Fat, chunked, chili dipped; call it what you will. As the old saying “thin to win” proclaims, there’s not much worse than hitting behind the golf ball.
The good news is that you’re not alone. We’ve all done it. Even the best players in the world lay the sod over it from time to time. The important thing is to do it less often.
A great way to start the process is by understanding why you hit behind the ball and what you can do to correct it. Here are 3 reasons and fixes for why you hit it fat:
Reason #1- Center of the Swing Moves
Staying centered during the swing big issue for a lot of golfers. If your weight moves laterally (away from the target) on the backswing, the center of your swing moves. The problem with this is that the golf ball does not move with you. Unless you can get the center swing moving forward to meet back up with the golf ball, you’re going to hit it fat.
A good way to stay centered is to get more weight on your front foot at address. The centrifugal force of the golf swing naturally tries to pull your weight away from the target. Setting a little more weight forward counteracts this natural tendency.
Start with pitch shots and wedge shots and feel the weight on the front foot. You’ll most likely notice how this helps you hit down on the ball. After getting the hang of it with the shorter shots, try it with a bigger swing. If it feels strange go back to the shorter swings and gradually work your way up.
Reason #2- Hands Flip Before the Ball
The “flip” or early release is a killer in the golf swing. Not only can it cause you to hit behind the ball, it is also robs you of power and distance. The release point is where the swing hits it top speed and if it happens before the ball, the club will be slowing down when it gets to the ball. No good!
In order to eliminate the flip you need to get your hands leading at impact. The first step to fixing this is to work on reason #1 and get your weight forward at impact. It’s not easy to lead with the hands if you’re weight is on your back foot.
Once you’ve fixed the weight issue, a great way to prevent your hands from flipping is to practice wedge shots. Take a sand or pitching wedge and make some ½ to ¾ practice swings. The goal is to feel the clubhead working down and hitting the ground where the ball would be; in front of the center of your stance.
After you get the feel for leading with the hands and hitting the ground, add a golf ball and hit some shots. Keep the same feeling as with the practice swings. The goal is to feel the club working down, hitting the ball, and then the ground. That’s solid contact!
After you get the hang of the ½ and ¾ swings move up to full swings. The goal is to keep the same feeling as the swing gets larger. The golf club should work down, hit the ball, and then the ground.
Reason #3- Backswing Over Rotation
A common problem is to whip the club inside on the takeaway and over rotate the hips. When this happens the backswing becomes flat and inside and it’s very easy to hit behind the ball.
To avoid this, feel as though the hands, arms, and club move away as one piece during the takeaway. If your takeaway starts with the hands pulling inside or the hips turning the golf club will wind up behind your body. This can lead to the dreaded fat shot.
Here is a great drill to help with your takeaway. Use a 7 iron and grip the club midway down the shaft. Stick the butt of club in your belly button and take your golf posture. The club should be running between your arms and touching your belly button. Now start your backswing and keep the butt of the club attached to your stomach. Do 10 practice takeaways using this drill. What you’ll notice is that everything moves away as one piece. This ensures a solid on plane takeaway.
After doing the drill, hit 4-5 golf balls and try to keep the feeling of the one piece takeaway. Alternate between practice swings and real shots until you get the hang of it. Getting rid of those fat shots will probably take a few strokes off your game and will make you feel a lot better about it.
Use these 3 simple thoughts to improve your game the next time you play.
Clay Hood is a PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder of Precision Pro Golf. Clay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.