In order to gain more power and hit the ball straighter, this is a drill that will really work.
A big reason for loss of power and hitting the ball off line in the golf swing is because of a domination of the upper body in the downswing, rather than using the lower body, to strike the golf ball. When this happens, the golfer drives the club into the ball with the shoulders from the top of the backswing. This is often termed ‘hitting from the top'. This causes a very steep downward and out to in arc, or right to left for a right handed golfer, of the club across the ball. Generally, the golfer then spins out of the shot, opening up the shoulders and leaning back through the golf ball, causing the ball to either slice away to the right or pull to the left for a right handed golfer.
This movement feels powerful for the golfer as the arms and the shoulders are doing the work and driving into the golf ball. However, in reality, this movement is quite slow. It may be powerful but the speed of the club through the ball is poor as the energy of the club is driving down and across the ball rather than through to the target. As the club head moves downwards steeply and across the ball, the ball then does not only go off line but also not very far.
Using this drill will encourage good lower body movement, using the hips to drive the swing, which will create a turning action to increase speed and keep the club on the correct line for direction.
To set up, place one tour stick parallel to the target line on the floor, next to the feet, to make sure that the body is aiming on the correct line. Place the second tour stick in the ground, standing vertically upwards on the outside of, and just touching the front foot.
To encourage the lower body to move first rather than the shoulders from the top of the backswing, the first movement needs to be a sideways movement of the hip that pushes off the back foot towards the front knee. In this action, make sure that the left knee and hip hit the standing stick before the downswing begins. Here, the important part is to only use the hips to drive the weight forward rather than leaning forward with the shoulders or head.
This action moves the body weight into the front side early, allowing the hips and legs to turn into the ball, thus driving all of the body weight and power into the golf ball. It also allows the swing to rotate around the pivot of the front leg, which lets the club head swing into the ball on an arc from the inside, behind the body, before swinging on line through the ball to the target. It is very much the same as a baseball style motion, swinging flatter into the golf ball with the lower body, rather than steeply with the upper body.
With practice, this is a great drill to generate more power and hit the ball straighter.
Stop Spinning Out of the Shot
Golf is a rotational game. To hit good shots, you need to rotate your body aggressively through the hitting area. If you lack rotation in your swing, it will be nearly impossible to create power or strike the ball accurately. A good golf swing will see two phases of rotation – turning of the shoulders in the backswing, and a turning of the lower body in the downswing. By bringing these two components together successfully, you can hit the ball long and straight time after time.
Unfortunately, all of this rotation can come with a downside. Spinning out of the shot is something that many amateur golfers do, and it can be a difficult problem to fix. As mentioned above, the lower body should be driving your rotation in the downswing. However, if you allow your upper body to rotate too much to the left during the downswing, you can spin out of the shot and make poor contact with the ball. There are a number of causes for this problem, but the result is usually the same - a weak ball flight that is pushed to the right of your target.
This swing mistake is often associated with lifting your head up early, but it is more complicated than that in reality. It is true that the position of your head can contribute to spinning out of a shot, however you need to look at the motion of your swing as a whole when trying to solve this problem. To live up to your potential on the golf course, it is important that you spend some quality time on the driving range addressing this issue.
In addition to the physical component, there is also a mental portion to this swing fault. If your mind isn't perfectly clear on what you are trying to do with the swing, your body will be tempted to spin out early in a misguided attempt to hit the ball harder. You need to be sending clear messages from your brain to the rest of your body both before and during the swing. Golfers who spin out of their shots often don't have a good idea of what they are trying to do with the club, and that confusion leads to this frustrating problem.
All of the instruction contained below is based on a right handed golfer. If you play left handed, please reverse the directions as necessary.
It's All about Impact Position
The moment of truth in any golf swing is the instant when the club face contacts the ball. Everything that you do in your swing should be with the purpose of creating an ideal impact position. If you are able to get your body, and the club, in the perfect position when you strike the ball, great shots are possible. Sadly, spinning out of your shots will ruin your impact position – even if the rest of your swing has been beautifully executed.
So what does a great impact position look like? You want to accomplish the following three points at impact regardless of what kind of shot you are trying to hit.
- Eyes down on the ball. This is an important point for a couple of reasons. First, it makes it easier to strike the shot cleanly when you are actually looking at the ball. No matter what sport you play, keeping your eye on the ball is always an important fundamental to remember. Also, keeping your eyes down on the ball will help you resist the temptation to spin out of the shot. When you are conscious of keeping your eyes down toward the ball, your natural tendency will be to keep your head and shoulder down into the shot as well. One of the first steps you should take when you notice you are having a problem with spinning out of your shots is to work on controlling the movement of your eyes during the swing.
