Pure contact with the golf ball and turf is perhaps the best feeling a golfer can experience. Unfortunately this experience is not what most golfer experience on a shot to shot or day to day basis. The fat and thin golf shots have one thing in common, the bottom of the swing is too far behind the ball.
Let’s look at a few reasons and fixes this may be happening in your game and find a solutions to assist you in finding golf’s “utopia” feeling.
No. 1: Ball Position
Fixing your fat and thin shots could be as simple as the ball being too far forward in your stance.
Work on your set up with a mirror to feel like a vertical line would intersect down from your left eye through your hands and through the ball, as in Photo 1. From this positon you are in a good start to return the club to a proper impact position, as in Photo 2.
No. 2: Excessive Head Movement
In an effort to create power, players will often move too far off the ball to the right for a right handed player (Photo 3). If a player fails to move back to the left at impact their weight will remain on the trail leg and the club will bottom out before impact.
Have a friend hold a club or alignment stick outside your right ear as you make a few practice swings and ultimately work up to hitting full shots with a ball (Photos 4 and 5). This might feel strange or limiting at first, but with a little practice the bottom of your swing will bottom out in the correct spot and you will begin to produce center face contact with the ball.
No. 3: Reduction of the Length of the Arms at Impact
It does not take long after hitting the ground behind the ball that your arms will figure out how to shorten to avoid this impact condition. The result is now you a thin shot and it is bladed across the back of the green. I show this position in Photo 6.
Take a moment to paint a line on the ground and hit balls resting on top of the line next time you go to the practice range. I show this sequence in Photos 7 through 12.
After a few shots you will become aware of the buckling of your elbows just prior to impact and the shaft leaning back away from the target.
Strive to make contact in front of the line hitting the ball then the turf and you will begin to allow your arms to lengthen at impact correctly at impact with the hosel and shaft leaning towards the target at impact, as in Photo 13.
No. 4: Club Points Too Far Right of the Target at the Top of the Swing
From this position (Photo 14) the club will tend to rebound and approach the ball too much from the inside the target line at impact. Players with this condition will also tend to block and hook the ball away from their intended target.
Feel as though you rotate the left forearm over the right in the backswing to have the club pointed at the target or slightly left of the target at the top, as in Photo 15. You can create this feeling by taking a basketball or range ball basket and feeling like you rotate your forearms over your right shoulder at the top (Photo 16).
From this positon the elbows are squeezed closer together and you are poised to deliver the club correctly to the ball for a solid strike.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated June 28, 2018.
Dave LaFata is Head Golf Professional at Toiyabe Golf Club in Washoe Valley, Nevada