What typically causes a golfer to hit behind the ball?

28 Professionals Contributed |
One of the most frustrating things in golf is hitting the "big ball" before the little ball. How do you avoid hitting behind the golf ball and what are some ways to overcome this?

Pressure movement

Golfers usually hit behind the ball because of poor pressure movement and casting. Usually the two go hand and hand and are seen to occur together.

I would recommend that golfers practice small swings focusing on pressing into the lead foot to start the downswing. This will help the upper and lower center move and /or stay forward so that their “low point” is in front of the ball instead of behind . A golfer can also place a towel or sponge under their lead foot so they can feel the “press” into the ground. Check out the video below for more details.

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Get the Weight (and Pressure) Forward

Good golfers get their weight and their pressure forward during the downswing, with PGA Tour players getting as much as 80-95% of their pressure under the left foot at impact. Sure, most bad golfers flip, but they flip because their weight/pressure isn’t forward enough. They often sway back a bit too far during the backswing, and don’t start forward early enough in the backswing (yes, good golfers re-center and begin shifting forward during the late backswing).

PGA Professional
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The Toe Drill

Hitting behind the ball or topping the ball is basically the same fault. Rotation and weight shift is sluggish. Getting to a better impact position is ideal. If the weight stays on the trail leg or the upper body falls back (opposite from where the ball is going) you are bound to hit fat shots or thin shots.

Check out the “Toe Drill” (Video) for better impact position.

PGA Golf Professional
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Tee drill to help with ball first contact

Golfers hit behind the ball for a few reasons. But the main cause is the low point in the swing happens to early.

One drill that will give you great feedback is scratch a line in the ground with a tee. Start with the clubhead on the line and make small swings and hit at the line or on the target side of the line. Next, have a ball ready on the line beside your practice swings and move and hit the ball. Try to recreate the “feel” of hitting at the line or in front. Hit 20 balls. check the results. Take a picture.
Next time do the same drill and hit 20 balls. Take a picture.

Compare the before and after. If the divots are closer to the line or toward the target, then you are making progress.

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Simple Drill to Stop Hitting Behind the Ball

This is one of the most common issues with golfers is the fat/heavy shot. Generally speaking what I see to be the biggest cause of all this is to much “trail bend” and bad weight transfer all stemming from a fast or quick transition.
In the video you will find a simple drill that will force you to feel the weight transfer and balance shift on the downswing.

We will place a ball under our trail heel and make practice swings. You will notice right away how your weight transfers to your lead side easier and it’s harder to fall back and away and when you do you will notice.

Remember “Make Golf Simple”

@ckgolfinstruction Great Drill to help eliminate fat/heavy shots! #makegolfsimple #golflessons #golftips #golf #golftiktok ♬ Winter / Chill / R & B_No517 – table_1

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Hit Behind No More

Hitting behind the ball is one of the most frustrating encounters a golfer can have when making a full swing and especially in the short game.

Most players struggle with hitting the ground behind the ball for one of the following reasons:

• Weight staying back on trail foot thru impact;
• An early release of the club often due to an open club face in the downswing;
• Arms separating from body creating a lengthening swing radius;
• Overactive trail arm throw/thrust in downswing, lengthening swing radius;
• An extremely steep angle of attack.

To figure out the exact reason you sometimes hit the ground first, it’s best to find a qualified coach who can decipher which of the above (or combination) applies to your game. However, like taking daily vitamins, the few good training drills below can usually help:

1) Towel Under Arms: Fold a caddy-style golf towel long-wise and place across your chest, tucking under both arm pits as you do so. Your upper arms will feel very “connected” to your torso. Practice making small half swings feeling this connection remaining intact. Your arms and body will feel like they are moving more in unison as you swing.

2) Picture Perfect Finish: Have a friend video your swing with their phone and take a quick look at your finish position. If yours is unbalanced or you can’t see the spikes of your trail foot shoe, make some practice swings where your trail foot finishes completely up on its toe. You’re doing it right if you can finish in a balanced position with your weight completely on your front foot.

3) Passive Trail Arm: Take your regular address position gripping the club normally. Remove your lead hand from the club and place it over your trail elbow/ upper arm. Make some small half swings back and thru. It will feel as if your trail arm is staying bent against your side longer in the follow through. You’re doing it right if you feel like your torso must rotate or tilt down through impact more than usual.

4) Intention Challenge: An oldie but goodie, place a tee in the ground in front of the ball down your target line roughly 3 inches. Focus on making swings hitting the ball and tee through impact. Note: This drill is recommended for full-swing iron and wedge shots only, not short-game.

