In my last column, I discussed how to plan, prepare, and produce a golf shot. Now I’m going to help you understand why the ball goes where it does and how to fix it. There are a few prerequisites first.
• The ball cannot move on its own.
• The ball goes where the face points ... always!
• The only thing touching the club is YOU!
If you understand the three statements above, it will help you understand what, why, and how of...
• What did I do?
• Why did it go that way?
• How can I fix it?
Let’s say you slice your driver (the ball goes to the right for a right-hand player, left for a left-hand player). The first thing you know is that the face was open. Open means pointing right for right-hand players and left for left-hand players.
Why was the face open? It could be one or two reasons:
• You kept your left arm too straight (if you are right handed), and pulled the grip down to the ball. (Left-hand players kept their right arm too straight). If the grip gets back to the ball before the clubhead, the face will be open and the ball will go right for right hand players.
• You might have shifted your weight too much too soon. I call it outskating the puck. If you move your body ahead of the ball before the club head, the face will be behind you and wide open. You will not be able to get the clubhead back to square.
How do I fix it?
• Relax your front arm. (left arm for right-hand players). Try to feel where the club head is at all times. Become aware of the face. I tell my students to feel as though they are throwing a ball underhanded with their back hand. The club head travels farther than the grip. You must get the club head back to the ball to make the ball go straight.
• Stop moving forward. You may have been told to get your weight to your left side (right hand players). This will cause you to get ahead of the ball. If you are in front of the ball, the face will be behind the ball. It will be wide open and the ball will go right (right hand players).
You hit the top of the ball and it doesn’t get off the ground.
• The whole world tells you to keep your eye on the ball. You look at the top of the ball. Therefore, you hit the top of the ball.
• You lock your arms and they pull you away from the ball, therefore, you hit the top of the ball.
• You stand up while anticipating the hit and top it.
How do I fix it?
• Be sure you are bowing over the ball and not sitting. You must hang from the waist to allow your arms to swing freely.
• Relax your arms. Do not try to keep your left arm straight.
• Look before the ball on the grass. The club must go down for the ball to go up.
• Take small swings with lots of wrists and try to brush the grass.
The ball curves from right to left (for right hand players).
• You may be starting the face closed.
• You may be starting the face square and closing it on the way back.
• You may start the face square, open it on the way back and then side arm pitch or throw left on the way down.
How do I fix it?
• Be sure you understand what a square clubface looks like at address. The two vertical lines on the face help you square it up. Be sure those two lines extend down the face and point where you want the ball to go.
• As you swing back, allow the club face to open. Do not try to keep it straight on the backswing. The face will then be closed and the ball will go left.
• Once you start the face square and allow the face to open on the backswing, you must toss underhanded toward your target with your back hand (right hand for right hand players). If you do not do this, you will hit the ball left. A square release is what you are striving for.
Once you understand the cause of your miss and what to do to fix it, you can easily adapt and adjust on the course to get back on track. You don’t have to miss shots all day. Good Luck!
Cindy Miller is a former LPGA Tour Player who currently competes on the Legends Tour of the LPGA. She is a Certified Behavior, Motivation, and Judgment Professional who is sought after as a speaker, coach, and corporate trainer. For questions or thoughts, please reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story topics: Cindy Miller's Own Your Game