Strike the ball from the middle of the club with this golf tip.
The golf club face has three distinct areas that the ball can be contacted with – the middle, the 'heel' and the 'toe'. The middle is the centre of the club face and is where a golfer is aiming to strike the golf ball. This gives maximum energy transfer to the ball and creates a sweetly struck shot. The 'heel' of the golf club is the nearest part of the club face to the golfer - in-between the middle of the face and the part of the club where the shaft meets the club face. A shot struck here will not go very far or travel accurately as the club head will twist on impact imparting spin on the ball and losing power. The 'toe' of the golf club face is the end of the golf club furthest away from the golfer. A shot struck here will produce a lack of distance and accuracy as the club head twists through impact. In the worst case of a 'toe' shot, the ball is struck from the very end of the golf club and shoots alarmingly sideways away from the golfer.
The cause of a shot struck from the 'toe' end of the golf club is usually to do with the arms at the moment of impact with the golf ball. When a golfer hits a golf ball, the tendency is to use the arms to power the golf swing. In general life, human beings use the arms to perform most tasks and so it is a natural course of action to use the arms when a golf club is picked up to strike a golf ball. In a good repeatable golf swing this should not be the case. The arms play a very small part in the swing staying solid through the motion and letting the hips, shoulders and hands power the club through the ball.
In fact if the arms are used in the golf swing, the elbow will bend and the club will be pulled away from the ball.
To explain further, at set up both arms are straight and the club head is positioned directly behind the golf ball resting on the floor. At impact the golfer should be in exactly the same position with both arms straight for the golf club to return to the ball and be struck correctly. If the arms bend at the elbow as the golfer 'pulls up' then the club is pulled away from the ball causing the ball to be struck from the end of the club face resulting in a 'toe end' shot.
To avoid this shot, use this exercise to straighten the front arm (left arm for right handed golfers and right arm for left handed golfers) through and after the impact area. Position a tee in the ground on the target line and approximately two feet in front of the golf ball to be hit. When swinging through the ball, extend the front arm straight and out through the shot with the aim being to send the club head through the ball and out over the tee peg in the ground. While doing this, both arms should be straight and pointing out towards the target with a feeling of space in-between the front arm and the chest.
This exercise ensures that the club head drives through the ball rather than getting 'pulled' away from the ball by the arms at the moment of impact. Try it and strike the ball more consistently.
Hitting the Ball from the Toe – Swing Problem
While it can often seem like golf is a complicated game, the basics of the game are actually quite simple. You are trying to hit a small ball toward a small target located hundreds of yards in the distance – that's basically it. To do so, you need to hit the ball as solidly as possible with the small club face you have been given for the job. Sure, it isn't easy, but the basic idea is not at all complicated. Golfers, of course, tend to make the game more complicated than it needs to be, which contributes to the high scores that most players shoot on a regular basis. If you can do a good job of boiling the game down to its most basic elements, you will be on the right track for better and better results.
One of the very basic fundamentals of the game is hitting the ball squarely in the middle of the club face. When was the last time you thought about where on the club face you were hitting the ball? If you are like most golfers, it's probably been a while. Sadly, most players get all tied up in thinking about the complicated parts of the game, and they forget about basics like making clean contact. If you can find the center of the face on a consistent basis you will be amazed at the improvement that you can make in your game. Professional golfers do a great job of finding the sweet spot time after time, and you should aspire to do the same. No golfer is perfect, but hitting the center of the face as often as possible should always remain one of your top goals.
If you are currently missing the sweet spot on most of your swings, there is a good chance that those misses are coming off of the toe. In fact, you would prefer to have them coming off the toe, because the alternative is missing in off the heel – and missing off the heel is dangerously close to the dreaded shank. Of course, if you are going to reach your goals in golf, you aren't going to consistently miss off of the heel or the toe – you are going to flush the ball right off the middle of the face on a regular basis.
In this article, we are going to address the issue of missing your shots off the toe of the club. It is common for amateur golfers to make this mistake, as it is a mistake that can arise for a number of reasons. Once you understand exactly why you are missing off of the toe, and what you can do about it, you should have little trouble putting the relevant adjustments into action. This is a problem that should not be ignored, as it isn't going to go away on its own – take the time to fix your swing as soon as possible and you will be able to enjoy the game more in the near future.
All of the content below is written from the perspective of a right handed golfer. If you happen to play left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
Signs of Trouble
As is always the case in golf, the first step toward improvement is accurately identifying the problems that you are facing. In this case, that means figuring out if you are, in fact, missing the ball off the toe on a regular basis. If you aren't, it doesn't make sense to go any farther with this article – you are going to need to look for different fixes to your swing problems. If you are, you can then apply the instruction offered later in the article to hopefully get your game back on track.
