My Golf Instructor
Sign up for the Ask Maria Featured Question of the Day
By clicking Sign Up, you agree to our Terms of Use and our Privacy Policy.

Question on Diagnosing Problems:

My club constantly bottoms out behind the ball. How do I stop this?
--Les F. from Suffern, NY

Hi Les,

Thanks for your question. When you are bottoming out too soon and hitting the ground before the ball (what we commonly call fat shots or chunks) there is usually one of three swing faults to blame.

The first is a poor weight transfer. What I mean is that if your weight hangs back too much on your back foot or you fall back onto it through impact, your club will hit before the ball. To bottom out at the ball or after (taking a post impact divot) it is necessary to have our weight transferred over our front foot. To get the feel for this and combat hanging back, try taking a set up with your front (target side) foot in line with the ball. Next, take your back foot and put it up on the toe and almost in line with your front foot, so you will have no weight on it. Essentially, you are taking the back foot out of play. Practice standing with all your weight on the front foot and trying to hit balls while staying balanced. This will give you the feel of having your weight on your front foot at impact. If you find yourself falling out of balance and needing to move your back foot to stop a fall, then you've identified your flaw.

The second flaw would be an early release or uncocking of your wrists. When you reach the top of your backswing you should have a full 90 degree wrist cock (if you have the flexibility to do so). Ideally, on the downswing, you would unwind from the ground up and with your core, pulling that wrist cock down to impact. Your wrists should feel like they are releasing at and thru impact. Try leading into the shot with the butt end of the club going towards the target as long as possible. This will give you the feel of retaining your wrist cock. Practice straightening your wrists out past your front foot and you will get the feel of a late release.

The third cause is often a swing plane that is too flat or coming to the ball on too much of an inside/out angle of attack. To check for this and combat it try putting a plastic range bucket or something similar that won't injure you if you hit it, opposite your back toe and a foot or so back down the target line. On your backswing and downswing into the ball make sure to keep your club head outside of the basket. If you hit it on the takeaway or coming into the ball you have identified a swing path that is too shallow.

Give these 3 things a try and see if you can't identify the problem. Remember as a premium student you can upload your swing so I can analyze it and give you a more accurate analysis. As always, I recommend that you enter your scores in the game tracker and practice sessions in the practice planner so we can put a good plan of attack together.

By:

Other Related Tips on Diagnosing Problems
Who is Maria Palozola?
- Top 50 LPGA Instructors in the World
- A Golf Digest Top 10 Teacher in Illinois
- A Golf Magazine Top Teacher in the Midwest
Who is Maria Palozola?
- Top 50 LPGA Instructors in the World
- A Golf Digest Top 10 Teacher in Illinois
- A Golf Magazine Top Teacher in the Midwest
- More about Maria
- Golf Questions
Golf instruction made simple
Golf Overview
Overall Game
- Getting Started
- Equipment
- Golf Fitness
- Junior Golf
- Mental Game
- Practice
- Rules of Golf
Short Game
- Bunkers
- Chipping
- Pitching
- Putting
Full Swing
- Pre-Swing Fundamentals
- Shot Making
- Diagnosing Problems
- Driving
- Hybrids and Woods
- Irons
Playing Golf
Ball Striking
- Fitness (78)
Basics
- Course Management (82)
- Getting Started in Golf (75)
- Practice (66)
Course Management
- Club Selection (66)
- Equipment (107)
Driving
- Driving (68)
Putting
- Putting (127)
Rules
- Golf Rules (69)
Short Game
- Bump and Run (72)
- Chipping (82)
Problems
Ball Striking
- Chunking (79)
- Distance Control (86)
- Fat Shots (92)
- Flipping (48)
- Poor Accuracy (118)
- Slicing (48)
- Thin Shots (85)
- Topped Shots (52)
Distance
- Lack of Distance (108)
Putting
- Putting Accuracy (72)
Swing Plane
- Blocking (50)
- Inside Out (56)
- Outside In (59)
- Over the Top (49)
- Pulling (54)
- Pushing (66)
- Releasing Early (47)
The Swing
Grip
- Grip (65)
Setup
- Alignment (55)
- Balance (50)
- Ball Position (80)
- Posture (77)
- Setup (117)
Swing Plane
- Backswing (84)
- Controlling Trajectory (47)
- Divot (48)
- Downswing (67)
- Impact (103)
- On Plane (85)
- Path (84)
- Power (71)
- Shaft Plane (63)
- Swing Plane (112)
- Weight Shift (79)