5 Fixes To Stop Hitting Behind The Golf Ball

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Stop hitting the ground before the ball by going to the driving range and hitting balls while standing on one foot.

Don’t be embarrassed by this; I’m not playing a prank on you. I used this drill to stop hitting behind the golf ball on my pitch shots, and it helped all of my full-swing shots.

If you’re unsure what causes hitting behind the ball, use one of the other drills provided. I’ve been using all these drills with my students for years and can outline how to perform them, which clubs to use, and who will benefit most.

These drills are perfect for beginners and those who want to improve their ball contact for more consistency. I’ve also included a bonus remedy I have been using to prevent hitting behind the ball, which also creates power.

1. Stand On One Foot

stand on one foot drill to avoid hitting behind the ball, photo taken by Clint McCormick

Keeping your weight forward is paramount to stopping hitting behind the ball. To encourage this, the most effective fix is to hit balls on the range while standing on one foot. If you are right-handed, you’ll stand on your left foot, and vice versa for lefties.

This drill is number one because you never have to stop using it. I still use it as part of my warm-up routine before a round. It helps me find the sweet spot and ensure clean contact throughout the round.

  1. Using no more than a 7-iron, line up your ball off your front foot and then lift your back foot off the ground.
  2. First, you may want to stabilize yourself by standing on your tippy-toe but putting no pressure on your back foot.
  3. Take half swings to a target roughly 50 yards or less from here. It will teach you to rotate more without sliding or drastically transferring weight.

Who Benefits From This Fix

Beginners will benefit most from this drill as they tend to fall back during their downswing to scoop the ball. This is especially evident with short clubs and wedges.

Pro Tip

If you lose your balance, always make an effort to fall forward. You will probably hit some poor shots, but your body will learn to adapt and continue to move forward through impact, thus improving contact with the golf club.

2. Towel Under Arms

Towel drill to avoid hitting behind the ball, photo taken by Clint McCormick

You may be hitting behind the ball because your arms operate independently of your upper body. You only need a towel and a bucket of balls to get them in sync again.

  1. Choose a 7-iron or less to start, although you could work up to the driver, as this will help with all your clubs.
  2. Use a medium to large golf towel; you’d rather it be too big than too small.
  3. Place it across your chest and hold it steady by securing it under your arms.
  4. Proceed to take half swings while focusing on moving your sternum with your arms.
  5. If the towel drops or becomes loose before you hit the ball, you’ll know your arms have separated from your body.

Who Benefits From This Fix

Mid-high handicappers, including beginners, will benefit from this drill to ensure their swing works sequentially. Creating a consistent swing is an ongoing battle, but with this drill, you can expedite the learning process and avoid hitting behind the golf ball.

Pro Tip

If you complete your follow-through, you can let the towel drop. This is a more advanced variation, but it will encourage proper weight shift throughout the second half of your golf swing.

3. Count The Spikes

Count the spikes drill to avoid hitting behind the ball, photo taken by Clint McCormick

An incomplete follow-through is one of the leading causes of fat shots and is often overlooked. There’s a surefire way to get this out of your system, and all it takes is a friend or a well-placed camera if you’re by yourself.

  1. Set up your camera or have a friend stand directly behind you, looking right down your body line.
  1. Start with a 7-iron and declare your target.
  1. Go through your normal and hit a shot.
  1. Hold your follow-through so your friend can count the number of spikes they see showing on your back foot.
  1. In a perfect world, they should be able to see all of them. However, if you’re hitting behind the ball, chances are not too many spikes are visible.

Who Benefits From This Fix

Golfers with less flexibility and juniors tend to be less mobile with their lower body. This drill will promote better ball contact and proper weight transfer for them by naturally shortening the backswing. This places more emphasis on solid contact with the clubhead.

Pro Tip

If you are helping a junior, you can ask them what their favorite beverage is. If they say chocolate milk, ask them to imagine balancing a glass on the back of their heel once they are in a full follow-through position with their trail foot. This works for an older crowd, too, if you want to picture your favorite adult beverage

4. Hit The Tee

Hit the tee drill to avoid hitting behind the ball, photo taken by Clint McCormick

Poor timing can cause hitting behind the ball, simple as that. It’s not always about your hips, setup, or posture; sometimes, players fall out of sync and need to regain the feeling of consistently making contact. Using nothing more than a plain golf tee, all levels of golfers can improve their iron golf shots and lower their scores.

  1. Using a mid-long iron works best for this drill.
  2. Place a tee in the ground about 3 inches in front of your golf ball.
  3. Start with a practice swing to mimic the feel of passing through the ball far enough to strike the tee.
  4. When hitting the ball, your divot should upset the tee; if not, remove it altogether.

