Canadian Fade - Play, Practice, Enjoy

Control Your Lowpoint

Derek Highley - Tuesday, December 01, 2015

I get it, it's not a whole of fun chunking, topping and worm-burning your way down a fairway, in fact it is probably the quickest way to sap all of your enthusiasm for golf right out of your system. So, what can be done about it?  Well, all too often golfers go looking for solutions to this problem in the wrong place.  They go down the path of swing mechanics, thinking they must be making terrible swings in order to produce such soul crushing shots when in fact that is not the problem at all and trying to fix their swing only serves to pull their attention away from where the real problem lies.

Inconsistency of contact comes from a players inability to control the low point of their swing which is much more a product of lack of repetition in most cases then it is terrible mechanics. For example you can make an absolutely technically sound swing and still chunk, top or miss the ball all together, while on the flip side you can make a swing that is lacking sound swing mechanics but still hit the ball perfectly solid.  How can this be?  Simple the bad swing has the low point in the wrong place while the good swing nailed it.  In actual fact these should not even really be labeled as "good" or "bad" swings, we just have good and bad results. The swing that barely catches the top of the ball and sends it scuttling along the ground was in fact a "perfect swing" if catching the top of the ball was your intention.

Where do we want the low point to be?  Take a look at the picture to the right. I've put a green line arcing down towards the ball and then arcing back up, this line represents the desired path that your club should be taking into the ball in order to hit solid shots.  Notice how the low point of the arc is ahead of the golf ball, we want to be striking the ball prior to the low point of our swing arc.  We are not trying to scoop under the ball or lift it into the air, we should be brushing the ground at and slightly ahead (target side) of the ball.

In the video you'll see as the clubhead comes into impact that it continues to travel downward striking the ball then the carpet, notice in the couple of frames after impact how you can see the carpet bunch up (low point of the arc). Even as the clubhead travels downward the ball is going up in the air, this is a result of the loft on the clubface, not from me lifting or scooping the ball into the air.  This is a really important concept to understand.

The simplicity of this drill is what makes it so effective, it can be done anywhere and allows you to accumulate many repetitions in a short amount of time. I would recommend trying to do this everyday but only for a few minutes each time, the reps will stack up over the course of the winter. In order to gain good feedback when performing this drill I like to place something down a few inches behind the ball, in this example I have an index card placed 3 inches behind the ball.  Other effective things are string, tape, a towel really anything thin.  The purpose of the object behind the ball is for feedback, to let you know if you are hitting the ground too far back.  Depending on your current skill level start with index card (or whatever you have chosen to use) anywhere from 2 to 8 inches behind the ball and adjust the distance closer to the ball as you improve.  Aim for having about a 70% success rate, you don't what the card so close that you are always hitting it and you don't want it so far so that it is too easy. The 70% success rate is the "sweet spot".

In this example I am using a pitching wedge and just making half swings, I'm in my basement and the ceiling is not high enough to make a full swing but this does not make the training any less effective.  I'm using Almost Golf golf balls, (you can find them under my recommended training aids) but you can use ping pong balls, foam balls, plastic balls, no balls, the important piece is getting better at controlling your low point and having some feedback as to how good you are at doing it.

For beginners and high handicap players this skill in critical, improving this skill will positively impact your enjoyment of the game.  For the more accomplished player who is hitting the ball solid most of the time this is still a great drill because you never really can get too good at this.  This exercise will keep your ball striking sharp over the winter layoff and I have yet to have a golfer tell me that the biggest problem they are having is that they are hitting it too solid!


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