No golfer, not even the world’s greatest, is immune to poor shots. Better players are able to quickly analyze a bad swing, then adjust to avoid making the same error.

In order to correct your mistakes, you must first know what causes them.


For beginners, two of the most common misses are the topped shot (aka “top”) and fat shot (aka “chunk”). Let’s take a look at some typical causes of each, and how to fix them:

Topped shot: Aside from missing the ball completely, there’s nothing worse than topping it. Ground balls are acceptable in baseball, but in golf… only when using the putter.

Topped shots often occur when you’re tense, usually because others are watching or you’re tangled up in too many swing thoughts. If you feel nervous, make a series of slow, deep breaths and take things a little more slowly than usual. Once you’ve set up to the ball, don’t worry about mechanics. Just pick a spot on the back of the ball and hit it. You’ll be surprised how well the old “see ball, hit ball” approach works when you’re feeling pressure.

Fat shot: Hitting behind the ball is no fun. It feels awful and kills your distance.

The easiest problem to fix is faulty ball position. If it’s too far forward in your stance (toward the left foot for a right-hander), your swing will bottom out behind the ball. Try moving it toward the middle and keeping your hands ahead of the clubhead at address.

Fat shots are also caused by an improper weight shift. Weight should move onto your right foot swinging back, then to your left coming into and through the ball. If you fail to transfer weight onto the left side, you’ll hit behind the ball.