The moment of impact is the moment of truth in the golf swing.

When Striking the Ball The Location of Your Head is Key Right Before Impact

Sure, you want to do things right throughout your entire swing, but it is really what your swing looks like when you contact the ball that is going to determine your results. If you are in a good position at impact – meaning both the club and your body are in the right places – you will be almost assured of hitting a good shot.

If you are out of position, however, it will be nearly impossible to send the ball on its way properly. Those who are serious about improving in this game will be willing to invest time and effort in learning how to find a great impact position swing after swing.

In this article, we are going to talk about your head position at impact, in relation to the golf ball. The location of your head is key because it is going to say a lot about where the rest of your body is when you strike the ball. Many amateur golfers go wrong on this point, and they struggle to hit solid shots as a result. With any luck, this article will point you in the right direction, and you’ll be able to get down to work on improving your ball striking in the near future.

Remember, you aren’t going to be able to simply read a few tips on the internet and suddenly play high-level golf. This is a hard game, and you need to put in the effort if you want to see results. Sure, it is a great idea to pick up tips and information for articles such as this, but you should view this as just the first step on your journey. You won’t reach your destination until you put in the effort on the range to improve your technique.

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.

Understanding Impact Position

Understanding Impact Position

Talking only about head position when discussing impact is a bit of a pointless endeavor. Sure, you need to have your head in the right spot, but you also need to have a bunch of other part parts in the right place if you are going to be successful.

So, in this section, we are going to talk about the impact position overall, including where your head should be when you strike the ball. By the end of this section, you should have a clear picture of what you are trying to do at impact. Actually making it happen, of course, will be up to you.

The techniques listed below will highlight a few different points which all need to be checked off if you are going to wind up in a good impact position.

  • Head even or behind the ball. Naturally, this is where we are going to start, since this is the topic at hand in this article. When you strike the ball, you want to have your head roughly even with the ball, if not a little behind, depending on the club you are holding.
  • We will talk more later in the article about how your head position at impact should vary depending on the club you are using. For now, let’s just focus on the fact that your head should be even with the ball or slightly behind.
  • The big mistake you can make on this point is allowing your head to be beyond the ball when you make contact. In other words, your head is closer to the target than the ball when impact occurs. This is a mistake because it means you have slid your body toward the target in the downswing (or you have done something terribly wrong at address).
  • The golf swing should be a rotational action, and you should not be sliding to the left significantly on the way down toward impact. Many amateur golfers do make this mistake, and it is one which can ruin an otherwise good golf swing. A lateral slide in the downswing is a mistake from which you really can’t recover.
  • Your body is going to be out of position at impact, and a poor shot is almost inevitable. If you can successfully manage to position your head even with the ball or slightly behind it at impact, you should be on your way toward improved results.
  • Left leg in a straight position. This is another point which speaks to the rotational nature of your golf swing. If your left leg has made its way into a mostly straight position at the moment of impact, you can be pretty confident that you have rotated nicely.
  • If you make the mistake of sliding to the left, as discussed in the previous point, your left leg will probably remain bent to some degree and your knee will be outside of your left foot. By rotating, your left leg will straighten, and you can keep turning around that leg as you move into the finish. Some golfers talk about this point by saying that they want to hit ‘into a strong left side’. However you refer to it, finding this position is another important element of the golf swing.
  • Eyes on the ball. While this might be one of the first tips you ever received as a golfer, it is still one worth mentioning in this list. When you strike the ball, make sure that you are actually looking at the ball.
  • If your eyes have already moved up and away from the ball in an attempt to watch the shot as it flies, your entire upper body is likely to be pulled away from the swing. One of the easiest ways to fix this problem is to pick out a specific point on your golf ball that you are going to watch. Zero in on that spot and don’t let your eyes move away until the ball has been struck and sent on its way.
  • Balanced nicely. Balance is one of the basic ingredients in any good golf swing. Players with poor balance will struggle to hit good shots, and even if they do hit good shots from time to time, those results will never be consistent.
  • You shouldn’t feel like you are falling in one direction or another when you make contact with the ball. Instead, you should feel balanced and stable, free to swing through impact with all of the speed you can muster. Time spent working on your balance is never time wasted in golf, since balance is such a core ingredient to quality play.

You do want your head to be in a good position when you make contact with the ball, but more than that, you want your entire body to be in the right place. Take some time to pay attention to each of the points listed above during an upcoming practice session. With any luck, you’ll be able to work your way toward a better impact position one practice swing at a time.

Head Position with Different Clubs

Head Position with Different Clubs

In this section, we are going to get down to dealing with the topic of how your head position is going to change based on the club you are hitting. As you already know, certain things about your swing change as you move throughout your bag. In other words, the swing you make with a pitching wedge is not the same move you make when trying to hit a driver.

Sure, there are a lot of common elements, but the overall swing is different in a number of ways. Knowing how to make a swing which is suitable for the club you are holding is one of many skills you have to develop as a golfer.

Generally speaking, your head is going to get farther and farther behind the ball as the clubs get longer. So, when hitting a wedge, your head will likely be right over the ball at impact. With a driver, on the other hand, it is likely that your head will be significantly behind the ball when you make contact.

A big part of this difference has to do with the differing goals that you have for these two swings. When hitting a pitching wedge from the fairway, you are trying to hit down into the ball in order to generate spin and have the ball climb up into the sky. With your driver from the tee, however, you don’t want to hit down.

Instead, you want to hit slightly up through impact, or at least you want the club to be moving parallel to the ground. This type of swing is going to offer you a great launch angle and the potential to hit the ball well out into the distance.

