How To Stop Hitting Behind The Golf Ball

Tired of hitting “fat” shots and struggling with your golf swing?

The key to stopping this is to focus on proper weight shift, swing direction, and ball position—keep reading for a step-by-step guide to refine your technique.

Understanding the “Fat” Shot

Hitting a “fat” shot can be one of the most frustrating experiences on the golf course, causing your ball to fall short of its target.

But understanding why it happens and how to fix it can transform your game from the ground up.

Definition and Common Causes of Hitting Behind the Golf Ball

Definition: A “fat” shot in golf occurs when the clubhead strikes the ground before it hits the ball.

This results in a significant loss of distance because the ground absorbs much of the energy intended for the ball.

Instead of a clean, crisp contact with the ball, you get a chunk of turf and a ball that barely goes anywhere.

Common Causes:

  1. Improper Weight Shift: One of the primary culprits behind “fat” shots is failing to correctly shift your weight from your back foot to your front foot during the swing. This often leaves too much weight on your back foot at the point of impact, causing the club to dig into the ground before reaching the ball.
  2. Incorrect Ball Position: If the ball is positioned too far back in your stance for the club you're using, there's a higher chance of hitting the ground first. Each club has an ideal ball position that ensures optimal contact.
  3. Swing Path Issues: An outside-in swing path can also lead to “fat” shots because it increases the likelihood of the clubhead striking the ground before the ball.
  4. Excessive Downward Angle of Attack: While a certain degree of downward strike is necessary, especially for iron shots, too steep an angle can cause the club to bury into the turf before it reaches the ball.
  5. Lack of Confidence or Tension: Sometimes, the fear of hitting a bad shot leads to a tentative swing or excess tension in the arms and shoulders, disrupting the natural flow and timing of the swing.

Why Addressing This Issue Can Significantly Improve Your Game

Improved Distance and Accuracy: By eliminating “fat” shots, you'll make cleaner contact with the ball, leading to increased distance and better accuracy.

This is because the full force of your swing will be transferred to the ball, rather than being wasted in the ground.

Enhanced Consistency: Learning to avoid hitting behind the ball helps in achieving a more consistent swing.

Consistency is key in golf, as it leads to more predictable outcomes and lower scores.

Increased Confidence: There's a psychological benefit, too.

Removing the fear of “fat” shots from your game can boost your confidence on the course.

When you're confident in your ability to strike the ball cleanly, you're more likely to take decisive, assertive swings.

Better Course Management: Understanding how to prevent “fat” shots allows for better decision-making and course management.

You'll be able to approach shots with a strategy, knowing you can execute them as planned.

Preservation of Golf Courses: On a more communal note, avoiding “fat” shots also means less damage to the turf, contributing to the maintenance of the golf course for everyone's enjoyment.

The Fundamentals of Weight Shift and Balance

Mastering the fundamentals of weight shift and balance is a game-changer in golf, serving as the foundation for powerful, accurate, and consistent swings.

Let's break down how weight transfer impacts your swing, provide a detailed guide to perfecting this technique, and share a practical drill to incorporate into your practice routine.

The Role of Weight Transfer in Golf Swings

Weight transfer refers to the movement of your body weight from one foot to the other during the golf swing.

This motion is crucial for generating power, maintaining balance, and ensuring precision in your shots.

Here’s why it’s essential:

  1. Power Generation: Proper weight transfer allows you to leverage the ground for power. Moving your weight from the back foot to the front foot through the swing helps generate a forceful, dynamic motion, translating to increased clubhead speed at impact.
  2. Balance Maintenance: A smooth weight shift is key to maintaining balance throughout the swing. Balance ensures that your swing is controlled and consistent, helping you hit the ball squarely more often.
  3. Precision Enhancement: By correctly transferring your weight, you can improve the accuracy of your shots. This is because a well-executed weight shift helps align the club with the ball at the moment of impact, reducing the likelihood of “fat” or “thin” shots.

Step-by-Step Guide to Perfecting Your Weight Shift

1. Start with the Setup: Begin with a balanced stance, feet shoulder-width apart, with your weight evenly distributed between both feet.

This balanced start is critical for a smooth weight transfer.

2. Initiate the Backswing: As you start your backswing, shift your weight smoothly to your back foot.

This shift should be natural and not forced, approximately 60-70% of your weight moving to the back foot.

3. Transition to Downswing: The downswing begins with a slight movement of your lower body towards the target, leading with your hips.

This initiates the transfer of weight to your front foot.

4. Impact and Follow-Through: By the time you reach impact, most of your weight (about 80-90%) should be on your front foot.

Ensure your hips are open and you're pushing off your back foot.

Continue this motion as you follow through, finishing with your weight fully shifted onto the front side, and your body facing the target.

