Time after time I see golfers arrive on the lesson tee, line up to hit a shot, then end up with a poor result simply because the golf club contacts the turf well before the golf ball.
After centered strike on club face, I value low point control (especially with irons) as the second most important fundamental in the golf swing. If you cannot transfer the energy you create in your swing effectively to the golf ball, it’s hard to be efficient and optimal in your golf game.
We need to control where the golf swing arc reaches it’s low point, ideally after the position of the golf ball. This will help ensure clean and effective ball contact.
If the golf club is rising or level as it contacts the ball, chances are you will hit it, low on the face, leading to lower spin rates and challenges to our distance control. A golf club that reaches a low point 2-4 inches AFTER the golf ball helps match up the clubface to the ball, vertically.
You should work with your instructor on your pressure movement in your feet and body within the swing to get a better understand of how to control this skill – a movement that usually sees your sternum get positioned slightly ahead of the golf ball at impact.
But you need to develop this skill regularly, and the following drill can be useful.
To work on this we can start with an exercise without the ball.
If you have access to common foot spray, simply draw a line about a foot long perpendicular to your stance. Then try and make three swings in a row with an iron, attempting to make contact with the turf directly on the line.
You want any divot to start after the line by up to a few inches. Once you can hit the line each time, add a golf ball directly on the line and gauge your ability to create good ball contact.
A modification of this drill can be done in a bunker to both help your fairway bunker shots and your general ball striking. Instead of a foot spray, use your club to draw a line in the sand and attempt swings with the goal of striking slightly ahead (on the target side) of the line. Like the previous drill, add a ball and check your results.
In both drills focus on a pressure shift in your backswing that does not move your upper body toward your trail leg (right for right handed players) but allows your pelvis turn and pressure shift to move towards your lead leg in the downswing. This will help control the low point of the swing with a bias toward the direction of the target.
This will help your iron striking at all times, and get you on track to be a better iron player.
Scott MacLeod is the Associate Publisher/Editor of Flagstick Golf Magazine and a PGA of Canada Class A Member.