Improve your ball striking and stop topping the ball with this golf tip.
To strike a golf ball consistently, the golf club needs to attack the golf ball in the correct fashion. A correct ball strike would be a downward strike through the centre of the ball and into the ground. During this action, the ball is struck from the middle rather than the bottom of the golf club face and results in the correct compression of the ball creating maximum distance. As the ball is struck downwards by the golf club, it is forced up the loft of the club face which imparts backspin to give the ball upward lift. This makes the ball rise up into the air.
To achieve a downward striking action, control the head position at the moment of impact.
We all hear comments on the golf course regarding the head; “I looked up”, “You took your eye off the ball”, etc. Golfers never actually look away from the ball but there can be a tendency to turn the head forwards towards the target as the club is making contact with the ball. Although the eyes are always looking down at the ball, the chin turns away from it which causes the front shoulder to rise upwards sharply taking the club head up and away from the golf ball. When this action occurs, the ball is struck on an upward trajectory where the bottom of the golf club makes contact with the middle (thin) or the top (top shot) of the golf ball, both of which fly very low with no control or roll across the floor.
An easy way to stop any turning away or rising up through the shot is to control the line of the eyes when swinging through the golf ball. When setting up to a golf shot, imagine a line passing through both of the eyes. This line should be parallel, level, with the ground. If the head turns through the ball the eyes will tilt so that the front eye is higher than the back eye. If we can keep the line of the two eyes level with the ground then there will be no turning away from the ball and there will be more chance of 'staying in' the shot and eliminate any rising through the ball.
An exercise to do this would be to pick a spot, or a blade of grass, approximately one to two inches behind the ball. Once this spot is chosen, keep focused on this spot before, during and after you hit the golf ball. Make sure that there is still a good forward follow through to complete the swing but stay looking at the spot for as long as possible before the momentum of the swing pulls the head forward.
This action will keep the eyes level and stop any turning away which culminates in better struck golf shots.
For Better Ball Striking, Level Eyes
You will often hear that putting is the single most important part of the game of golf. And, of course, it is true that putting is extremely important. After all, you can't get the ball in the hole without a successful putt, and putting well is the fastest way to shave strokes from your score. However, there is more to posting low numbers than just putting well. If it takes you several strokes to get the ball onto the green on each hole, for instance, it really won't matter how well you are putting. You have to have a complete game from tee to green in order to post good numbers, and that means you need to be a reliable ball striker.
Ball striking, generally speaking, is your ability to hit the ball cleanly at impact. While the term 'ball striking' can refer to any full shot that you hit, most players use this expression with regard to the iron game. Striking your woods cleanly is a relatively easy task, so most are talking about hitting irons directly from the turf when they speak of ball striking ability. If you are a good ball striker, you are able to consistently hit the ball solidly when it is resting on the fairway cut of grass. It is no coincidence that nearly every player on the PGA Tour is an excellent ball striker, as this is a skill that you really can't do without if you hope to play well.
In this article, we are going to look at the importance of maintaining level eyes when working on your ball striking. Keeping things level in your swing is one of the big points to watch for while practicing your technique, as getting off balance in either direction during the swing is going to lead to plenty of trouble. Many golfers allow their eyes to tilt in one direction or the other during the swing, and they pay the price at impact when they are unable to find a solid strike. This might seem like a rather simple point, but it is incredibly important in the big picture. Keep your eyes level throughout the swing – including through impact – and your ball striking is almost certain to improve.
If you spend any amount of time reading golf instruction articles such as this one, you have likely noticed a pattern – many of them seem to address the topic of balance. That is true, of course, as balance is hugely important in golf. While this point regarding level eyes isn't necessarily all about balance, it is certainly related. If you keep your eyes level, you are likely to be on balance. And, if you are on balance, you are likely to make great contact with the ball. The golf swing is made up of a number of small and simple fundamentals, such as keeping your eyes level throughout the action. Hit on this point in your own swing and you can check another potential issue off of your list of swing concerns.
All of the content below is based on a right handed golfer. If you happen to play left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
The Classic Golf Tip
If you had to guess which single golf tip is given more than any other, which one would you pick? If you are like most golfers, you would probably say that the tip which says to 'keep your head down' is the most popular in golf. After all, almost every golfer hears that basic tip shortly after picking up this game, and it seems like good enough advice. You do want to see the ball as you are hitting it, so it makes sense that you would want to keep your head down all the way through the shot.
