do that, you're going to start hitting shots way out to the right. In that case, just remember what we talked about in the video on hitting a draw.
You can square up your club face by simply rolling your wrist a little bit counter clockwise.
Once you've got everything right, do 20 repetitions with the impact bag, really delofting the club face and making sure to keep it square. Now you're ready to start hitting a few shots with this new technique.
Step 3: Left Arm Mini Swings
For now, we're still using the left arm only. Set up a pair of alignment rods with something across the top - we've used a foam noodle from a swimming pool - to create a horizontal target.
You're going to try to hit a few shots under the noodle.
Take three steps back so you're about nine feet your target, then go ahead and make some swings. Concentrate on making the exact same moves you did when you were hitting into the impact bag.
Remember that we're over-exaggerating this for now. If you do it correctly you'll be taking all the loft off the face coming down and through that shot, so the ball will stay very, very low.
Do 10 repetitions from nine feet away: go back with your left wrist flat and allow the momentum of the club to hold the club back a little so your wrist bows forward.
The ball should stay really, really low to the ground.
Once you've done 10 repetitions at that distance, take two more steps back so you're about 15 feet away from your target.
With an 8 iron it should be pretty challenging to deloft the club enough to hit the ball under the noodle from 15 feet away. It may take some practice.
When you're able to hit 10 balls under the noodle from this distance you can move on to full swings.
Step 4: Full Swings
Once you can hit balls under the noodle from 9 and 15 feet, you can go ahead and get both hands onto the club and start to hit some full swings.
You can get rid of the noodle setup and just use the horizon as a visual reference to estimate how high or low the ball is going.
Before you do the drill, make a couple of regular swings and watch the ball against the horizon to see how high you hit with your normal swing.
Pick out a cloud or something as a point of reference at the apex of your normal ball flight, then hit 20 full shots trying to cut that height in half.
You should really feel the compression as you deloft the club face coming through impact.
Practice hitting low shots and you will find you have much more control, especially when you play in the wind. You'll get a lot more spin and compression on the ball.
Checkpoints for Practice
- Delofting the club to hit low, penetrating shots will improve your compression and spin
- Step 1: Get into impact position, turn back, then let the left wrist bow with the motion of your arm in the downswing
- Step 2: With a neutral grip in the left hand only, swing into an impact bag, again letting the momentum bow the left wrist
- The shaft will be bowed well forward at impact - make sure the face is square when it hits the bag
- Step 3: Set up a horizontal target and hit mini left handed swings under it, first from 9 then from 15 feet away
- Step 4: Check the trajectory of your normal swing, and try to hit full swings that go only half as high