To acquire the perfect golf swing technique will mean that you will hit the ball consistently with power and place it where you would like it to go. However, a lousy technique will reak havoc on your game, causing you to hit the ground before the ball and elevating your handicap. Let’s remedy this.
Hitting the ground before the golf ball is mainly caused by an incorrect golf swing technique. There are many factors to consider, and some can compound others. These include hip slide, head movement, dipping the shoulder, bending your lead arm, releasing the club too early, and not distributing your weight through your swing correctly.
Going through every possible aspect of why you are hitting the ground before the golf ball will be covered in this article, analyzing what part of your swing could be the culprit. We’ll even discover that it may not even be your swing that is causing this in one instance. Then we’ll show you how to correct it all, going over drills you can use.
Why do I hit the ground before the ball in golf?
The reason you are hitting the ground first before the golf ball is due to a fault in your golf technique. This could be caused by many factors (which we will discuss) that relate to your swing, body position, or even where you place the golf ball.
Hitting the ground first is because your angle of approach (angle at which the club is striking the golf ball) is too shallow. To put it in another understandable way, you are trying to hit the ball with an upwards motion.
A golf club (your swing) actually moves through the shape of a circle, meaning when you swing your club, you are swinging it in the form of a perfect circle. Reaching the bottom part of that full circle swing in golf is known as your “low point.”.
In a perfect golf swing, the club will come down (drop), you will attack the ball at a 4 to 5-degree angle and move through the impact of the ball known as Down, Out, and Forward.
Essentially, the low point of a perfect golf swing should be in front of the ball. This means that if you are hitting your irons, you should take a divot out of the ground that is situated in front of your ball.
When you are striking the ball at a shallow angle, the low point of your swing is situated behind the ball, and this will cause you to hit what are known as “fat” shots. You will recognize these types of shots as they will also take divets out of the ground behind where the ball is placed. This is a common occurrence with beginners and players with high handicaps.
Reasons why your low point is behind the ball
Many factors can contribute to shallow swing that brings the low point of your club behind the ball, and some of them can be rectified pretty quickly. We’ll discuss what they are here, and then in the next section, we will go over how to remedy these mistakes and give you some tips on how to practice them.
Many players make this very common mistake and not only beginners. The mistake is placing the golf ball too close to the front foot. This is the foot that you distribute your weight onto through your swing. For right-handed players, it is the left foot, and for left-handed players, it is the right foot.
This can be further compounded by using shorter clubs. Remember that golf club shafts do come in varying lengths depending on how tall you are and how long your arms are. Using a shorter club means you drop the club too much, or your swing is inhibited because your posture is not correct (you have to hunch to get to the ball).
Downswing hip slide
A prevalent issue that occurs with many golfers is the hip slide. When the hip moves past your foot that you distribute your weight onto, there is not any firmness, which equates to less rotation, and without rotation, power is drastically reduced.
This is probably why when you started playing golf, your instructor told you to play with a frim left side (if you are right-handed). Sliding your hips before striking the ball or at impact causes the body to shift forward. This will, in turn, cause the club to drop behind the ball.
Along with the hip slide comes another problem that many golfers face. That is sliding or moving their head through the golf swing. During the downswing, many players tend to slide their heads or will want to look at where they hit the ball. Unfortunately, this prevents the player from watching the club strike the ball and, in turn, will cause the entire upper body to move forward once again and impede proper recoil.
Dipping the shoulder
Dipping the rear shoulder is another reason why you could be striking the ground before the ball. Dipping the shoulder means that you lower your shoulder excessively when you are moving through your downswing, causing your hands and body to scoop at the ball. This is also commonly known as the “chili dip.”.
Bending your lead arm
You should be keeping your lead arm (left arm if you are right-handed) straight through your golf swing. When your lead arm is not straight, it will cause you to have a short backswing that will prevent your upper body from making a proper coil motion.
The reverse pivot
This is caused by improper weight distribution through your swing. It occurs when you transfer weight to your left side on the backswing and right on the downswing. This is the opposite of proper weight shifting. During the backswing, the player’s weight should be on the back foot, and failure to naturally transfer the weight through the golf ball and onto the left side of the body will effectively cause the club to create a low point behind the ball.
This correlates to dipping the shoulder because it occurs when you succeed in moving to your right side on the backswing, but you fail to shift your weight to the left on the downswing.
“Casting” the club
Casting the club is when you release the club too quickly. This throws off the swing plane and subsequently causes the club to hit across the impact area. This can also effectively cause hip slide, in turn, causing you to hit those “fat” shots.
How to stop hitting the ground before the ball in golf
As you can see, there are quite a few factors that play a role in causing you to hit the ground before the ball, and this boils down to the placement of your low point in your swing that is affected by your technique. Let’s look at ways you can remedy all the issues that we outlined.
