There's only one piece of equipment you're guaranteed to use for every shot on the course: the golf ball. It’s essential to understanding what the ball does when hit, and why it does it.
I know what you're thinking: Isn't there already enough to think about in my golf swing? Do I have to pay attention to what the ball does after I’ve struck it? Knowing what causes the golf ball to travel a certain way can help cure any problems you may be having with your game.
While it's true that your work is done once the ball is in the air, paying attention to its flight will give you an idea of what went right or wrong in your swing. Obviously, this is need-to-know information.
Here are some common mishits and what you can instantly learn from them:
Topping the ball or hitting it “thin”: Hitting the middle or top of the ball with the bottom of the club usually results in a very low shot – sometimes not even off the ground. Causes include playing the ball too far back in your stance (to the right, for a right-hander), poor balance, improper weight shift, and lifting the lead shoulder and head before impact.
Hitting the ball “fat” or “heavy”: The opposite of a topped shot, with the club hitting the ground before the ball. The ball may get airborne, but will not go as you want. If you often hit the ball fat, your posture could be too hunched over, the ball positioned too far forward in your stance (closer to the left foot of a right-hander), or too much of your balance on the right foot.
Hitting the ball on the club’s toe or heel: Striking the ball on the end (toe) of the club could mean you’re raising your body during the swing, pulling the club away from the ball. The opposite is hitting the heel of the club (the part closest to the shaft), which may mean you’re leaning forward during the swing. Both issues can be fixed by setting up with good posture, then maintaining the same angle of your spine throughout the swing.
“Shanking” the ball: Similar to a heel hit, a “shank” is when the ball actually strikes the hosel (where the shaft enters the clubhead) and shoots straight right. The easiest way to correct this is to stand slightly farther from the ball. Also, make sure you’re pulling the club straight down the target line on the takeaway, not to the inside of the golf ball.