Florida Gulf Coast University PGA Golf Management
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Hitting the ground behind the ball

Good afternoon!

If you tend to hit the ground behind the golf ball often be sure to check the following…

1. Grip position, Body alignment in relation to target, Posture.
2. Often moving your body laterally in the backswing and remaining there during the downswing can cause you to deliver the club into the ground behind the ball as well.

Things to practice:

Weight shift drills
1. Simply throwing a ball with the right hand can introduce the skill of proper weight shift.
2. Club toss to target: Not too hard! With proper form, prepare to hit a ball, make your small, powerless backswing, practice releasing the club out of your hands while shifting your weight onto your lead leg and d free acing the target.

Best of luck!

Oneputt Productions, Inc
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Rotational shifting to set the low point

The golf swing is a rotational movement not a lateral transfer of weight back and forth. This is a fact not easily understood by most high handicappers.

Because we turn, bend, tilt and sway in a golf swing we have to synchronize various motions with one intention—low point control. The golfer first trains a low point so as to always make ball first contact. Uniform ball position for shots off the ground with varying stance widths (short club more narrow stance) is one way to keep the ball position in the same spot.

Until ball first contact is locked in, the player is most likely moving away from center several inches on the backswing. I usually place a golf ball under the outside portion of the trail leg with a flared trail foot (20 degrees). This will prevent body migration away from the target and keep the player centered on the backswing. It makes the player feel a more centered turn. I then discuss what is happening with the players bends and tilts as well.

Little to no migration on the backswing and then some lead leg pivot on the downswing should help the player make ball first contact. Come see us at Golftec and we will help you in grain your low spot!

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Lag vs. Cast

Many golfers hit behind the ball because they “cast” the club, on the downswing. It is very important to “lag” the club, instead. When a golfer falls victim to casting the club, they are swinging too hard, from the top of their backswing. The arms take over, the body stops turning and the hands push the shaft with too much effort, too soon in the swing. The result is a club head that is thrusted downward, too steeply at the ball and hits the ground, behind the ball. Ladies and gentlemen, save your casting for the fishing pond! You need to lag the club, instead.

Here’s how: lighten up your grip pressure. Swing back slowly, pause at the top of your backswing and then start the club down effortlessly, not forcefully. By using good tempo and feeling graceful, you can easily lag the shaft on the downswing. The lag is the 90° angle you create, by keeping your lead arm straight, your grip pressure soft and your wrists cocked (holding the car at a 90° angle). Just simply let club swing. Do not force it to hit the ball. Sweep the turf. And finish your swing, effortlessly.

Try this, next time you practice. “Swing,” don’t “hit.“ You will lag the club and catch it more crisply, on the sweet spot! Enjoy!

The Country Club of Virginia
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Transferring weight the link to better ball strikes

With any ball on the ground . When you turn right some weight naturally moves onto the right leg if you fail to transfer weight back to the front leg and “hang back” fat or thin shots result arms and hands are going to outrace you to the ball. Lots of things you can do to hit the ball first , divot after ball. One is to position the ball well left of center to make yourself move foreword to get to it. I call that walking into it.

Tommy Armour one of the best teachers had all his students stand at address with 70% of their weight already on the left leg, no one ever hit behind the ball. Claude Harmon father of the Harmon brothers made students slide there right foot up to their left foot to get the weight off the right foot and it did. Greg Norman used that for years. Go to a fairway practice bunker draw a knee place the ball on the front of the line (green side) and hit shots from sand, the bottom of the arc should be on the green side of the line. if you hit sand first the ball goes nowhere the sand does not lie you can easily see where the club is hitting.

The step drill is good. Feet together take the club back then step out like a pitcher with the left leg step and swing not swing and step the sequence would be wrong . Players use a spot one ball in front of the ball you are going to hit to make the club swing to that spot and collect the ball first on the way to that spot. I call that collect the ball on the way to the divot., some players ground the bottom of their arc 3 to 4 inches after the ball which is a good thing , no fat shots. Bottom line push off the back foot with active footwork and right knee pointing to the target and see how much weight is on the left before impact then play catch up with your arm swing and forearm release.

Go to a practice fairway bunker draw a line place the ball on the edge of the front side of the line and see where the club bottoms out, the line should still be the mark does not lie. step and throw not throw and step! It’s all about proper sequential movement .

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Speed is always the key

A couple of quick fixes to help with the fat or chunked shot. Ball position can play a big factor. If the ball is too far forward often times players can bottom out the swing before impact. If ball position is too far back players can get steep and hit behind it as well. Play around with ball position and see if that leads to better contact.