Unfortunately, this isn't as good of a tip as it might appear on the surface. It's not as though the tip is wrong, it just isn't as right as it could be. You don't really want to keep your head down in place throughout the entire swing because you need to make a big turn both back and through. If keeping your head down means pushing your chin into your chest as you stare down at the ball, you will be doing more harm than good. Those who tell you to keep your head down as you swing might be well-intended, but they probably aren't qualified golf instructors.
In the end, it is true that you want to keep your head relatively stable throughout the golf swing. You don't, however, want to keep it down too far, as you will be causing your chin to interfere with the rotation of your shoulders. Instead, you actually want to have your chin up while your eyes are down. This the perfect combination, as you will be looking at the ball and your chin will be out of the way of your shoulder turn. When you can strike this balance successfully you will be well on your way to solid ball striking.
So, what does keeping your chin up and your eyes down have to do with level eyes during the swing? All of these points are connected, and you need to make sure your head is starting in a good position if you are going to maintain a good position through impact and beyond. By setting up at address with your chin away from your chest and your eyes down on the ball, your swing will be getting off on the right foot. As long as you don't allow things to go wrong from there, the quality of your ball striking should steadily improve.
It does need to be noted, although it might be obvious, that your eyes need to be level at the start of the swing if they are going to end up that way later on. Don't allow your head to become tilted in either direction as you set up to hit a shot. It is relatively common for amateur golfers to tilt their head to the right (away from the target) at address. Some players may feel that this head position gives them a better view of the ball as they prepare to swing, but it is actually going to lead to trouble down the line. Stick with a level eye position over the ball and you will be making things much simpler as the swing develops.
Although we are talking about the full swing in this article, the idea of keeping your eyes level is going to apply to your short game just the same. You should set up with your eyes level anytime you are hitting a short game shot, and they should stay level to promote clean contact. It is only possible to control your distances in the short game if you are doing a good job of making solid contact, and you are far more likely to make good contact when your eyes stay parallel to the ground.
Signs of Trouble
You aren't exactly going to be able to tell if your eyes are falling out of level while you are making a swing. Sure, you might feel like you are tilting your head in one directly or the other, but that is hardly proof of a problem. As is the case with most swing issues in golf, the best way to tell if you have an issue with this technical point is to look at the results that you are achieving in your game. How is your ball striking at the moment? If it is good, there is no cause for concern. If you are struggling to hit the ball cleanly, however, there may be a problem which needs to be addressed. Specifically, watch for the following issues as signs that your eyes may be losing their level at some point in the swing.
- Hitting the ball fat/swinging too steep. Do you take huge divots whenever you hit an iron shot from the fairway? If so, it is likely that your eye line is tilting toward the target in the downswing. In other words, you are probably dropping your left eye below your right as you attempt to swing down aggressively. You are on the right track with this kind of mistake, as you do want to hit down on your iron shots, but you are just taking it too far. By allowing your head to tilt left, you are almost certainly allowing your shoulders to tilt in that direction as well. In the end, you have a swing that is coming down steeply into the ball, and you are taking too much earth as you swing through impact. Even if you manage to catch the ball cleanly with this kind of swing, you will struggle to create a good ball flight, and you may even hurt your hands or wrists in the process. Leveling out your eye line should bring your swing path back to a more reasonable position, and you should find that your divots quickly shrink.
- Topping the ball. Hitting topped golf shots is one of the most common, and most embarrassing, mistakes for the average amateur golfer. When you top the ball, it obviously doesn't get up off the ground – it just rolls in front of you, sometimes for only a few feet. Topped golf shots will quickly cause your score to get out of control, and they may take away some of the enjoyment you get from the game. When you top the golf ball, it is likely that your eye line has tilted back away from the target. Tilting your eyes away from the target will cause your right shoulder to drop meaning your swing will shallow out prior to reaching the ball. This can occasionally cause you to hit the shot fat, but for most amateur players, it is going to lead to a top instead. The club head will be moving up by the time it reaches the ball, the top of the ball will be contacted by the leading edge of the club, and the shot will fail to get off the ground. Again here, you can dramatically improve your game simply be leveling out your eye line.
As you can see, a poor eye line can lead to disastrous consequences in your game. Hitting the ball either thin or fat on a regular basis is going to make it hard to play well, so you should take this point quite seriously as you practice. If you feel like you are currently making one of the two mistakes listed above, and you are hitting the ball thin or fat as a result, get right to work on the corrections necessary to elevate your level of play.