Practical Weight Shift Drill for Daily Practice

The Step Drill: This simple yet effective drill reinforces the feeling of a proper weight shift during the golf swing.

  1. Setup: Start with your feet together, holding your club in your normal stance.
  2. Backswing Step: As you begin your backswing, step your back foot away, simulating the weight shift to your back leg.
  3. Downswing Step: As you transition into your downswing, step your front foot towards the target, mimicking the shift of weight to your front foot.
  4. Repeat: Practice this drill without a ball at first to get comfortable with the motion. Then, introduce golf balls to the drill, focusing on maintaining the rhythm and balance you developed.

Swing Direction Mastery

Achieving mastery over your swing direction is a critical component of enhancing your golf game, directly affecting the accuracy and distance of your shots.

Let’s delve into why adjusting your swing direction is vital, how to ensure your lead arm guides the club correctly, and ways to visualize and practice the correct swing path for optimal performance.

Importance of Adjusting Your Swing Direction

Swing direction—the path your club takes during the swing—plays a pivotal role in determining where your ball will land.

It's not just about hitting the ball; it's about how you hit it.

Here’s why it’s essential:

  1. Accuracy: A correct swing direction ensures that the clubface is aligned with your target at impact, crucial for hitting the ball accurately.
  2. Distance: An optimal swing path allows for maximum energy transfer to the ball, translating to greater distance.
  3. Consistency: Mastering your swing direction reduces the variability in your shots, leading to more consistent performance.
  4. Reduced Errors: Correct swing direction minimizes common mistakes such as slices and hooks, which result from off-path swings.

How to Ensure Your Lead Arm Guides the Club Correctly

The lead arm plays a significant role in controlling the swing direction.

Here’s how to make sure it guides the club correctly:

  1. Alignment: Ensure your lead arm is properly aligned with your club at setup. It should feel like an extension of the club, creating a straight line down to the ball.
  2. The Takeaway: During the takeaway, focus on keeping your lead arm straight but not rigid. This helps maintain a consistent swing plane.
  3. Top of the Swing: At the top of your swing, your lead arm should still be relatively straight, ensuring that the club stays on the correct path.
  4. Downswing: Initiate the downswing with your lead arm, pulling the club down in a controlled manner. Imagine your lead arm sweeping through the ball towards the target.
  5. Follow-Through: Continue to guide the club with your lead arm post-impact, ensuring a smooth follow-through along your intended path.

Visualizing and Practicing the Correct Swing Path

Visualization is a powerful tool for improving your swing direction.

Here’s how to incorporate it into your practice:

  1. Pre-Swing Visualization: Before each shot, visualize the exact path you want your club to take. Imagine drawing a line from the ball to your target and envision your club following this line.
  2. Practice Swings: Take practice swings focusing solely on replicating the visualized path. Feel the motion of your lead arm guiding the club along this path.
  3. Use Alignment Aids: Place alignment sticks or clubs on the ground to visually mark the path you want your club to follow. Practice your swings, ensuring the club stays parallel to these aids.
  4. Slow-Motion Swings: Practice your swing in slow motion, paying close attention to the path of your club. This helps build muscle memory for the correct swing direction.
  5. Feedback: Use video analysis or work with a coach to get feedback on your swing path. Seeing your swing can help you make adjustments and further refine your direction.

Ball Position Basics

The position of the ball in your stance is a fundamental aspect of golf that can significantly influence the quality of your shots.

Proper ball positioning affects not only the contact point but also the trajectory, spin, and distance of your shots.

The Impact of Ball Position on Contact Point

The position of the ball relative to your stance determines the point at which the club will strike the ball during the swing.

This is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Angle of Attack: Ball position affects the angle at which the clubhead meets the ball. A ball positioned too far forward or back can lead to “fat” or “thin” shots respectively.
  2. Clubface Orientation: The position also influences whether the clubface is open, closed, or square at impact, affecting shot direction and spin.
  3. Swing Path: Correct positioning helps ensure the club follows the desired swing path, contributing to accuracy and consistency.

Ideal Ball Positions for Different Clubs

Different clubs are designed for distinct purposes and thus require varying ball positions:

  1. Drivers: For drivers, the ball should be positioned just inside the front heel. This position promotes an upward angle of attack, maximizing distance and reducing spin.
  2. Woods and Long Irons: With these clubs, position the ball slightly forward in your stance, about two ball-widths from the center. This ensures a shallow angle of attack for better distance and trajectory.
  3. Mid-Irons: The ideal position for mid-irons is roughly one ball-width forward from the center of your stance. This setup aids in achieving a balanced angle of attack for optimal height and distance.
  4. Short Irons and Wedges: For short irons and wedges, place the ball in the center of your stance. This promotes a steeper angle of attack, generating the necessary lift and precision for shorter shots.