The biggest factor that I see is a decrease is speed. When a player starts to lose speed close to impact the weight of the club will take over and the club bottoms out well before impact. The fastest part of the swing always has to be impact. This is true for every shot from a putt to a full swing and everything between. Work on a slower back swing and more speed at impact.

Canyon Springs Golf Course
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It’s all in the timing

The golf swing is a sequence. If the sequence is out of order, the swing won’t be executed properly. One of the main causes of hitting behind the ball is starting your downswing with your arms and the club, instead of your hips and weight shift. The club bottoms out where your sternum is, so we want the sternum in front of the ball.

A drill you can do is to balance on your lead foot with your toe of the trail foot down for balance (heel up). Hitting half shots in that position will ensure your sternum is in front of the ball and weight is in the lead foot at impact. I also like to put a visual aid in front of the ball about two inches (ex. Leaf, ball mark, coin, tee) and swing through the ball hitting the object.

PGA Golf Professional
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Keep Your Arms in Front and Transfer Weight

I have worked with many golfers who struggled with hitting behind the golf ball. In many cases, the player’s arms and clubhead are working very hard to the inside and flat. The arms get stuck “behind” the body, making it very difficult to return the club head back to the golf ball. A good drill is to put an alignment rod down along your toes at address. Take the clubhead back until the club shaft is parallel to the ground. At this point, the shaft should match the alignment rod on the ground.

It helps many players to think about taking the club lower and slower straight back, instead of wrapping it around the body so quickly. This allows for the arms to stay more in front of your chest, making it easier to swing the club on plane and transfer your weight through the ball. A good drill to practice weight transfer is the Gary Player Drill. Post impact, allow your trail foot to step over your lead foot, similar to how Gary Player played many shots in tournament rounds! This forces players who hang back on their trail foot and scoop, to transfer their weight into their lead side. Try these tips to help eliminate your chunks.

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It’s an effect

So in golf you normally have a fault and there is an error that breaks the chain down the line. A lot of the time people don’t make long term fixes since they are trying to change the effect not the cause. For example if I’m hitting it fat, it might be from a steep downswing and then trying to shallow the club late.

Now that’s out of the way if all else is good and you still hit it fat. I would be working on shaft lean and weight shift at impact. My favorite drill is a short swing drill or hitting down hill lies.

Nick Duffy Golf
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Keep your hands to yourself!

Hitting behind the ball, hitting it fat (PGA of America Instructional Professor’s prefer “chunking” ) are all the result of throwing the club from the top of the swing to the impact position…The golfer is too “handsy”…The hands must stay out of the shot…Shoulder and arms swing the club…The hands must stay quiet!…To correct the issue: 200 to 300 chip shots a day with a 7 iron…In 6 weeks you are cured!

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The dreaded fat shot

Hitting “fat” or behind the ball is a swing fault that affects both high and low handicappers. The low handicapper typically has a swing path that is too far to the right (in to out) which will cause the bottom of the swing to occur too far behind the ball. The good player can also have a lot of hip slide which moves the head excessively away from the target causing a fat shot.

The higher handicap hits fat generally for different reasons. The higher handicap player usually moves excessively off or behind the ball in the backswing. Higher handicap players also tend to back up or hit off their trail leg also. The key thing to remember here is that hitting behind the ball isn’t the cause but rather a symptom of a faulty swing condition. Make sure your fixing the fault not the symptom. This is a perfect example of why it’s imperative to work on your swing with a reputable PGA Teaching Professional. Golf Lessons =Lower Scores

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Takeaway Matters

The Takeaway is very much overlooked in the golf swing. You must be assured that you were able to get the correct extension on the backswing by keeping the club steady the first 12 to 18 inches on the takeaway. This will assist in the correct extension of the left arm and prevents a pick up of the club which can lead to the club getting behind the ball on the downswing.

General Manager/Head Golf Professional Forest Park Country Club 3rd Generation Golf
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Don't Lift the Balll

The lowest part of the arc of the swing with the ball on the ground should be 2-4 inches past the ball. Hitting behind it is usually a result of the player trying to lift the golf ball to get it airborne. This player will lean back on their trail leg and release the clubhead and shaft too early. Create better lag in the downswing and lean the shaft forward slightly at impact as you pivot your weight onto your target side at finish.

Arsenal Island Golf Course
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Hitting behind the ball

A lot of things can contribute to hitting behind a golf ball or hitting it fat. It happens to everyone on occasion but if it’s a chronic issue….in many cases the golfer is failing to get off of their trail foot and as a result their body rotation is out of sync. To identify the root cause of the problem seek the help of a PGA professional and work on what he or she suggests.