Correcting ball positioning
This is relatively simple to correct and what you should aim to do is place the ball in the middle of your stance when you are lining up to take a shot. This means the ball should be placed between your legs, ideally in the center.
Correcting hip slide
The hip slide in your golf swing may seem like it could be challenging to correct, but there is actually an easy method to remedy this problem. All you will need for this is a doorway (frame).
What you will do is position yourself perpendicular to the frame with your left foot (if you are right-handed) touching the frame. Then cross your arms across your chest as if you were holding a club. Subsequently, make a backswing turn and then a through swing turn. During your through swing turn, you should try and allow your left hip to move laterally, only enough to make slight contact with the door frame.
This will put you in a vertical left leg position which is the perfect place for maximum hip rotation.
Correcting head movement
This won’t require any equipment but just focus and self-awareness when you are taking a swing. The most important thing to remember is that you should keep your head from moving up and down.
To make solid contact when you are moving through your swing, you have to return it to the level where it was at address (when lining up the ball and getting ready for a shot).
Correcting shoulder dipping
Another technique that you can practice that will not require your clubs or any other equipment is a technique for correcting your shoulder plane.
What you will do is you will place your hands in the air, running parallel to your chest (as if someone told you to stick your hands up in a robbery). You will then go into your golf stance and then subsequently move through your golf swing.
As you are motioning through your golf swing in slow motion, focus on keeping your palms facing down towards the ground, and your chest stays down. Then focus on your shoulder plane and that it is aligned and in a good position. Watch this video below for a visual demonstration.
Correcting the lead arm
To correct and straighten your lead arm through your swing you will need to utilize one of your clubs. The main thing to focus on is keeping your lead arm straight through your backswing up until your lead arm is parallel with the floor.
After your lead arm reaches that position, if you can keep it straight without straining, that is great, but it is alright to have a slight kink in it once your arm moves past the parallel position to the floor.
Your next focus should be returning your lead arm to a straight position as you move through your downswing, making contact through the ball once again up until your arms reach a parallel position to the ground in your follow-through.
The best thing you can do is record yourself using your smartphone and then watch it back to see if you are correctly moving through your swing, keeping this technique exact. Watch Rick Shiels explain and demonstrate this.
Correcting the reverse pivot
There is a great drill that you can practice to remove the reverse pivot in your golf swing. This is going to be a drive drill, meaning there will be no hitting of the ball rehearsing how the body needs to move, as with some of our previous practice exercises. What you will need, however, is a couple of alignment sticks.
Check out these golf alignment sticks on Amazon here
Set up the alignment sticks so one is just in front of your back foot and the other is on the outside of your right side hip (if you are right-handed). What you will then do is hold your golf club across your chest with your arms crossed (the shaft facing the direction of the ball flight and the club facing behind the ball).
As you move through your backswing with an exaggerated motion, shift your weight into your left hip, almost turning backward. If you make this motion correctly, you will notice that you do not touch the alignment stick placed next to your hip. Watch Chris Ryan explain and demonstrate this here.
Correcting your release
To train your body in performing a perfect release, you can practice this exercise. To perform this exercise, you will need your club.
Start off in an address position, straighten your arms and have the club placed in front of you at about chest level. Next, you would fold your trail arm slightly, moving the club to the side. This would replicate the optimal delivery position.
When releasing the club from this position, you will aim to move the club as far away from you as possible. This means you would stretch out your bent trail arm keeping the clubhead straight. Perform this exercise, again and again, stopping when your arms are in a fully stretched position, not letting the club move past your extended lead arm. Watch Chris Ryan explain and demonstrate this below.
Other exercises you can practice to improve your low point
Another great drill you can practice will make you extend your low point to where it should be to place the ball closer to your left foot.
We discussed that you should place the ball between your legs in the center of your body, and placing the ball too far forward is a cause for hitting the ground before the ball.
However, if you are placing the ball in the correct position initially but have this problem, moving it forward will help you extend your low point.
This may seem a bit counterintuitive, but placing the ball a little more forward will force you to extend your swing to a degree, and it will move your low point forward. Watch Mark Crossfield explain and demonstrate this here.
Another technique you could practice is putting an alignment stick down on the ground in the correct position the ball would be in. You would then take practice swings, making sure to brush the grass in front of the alignment stick. This would visually show you where your low point is in relation to where the ball should be. Watch Kerrod Gray explain and demonstrate this below.
We discovered that, in fact, hitting the ground before the golf ball during your swing is a problem that thousands of golfers experience, especially knew golfers and ones that don’t focus on correct swing technique.
This happens not because of one factor but because many play a role that works in conjunction with one another to create this problem. We concluded that these factors include ball positioning, hip slides, head movement, releasing the club too early, not distributing your weight through your swing properly, and more.
Luckily enough, we gave you drills and exercises that you can practice that will help you alleviate this problem. If you consider our tips, you will surely knock off a couple of strokes on your handicap.