The first task a golfer should master is making solid contact a minimum of 80% of the time. Now, that is not to say that every shot must be perfectly struck in the middle of the club face. To get started in golf, the shots need to get in the air and fly forward a long enough distance to play the course. While this goal may seem basic and logical, all it takes is a quick trip to your local driving range to see how many golfers struggle with the most basic task! While there are plenty of generic tips and articles on swing mechanics that will help produce solid contact, I believe every golfer needs to truly understand how we are trying to strike the ball and the requirements through basic geometry to accomplish this.
The ultimate goal: In golf we are trying to hit the ball first and the ground second!
To arrive at this goal we need 2 things:
- A low point in front of the ball at impact.
- The shaft leaning forward at impact.
Within each golfer’s unique swing there are many factors that influence the coordination of these 2 variables. However, these 2 variables define the end game ever golfer should strive to achieve time in and time out.
Measuring the Low Point
The low point of the golf swing is the bottom of the swing and that correlates with a point below the left shoulder (for a right-handed golfer). If at any point in the swing the left shoulder moves behind the ball and stays behind the ball through impact, you won’t be able to hit the ball before striking the ground. Try the Hip Check Drill to improve your low point and hit the ball first.
Measuring the Shaft Angle
Hitting the ball first means your hands must be in front of the ball just before contact. While the ability to do this time in and time out has a lot to do with the motion of the body, this is an important concept to understand and work towards. If the shaft starts to get too vertical or even leans away from the target at impact, you will not be able to hit the ball first and will find yourself hitting the ground too early or hitting thin shots as the blade ascends into the ball. You can really feel this sensation by practicing the Business Card Drill at home.
With today’s access to technology, measuring how skilled you are at creating a low point in front of the ball is quite simple. Take a quick video of your swing from the front view and make sure the camera is directly lined up from the middle of your hands at address and draw a straight line down from your left shoulder down to the ground (see image below on the left). This will help illustrate where your low point should be at impact. To evaluate whether the shaft is leaning forward, draw a line straight up from the ball and see if your hands pass that line just before the moment of the strike (like the image below on the right). Finally, you can check and see if there is a divot in front of where the golf ball was positioned. If you see these three relationships you know you are giving yourself the best possible chance to make great contact day in and day out.
For a detailed analysis of your low point and shaft angle, talk to your local GolfTEC Certified Personal Coach and schedule your next lesson!