You MUST hit down on the ball…

…or more accurately, you must not hit up on the ball with any club.

With the exception of really good golfers trying to go vertical over trees, a bunker lip or on a flop shot from a good lie, you hit down on every shot.

Yes I said it, you hit down on every shot. A large % of you are scoffing and saying to your self, “you don’t hit down on drivers,” or, “I pick my iron shots.”

Well, you would be incorrect. Now if you want to tell me that drivers, fairway woods, hybrids and “picked” irons shots are the club leveling out at impact, I buy that for sure.

What I am trying to stop here is hitting up on the ball, which is the bane of existence for almost every amateur out there who tops woods and skulls chips…in addition players who don’t get that good trap on iron shots and chips and a glancing blow on woods.

Look at it this way and it will make perfect sense. At the top of the back swing, depending on how tall you are and where you set your hands, the club head is 5-7 feet in the air and must have a downward motion to hit the ball.

If you hit up on it, you are changing the direction of a object (the club head) moving 80-130 mph at the last second before it hits another object (the ball). Imagine the timing that would require. It’s tough enough hitting the ball square swinging at it from one direction, never mind changing that direction just before impact.

I want to be clear before I move on. I am not advocating hitting down on driver, or taking massive divots with woods and hybrids. I am telling you you can’t to hit up on the ball to get it in the air.

With a proper swing and ball position, driver and other clubs will level out properly without you assisting it up in the air.

Here are some things that happen when helping the ball up in the air and some things you can do to stop them. (PS-I am sure some of you, who have been inundated with technical nonsense by the golf media, will want to tell me about the loss of power at PP#3 or some stuff like that. Read my post on golf and physics. A 28 handicap won’t be helped by “correct physics of power loss”)

The biggest offender of hitting up on the ball is the shoulder turn stalling and the left shoulder going up or right shoulder going down. It’s basically the same subconscious swing thought and the differences are not important, but you need to keep your shoulders rotating level to the spine through impact.

Post on level shoulder turn.

The next big problem I see is the “chicken wing.” There is a left chicken wing, a right chicken wing and the dreaded double chicken wing. A chicken wing is when one or both arms are bent too much at the elbow during the downswing. There is a position just past impact where you want both arms in full extension and they form a triangle with your shoulders. The shaft will go right up the middle of the triangle. Depending on your swing and club head speed, this is usually 1 frame on a slow mo video past impact.

Most of your topped drives and skulled chips is a right, left or double chicken wing at this frame…not the cliche, “lifted my head.” Many will say they are hitting fat shots and are afraid to extend their arms. Well, there is the double whammy. If you have any “poultry” in your swing, your body will want to dive at it with your head and that is what causes the fat shots. Another cause of the fats is pulling the hands into the body, increasing the chicken wings and losing the angle of attack.

People who have been taught to lag the club too long will often have a right chicken wing just before impact and people who throw or cast the club have a left chicken wing right after impact.

All of this fun and meaningless analysis aside (which everyone seems to need before they make a change), here are the important points.

1. You need to hit down on the ball, regardless of what club or shot you are hitting. Proper ball position will level the club out for longer clubs like driver.

2. Whether it is a chip, driver or anything in between, you need both of your arms to be extended just after impact. One or both chicken wings will cause all of those ugly shots you hate…thin and fat.

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15 Comments

  1. Christian

    I like when you say “don’t hit up” over “hit down”. I think the idea that I have to hit down has contributed to my upper body slide (causing a left chicken wing after impact). “Don’t hit up” goes better with your overall theory of getting a good golf swing by avoiding the bad things.

    Reply
  2. s.

    Golf teaching has infected baseball. I was watching some Youtube baseball hitting videos, but even the ones labeled as “rotational” are ruined by hip turn, shoulder turn, weight shift, straight lines being drawn on the screen, and even swing plane. It’s a plague.

    (But some of them mention that chicken-wing is not always such a bad deal, as Sadlowski proves for golf…however, it’s only OK if produced by rotation, not by arm swing. I think they “chicken” because the body can’t get out of the way fast enough with an arm swing.)

    I spent all year trying to figure out what a golf swing is, to the detriment of my game, and here’s what I found out… (I’m going to try it today, to see if it works).

    #1 Bobby Jones screwed EVERYONE up by endorsing a left-side move at the takeaway. If you start left, your right side can’t get out of the way fast enough… and you get the sway that Stack & Tilt was invented to cure. Relatively straight left arm is an effect of rotation.

