Pure Ball Striking
Hit Crisp Iron Shots
Often times people comment about good golfers and use the description "he is a good ball striker." Generally when people comment about someone being a "good ball striker" they are talking about good crisp, clean, controllable iron shots. They aren't talking about driving. It's great to be able to hit the ball super long off the tee, but you will find that even professional long drive champs often struggle to be good all around golfers. Teeing the ball up after all makes things easier and gives you a lot of room for error. Hitting irons off the ground offers more feedback because if you miss a shot, not only the ball, but the ground as well can tell you the mistake you made. In this scenario the ball and the divot (if there is one) are your best instructors.
Good ball striking requires not only excellent fundamentals and a sound swing, but also a good understanding of what it is you are trying to accomplish at contact. One thing that is very tricky about irons is that to hit the ball correctly you have to do the opposite of what you would naturally think. Most people think that to hit a nice, pretty, high shot into a pin that they need to swing up or scoop the ball. It only makes sense right? Well as they say, golf is a game of opposites. If you swing up, you will only thin or top the ball knocking it down. If you swing down the ball will go up. If you swing out to the right the ball will spin back to the left and if you swing left the ball will slice back to the right! Wow! Are you confused yet???
What Makes a Good Ball Striker?
To be a successful ball striker we must have excellent pre-swing fundamentals such as ball position, posture, alignment and grip to set us up for success. Understanding how to hit pure iron shots once we've obtained these pre-swing fundamentals requires that we consider answers to the following questions:
- Are we descending or ascending through impact?
- Are we applying pressure and compressing the ball?
- Is the club shaft leaning forwards or leaning backwards when we strike the ball?
- Are we taking a divot and if so what is it telling us?
- Are we hitting the ball first or the ground first?
- Is the ball getting spin, loft and rise?
When all the proper factors come together good ball strikers are descending on the ball with a forward leaning shaft. They are catching the back of the ball cleanly without grass or dirt between the club face the ball. They are compressing the ball as they take a fairly shallow divot about the size of a dollar bill. This divot takes place after where the ball was originally sitting.
So how do you accomplish all of this? Let's take a look at the list of things that affect your contact with the ball.
- Ball Position
- Weight shift
- Weight distribution
- Swing Plane
- Club Face
This list is just a sampling of what affects your contact and as you can see it is pretty long! Having all of these factors working together correctly enables you to be a consistently good ball striker. This section of MyGolfInstructor.com has all the tips, drills and information you need to become a great iron player.
Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.