Who Benefits From This Fix

This drill will benefit beginners, high-handicappers, and juniors who not only hit behind the ball but also struggle with topping or shanking it from time to time. You shouldn’t use it for your driver or wedges, but using it with any iron will improve your weight transfer, which will improve your ball contact.

Pro Tip

Although you cannot do this on the golf course, you can mimic its effects by choosing a blade of grass or discoloration in the turf to represent the tee. I use this as part of my pre-shot routine on all shots to help with contact and accuracy.

5. Mirror Ball Position

the ball position needs to be right to avoid hitting behind the ball. Photo taken by Clint McCormick

Incorrect ball position can doom your shot before you even start your takeaway. Many people think having the ball in the center of your stance is the way to go for all shots, but this is a recipe for disaster. You need to adjust for each club, and using a mirror is the best way to pinpoint your current ball position and where your ideal position should be.

  1. Find a full-length mirror either at home or at your local practice facility.
  1. You can do this drill indoors as it does not require hitting balls.
  1. Start with your pitching wedge since this is one of the few clubs where you will line your ball up in the middle.
  1. Place the ball on the floor and take your setup normally.
  1. Now, look in the mirror and see if your ball position is truly in the middle.
  1. If so, lay down an alignment stick to mark your middle.
  1. Change to a longer club like your driver, which should be lined up off your lead foot.
  1. You’ll be able to identify your optimal position compared to the benchmark created by the alignment stick.

Who Benefits From This Fix

This is a great drill for beginners or people who have never taken formal lessons. Ball position is a crucial part of anyone’s golf game and can lead to crisp contact or a host of different issues, including, but not limited to, hitting behind the ball.

Pro Tip

If you don’t have an alignment stick, place a piece of tape on the mirror to mark your center point. You can also put a piece of tape where your head is to help deter improper weight transfer.

Bonus: Gym Exercise

If you’re at the gym, incorporate this exercise into your weekly routine to stop hitting behind the ball. Players whose bodies are disconnected from their arms will benefit greatly as it strengthens their muscles and puts them in the correct position during their downswing.

  1. Hatch up the tricep rope using the cable machine and adjust it to the highest level.
  1. Take your normal golf stance with your right side facing the machine.
  1. Grab the rope and make a mock downswing while engaging your core.
  1. Perform this with light weight at first, then work your way up.

Who Benefits From This Fix

This exercise will benefit all levels of golfers. It will develop good mechanics for beginners and more power for experienced players. This motion creates lag in the swing and prevents casting, which can lead to hitting behind the ball.

Pro Tip

Try to perform this exercise in front of a mirror to ensure proper posture and that your head isn’t moving all over the place.

Hitting Behind the Ball—Driver vs. Irons

the ball position needs to be right to avoid hitting behind the ball. Photo taken by Clint McCormick

If you hit behind the ball with your driver and your irons, the same problem is likely causing it. However, they cannot be fixed the same way. All of the drills above can be applied to improve ball contact with your irons.

To fix hitting behind the ball with your driver, avoid using Drill #4, specifically for irons.

Your driver interacts with the ball differently than irons, so we must adjust with sound swing plane and body rotation. The 4 drills above will help you improve your consistency to lower your scores and avoid expensive golf lessons.

FAQ

Why Do I Hit Behind the Golf Ball?

You hit behind the golf ball for one of three reasons: poor weight transfer, arms not in sync with the body, or improper ball position. Some golfers may even combine two or more issues, which compounds the problem and creates lousy golf shots.

What is the Best Way to Stop Hitting Behind the Golf Ball?

The best way to stop hitting behind the golf ball is to perform Drill #1: Hit Ball While Standing On One Foot. This will address all three major causes of hitting behind the ball. The next most helpful drill is to place a towel under your arms and hit balls with a half swing.

What Do You Call it When You Hit Behind the Golf Ball?

The most common phrase to describe hitting behind the golf ball is to say you “chunked it.” You can also say, “I hit it fat,” or “I hit a chili dipper.”

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Clint is PGA-certified and was a Head Teaching Professional at one of Toronto's busiest golf academies. He was also featured on Canada's National Golf TV program, "Score Golf Canada," twice. He graduated with a degree in Golf Management from the College of the Desert in California and studied under Callaway's co-founder, Tony Manzoni.

He has a handicap index of 6.2 and spends the winters near Oaxaca, Mexico, where he plays twice a month at the Club de Golf Vista Hermosa. He's written over 100 articles at GolfSpan since 2021. You can connect with Clint at LinkedIn, FB, his website, or Clintcpga@gmail.com.

  • Best score: 68
  • Favorite club: Odyssey White Hot Two-Ball Center-Shafted Putter
  • Favorite ball: Titleist Pro V1x
  • Favorite food at the turn: Hot dog

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