Fortunately, there are a number of signs you can look for to determine if you are hitting the ball off the toe. Think of yourself like a detective – you are going to look for evidence of this problem, and you are then going to act on that evidence once you find it. You might have to take a bit of time to 'solve the case', but it will be worth it in the end. The following points are all strong clues that you are hitting the ball off the toe at impact.
- Coming up short. This is a subtle sign, but it is often the first issue you will notice when you start to hit the ball off the toe. A shot that is struck on the toe rather than on the sweet spot will usually come up short of the target – often by a significant margin. So, if you feel like you made a good swing and yet you watched your ball land well short of its intended target, you may have struck the ball out toward the toe. Many golfers get frustrated when they consistently come up short of the target, but they never do anything about it, instead just chalking it up to picking the wrong club, or maybe a gust of wind. While you certainly could come up short once in a while because of those reasons, a pattern of falling short of the target often points to a miss off the toe.
- Unexpected draw pattern. When you start to notice that your ball is turning to the left in the air far more than expected, it is wise to consider the possibility that you are missing on the toe. This is especially true when hitting a driver or three wood, but it can actually be a problem with any club in your bag. For a player who usually hits a fade, or even a small draw, a big draw or a hook coming from out of nowhere is a sign of trouble at impact. Your swing path is unlikely to change dramatically from shot to shot, so hitting the ball on the toe is the most probable cause of your surprise right to left pattern.
- Club twisting in your hands at impact. This is perhaps the surest sign of all that you are hitting the ball on the toe. When you strike the ball solidly at the bottom of the swing, contact will feel clean and the club will not twist at all in your hands. The same cannot be said when you hit the ball on the toe. If contact is out toward the end of the face, the club is likely to twist in your hands immediately upon impact. This is a bad feeling, and it should be taken as proof that you have a problem which needs to be addressed.
If one or more of the signs above is regularly popping up in your golf game, it is relatively safe to say that you are struggling with the problem of hitting the ball off the toe. Of course, if you are still unsure, you can take the guesswork out of the equation by using some impact tape to check on the point of contact for yourself. Simply apply impact tape to the face of one or more of your clubs and hit a few balls on the range. The tape will provide visual proof of the point of contact for your shots, so you can see for yourself whether or not the ball is venturing out toward the toe. Once the verdict is in, you can move on to the information below on how you are going to work on eliminating this problem from your game.
There is a pattern to fixing problems in your golf game, and this article is following that pattern exactly. First, you have to make sure you have identified the correct problem. Many golfers think they are making one mistake when they are actually making another, so this is not a step to overlook. In this case, we have already handled that step – the previous section highlighted ways for you to determine if you were in fact hitting the ball off the toe of the club.
Now, it would be natural to jump into an attempt to fix the problem. However, that would be getting ahead of yourself. Instead, you should next think about what it is that is likely to be causing this problem in the first place. The cause is an important piece of the puzzle, as understanding the cause will make it far easier to find a solution. Once you figure out exactly why you are making a specific mistake (hitting the ball off the toe, in this case), you may find that making the fix is actually a quick and easy process. Most golfers skip this intermediate step, and they never manage to improve as a result.
So, with this concept in mind, let's take a look at some of the common causes of contact on the toe of the club. Most likely, one of the three points listed below is going to be the root cause of your problems at the moment.
- Loss of balance. Losing balance during the golf swing is the root cause of many problems, and hitting the ball off the toe is high on that list. When you lose your balance at any point during the swing, you are going to make it significantly harder to make solid contact anywhere near the sweet spot. Your body will be moving all around during an off-balance swing, which means your hands and arms have no way to know exactly where the ball is going to be when impact arrives. Since the golf swing happens so fast, last moment adjustments to make good contact are pretty much impossible. The only way to be a consistent ball striker is to keep your balance from start to finish. Focus on balance during an upcoming practice session and you might find that hitting the sweet spot suddenly becomes a much more realistic proposition.
- Premature release. The majority of amateur golfers release the club prematurely on the way into impact, which leads to a number of problems. For one thing, releasing the club too early causes you to lose power, as you will be wasting the fastest part of your swing prior to actually contacting the ball. Also, this mistake can lead to hitting the ball off the toe, as the club will release through the hitting area too quickly, meaning the face will close down and the toe will catch the ball before the sweet spot can arrive. This problem is one of the most difficult in golf to fix, but fixing it is going to be necessary if you wish to get your ball striking on track.
