Imagine you are on the golf course and you have just hit your best drive of the day.
You have split the fairway in two and you have a simple iron shot over a water hazard on to the green. Most golfers who have this next shot will only be thinking about one thing. Get it over the water! Now what tends to happen is that the golfer will attempt to lift the golf ball over the water hazard by adding loft to their golf swing and leaning back and hitting up. Most commonly this leads to the golfer topping the golf ball. A topped golf shot is where the leading edge of the golf club makes contact with the middle/top of the golf ball, and therefore the ball rolls along the floor with very little power and never gets airborne. This is such a destructive shot as it can lead to the golf ball finding hazards, rough, or bunkers.
Fault - The more the golfer tops the golf ball, the more the fault can be exaggerated making the problem much worse. A topped golf shot is where the leading edge of the golf club makes contact with the middle/top of the golf ball, and therefore the ball rolls along the floor with very little power and never gets airborne. The fault is not returning the golf club head back into the position it started in. The golf club contacts the golf ball in a different position, therefore something has changed, resulting in bad contact and lack of consistency.
Fix - Set up to the golf ball, holding the club. You should notice your leading arm is stretched and straight and the club is positioned behind the golf ball. The length of your left arm and the golf club cannot get much longer at this point, however it can become shorter by bending the left arm. If this happens, the golf club will not be able to still touch the ground and therefore will struggle to strike the bottom of the golf ball. This bending of the left arm can happen during the golfer's downswing resulting in the golf club head struggling to strike the bottom of the golf ball and the ground.
Key tip - Work on keeping the leading arm (left arm for right handed golfers) as straight at impact as it was at set up. If you work on maintaining the length of the left arm throughout the golf swing and work on striking down and beyond the golf ball, you will increase the chance of reaching the bottom of the golf ball at impact.
Practice this exercise and drill without the golf ball first to create the feeling of stretching the arm and strike beyond the impact area.