How to Hit Down on the Golf Ball – Pro Tips
If you watch professional golf, you’ve probably seen that players hit down on the golf ball to make it go up. This is counter-intuitive and not usually understood by beginners but is a highly effective method to play long shots in golf and also has to a lot to do with the form and structure of golf clubs. This why on golf courses, you’ll hear golf instructors and coaches saying to their students, “Don’t try to lift the ball!” or “Hit down hard on it!”
What Does ‘Hitting Down’ Actually Mean?
As simple as it sounds, hitting down on the golf ball means that the force applied during the initial touch of the club on the ball is in a downward direction. This is done by impacting the ball when the club is on its way down from the topmost position. The clubface should contact the ball first before hitting the ground. This is true for all kinds of golf shots including fades and draws.
Whether you want the ball to go straight in the air or curve towards your target, the correct method to do this is hit down on the ball. The harder you hit, the higher and further will the ball fly. If you are using an iron, this is a must-know method for hitting long-distance iron shots.
Why Hit Down and not Lift the Ball Up With an Iron?
In golf, as we want the ball to go up, our natural instinct is to hit it such that the club lifts the ball. Despite the apparent logic of this, it doesn’t work well as clubs are not designed for such an upward impact. This is a part of the initial confusion among new golf players when they think about hitting down on the ball.
The design of an iron’s clubface is such that they come with a pre-built loft angle. It is angled backward such that when you place the club perpendicular to the ground, the clubface points slightly upward. Knowing this little detail of the club design, you should be able to understand why hitting down is enough to make the ball go up and a direct upward force is not required.
How to Swing the Club to Hit Down on the Ball
To learn to swing the club correctly to hit down on the ball, practice is key. Before a shot, take a step back and check that your standing position is such that the bottom-most point of your swing is falling to the front side of the ball.
If your position is correct, the club will come in contact with the ground after it crosses the ball itself. Instead of just looking at it, you can even take a few practice swings in the air to be sure of it. In no instance should the club come in contact with the ground before it crosses the ball’s position.
It is also important to know what the impact position looks like. The club impacts the ball just before reaching the bottommost position in its swing arc. At this point, the ball becomes trapped between the ground and the descending clubface. Due to the high impact force, the surface of the ball compresses and as the clubface is lofted at an angle, the ball does not push more into the ground but is instead driven forward and upward.
Once you are set with the physical position and theoretical knowledge of what happens at the club-ball interface, move toward the ball and get ready for the real shot. Lift the club all the way back and with balanced arms and shoulders on a steady footing, go ahead and take the swing.
Tips on Achieving the Perfect Swing to Hit Down
When you are playing with an iron and want to hit the ball far, the following tips should help you hit down on the ball.
When you reach the top of your swing position while preparing for a shot, move your right foot (or left if you are a left-handed player) and hip slightly closer to the ball. The center of your body should also be slightly ahead of the ball. Moving the center ahead of the ball enables you to strike the ball before striking the turf. This is a subtle move which makes sure the bottommost position of the swing arc always lies ahead of the ball.
This way, you can be certain that you will not be lifting the ball instead of hitting it down. A useful trick to further strengthen your downstroke is to make your dominant palm face downward as you approach the ball in the delivery zone. This is key to compressing the ball with your downward hit. Many players make the mistake of having their palm face the target which makes them scoop the ball which is rarely desired for long shots.