The topped shot is usually followed by someone saying “I came out of it” or “I lifted my head”. Those things might be true but if you focus on what the club head is doing just before & after the offense, maybe you can solve the problem better.
Top #1 is the shallow top. This happens because the swing shape has too much in to out. This creates a bottom of the swing arc that happens too soon so, the club is already on its way back up when it strikes the top of the ball.
Top # 2 is the steep top. This happens because the swing shape is too much out to in. This creates the bottom of the swing arc to occur too late so, the club head hasn’t gotten low enough yet as it strikes the top of the ball.
Top #3 is a missed radius. This happens when the player hinges the wrists but doesn’t unhinge or release the wrists before impact. This is a common short game miss hit. The player takes a backswing with a little hinge then drags the handle past the ball so the club head is on plane but can’t reach the ground or the bottom of the ball. For this top, simple release the club head early in the downswing so that it is passing the hands around impact in order to get the radius back out.
For the first and second top you can do a 3 ball drill that will help get the club head to bottom out correctly. The three ball drill is done by placing 2 balls on your toe line about a club length away. Ball 1 is behind you, ball 2 is the one you’ll hit and ball 3 is on the target side. A neutral swing would be one that has the backswing and down swing is swung over ball 1 and after hitting ball 2 would swing over ball 3.
In the shallow top, you are swinging too much on the line between ball 1 & 2 and in the steep top you are swinging too much on the line between balls 2 & 3. If you’re not sure, try swinging on one line or the other…you have a 50/50 chance of getting right on the first try. If it got worse try the other line.
See the video for an example of the 3 ball drill.