Every experienced golfer knows the feeling.

What Happens When You Miss the Clubs Sweet Spot

As soon as you make contact with the ball, a nasty, vibrating feeling goes shooting through your hands and on up into your wrists and arms. It feels unpleasant at best, and it can be downright painful in some circumstances. While experienced players know that this is just part of the game from time to time, new golfers can be confused by what is happening and where these vibrations are coming from. In this article, we aim to clear up any confusion and offer advice on how you can avoid this issue as often as possible moving forward.

To get right to the point, we can say this – your clubs are likely to vibrate any time you miss the sweet spot by a significant margin at impact. When you manage to strike the ball perfectly on the sweet spot, you shouldn’t feel much of anything as the ball leaves the face. The club will hold steady through the hitting area, the ball will be sent on its way, and there will be no nasty vibrations to deal with as you head into the follow through. Unfortunately, not every shot you play is going to come off the sweet spot, and those strikes which miss badly are the ones which are most likely to lead to a painful outcome. As we move on in the article, we’ll talk about which clubs are most likely to vibrate on miss-hits, what conditions will make this sensation even worse, and much more.

We do want to provide a word of encouragement before we get too far into this article. When you hit a bad shot that results in the vibration of your club, don’t feel like you are a terrible golfer or anything like that. The fact is that even professional golfers hit these kinds of shots from time to time. Golf is a difficult game, and you are going to hit some poor shots along the way. In fact, you are going to hit a lot of poor shots, especially if you are just getting started. Every golfer makes poor swings on occasion, to do your best to stay optimistic and don’t let your mistakes get you down. There is nothing wrong with striving for improved performance, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are alone in your struggles.

All of the content below is written from the perspective of a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

The Main Culprit

The Main Culprit

In the introduction, we explained that vibration coming up through your golf clubs is the result of missing the sweet spot at impact. While that’s true, we can get a little more specific than that in order to clear up what is taking place. On most occasions, the vibration that you feel is the result of making thin contact with the ball. In other words, you are hitting the ball too low on the face of the club (known in the golf world as a thin shot), and the club is vibrating as a result. These kinds of shots usually don’t get very high up off the ground, and they rarely wind up close to the target. So, not only do you have to deal with the uncomfortable stinging feeling that comes with a vibrating golf club, but you also have to deal with the frustration of hitting a poor shot.

So, at this point, we know that the shots which are vibrating through the shaft of the club and up into your hands are likely being hit too low on the face. But why is that happening? Where is your swing breaking down in order to lead to thin shots? There are a few possibilities, some of which we have highlighted below.

  • Looking up early. This is an extremely common cause of thin shots, especially when playing from relatively close to the green. If you look up early to see where the ball is going to go, it’s likely that your entire body is going to move up away from the ball, at least slightly. That upward movement will raise the level of your swing, and you may make contact with the ball too low on the face. Remember, it doesn’t take a dramatic movement by your upper body to through things off entirely. The difference that just one inch can make is dramatic – instead of hitting the sweet spot, you’ll hit an inch below the sweet spot, which may lead to an ugly result. It is going to take some focus and determination to beat this issue. As you practice, think about the fact that looking up early is not going to help your performance in any way. Even if you see the ball flying off target right from the start, there is nothing you can do to fix that mistake. So, in the end, you might as well keep your head down and give yourself the best possible chance to achieve a clean strike.
  • Too much right hand action. The role of the right hand during the golf swing is complicated. Yes, you need to use your right hand to some degree, especially as you swing through impact. Using the right hand to fire the club head aggressively through the ball is a powerful way to add power to your shots. At the same time, too much right hand in the downswing can cause serious problems. Specifically, if you fire your right hand too early on the way down, it’s likely that the club will be coming back up by the time you get to the point of contact. As a result, you will be at risk for hitting a thin shot, and you may wind up with that vibrating sensation you were trying to avoid in the first place. Make sure you are pulling down with the left hand early in the downswing to set the angle and lag the club nicely. Continue down using your left hand to guide the action and only let the right hand get involved at the last moment in order to deliver a powerful blow into the back of the ball.
  • Poor ball position. Believe it or not, you can get into trouble with thin shots as a result of nothing more than poor ball position. If you don’t place the ball in the right spot in your stance at address, you will be fighting an uphill battle right from the start. Specific to this discussion, placing the ball too far forward in your stance (too far to the left, from your perspective at address) to going to cause you to run the risk of a thin shot. Quite simply, you’ll have trouble reaching the ball with the sweet spot of the club when you play it too far forward. During practice, experiment with a variety of ball positions until you are able to find something that seems to produce consistently good results.

