Just as any golfer who tops the ball is automatically told, “You looked up,” a fat shot is invariably followed by someone spouting a cliché. In this case, “You dipped your right shoulder.”

    Dipping the right (rear) shoulder is an all-too-common flaw among amateur golfers. It simply means that when making the downswing, the player lowers his right shoulder excessively, usually causing the club to strike ground before ball.

    What causes a shoulder dip? It could be one of several swing faults.

    Sometimes, it happens when you try to get underneath the ball and lift it into the air, rather than striking downward and letting the club’s loft do its job.

    The “reverse-pivot” is another common cause. This is when you transfer weight to the left on the backswing, right on the downswing – the opposite of a proper weight shift. The shoulder dip can also occur when you succeed in moving to your right side on the backswing, but fail to move left on the downswing.

    The simplest cause of all is playing the ball too far forward (toward the target) in your stance. This effectively lowers your right shoulder at address; return to the same position at impact and you’ve suffered a shoulder dip.

    Golfers who struggle with fat shots would do well to try the super-easy heel-up drill:

  • Take a short or mid-iron and set up normally, with the ball near the center of your stance.
  • Raise your right heel, leaving only the toes touching the ground. Your right shoulder should feel slightly higher than usual.
  • Keep the heel lifted and hit a few shots with your normal swing. With your heel and right shoulder raised, you’re better positioned to strike down on the ball.
  • Don’t be a big dipper. Prevent your right shoulder from dropping and give those fat shots the slip.