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Nevin

Wife hits top of ball

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I've been playing golf for 50 years, but after all of this time, my wife is just now taking up the game.  The good news is that she plays with the ladies and has fun, but she really struggles with making good contact with the ball.  She is tall and quite strong, so club head speed isn't an issue.   I have noticed that women sometimes struggle hitting down on the ball and she is in that category.  She tops most of her shots.  You can see her trying to lift the ball into the air.  If she tees the ball really high, she is more likely to make solid contact.  Any suggestions for getting her to not lift up or retain her spine angle that I could pass on to her?  If she could just make solid contact more often, she would enjoy the game more.  Thanks.

Edited by Nevin

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It's very possible that she has a conceptual issue.  You've probably told her over and over to hit down on the ball or through the ball.  But does she know why she needs to hit down through the ball?  

 

I went to a workshop several years ago that had golfers of all levels.  The first thing the pro/instructor asked was "What make the ball climb into the air?  Drivers and wedges basically go the same height; but why do wedges climb quickly and drivers slowly?"  About half of the attendees said loft of the club started the ball higher.   The others said spin.  

 

The pro carefully explained how the dimples worked to create lift when the ball spins and how the ball stays on higher lofted clubs longer to create more spin.  He held a ball against the face of various clubs and showed how hitting down and through the ball created more spin than trying to lift the ball.  He then demonstrated the difference by hitting a few shots "lifting" the ball and hitting through the ball.  He then had the golfers hit some short pitches trying to hit down on the ball as much as possible so each could see the effect.  

 

For most of the newer golfers, getting the concept clear in their minds immediately helped to quit trying to lift the ball in the air.  

 

It may sound simple and obvious for someone who has played for a long time.  But for someone starting out, the reason behind hitting through the ball may be eye opening.

 

 

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There are so many things that can cause losing spine angle and topping the ball, which is why the standard response is always to have a teaching pro evaluate her swing.  I am not an instructor, and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so these are my thoughts since you asked.

Losing spine angle is usually the result of a steep downswing, probably coming over the top, and a common issue for new players, but that's for the pro to evaluate.  Tall people tend to have a more upright swing.  If the downswing is too steep, the brain will make whatever correction is necessary to try to make ball contact and not mash the club into the ground... standing up too soon.  A flatter swing would help.  Maybe the clubs don't fit her either.

Sounds like she needs to learn where the bottom of her swing is, and work to consistently hit it.  She may be playing the ball too far forward; common mistake, one I struggle with.  Try spraying a line with foot spray on the range.  Place broken tees on the line and make swings so that turf contact is in front of the line.  Is it the same when a ball is place on the tees?  Eventually remove the tees and just use balls.

One reason could be similar to my wife's problem with hitting down on the ball.  She has been playing golf for 56 years, so she generally hits the ball fairly well, but could use more club head speed.  She is great at getting wedges up; picking the ball perfectly, but with longer clubs, she struggles a little.  The driver is fine because it's on a tee.  The reason: she has arthritic hands and is going to have carpel tunnel surgery this fall.  She doesn't like the vibration of impact with the turf, and our turf is quite firm.  The wedges work OK because the speed is less, and the bounce helps prevent digging.

 

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You need to figure out the issue(s) causing her to top the ball. She could be swaying away from the ball on the backswing and not shifting weight back towards target, failing to maintain spine angle, ball position issues, could benefit from longer clubs if above average height. 

A simple exercise would be to follow the Adam Young school of thought and change her intention. Have her focus on a single dimple or marking on the lower half of the ball at address and try to hit the bottom portion of the ball. 


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Have her try getting into left side before backswing even complete and have a feeling of her chin getting a couple inches closer to the ball in transition.  May have to exaggerate those feels even more if that doesn't keep her in posture and covering the ball.


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