Quick Tips for Adjusting Ball Position with Your Iron Shots

Adjusting your ball position with iron shots can fine-tune your control and effectiveness.

Here are some quick tips:

  1. Use Visual Aids: Place a club or alignment stick on the ground parallel to your target line to help visualize the correct ball position relative to your feet.
  2. Practice with Purpose: During practice sessions, consciously adjust the ball position for different irons. Observe how changes affect the flight and distance of your shots.
  3. Check Your Stance Width: Your stance width can influence the effective ball position. A wider stance moves the ball position forward, while a narrower stance moves it back. Ensure your stance is appropriate for the club you're using.
  4. Adapt to the Shot: Consider the type of shot you need. For example, moving the ball back in your stance can help with hitting lower shots into the wind, while moving it forward can help launch the ball higher.
  5. Consistency is Key: While slight adjustments can be beneficial, strive for consistency in your ball positioning. Developing a reliable setup makes it easier to diagnose and correct any issues with your swing.

Club and Body Rotation Techniques

Mastering club and body rotation is a pivotal aspect of refining your golf swing, directly influencing power, accuracy, and consistency on the course.

This section delves into the mechanics of effective body rotation and offers insights into drills designed to enhance this crucial element, all aimed at elevating your game to new heights.

Understanding the Role of Body Rotation in a Powerful Swing

Body rotation in golf encompasses the coordinated movement of your torso and hips throughout the swing.

This rotational movement is the engine of your swing, generating the power needed to propel the golf ball great distances.

The process starts from the ground up, with the feet anchored firmly, allowing the knees, hips, and shoulders to rotate around a central axis.

This axis is your spine, which should remain relatively stable and straight, acting as a pivot point around which your body turns.

The backswing begins with the hips and shoulders turning away from the target, storing energy as they coil.

The degree of rotation varies among players, but the goal is to create a tension that can be unleashed during the downswing.

As the downswing commences, the hips lead the motion, rotating towards the target.

This hip rotation pulls the torso, arms, and finally the club through the ball, translating the stored energy into the shot.

Properly executed, this sequence maximizes the power transferred to the ball while maintaining control and balance.

Drills to Enhance Your Body Rotation Without Swaying

Improving body rotation requires focused practice, particularly drills that emphasize the correct motion without introducing lateral sway.

Swaying occurs when there's excessive side-to-side movement, detracting from the efficiency of your swing and leading to inconsistent shots.

To combat this, one effective approach is to focus on drills that enhance the sensation of rotating around your spine.

A drill that can be particularly beneficial involves practicing swings with your feet together.

This drill limits your ability to sway and emphasizes rotating around your spine.

Start by placing your feet together and perform your golf swing.

The narrow stance will naturally restrict lateral movement, forcing you to focus on rotating your upper body around your central axis.

This exercise helps develop a feel for proper rotation and can be practiced with or without a ball.

Another technique involves using a chair or similar object to provide feedback on your hip movement. Place a chair next to your hip at address, just close enough to touch lightly.

As you execute your swing, focus on maintaining light contact with the chair with your hips, preventing you from swaying away during the backswing.

This drill reinforces the concept of rotating rather than sliding, helping to ingrain the proper motion into your muscle memory.

Focus on Post Impact

The moment of impact in a golf swing holds immense importance, but what happens immediately after can significantly influence the quality of your shot.

Focusing on post-impact—what your club and body do after the ball has been struck—can lead to cleaner contact and more consistent results.

The Concept of Focusing Beyond the Ball for Cleaner Contact

The idea of focusing beyond the ball encourages golfers to think about where they want their club to be after the ball is hit, rather than concentrating solely on the moment of contact.

This approach helps in several ways. First, it promotes a smoother, more continuous swing motion.

Instead of the swing being a choppy effort to hit the ball, it becomes a fluid movement that naturally follows through to a complete finish.

Second, by focusing on the target area or a point in the distance, you align your body and club path more effectively towards where you want the ball to go, enhancing accuracy.

Lastly, this mindset helps in maintaining the speed and momentum of the club through the ball, rather than slowing down at impact, which can diminish power and precision.

Exercises to Improve Your Focus and Strike

To cultivate a habit of focusing beyond the ball, specific exercises can be implemented into your practice regimen.

One effective method is to place a visual marker, such as a small towel or a piece of tape, a few inches in front of the ball on your target line.

During practice swings, aim to “hit” this marker with your club following impact with the ball.

This encourages your swing to extend towards the target, promoting a fuller follow-through and better contact.

Another exercise involves practicing with a purposeful follow-through.

After hitting the ball, consciously hold your finishing position for a few seconds.

Pay attention to the orientation of your body, the position of your hands, and the direction your club is pointing.

This not only helps in reinforcing a complete swing but also in building muscle memory for the correct post-impact position.

Visualization is also a powerful tool in this aspect.

