If this winter for you means little or no golf, I know you’ll be itching to get out there when you can. But first, we need to do a little prep work. I’ve learned that winter lies – those muddy ones with no cushion under the ball – are prime territory for fat shots. And when you hit a few of those, you can lose it fast. Let’s talk.
Golfers who are afraid of hitting the ball fat tend to bend over too much, with their weight on their toes. They feel more in control if they’re closer to the ball. But your body will find its balance as you swing, so you’ll pull up and dump the club behind the ball (fat) or hit it thin. To stay in the shot, set your weight in the arches of your feet. Next: ball position. With an iron, play the ball in line with a spot on your body between the buttons on your shirt and your chest logo (short irons in line with the buttons, longer irons farther forward). I’ve got a 6-iron here [right].
Now I’m going to give you just one swing key to think about: drive your left shoulder closer to your left hip as you start the downswing [far right]. That’s probably a strange concept for you, so let’s break it down. I want you to shift towards the target and feel like your upper body is leaning that way, your spine tilting left – we call that side bend. That will shift the low point of your swing in front of the ball so you hit the ball, then the ground. You’ll love that crisp impact, and your confidence will soar because you won’t be worrying about the next iffy winter lie.
That move – left shoulder towards left hip – also causes your upper body to turn open slightly. Perfect, because that brings your arms and the club back in front of your body, which is another key to avoiding fat shots. Golfers blame fat contact on a steep, choppy swing, but a shallow swing will often skim the ground before impact – and that’s fat, too. The common denominator is, the club hits the ground too soon. Driving your left shoulder forward will prevent that and add compression to your strikes.
So get the ball in the right spot, set your weight in your arches, and focus on that left shoulder. You’ll have the pieces in place to hit it solid – and beat those muddy winter lies.
1. Buttons to the Ball
Focus on two positions at address: (1) Weight in the arches of your feet, never on your toes; (2) Ball just ahead of your shirt buttons (for a middle iron).
2. Turn into your right side
Let your weight shift to the heel of your right foot, and be ready to drive forward. What you do next will determine how solidly you strike the ball.
3. Left shoulder to left hip
This is the key move for solid contact: drive your left shoulder towards your left hip to start down. When you feel like your spine is tilting left, you’ve got it.
– Michael Breed is Golf Digest’s Chief Digital Instructor.