|Achieving solid contact is what separates the pros and better players, from average to higher-handicap golfers. (Scott Stuart/EclipseSportsWire.com)|
Improving your golf game begins by improving your ball striking, as there's nothing in golf quite like making pure contact. A pure golf shot is truly a magical feeling! Once you experience this sensation, you'll be hooked, trying to repeat it over and over again.
Achieving solid contact tends to be difficult for many golfers; it's what separates the pros and better players from average to higher-handicap golfers. The good news is that, if you experiment with the accompanying tips and drills, you too can learn how to hit solid and pure golf shots more often.
As you strike the golf ball, the grip end of the club needs to be leading the hands and club head through the hitting area (a mandatory ingredient for hitting solid iron shots). This move causes the club head to compress the ball into the ground, which helps make your divot after the ball, not before. (Many times you hear golf instructors say strike the ball first on iron shots - this is what they are talking about.)
The second key to achieving solid contact is having correct posture throughout the swing, as this allows you to swing the club on the proper plane. The majority of golfers who struggle with making solid contact lose their posture as the club head connects with the ball. This leads to many miss-hits; fat and thin shots, hooks, slices and chunks. It is essential that you keep your posture, just as it is at address, throughout the swing.
The final ingredient in the search for solid ball striking is controlling the clubface through impact. In other words, the face of your club must be square when it contacts the ball. Most golfers have the face of the club too open at impact, which leads to miss-hits that cause loss of power and distance. The clubface should rotate from open (prior to impact) to square (at impact) to slightly closed (after impact). The timing of this face rotation is what separates good ball strikers from not-so-good ball strikers. Proper practice will improve this timing.
To help you achieve these three pure-contact goals, I've devised a series of practice drills that are as simple as they are effective.
Golf ball drill: By placing an extra golf ball behind your ball (12 to 14 inches behind the target line), you will learn to strike the ball with a descending blow and have your hands leading the club head through the hitting area. If you use a scooping motion (hitting the ground before you make contact with the ball), you won't be able to strike your ball without first hitting the extra ball.
Posture drill: Controlling your posture throughout the swing is something that all good players do and most amateur players don't. When the clubface strikes the ball, you must return to the same posture that you had at address. Practice by facing a mirror and taking a half backswing, then swing the club down to the ball, and stop. You should return to your address position. Keep repeating this motion until it starts to feel natural. On the range, run through this drill before you hit each practice shot.
Release the clubface drill: Put a Band-Aid on the back of your left wrist, (if you wear a glove, put the band aid over the back of your glove. On your down swing, turn your left hand over, so the band aid is pointing down toward the ground as you swing the club head through the hitting area. On your practice swings, do this slowly, so you experience the feel of the club head turning over upon impact. When hitting balls, try to just let this motion happen, and after a while it will become automatic.
November 5, 2009
Les Miller was a longtime Golf Writers of America member who covered golf instruction for several newspapers and golf publications. His many years of experience as a golf professional, director of product development and tour relations for several major golf companies gave him a unique background and ability to help golfers increase their enjoyment of the game.