Before each shot, visualize not just the flight of the ball but also your swing continuing smoothly towards your target after the ball is gone.

Imagine your club traveling along the desired path, with your body following suit in a balanced and controlled manner.

This mental practice helps in translating the concept into physical action, making it a natural part of your swing.

Essential Practice Drills

Implementing essential practice drills into your golf routine is a proven strategy to refine your swing, improve accuracy, and increase distance.

These drills are designed to target specific aspects of your game, helping to build muscle memory and instill the correct mechanics.

Detailed Breakdown of the Takeaway Drill, Weight Transfer Drill, and Ball Position Drill

The Takeaway Drill is focused on the initial movement of the golf club away from the ball.

A smooth takeaway sets the tone for the entire swing, ensuring that the club moves back on the correct path.

To perform this drill, start by placing a club on the ground, pointing directly at your target.

This will serve as your alignment guide. Begin your swing slowly, focusing on keeping the clubhead low to the ground and parallel to your alignment guide for as long as possible.

The objective is to reinforce a straight-back movement without any unnecessary wrist hinge or body rotation early in the backswing.

The Weight Transfer Drill is designed to improve the movement of weight from your back foot to your front foot during the swing.

An effective way to practice this is by using a step-through drill.

Start with your feet together, holding the club in front of you.

As you swing back, step back with your back foot, then as you initiate the downswing, step forward with your front foot, mimicking the natural weight transfer that occurs in a fluid swing.

This drill helps in understanding the dynamic movement of weight transfer and ingraining the feel into your muscle memory.

The Ball Position Drill aims to perfect the placement of the ball within your stance, which is crucial for solid contact.

Using alignment sticks or clubs on the ground can help.

Place one stick parallel to your target line to represent your feet alignment and another perpendicular to the first, indicating the ideal ball position for the club you're using.

Practice placing the ball at various positions—center for short irons, slightly forward for mid-irons, and near the inside of the front foot for long irons and woods—ensuring consistency in where you position the ball relative to your stance.

How These Drills Contribute to Avoiding “Fat” Shots

Collectively, these drills address the fundamental causes of “fat” shots.

The takeaway drill ensures that your swing starts on the right path, reducing the likelihood of an off-plane swing that can lead to hitting the ground before the ball.

The weight transfer drill emphasizes the importance of moving your weight forward through the swing, preventing the common error of hanging back on the rear foot, which often results in “fat” contact.

Lastly, the ball position drill teaches the correct placement for various clubs, ensuring that your swing arc and the point of impact align optimally with the ball's position.

This precision in positioning helps avoid the club reaching the ground too early.

Proper Setup and Follow-Through

Achieving a correct setup and follow-through is paramount in the game of golf, acting as the bookends to every successful swing.

A proper setup positions you for success, aligning your body and club with the intended target, while a complete follow-through ensures the motion of your swing is carried out effectively, maximizing power and accuracy.

The Significance of a Correct Setup for Each Shot

A correct setup is the foundation of a good golf swing.

It involves positioning your body and aligning your club in a way that sets the stage for an optimal swing path and impact with the ball.

The setup varies slightly depending on the club used and the type of shot intended, but the principles of alignment, stance, grip, and posture remain constant.

Proper alignment with the target ensures that your body and club are aimed in the right direction, reducing the likelihood of errant shots.

A stable stance, with feet shoulder-width apart for most shots, provides the balance needed throughout the swing.

The grip, how you hold the club, affects the control and the club's orientation at impact.

Finally, maintaining a good posture, with a straight back and slightly bent knees, allows for a fluid swing motion.

Each of these elements in the setup is interconnected, contributing to the swing's overall effectiveness and the shot's outcome.

Steps to Ensure a Consistent and Effective Follow-Through

The follow-through is the culmination of the swing, where the motion initiated at setup is completed.

It is crucial for maintaining the swing's rhythm and ensuring the clubhead travels through the ball on the correct path and with sufficient speed.

The follow-through begins immediately after impact, as the club continues its arc upwards and towards the target.

To ensure a consistent and effective follow-through, focus on continuing the rotation of your body so that your chest faces the target at the end of the swing.

Your arms should extend fully, with the clubhead moving along the target line.

The weight of your body should shift to the front foot, and you should finish in a balanced position, with your rear foot on its toes.

Practicing this motion reinforces the habit of completing your swing, rather than stopping at impact, which can lead to a loss of distance and accuracy.


Mastering the intricacies of golf, from perfecting your swing to refining your setup and follow-through, is a journey of continuous improvement and practice.

Each aspect discussed offers a stepping stone to elevating your game, ensuring cleaner contact, and achieving greater consistency and precision on the course.

Embrace these principles and drills with dedication and patience, and watch as your golfing skills flourish, bringing more enjoyment and success to your rounds.