- Maintain your posture. The stance that you used at address should not have changed significantly by the time you reach impact. Of course, there will be some changes, such as your lower body having rotated toward the target. However, your spine should remain at a similar angle as it was at address, and you head position should not have moved dramatically. Keeping the golf swing as simple as possible is a great way to improve your game, and maintaining a steady posture throughout the swing is a big step toward simplicity.
- Left heel on the ground. This final point goes along with the notion of building simplicity in your swing. Some golfers get into the habit of moving their left heel off the ground at impact, but you should work hard to avoid falling into this same trap. When you move your weight up onto your toes in the downswing, you will be changing the level of your head and the angle of your spine. This movement is unnecessary, and only serves to complicate the swing. As you hit balls on the practice range, focus on keeping your left foot firmly attached to the ground from your takeaway all the way into the follow through.
It is easy to over-complicate the golf swing, but you can simplify it in your mind when you boil the impact position down to those three points. If you can arrive at the ball with your eyes down, your posture intact, and your left heel on the ground, you stand a great chance at hitting a quality shot. Keep those three points in mind as you work on the other portions of your swing technique that will lead you into impact.
The reason that spinning out of your shots is such a frustrating and damaging mistake is that is ruins your impact position right at the last moment. You can make a great swing all the way up until the moment prior to impact – when you spin out of the shot and ruin the swing. If you do spin out of your shot right before impact, you may miss on all three of the points above. Your eyes will likely come off of the ball, your posture will straighten up, and your left heel may even come off the ground. To be sure, removing the spin out from your game is a challenge worth accepting.
Causes of the Spin Out
Like any problem you face on the golf course, it is going to be easier to solve the spin out if you understand what it causing it in the first place. Without understanding the root cause of the issue, you will have a much harder time putting it to a stop. For the majority of golfers, the cause of the spin out is going to come down to one of the three options below.
- Trying to hit the ball too hard. Far and away, this is the most common cause of spinning out of a golf shot. Many amateur golfers try to hit the ball as hard as they possibly can on a majority of their swings. Striving for maximum distance often leads these players to spin out of their shots – even though the spin out is doing nothing to add distance to the shot. There is nothing wrong with trying to hit the ball hard, but spinning out of the shot is going about it in all the wrong way. To maximize your distance, focus on your fundamentals and be sure to stay in your stance throughout the swing. The club is going to accelerate best when your body motion is simple and decisive. Turn your lower body aggressively toward the target and keep your upper body balanced over the ball through impact.
- Nerves. Coming up out of your swing prematurely can also be related to nervous energy. If you aren't comfortable over a given shot, you are more likely to look up early in an effort to see where the ball is going. Obviously, this is a mistake. Remember, looking up early is going to do nothing to affect the flight of the ball through the air. Rather than looking to see where the ball is going, keep your eyes down through impact so you can avoid spinning out of the shot. If you can be disciplined about keeping your eyes down on the ball, you will find that you are much happier with the results of your swings.
- Other swing faults. Sometimes, spinning out of a golf shot isn't actually the problem, but rather it is the result of another problem earlier in the swing. Specifically, if you lose your posture during the backswing and bend over closer to the ball, you will have to stand up out of the shot just to make contact. In this case, it isn't actually the spinning out of the shot that needs to be fixed. If you were to fix your backswing posture, the spin out would most likely go away on its own.
Do you think any of the three points above are causing you to spin out of some of your shots? Be honest with yourself as you try to identify the cause of the problem. You know your golf swing better than anyone else, so think about the last time you spun out of a shot and try to determine the root cause. Even if you take no further action, simply understanding the cause of the spin out will make you far less likely to repeat the mistake in the future.
Conquer the Spin Out with This Drill
To fix your spin out and successfully keep your upper body down over the shot through impact, try using the following drill during an upcoming practice session. Drills are great for translating a message from your brain to your body by altering your normal swing in some way. After you have completed plenty of repetitions of this drill, go back to your normal swing and check on your progress. The drill below is not only great for eliminating the spin out from your swing, but it is also good for routine swing maintenance to make sure you don't lose track of your basic fundamentals.
To complete this drill, follow the step by step instructions below.
- Choose a Club. The first step is picking out the club you are going to be hitting during this drill. You can technically use any club you would like, but the best bet is to start with something in the range of six iron to nine iron. The clubs in that range are relatively easy to hit, while still offering enough distance to evaluate the quality of your ball striking.
