How to Stop Topping A Driver

To hit longer shots with your driver, your clubhead needs to connect the ball on the up. This motion is confusing for high handicappers, and they often catch the ball with the club’s sole.

This common miss leads to significant distance loss, and is called “topping your driver.”

How to stop topping a driver:

  1. Place the ball in line with the inside of your front foot.
  2. Drop your back shoulder to prepare for launch.
  3. Finally, do not back out of the shot or lean back at impact. 

However, I will dive into the mechanics behind each problem to enable you to identify these problems yourself and overcome them. 

What Does Topping Mean In Golf?

The word “topping” in golf describes the event where the sole of the club brushes over the upper part of the golf ball. This leads to a loss of power at impact, along with a minor launch, causing your ball to go nowhere.

How To Stop Topping My Driver?

The ugly truth about how to stop topping the golf ball lies in hours of consistent practice. However, hitting ball after ball will be futile if you don’t work on the correct elements of the problem.

The drills I suggest you conduct to stop topping the golf ball make more sense when you know the answer to the question, why do I top the golf ball? 

We also recommend buying a forgiving driver, and we reviewed the best ones on the market today.

Why Am I Topping My Driver?

Leaning Back

Golf coach Dan Whittaker explains that leaning back is one of the three most common answers to why am I topping my driver. Since we need to connect the ball on the up, we amateurs lean back at impact to prompt a high launching drive.

However, this causes our clubhead to brush the top of the ball, causing you to lose distance and the opportunity of making a birdie.

Bad Posture

The colloquial term for a driver is “the big stick,” thanks to its oversized clubhead and long shaft. The length of the shaft is awkward for beginners and high handicappers to adapt to.

As your clubhead approaches the ball for impact, you become anxious that the club is too close to the ball. As a result, you back away, causing your torso and head to rise. That prompts your driver to skim over the top of the ball leading to a topped shot.

If you are notorious for backing away from the ball on the tee box, you should familiarize yourself with our post on how to stop lifting up.

Ball Placement

The third reason why you are likely topping your drives revolves around ball placement.

Some players forget that your ball needs to be placed closer to your front foot than when hitting off the deck with an iron. That leads to a steep angle of attack and the driver’s sole catching the top of the ball.

Conversely, placing the ball too far forward your stance will mean that you need to reach for it at impact. Instead of striking it with the face, the sole glides over the upper part of the ball, resulting in a topped drive.

Drills To Help You Stop Topping The Golf Ball With A Driver

Woman hitting a drive on a golf course

Swing Plane Training

Whittaker suggests that an approach to keeping your face on target at the impact is to work on your swing plane. He recommends employing a swing stick. It must be positioned 2 inches ahead of the ball and approximately 2 inches above it.

The purpose is to hit the ball and follow through without touching the swing stick. The more you get used to the position of your clubhead at impact, the better your ball striking will become and the fewer topped shots you will have.

Posture Setup

Legendary coach Butch Harmon knows a thing or two about correcting problems. That is why you should pay attention to his advice. He says that staying in posture is a way to keep your feet balanced and prevents your wrists from cocking too early.

YouTuber Josh Kelley Golf provides a handy drill to improve your posture in preparation for a drive. He recommends bringing your feet together, with your ball aligned in the center. Next, open the front foot slightly and reposition the back foot.

Now, you should be set up to hit a drive. At this point, drop your back shoulder slightly to ready yourself to hit the ball on the up. Stay in that position, take your backswing, and strike.

Ball Placement Training

I have conducted a simple drill that I have done with my coaches to optimize my ball placement. It involves a piece of tape and an astroturf mat. I line up the ball in my preferred position, and I swing.

The marks on the turf show where my head is hitting the ground relative to my ball, and it helps me adapt to the placement. If you have a few dollars lying around, you can also achieve the same results with a Champkey Impact Mat.


Man hitting a drive on a golf course

How Do I Stop Hitting My Driver Too High?

The cause of gaining excess heights on your drives could be a weak loft, excessive backspin rpm, and a flexible shaft. However, before changing your equipment, take a deeper look at your swing mechanics.

Clay Ballard from Top Speed Golf mentions that a common reason for golfers gaining excess backspin and height is because they hit down on the ball.

The face then cuts across the ball, increasing the backspin and height. To combat this result, learn how to generate a neutral angle of attack and sweep the ball off the tee.

How To Stop Topping The Golf Ball With Irons?

If you want to know how to never top a golf ball, follow Butch Harmon’s advice.

Learn where to place the ball in your stance for each iron type. Plus, maintain posture and never lean back. Ensure that the ball is positioned to strike it cleanly on your downswing, and keep a balanced stance to promote hip rotation. Finally, never back away from the ball and stay in position throughout the swing.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to stop topping the golf ball with a driver, it is time to start working on the drills mentioned above.

In summary, the best way to stop topping a driver is to:

  • Avoid leaning back
  • Maintain your posture
  • Place the ball in the correct position of the stance.

If you follow these steps, you will improve your ball striking and experience fewer top shots.

If you are ready to learn how to hit a driver consistently or looking for a great driver for distance, check out our other posts.

Matt has played golf since he was 4 years old and has written over 150 articles at GolfSpan since 2021. Matt specializes in product reviews using his postgraduate degree in Sports Marketing from Johan Cruyff Institute. Matt has a handicap index of 10.8 and currently plays weekly at Pilar Golf Course near his home in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He also loves his Callaway Odyssey Exo Rossie putter and likes a pepper steak pie with curry gravy at the turn. You can connect with him on LinkedIn

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