For many golfers, topping the ball is a serious problem. Not only are worm burners the ugliest shots to watch in golf, but they invariably put your ball into horrendous situations from which to escape.
When a student comes to me fighting the tops, the first thing I do is help him or her understand that, on all full swings with an iron, it's crucial to execute a downward strike on the golf ball, not an upward lift or scoop. Anything but a descending blow increases the likelihood that you'll catch the ball above its equator, a scenario that produces the top. Of course, your motion may need more help than simply to hit down on the ball. Nonetheless, the following Break The Tee drill works wonders.
Set a tee in the ground so that the top of the tee rests just above the turf. Assume your standard address position and make your swing with the primary goal being to clip the tee out of the ground. This isn't as easy as it seems, especially for a chronic topper. The key is to really go down after it, with no lifting or flinching at impact. The proper forward shift of weight targetward on the downswing also is required to steepen the path.
After a few swings, you should be able to not only clip the tee, but to break it and send it flying from the turf along with a healthy divot. Now, place a golf ball on the tee and continue the drill. If you make the same downward swing, your top shot will be replaced by one that rises quickly with plenty of backspin. After a dozen or so solid strikes, take the tee out and continue to ingrain the feeling of breaking the tee.
PGA professional Barry Goldstein instructs at Polar Shot Golf Center in Johnson City, N.Y., and Inverrary Golf Club in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.