    #2 The swing is rotational, and the unified hands follow the rotating body. Hands follow right-side initiation of rotation on the windup. Right shoulder is a good checkpoint.

    #3 At the top, the body is loaded for left-side rotation to initiate the move. If the right side started, the left side would be in the way. As with the backswing the hands are pulled by the rotation.

    #4 Never at any time try to get the shaft to do anything or try to appear a certain way. The club is just an extension of your hands. If your grip is correct, and your hands do the right thing, the club will do the right thing.

    Yeah. I’m going to go try it.

    Reply
  3. s.

    Oh, geez, I forgot one.

    #5 Don’t try to turn to the follow-through, just to what you believe to be the impact position. The arm swing released by the rotation will take you to the follow-through, and you don’t have to manipulate it in any way.

    Done.

    Reply
  4. geoff duncan

    It’s possible you’re overthinking this.

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      It’s the opposite. I am trying to get people and myself to think less and allow natural motions instead of adding bad ones.

      A large % of golfers hit up on the ball because they think they need to help it. In addition, people are teaching to hit up on the ball and that is an unnatural and complicated motion.

      Reply
  5. nick

    Monte – I’m going to disagree with you on this one. I agree that you hit down on every single club…except the driver. That’s not to say that plenty of pro’s don’t hit down on the driver, because they do. But there all also just as many that catch the ball on the upswing. That being said, you don’t want to be too excessive about hitting up on the ball.

    Brian Manzella pretty much proves it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uepMzddHpas

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      Disagreement is fine. It is my opinion that catching driver on the upswing is a bad thing. Some people can do it, but promoting it is not a good idea, IMO.

      The reason: It is difficult to catch driver on the upswing without having the shoulders deviate from a 90* turn around the spine and that makes things more difficult to time and creates an unnatural movement and a forced correction with the hands…often turning into a flip.

      Reply
  6. Steve Bishop

    It’s more or less ball position and weight shift related.

    But if you do strike the ball as the club is coming back up and in, you need to adjust your alignment.

    The thing most people miss is that if you are in fact striking the golf ball as the clubhead is going down, you MUST aim left. Seems odd but it’s true. So long as the clubhead is going down, it is also going OUT. That means the clubhead is traveling inside to out with likely an open clubface. If you do not aim left to compensate for this, you will push your shots right or hook them left due to clubface compensation.

    Reply
    • Steve Bishop

      I should add though, if your divots are going left and the ball is SLICING to the right… you’ve gone too far.

      Reply
    • nick

      It’s the same reason why if you are hitting UP on the driver you must aim your body right….

      Reply
  7. Michael

    “The biggest offender of hitting up on the ball is the shoulder turn stalling and the left shoulder going up or right shoulder going down. It’s basically the same subconscious swing thought and the differences are not important, but you need to keep your shoulders rotating level to the spine through impact.”

    Just clarifying for my own sake. The right shoulder/left shoulder should go down/up respectively in the swing as it naturally rotates around the spine though, correct?

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      Yes. If you have not seen this video, I try and illustrate this concept.

      Reply
      • Michael

        Found that video about 5 minutes after posting. Watched it and the other couple videos about the T.

        I know feel is subjective and not always what’s going on, or even make sense sometimes, but what’s the feeling you have to get your shoulder tilt more vertical on the backswing? Not forced of course.

        Reply
        • Monte Scheinblum

          The back swing is a tough one. On the downswing I feel my left shoulder going away from the target and the right shoulder toward it.

          One might say you would feel the opposite on the back swing, but that can lead to a shoulder turn that is too level to the ground.

          I don’t know if it will work for you, but one student told me during the back swing, the left shoulder feels like it goes down and the right shoulder feels like it goes up and that has worked for other people who have flat shoulder turns.

          As you said, very subjective.

          Reply
  8. FredL

    “If you hit up on it, you are changing the direction of a object (the club head) moving 80-130 mph at the last second before it hits another object (the ball). Imagine the timing that would require. It’s tough enough hitting the ball square swinging at it from one direction, never mind changing that direction just before impact.”

    In reference to your comment above. I don’t think you are purposely changing the path but rather positioning the ball in the appropriate location relative to the path. Eventually, the club head moves up otherwise, it would be stuck to the ground 🙂
    Also, the clubhead is in constant change in direction as it is rotational…it’s not a straight line.

    Reply

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