We talk endlessly about how to perfect your game. We break down your swing, we discuss your grip, we talk about your wrists, we preach the importance of your stance… the list goes on. And for all this research, preparation, and practice, you still show up on Saturday mornings and embarrass yourself on the tee by hitting behind the ball.
You chunked it. You hit it fat. Whatever you wanna call it, you kicked up a lot of dirt. And not only is it embarrassing and frustrating, it’s among the fastest ways to tank your score on every hole. Hitting behind the ball is a curse that plagues golfers long into their careers. We’re here to get you on the path to cleaner shooting so the power of your swing gives you more distance — not more digging.
Why am I Hitting Behind the Ball?
Balance, balance, balance!
We can talk all day about where to set the ball, how wide your stance should be, et. cetera.. but regardless of what type of shot you’re taking, your stance always needs to be centered and balanced. Your clubs should rest comfortable out right in front of you. And, although you might favor the front or back foot, your weight is more or less even between both feet.
It’s all too common when pulling the club into the back swing for a golfer to allow their center of gravity to drift backwards as well. Just picture this – if you pull your body back with the club, and then quickly swing forward, where else can the club head go?
You’ve pulled your center off-kilter from the shot you lined up. Unless you can manage to push your center all the way forward with your club, you’re going to dig right into the ground.
Practice your backswing while focusing on keeping your feet planted with the same weight distribution throughout. Keep in mind, you should keep your back straight and aligned as it would standing still addressing the ball. Don’t be tempted to lean out towards your back shoulder.
Watch Your Hands!
Remember your swing fundamentals! While your elbow should be loose and not tense, your front arm should be straight. This helps you maintain a clean line all the way from your arm through the shaft down to the club head.
Breaking this line spells trouble, and a few things could cause this. If you let your elbow break too much, you won’t pull the club through fast enough, and your body will swing out ahead of it. The club head will raise further as you bring the club down, making it easier to smack off of the ground.
Another common fault is turning over the hands. If you allow your front wrist to roll forward on the down swing, you’ll hood the club head, and even if you don’t hit behind the ball, you’ll pull it hard. Happy ball hunting!
Break down your swing – on video, if you can! Observe the position of your wrists and arms throughout the back swing and down swing. You want to keep that leading arm nice and straight with no rotation.
Keep Your Eye On the Ball!
This is such a no-brainer, right? It’s one of the first lessons we’re taught as young golfers. And yet, the more we learn, the more our fundamentals can fade.
A lot of factors distract us from keeping our heads in the right place. For starters, don’t crush the ball with all your might. The more you focus on swinging hard and fast, the harder a time you’ll have keeping your eyes fixed on the ball and keeping your head in place.
After all, your head position and placement affects your balance, which affects your ability to maintain the right weight distribution!
While practicing at the range, try to develop a swing that’s consistent and low-effort. You want your technique and the weight/shape of the club to do 95% of the work.
Follow through the ball and pick up your head – keep your eyes on it as it sails through the air. You may have already struck the ball, but your swing is one long and consistent motion. If you come to an abrupt stop as you swing through, you’ll lock up and your technique will break down before you make contact.
Hitting behind the ball is almost as frustrating as hitting your head off of a hard cabinet. It can make your blood boil in a split-second, and it can throw you off your game for the rest of the hole.
Don’t worry, even advanced players have to be vigilant not to dig up dirt.
Hit the range and practice, practice, practice! As you can no doubt tell from our recommendations, hitting the ball cleanly is about consistency, control, and attention to detail. Focus on your swing every day and your handicap will start sinking fast.