- Swinging too hard. This another problem that is commonly seem among amateur golfers, and it is one that many people don't think of as a problem at all. Since they want to hit the ball as far as possible, many golfers think it is a good thing to swing as hard as they can – but those players don't realize what kind of damage they are doing to their swings in the process. It is extremely difficult to stay on balance when swinging extra hard, and it is also tough to make solid contact with this approach. Golf is a game that is about control and precision first and foremost. Sure, you would like to be able to hit the ball long distances, but that concern should be secondary to the goal of a clean strike. Tighten up your swing, take a few miles per hour out of the club head, and enjoy hitting the ball cleaner than you ever have before.
If you are hitting the golf ball off the toe of your club with regularity, it is almost certain that you are making at least one of the three mistakes listed above. Take time to think about your swing, and even record your swing on video, so you can determine which of these problems is at the root of your ball striking issues.
Getting On Track
Finally, it is time to make some changes to your swing in order to hopefully bring the ball back toward the center of the club face. By this point, you should already have a great idea of what needs to be done, thanks to the information that has been included above. Of course, the fixes that are necessary in your swing are not going to happen automatically, or by accident – you will have to work hard on your technique if you hope to make real progress.
To help you progress toward a better ball striking future, consider using the following routine on the driving range. If you follow this routine step by step, there is a good chance you will come away making significantly better contact than ever before.
- To start, take a wedge from your bag and place five golf balls down in front of you to hit (one at a time, of course). Pick out a target that is roughly 40-50 yards from where you are standing. For these first shots, you aren't going to be making full swings, but you still want to have a target in mind.
- As you set up over the ball, use your typical stance and be sure to get into a solid position that leaves you well-balanced and ready to swing.
- During the swing, take the club only about halfway back before starting your downswing. Of course, you should be focused on maintaining your balance nicely, and do your best to swing with a smooth rhythm.
- As impact approaches, resist the temptation to release the club. Instead, you are going to swing through impact with a 'hold off' finish that keeps the face of the club square to the target line for as long as possible. This method of swinging the club is not as powerful as using a full release, but it does make it easier to direct the sweet spot into the back of the ball.
- Using this kind of motion through impact should lead to a finish that is out in front of you, with your hands around chest high or so when the swing is completed. Hopefully, the ball will come off of the sweet spot of your wedge and head directly toward the target.
- Repeat this kind of shot with each of the first five balls, and then move up to a longer club. You are still going to use the same abbreviated swing, only with one of your longer irons. Move all the way through your bag until you arrive at the driver (you don't have to use each club – just one from each 'section' in your bag will work fine).
- After you have gone all the way up to your driver with these half swings, go back to a wedge and start hitting full shots again. You are going to start to release the club through impact again, but be sure to remain focused on your balance and tempo. Don't over swing, and do your best to contact the ball on the sweet spot with each swing. If you get off track, feel free to revert back to the half swings until you get into a rhythm once again.
Moving through your bag with partial swings will take some patience, but you should be rewarded in the end with some of the best contact you have ever made. This drill has a way of simplifying the swing, making it easier to find the sweet spot even when you ramp your swing up to full speed.
Sweet Spot in the Short Game
Even if you are a player who already understands the importance of hitting the sweet spot with your full swing, you probably don't appreciate how important this point is in the short game. Believe it or not, hitting the sweet spot is just as important in the short game as it is in the long game, if not more so. You have to catch the middle of the club if you are going to hit the ball the right distance with your short shots, and distance control is the name of the game on and around the greens.
If you are struggling with making solid contact in the short game, the most likely cause is head movement. Countless players move their heads early in order to look up and see if the ball is on track, but that movement is to blame for significant issues when chipping, pitching, and putting. Your body needs to remain very still during your short game shots, especially in your head area. Allow your shoulders to rock back and forth through the swing while your head stays still and your eyes remain trained on the ball. This might seem like a very simple point, but it can have amazing implications on your game.
During short game practice, do your best to focus on actually seeing the ball hit the sweet spot of the club. Since the short game demands swings which are much slower and smaller than the long game, you should be able to clearly see the ball contact the club at impact. Get into a good habit of watching that contact play out in front of you and your ball striking in the short game will quickly improve. Often it is the basics that make for a good short game, and it doesn't get much more basic than watching the club hit the ball.
By now, it should be quite clear just how important it is to hit the sweet spot at impact, no matter what club you have in your hands. When you make contact in the center of the face on a consistent basis, everything about the game gets easier. Use the instruction contained above to guide your practice on this important point, and you should see steady progress toward a better future on the course. Play well!