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Weight forward

Start with more weight on your target side foot or be more dynamic in your weight shift to your target side foot to start your downswing. Pressure mats prove good ball strikers have about 90% of their weight on their target side foot at impact.

Precision Golf Academy
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Diagnosing "fat" shots

There are many things that can lead to the “fat” shot, but the first two I look for are ball position and balance.

Regarding ball position, too far forward, or back, can cause a variety of compensation moves that, if not properly timed, will cause problems. Also, poor alignment can alter the effective ball position, so never ignore alignment.

As for balance, the swing is like a wheel, the clubhead tracing the outer rim. If the hub–your center of gravity– moves, the whole wheel moves. Swinging with your eyes closed is a great way to correct the problem. Starting with eyes open, take a tiny backswing, perhaps 18 inches, and swing through the ball brushing the grass, finishing in perfect balance. Then repeat, until you can do this with eyes closed, finishing as though you’d made a full swing, facing the target, weight on your target side. Gradually extend the length of the swing when, at each increase, you can successfully “just” brush the grass. This will give you a good sense of better center of gravity control in your swing.

Moses Lake Golf Club
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Hit the Little Ball and Not The Earth First....

Descent into ball impact comes down to three physics principles. The Club face, Club Path and Angle of Descent. Most beginner or amateur golfers don’t realize that club face to ball first causes a post cut divot. Therefore they are trying to “get under the ball” vs drop club face on the ball. Scoop vs Strike mentality. Would you hit a nail with hammer angle of descent under the nail head?

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Emphasize low point

There could be several causes for a player “fatting” the ball. Rather than going the mechanical route, something that seems to often work is explaining to the player that the low point of the swing is 3-4 inches on the target side of the ball. They are usually conceptual victims of trying to scoop or “get under” the ball. It also gets them on the road to understanding that except for driver and putter, the club is striking the ball on a downward path, the shorter the club the steeper the attack angle.

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The main cause of hitting behind the is angle of approach.

At GOATAGOLF we first evaluate your movement pattern and identify where you have issues. The main cause of hitting behind the is angle of approach. Which is usually caused by not clearing your hips, clearing your hips will cause the shaft to shallow out on the down swing. If you can’t corner your trail hip you will usually swing with your arms.

PGA Golf Pro
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Having the club head too far underplane during the downswing!

Many golfers for whatever reason poor set up, loss of posture, flat shoulder plane, etc. Cast the club head during the downswing to try and get speed, but unless the various joint extensions are timed well the club head can bottom out early!

I think the best way to stop casting is to find another power source by learning how to properly coil during the backswing ( good sequence to the backswing ) and learn how to ALLOW the club to lag by having the proper sequenced downswing Hip, chest, Arms and Club! Start with short slow easy swings and slowly get longer and faster!

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Move forward More

Most clients who come to see me for golf lessons release the golf club to early. We try 2 things, One will placing a towel 8 inches in front of the Towel. This is 2 widths of a Iron head, if I don’t have a towel place an Alignment outside the back foot. In either case we are trying to avoid the Towel or Alignment Rod. Good luck

Fox Hollow Golf Club
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Swing through the ball !

First, relax your hands. Second, move the ball one inch to the right in your stance. ( for right hand golfers ) Third, swing through the ball, not at it !!!

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Fat shots

Not getting weight properly to lead side early enough. Try striding baseball drill for a better understanding

Frosty Valley Golf Links
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TLDR: What our Backswing professionals have to say on the topic “Hitting Behind the Ball”:

  1. Hitting behind the ball often results from poor weight transfer; focus on shifting your weight to the front foot during the downswing.
  2. Maintain a consistent tempo and avoid rushing the downswing, allowing for proper sequencing and contact with the ball.
  3. Check your ball position to ensure it’s not too far back, as this can lead to hitting behind the ball.
  4. Develop a shallow angle of attack by focusing on a smooth takeaway and maintaining the correct swing path.
  5. Incorporate practice drills that promote proper weight transfer and solid ball contact to improve your technique.
  6. Seek feedback from a golf professional or utilize video analysis to identify any swing flaws contributing to hitting behind the ball.
  7. Practice consistently and maintain a positive mindset to build confidence in your swing.

By implementing these recommendations and addressing the root causes of hitting behind the ball, you can improve their consistency and strike the ball more effectively.

The Professionals in this Roundup

The Backswing Fix

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