My Golf Instructor

Controlling Trajectory

Controlling Trajectory is the ability to control the height of one's golf ball. Many shots in golf require a lower trajectory like hitting into the wind or punching under a tree. Many shots require hitting a ball higher as well. Shots that require height are shots such as a flop shot over a bunker and hitting over a tree or other obstacles. Alterations in club selection, ball position and weight distribution can all help a player control the trajectory of their golf ball.

Controlling Trajectory Drills

Controlling Trajectory Tips

(Click on Title or Image to View Larger Photos)

  • Learn to Work the Ball

    During each practice session spend a little time working the ball. Most golfers feel they can't curve the ball left or right, but this is mostly because they have never tried it. Working the ball is easy with just a few adjustments to your set up. Like anything else though, be sure to spend time playing around with it on the practice range so that you will actually have the confidence to try it on the course. I recommend that my students end their practice sessions having some fun working the ball left, right, high and low to let their creative juices flow.

  • Lag the Clubhead

    For all full swings keep the club head behind your hands as long as possible to make sure that you hit the ball first, then the ground. When you lag the club and let it release at the last possible moment you are storing your energy and maintaining control. Remember, as soon as the club catches up to your hands and starts to pass them you are no longer descending and no longer in control of the face.

  • Stay Back For Loft

    If you are having problems hitting your shots too low, make sure to keep your head and sternum back to help you catch the ball on the upswing. When your swing center is back, you will swing up more and have more loft on the face by time you get to the ball. Getting your head in front of the ball too early in the downswing will cause you to smother the shot.

  • Lean Left to Hit Down

    Make sure to lean onto your front foot when you are hitting greenside chip shots. It is important to have your center of gravity, your head and your sternum in front of the ball to help you hit down on the ball and keep the trajectory low. If you lean back or fall back through the strike the ball will roll up the clubface and you will scoop it. Leaning back can also cause you to hit the ball fat or skull it across the green.

  • Stay Forward to Hit it Low

    To hit a shot low and bring your trajectory down you must keep your sternum over or in front of the ball. When your sternum and center of gravity get back behind the ball you will shoot the ball up. To keep it down you must feel like you stay over or in front of the ball. This will help you trap the ball and de loft the face. Keep your head and sternum moving forward towards the target consistently throughout the swing. Playing the ball back in your stance will help you keep your trajectory down as well.

  • Play it Left For Loft

    To hit the ball higher move it forward in your stance. This way you will catch the ball more on the up arc with a face that has more loft. Also, make sure that your head and sternum stay well behind the ball. Getting them in front of the ball will only smother it and knock it out low. When you are behind it, again, you will be able to strike the ball with a more lofted face and a bit on the up swing which will shoot the ball out high.

  • Play the Ball Left For Loft

    To hit the ball higher, play the ball forward of the center of your stance so you will catch it on the upswing and add loft. After your club hits the bottom point of your arc and starts coming up, the face angle changes and will have more loft. This helps propel the ball up into the air. Note that you still have to hit down on the ball, because if you make contact high on the ball, that in turn will knock the ball down.

  • The Lower the Loft, The More Roll

    When you are hitting bump and run shots (greenside chips) you have a lot of options when it comes to choosing a club. You can actually use any club in your bag to hit a bump and run. It just depends on how much carry and roll you need. The lower the loft on the club the more the ball will roll. The more the loft on the club, the more you will get backspin and the less the ball will roll out.

  • Finish Affects Trajectory

    Your finish can affect your trajectory. If you are looking to vary the height of your golf ball into the greens, altering your finish position is one easy way to get there. A low finish would produce more of a lower flight as you de loft the face a bit through impact by keeping your hands ahead of the club head. A medium finish (waist high) will allow the club head to catch up enough to add a nice amount of loft on the face and get you a good medium trajectory. A high finish allows you to add even more loft and throw the ball high into the air.

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)