Topping golf shots is a big issue out on the golf course for any golfer.
Hitting the top of the golf ball really reduces the height that you hit your shots and as a result also the distance that you can achieve. So eliminating this shot from your game will help you make a great deal of progress in reducing your score.
Topping golf shots is caused by one of two reasons. Either you are pulling the club head up away from the golf ball as you strike it and therefore contacting with the upper part of the golf ball rather than the side or bottom. Otherwise, you are swinging the club head down to steeply, or vertically, on your downswing resulting in the club head being presented to the top of the golf ball.
Let us look at why you could be pulling the club head up away from the golf ball as you strike it. Initially, check your grip pressure, or how tightly you are holding the club. It is important that you hold the golf club rather than squeeze it. When you squeeze the club’s handle tightly the muscles in your hands and arms work and when your muscles work they contract, or shorten. Even though you may have started with the club head in contact with the ground at your address position, as soon as you squeeze your hands tighter, you effectively shorten the length of your arms and this will result in you pulling the club head up above the ground. Check the pressure you are holding the club. If you squeeze your hands as tightly as you possibly can and we call this a 10, relax to 5 and then ultimately relax one more to 4. This is the correct pressure to hold the club at and swing with.
Another cause of topping the golf ball for women golfers is due to bending your left arm during your backswing and/or downswing. As you prepare to swing the golf club, at your set up position straighten your left arm, extend your left elbow, so your left arm is at it's maximum length. This is the position that your left arm wants to return back to as you are striking the golf ball. Work on maintaining a straight left arm during your backswing and during your downswing back to impact with the ball. If the left elbow bends you can see that the distance between your left shoulder and the club head will be reduced and so the club head will no longer connect with the ground meaning you will hit the top of the golf ball.
Another very common reason for women golfers to top the golf ball when playing golf shots, is not maintaining good posture or a good spine angle during the backswing. As you address the ball, at set up, we see good players creating and maintaining a very straight look from the back of their head to the bottom of their spine. They tilt their spine forward from their hips and maintain this position throughout the backswing. To achieve this position with your spine, stand upright and place a club down your spine so that the back of your head, your upper back and your lower back are all in contact with the golf club. This now has you standing up with a straight back. Keep these three areas in contact with the club and tilt your spine forwards. Once in position, gently soften your knees to take the pressure from your hamstrings and you are now in a great position with your posture, to make your golf swing from.
If you address the ball well with good posture, with this good lean forward and then move your spine into a more vertical position during your backswing, the distance between your upper body and the ground will have increased and as a result the club head will now return back to the ball into a higher position than it initially started and you will top your shot as the club contacts with the top of the golf ball. Work on maintaining your spine angle, keep it leaning forward and learn to rotate your upper body around this spine position rather than allowing it to become more vertical.
A good exercise to help you learn how to do this, or to get the feel of correctly maintaining this position during your golf swing, is to place a club across your upper chest and shoulders. Take your golf stance up, feet shoulder width apart, maintaining good balance and tilt your spine forward maintaining the good posture and straight back that we just discussed. Now rotate your upper body to the right of your start position and if you are maintain good posture you should notice that the club across your shoulders tilts downwards. If it becomes horizontal you have lost your posture, so work on making this movement so that there is a gentle forward and downward tilt in your shoulders and the club across them.
This leads us on to the final reason you may be topping the golf ball and that is not rotating your upper body correctly during your golf swing and instead lifting your arms up during your backswing. If you lift your arms up during your backswing rather than rotating your upper body, you will straighten your spine angle as you lift your arms and we have just discussed the importance of maintaining a good spine angle to allow you to deliver the club head back to the ball at the same height as you began your golf swing. If you lift your arms up, this will force your spine angle to become more vertical so you will now swing back down with the club head higher than it started producing a topped golf shot.
Working on these drills will get you improving the golf club’s connection with the ball and see you hitting much further and enjoying your game more.