What’s up with hitting down
By T.J. TOMASI
Every golfer has heard it a million times: “Hit down on the ball.” But this advice is often exaggerated, leading to an ultra-steep approach to the ball that destroys all chance of solid contact. To understand what’s up with hitting down, you need to understand the concept.
Down and Forward
Two directions are involved in this concept: down and forward. And while they coexist, they are not present in equal proportions at any point during the downswing.
The majority of the “down” occurs early, while the “forward” part is a small contributor. But as the downswing nears the three-fourths mark, the mix begins to change. Once the clubhead finishes the majority of its downward movement, most of its forward remains, and the arc of the clubhead begins to level out as it nears the ball.
Golfers who exclusively think “hit down” risk fouling the mix of down-and-forward by being too steep, while those who think only “hit forward” will be too shallow.
Here’s a drill that will give you the feeling of the correct mix of down and forward movement:
Lay out three tees as I have in the photo below — one at the back of the ball, one in the middle and one in front. Now hit the ball and notice where your divot is in relation to the tees.
Most golfers hit the ball fat, i.e., they hit the ground before the ball, which means their divot starts where the first tee lies, behind the ball. The second tee, in the middle of the ball, is where most decent players start their divot.
The best starting point is the tee nearest the target, in front of the ball. The only way to strike the ball correctly is to think “hit forward” at impact instead of “hit down.”