If you are tired of having your golf clubs vibrate as the result of thin shots, your job is simple – figure out why you are missing the sweet spot so badly. Sure, no golfer hits the sweet spot with every swing, but it’s safe to say that something is wrong with your technique if you are regularly hitting thin shots that cause your hands to sting. Get rid of the mistakes which are leading to thin shots and you won’t have to deal with club vibration very often moving forward.

Contributing Factors

Contributing Factors

We have learned so far that the vibration coming up through your club on some shots is likely caused by hitting the ball thin. And, we’ve covered some of the potential causes of those thin shots. At this point, we are going to turn to talking about some other factors which may make the vibration worse in certain conditions than in others. If the conditions below are present on a given shot, you will want to take extra care to avoid thin contact and the painful vibrations that will come with it.

  • A poor lie. When your ball is sitting down in a poor lie, it is more likely that you’ll wind up hitting a thin shot. The reason is pretty simple – with less of the back of the ball exposed to the club as it swings down, your window for making clean contact is quite narrow. If you don’t make a perfect swing, you are going to wind up with a miss-hit. That miss-hit will either be a fat shot, which will result in the ball coming up well short of the target, or it will be a thin shot. A good example of this type of situation is when your ball comes to rest in a divot in the middle of the fairway. The ball will be sitting down in the divot, lower than the rest of the fairway. As a result, you’ll struggle to get down to it cleanly, and you very well may end up with a thin shot when all is said and done.
  • Cold temperatures. Playing in the cold doesn’t necessarily make it more likely that you’ll hit a thin shot, but it does mean the vibrations you feel in the club will be even worse when they occur. Anyone who has hit a thin shot on a cold morning will tell you that it is a feeling they won’t soon forget. To play well in the cold, you will need to put the fear of this mistake out of your mind in order to make confident swings.
  • Hitting long irons. Technically, it is possible to hit any club in your bag thin – even your putter. With that said, golfers tend to worry about vibration mostly when hitting long iron shots. The long irons are some of the most difficult clubs in the bag to hit solidly, and they transfer plenty of vibration into your hands when you make a mistake. If you hit other long clubs thin, like your driver or your fairway woods, there won’t be as much vibration coming up through the shaft due to the hollow club head design. You don’t have the insurance with your long irons, however, so you are going to pay the price for hitting those clubs thin.
  • Specific equipment. Some clubs are going to transfer more vibration into your hands than others. If you use irons which fall into the ‘blade’ category, and you pair them with steel shafts, you are in line for plenty of vibration on thin shots. These types of clubs are known for their ability to help the golfer ‘feel’ his or her shots – for better or worse. You can get great feedback from these kinds of clubs when you hit them on the sweet spot, but the feedback you get from a thin shot is not so enjoyable. If you are worried about vibration and you want to provide yourself with a bit of protection, look for irons which have larger heads, a cavity back design, and fall into the ‘game improvement’ category.

Not all situations are created equally when it comes to vibration after golf shots. For example, playing a blade-style long iron shot on a cold morning out of a divot is a recipe for trouble with regard to vibration. On the other hand, hitting a cavity back iron from a perfect lie on a warm afternoon will give you little to worry about. By knowing when you are likely to run into trouble with vibration, you can pay particular attention to the fundamentals that will help you stay away from thin contact.

Making Corrections

Making Corrections

With a problem like this, it can be hard to know where to start when trying to make improvements. There are a variety of issues which can lead to thin shots, so you may not know what to work on first – or which of the many possibilities is leading to your struggles. This is frustrating as you may feel that your time on the driving range is wasted when you don’t know exactly what to work on or how to work on it.