The important thing to understand here is that the position of your head is going to very closely match up with the bottom of your swing arc. Wherever your head is as you swing down through the hitting area, the bottom of your swing is likely to be as well. So, if your head is right over the ball, as it should be when hitting a wedge, the bottom of your swing should be just slightly past the position of the ball – that’s perfect. Bottoming out just in front of the ball means you are hitting down through impact, and you should generate the spin you desire.

With your driver, you don’t want to bottom out in front of the ball. Rather, you want your swing to bottom out just before it reaches the ball, so you can be moving back up through impact. That means your head should be slightly behind the ball, leading to the bottom of your swing arc being just behind the ball, as well.

Let’s recap quickly, as that discussion can be a bit confusing. When hitting a wedge – or any other short club – you want to have your head roughly over the ball at impact, so you can hit down nicely. With a driver, you want to keep your head behind the position of the ball to make it easier to hit up on the shot. The clubs which fall between those two extremes will gradually move from one end of the spectrum to the other.

So, after all of that, it’s obvious that you need to change your swing dramatically as you move through the set, right? No – not at all. In fact, as far as head position goes, there isn’t much you want to change actively. Here’s the thing – the adjustment that you make in your ball position is going to do the job of changing the relationship between the ball and your head.

Your head should naturally wind up well behind the ball at impact with the driver since you are using a forward ball position. The same goes for hitting a wedge. Most players set up for wedge shots with the ball roughly in the middle of their stance. With that being the case, you just have to make a balanced swing and your head will wind up exactly where it is supposed to be at impact.

Evaluating Your Performance

Evaluating Your Performance

One of the hardest parts of improving your golf game is finding ways to objectively evaluate the way your swing is progressing. As the one making the swing, it is hard to figure out how you are doing in real time.

Are you actually making changes, or are you just making the same swing over and over again? Without some kind of plan in place, it really can be hard to tell.

How do you decide whether or not you are making progress? There are a few options. Let’s take a look at them below.

  • Watch your ball flight. One thing you can do is to simply watch the flight of the ball carefully and try to spot changes in your pattern. For example, if your driver seems to be producing higher shots than usual during a given range session, you may indeed be doing a better job of keeping your head back behind the ball.
  • Letting your head get past the ball in the downswing is usually going to lead to low ball flights, so hitting the ball higher is a good sign that you are staying back. It isn’t always easy to spot changes in your ball flight, especially when they are subtle, but this is certainly one way to monitor your progress.
  • Ask a friend for help. Thanks to the modern technology most of us have access to today, it only takes a moment to ask a friend to record your swing on video. By playing the video back and watching for yourself, you can gain a perspective which simply isn’t possible when you are making the swing.
  • If possible, try to slow down the video playback for a better look, or at least pause the video at crucial points (such as the moment of impact). If you can ask a friend to record video of your swing from time to time, you will be able to easily observe how your technique is changing.
  • Bring in the help of a pro. This is the most powerful option of the three, although it does come with a cost. If you decide to take a golf lesson from a teaching pro in your area, you will have to pay the pro for his or her time and expertise.
  • In exchange, you should pick up many valuable tips which you can put into use in your game. Assuming you are working on the way your head is positioned at impact, ask about that point specifically and have the pro monitor it as your lesson moves along.
  • Perhaps the best way to go is to take a series of lessons to the pro can track how you are improving as time moves along. Many golfers are hesitant to take a lesson from a pro for one reason or another, but going this route has the potential to change your game for the better in a dramatic way.

One way or another, you need to decide on a plan for evaluating your performance as you strive to improve your golf swing. When you put your head in the right position, you will have a big obstacle out of the way, and you will be one step closer to the game you’ve always wanted to have.

Short Game Head Position

Short Game Head Position

Every experienced golfer knows the value of the short game. If you are still relatively new to the game, you might not yet understand just how important the short game is in the quest for lower scores – but you will understand soon enough.

The short game is hugely important, yet many golfers fail to work on their chipping and putting on a regular basis. Only golfers who are serious about the short game have any meaningful shot to take a big step forward in terms of on-course performance.

To wrap up this article, we want to mention a few important points regarding the head position in the short game. As you might imagine, things are a little simpler here, but it is still worth discussing.

  • Putting. When putting, you want to place your head directly in line with the ball. This is not only going to allow you to swing nicely through the ball at impact, but it will also give you a good view of the target line.
  • If you were to set up with your head significantly to the right or left of the ball, you would only be forcing yourself into an awkward position. Stay neutral by placing your head directly in line with the ball and check this point off of your putting to-do list.
  • Chipping. For chip shots, the position of your head is going to depend on the type of chip shot you are hoping to produce. To understand how this works, think back to the discussion we had earlier about the position of your head determining the location of the bottom of your swing arc.
  • This works the same way when chipping, so you can manipulate the way your shots behave simply by adjusting where you stand. For example, if you want to hit a particularly low chip and run shot, set your head well in front of the ball at address so you can hit down without any trouble.
  • To loft the ball high in the air and bring it down softly, do just the opposite. Place the ball forward in your stance, so your head is well behind the position of the ball and let the loft of the club do the rest. Experiment with different head positions during practice so you can see how the trajectory of your chip shots is impacted.
  • Bunker shots. When playing a standard explosion shot from a greenside bunker, the idea is to put the club into the sand before reaching the ball. Knowing what you now know about how head position works, you can probably figure out that you should set your head behind the position of the ball for this type of shot.
  • Set the ball up near your front foot in the stance and let your swing bottom out well before you actually get to the ball. When executed correctly, this technique will result in a shot that comes up softly out of the sand and lands gently on the green.

We hope this article on head positioning in the golf swing will help you fine tune the technique you use to play this difficult game. Head position at impact is certainly not the only piece of the golf puzzle you’ll need to master, but it is an important one to understand. With some hard work on the range, your swing should be better for having paid attention to the matter of head position. Good luck!