Hitting Down On The Ball Doesn't Have To Hurt To Work
Hit down on the ballI wrote about the driver shaft experimentation done with our Certified WedgeFitter, Mike Fix, in Virginia last week, but we had another eye-opener regarding proper ball striking with the wedges and short irons I’d like to share.

As I was growing up, we always heard the phrase, “thin to win”, anytime we hit an iron shot a little on the skinny side (not a complete skull, mind you).

Invariably, especially with short irons, you got more ball flight distance, a lower trajectory and plenty of spin. We also know that good short iron players always hit the ball first, then the turf, and “trap” the ball into the turf a bit.

That produces those nice boring trajectories with lots of spin. But the masses hit short irons and wedges that fly too high, with inconsistent distance. Well, watching the data on the TrackMan launch monitor really opened my eyes.

I hit about a half dozen full pitching wedges for Mike to get a base of data for me. The average distance was 114 yards, a higher ball flight than I like, with about 7,000 rpms of spin.

Then I began to intentionally try to pick the ball off the turf, my swing thought being to actually try to “blade” the ball.

As I did this, I saw trajectories come down to where I’d really like them, distance increased to 118-120 and spin rates actually increased to about 8,000 rpms !

I was taking no divot, or just brushing the grass after impact, but producing outstanding spin. On my very best couple of swings, distance with my pitching wedge was 118-119 with almost 10,000 rpms of spin !!! And a great trajectory.

I share this with you because I know we all misinterpret the snippets of advice we get from friends and the magazines, and one of the most damaging is “hit down on the ball”.

That is a relative truth. But it has most golfers attacking the ball with their short irons and wedges with a very steep angle of attack and gouging huge divots.

The facts are that if the club is moving only slightly downward at impact, you will get the spin you want, and if the clubhead is moving on a rather shallow path, you will get a more direct blow to the back of the ball, better trajectory, more distance and improved spin.

Besides, shallow divots are easier on the hands and joints.

If this is interesting, go to the range and actually try to blade short iron shots. As you learn to do this, you will be able to zero in on the proper impact that produces a very shallow divot, and a great looking shot.

It will take some time, but I’ve been doing it since I got back last week, and am already hitting better short irons and wedges than ever.
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[ comments ]
T-Roy says:
I just watched Golf Channel Academy last night about Lee Trevino. Now, I'm really new to golf, less than a year and since I've got a large yard I can spend a lot of time working on my game from 100 yards in, not counting putting.

Mr. Trevino really went into this subject of hitting down on the ball and brought to my attention that I've been trying to get under the ball and by doing that I've been utilizing only the bottom few grooves on the wedge.

By focusing on hitting the bottom half of the ball and, through consequence putting a shallow divot just barely in front of the ball, my wedge play really improved over a period of about 50 or so strokes. I noticed my trajectory wasn't as high which worried me immediately that it would roll too far. I was amazed when it started taking 2 bounces and stopping.

Thanks Lee, and Wedge Guy!
T-Roy says:
I forgot to add that, as Mr. Trevino mentioned, doing this forces the ball up the face of the club therefore utilizing the whole face and all of the grooves to create the desired spin.

I'm sure this has all been mentioned here before, but I hope someone got something out of it. I know I did and my game is about to change. Probably for the worst until I give it some more practice!
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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