We are often told to “hit down on the ball” or to “take a divot“. This is very sound advice and the core difference between hackers golf and golf as it is meant to be played. The principal characteristics and advantage of a shot played like this are firstly a lower, more penetrating trajectory on the longer clubs and higher shots with backspin on the shorter clubs.
To play this shot requires a more steeply descending trajectory than that required for a driver or fairway wood. This is where we need to make adjustments in our set up to facilitate this. If the ball is half way between our feet and opposite or centred on our head we would have to move our head or swing centre left to give our left arm room to make the steeper descending blow. This destroys both the geometry and stability of the swing so is not the answer.
Instead we must move the ball slightly back in our stance (to the right). It is no longer in front of our head and the hands are now slightly ahead of the ball at address. In this way the descending blow can be delivered with the geometry maintained. Because the ball has been moved back in our stance a very slight adjustment in our grip is necessary because we are now making contact with the ball earlier in the swing path and thus with a slightly open club face. The grip has to be strengthened very slightly, but not too much.
When playing the shot keep a strong mental image of swinging down onto the top of the ball. Imagine the club face making contact with the upper back quarter of the ball. It won’t, of course, it will make contact much lower, but it must make contact with the ball before the ground. Because the club face is still moving down when it makes contact with the ball it will and should then make contact with the ground and take a divot in front of the long departed ball. Also be sure to have your hands well in front of the club head when it makes contact with the ball.
This is a method and way of playing golf which you absolutely must adopt if you are serious about getting better at the game. Hit down on the ball and take a divot. It’s the right way to play.
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