Getting Back on Track
To improve your golf game, you have to think like a detective trying to solve a crime. By piecing together the puzzle one clue at a time, you can eventually figure out what happened. This applies to a crime scene, and it applies to a golf swing as well. For instance, in the section above we discussed how you can use the outcome of your swings to figure out if you are tilting your head to the left or right in the swing. At this point, it is time to take the next step by determining how you can 'close the case' – in other words, what changes can you make to your swing to avoid allowing your eyes to lose their level.
The first thing you may need to change is how hard you swing on the average shot. One of the common reasons for amateur golfers to lose their eye level is simply swinging too hard. Most players are trying to maximize their power on each and every shot – even when power is not needed to reach the target. It is okay to swing hard on the tee from time to time, but most of the shots you hit on the course should be struck with a controlled, balanced action. Sheer power is not going to lead you to the promised land on the golf course, so forget about that notion. Place the emphasis in your golf swing on balance and control and you will instantly be a better player.
If you dial back the amount of effort you put into each swing, there is a good chance that you will be able to level out your eyes once again. When a player swing hard, their lower body often 'runs away' from them early in the downswing. If that happens, your upper body may need to lean to the right to balance out the fact that your lower body has moved left. Your eye line is going to go along with your upper body, so your eyes will be tilted away from the target by the time you reach impact. Simply turning down your effort will be a big help in the task of creating solid contact. Slowing down your lower body action is going to make it easier for you to stay on balance, and that balance will result in eyes that remain level throughout the swing.
In addition to turning down the power on your swing, there are other things you can do to promote a level eye line. Some of the best ideas are as follows –
- Widen your stance. By widening your stance just a small amount, you can stabilize your swing and make it easier to stay on balance from start to finish. Making your stance too wide will limit your turn, however, so you need to find a happy medium on this point. Experiment with various stance widths until you are able to find a position that enables both balance and rotation nicely.
- Focus on a spot. It is common for amateur golfers to allow their eyes to wander while they are making a swing. If that sounds like something you do in your game, pick out a specific spot on the ball to watch carefully until you have struck the shot. Many players like to stare specifically at the back of the ball, but it is up to you where you would like to keep your eyes. Holding your vision steady is going to make it easier to keep your eye line under control.
- Control the length of your backswing. Making an extra-long backswing can lead to a long list of problems. When you allow the club to rotate all the way to parallel and beyond at the top of the swing, you are going to have a hard time keeping your balance successfully. You don't have to make a short backswing to keep your eyes level, but you should avoid making a particularly long backswing. Use your shoulders to create a good turn away from the target while limiting how many your hands get involved. The combination of a nice shoulder turn and limited hand action is likely to lead you to a backswing that is just the perfect length.
Work your way through this list of tips to see if any of these ideas are able to bring your eyes back to level during the golf swing. Most likely, it will be one key tip that manages to solve this problem – you just have to be willing to keep at it on the range until you find the tip that makes all the difference.
Proper Short Game Setup
Earlier, we touched on the fact that your eyes need to stay level in the short game just as they do in the full swing. In this section, we will quickly expand on this point. When chipping and putting, you need to understand that it is really the setup that is going to be the most important part of the shot. There are very few moving parts when you hit a short game shot, so things aren't going to go very wrong once the club is in motion. Things can certainly go wrong at address, however, such as setting up over the ball with your eyes tilted to one side. If you setup over your short game shots with your eyes out of level, there will be no time to recover once the shot begins.
Eye level is something that affects both putting and chipping, albeit in different ways. When putting, you should still be able to make solid contact with the ball, even if your eyes are out of level. The problem will come in terms of hitting your target line, which may be difficult to do on a consistent basis. When chipping, the issue will be directly related to quality of contact. Hitting chip shots with your eyes out of level is hard to do, and you are likely to catch the ball thin or fat as a result of your error.
To work on positioning your head with your eyes level over the ball, consider asking a friend to help you during a practice session. Your friend will be able to stand a few feet away while you get ready to hit a shot, and he or she can tell you whether or not your eyes are actually level. You can guess for yourself on this point, but it is helpful to have someone else make the determination for you. If you are out of level at address, work on making the necessary corrections as quickly as possible. You aren't going to get anywhere in this game without a reliable short game, so fixing this potential error is a point that should take top priority.
Keeping your eyes level while you swing is one of those simple points that is extremely important in the game of golf. Playing good golf is all about mastering the fundamentals of the game, and this is a point that certainly belongs in that category. Take some time during an upcoming practice session to work on your eye level and your game should improve as a result of your effort. Good luck!