- Pick a Target. The target that you select should be based on the club that you have decided to hit. However, you will need to adjust your yardage because you are going to be modifying your swing and you won't be able to reach your normal full yardage for the club that is in your hands. As a rule of thumb, expect to hit your shots about 60% of your normal distance when doing this drill. So, if you are using a nine iron and you usually hit that club 100 yards, pick a target that is around 60 yards from where you are standing.
- Take Your Stance. Now that you have a club and a target, it is time to prepare to hit a shot. As you take your stance, place the club behind the ball and aim the club face at your target as you normally would. However, instead of moving your feet to shoulder width apart, you are going to keep them together. You don't need to have your shoes touching each other, but they should be only one or two inches apart. The ball should be positioned right in the middle of this modified stance.
- Hit a Shot. The ultra-narrow stance is the only modification you are going to make to your swing. With your feet close together, go ahead and try to make a swing and attempt to hit the ball at your target. If you have never before made swings from a narrow stance, this could be quite a challenge at first. You will quickly learn that you need to focus on your balance if you are going to strike the ball cleanly. Don't worry about distance – simply try to hit the ball cleanly and send it on line with your target.
- Repeat. Go ahead and hit as many shots down the range as you would like using this drill. Hopefully, it will get easier as you go, until you are hitting quality shots that look just like your normal shots, only shorter.
So what does this drill have to do with avoiding the spin out? Everything. When your feet are close together in your stance, you really won't have the option to spin out of the shots you are hitting. If you did, you would fall completely off balance – and maybe even miss the ball entirely. In order to strike the ball solidly while standing with your feet together, you have to keep your upper body in position to guide the club through impact.
This is a simple drill, but it is highly effective. If you find that it is helping you stay over the ball nicely at impact, you might want to consider making it a part of your regular warmup routine. Each time you visit the range, hit a few shots with your feet together before moving up to regular, full swings. The drill will serve as a nice warm up, and it will help to reinforce some important fundamentals.
Fixing Your Swing on the Course
Unfortunately, you can't always head to the driving range when you swing starts to get out of control. Sometimes, you will lose track of your swing mechanics during the middle of the round, and you will need to get them back as quickly as possible to save your score. In that case, you need to know how to identify the problem and then fix it on the fly.
When it comes to the spin out, there are a few classic signs that you need to watch out for on the course. If you start to see any of these three things happening in your game, you will have a pretty good idea that you are spinning out of your shots.
- Shots landing short and right. This is probably the first sign that will tell you the spin out has become a problem in your swing. If you hit a number of consecutive shots that end up short and right of your target, you are more than likely spinning out before you reach impact. Pay particular attention if this starts to happen with your short irons. Shots hit with your 8 iron – PW should be relatively accurate most of the time, so leaving the ball out to the right is a sure indication of a problem.
- Topping the ball. In extreme cases, the spin out can lead to topping your iron shots from the fairway. Obviously, hitting a topped shot can be embarrassing, as well as damaging to your score. If you top even one shot during the round, go back through your swing fundamentals to make sure you are keeping your upper body over the shot.
- A quick hook. Spinning out of your shots isn't always going to lead to a ball flight that misses to the right. If your hands work quickly and close the club face through impact while you are spinning out, the result could be a hard hook instead of a push. In many cases, this hook will lead to even worse results than when you leave the ball out to the right.
If you are playing a round and find that you have begun to spin out of your swing, the first thing to do is slow yourself down and take a deep breath. This is a swing problem that only gets worse as you begin to get frustrated and speed up, so relax and keep your temper under control. Getting mad might feel good in the moment, but it isn't going to do anything to fix your swing.
Once you have relaxed, try making a few practice swings with your feet together as in the drill outlined above. Even though you won't be able to hit any practice balls during the round, you can still benefit from the feeling that the drill provides. Make a few practice swings using the drill, and then a few more with your regular stance. This may be all you need to get back on track.
There is one more trick you can try if those practice swings don't solve the problem. When you arrive at your next shot, try hitting one extra club so you can swing softer and still reach the target. For example, if you would normally hit a seven iron into the green given the distance at hand, try hitting a six. Simply knowing that you have too much club in your hands will be enough to slow your body down and keep your over the shot. Since most players spin out when they are trying to hit the ball too hard, taking an extra club is a great way to stop the problem.
Spinning out of the shot is a common problem among amateur golfers, and even some professionals. The first step in fixing this issue is to determine what is causing it in the first place. Once you know why you are spinning out, you can get down to work on correcting the mistake and getting your swing mechanics back on track. The drill provided above should be a big help as you try to eliminate this frustrating swing fault from your game. Once you head out onto the course after a good practice session, be sure to watch for signs of the spin out so that you don't fall back into your old habits. Correcting this common swing error will take you another step closer to reaching your goals on the golf course.