Unfortunately, there is no way for us to tell you what it is that causes your thin shots, since we’ve never seen you swing the club. With that said, we can offer a few general tips which may help you to get back on track. These tips are helpful for basically any golfer, no matter what issue that player may be facing at the time. They get the golfer back to the basic fundamentals, which is always a good option when something goes wrong.

Let’s take a look at a few options you have available when trying to make corrections to your swing.

  • Focus on rhythm. Too many golfers ignore rhythm as an important piece of the golf puzzle. Players will work tirelessly on their physical technique, meaning the positions they find during the swing, but those same players may not pay any attention at all to the tempo they use to swing the club back and through. If your game is off track at the moment, and you are hitting some thin shots as a result, try working on your tempo during an upcoming practice session. Slow everything down, find a comfortable rhythm, and avoid the urge to swing too hard. Hopefully, after just a short period of practice, you’ll find that the quality of your ball striking quickly improves.
  • Check on your stance. When something goes wrong in your game, it is a wise idea to check in on all of your basics, including your stance. Maybe you are standing a little farther from the ball than usual, or a little closer. Something like this – while it might seem small – can have a big effect on the quality of your swing and the outcomes you achieve. Make sure your stance is just how you want it so you can check this off the list of possible problems.
  • Monitor your grip. Yet another basic building block of the swing which can go wrong if you aren’t careful. If your grip changes accidentally, the club will feel different in your hands, and it will perform differently during the swing, as well. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a tiny change to your grip couldn’t possibly cause a big difference in the quality of your swing. It certainly can, so it’s worth investigating this point thoroughly.
  • Stable head position through the hitting area. This is a big one. When you swing down through the hitting area, make sure your head is staying as stable and still as possible. We’ve already talked earlier in this article about how looking up early can lead to thin shots, and that certainly is the case. You might not even notice that you are looking up early, as it doesn’t take much to throw you off track. The easiest way to improve your head position through the downswing is to focus on watching the ball carefully until it leaves the club. Fix your eyes on a spot on the top of the golf ball and watch that spot closely through impact. As long as you keep your eyes focused on the ball, it’s almost certain that you will keep your head down effectively.

It takes patience to get your golf game back on track after it has gone sideways. When you visit the driving range, don’t expect everything to happen all at once. Instead, look for small signs of progress to give you encouragement that you are on the right track. We hope this list of basic ways you can work on your swing will help you avoid thin shots in upcoming rounds.

The Mental Hurdle

The Mental Hurdle

Once you have hit a few thin shots that lead to nasty vibrations coming up through the shaft, you might find that you are a little tentative on future swings. This will especially be true when hitting long irons on cold days, or from poor lies. When you know that a thin shot is a strong possibility, you may wind up worrying so much about the shot that you sabotage your chances for success.

In order to get your game back on track, you’ll need to find a way over this mental hurdle. Golf is a hard enough game to play properly anyway – it is nearly impossible when you have a worry in the back of your mind like hitting a thin shot that will lead to painful vibrations in the club. While you are working on getting over this mental block, one good step you can take is to avoid hitting shots where thin contact is a strong possibility. For instance, instead of trying that long iron shot from a poor lie, consider just laying up with a wedge and knocking your next shot onto the green. This will help you to steer clear of thin contact, and you won’t have to deal with the stinging pain in your hands and wrists as a result. If you avoid putting yourself in a bad situation, you should be able to prevent these types of shots from occurring. And, if you aren’t making any of these mistakes during your rounds, the fear of this type of shot may gradually fade away over time.

Generally speaking, golf is not a sport which is associated with pain. Plenty of other sports have a much greater potential for causing pain than golf. With that said, hitting a shot thin – especially on a cold day – is a sure way to get a quick and unwelcome wakeup call. Those types of shots hurt, and it can take a few minutes to shake them off. We hope the information offered in this article will help you get on the right track, and we hope you don’t have to deal with any stinging hands in your upcoming rounds. Good luck!