Ball First For Crisp Contact, Better Shots
By Terry Koehler, The Wedge Guy
Terry Koehler has been in the golf industry for over 30 years and currently spends his days as the President of EIDOLON Golf, a small premium wedge company in Victoria, Texas. He's been blogging for over 3 years and has written hundreds of articles ranging from golf tips to equipment issues. His blog will appear on ClubSG twice per week. You can reach Terry to have your golf questions answered at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the most important fundamentals of good iron play, particularly with the short irons, is to strike the ball before the club makes contact with the ground. I've written about proper impact before, but a question from Deryl prompted a revisit to this subject. Specifically, Deryl O. wrote:
"As warmer weather approaches and the new season begins, I am determined to improve my short game. I continually hear that we must strike the ball first for the greatest success. Do you have any suggestions or tips to help those of us with a less than perfect swing actually accomplish this?"Well, Deryl, let’s just dive right into an examination of impact so that you really do understand this “ball first” advice you’ve read all your life. If you watched impact on crisp iron shots from a worm’s eye view of the ball, you’d see the club coming into contact on a very slightly descending path, the lower third of the iron face making first contact with the ball just about at its equator, and then the descending path continuing so that the club brushes the ground or takes a small divot beginning just in front of the spot where the ball was actually sitting. Here’s a YouTube video that is one of the better I’ve seen:
So, there’s a clear picture of what you are trying to do . . . now, how do you do it? That’s what Deryl wants to know, and I suspect many others of you as well. Let’s begin by freezing that video exactly at the moment of impact and study what is going on there. First of all, the golfer’s weight is well onto his left side. That’s the only way you can “stay ahead” of the ball to get proper impact.
Secondly, look at the forward leaning angle of the shaft. This proves that the golfer’s arms and hands have passed the ball before the clubhead got there. To do that, his hips, shoulders and body core have turned through the address position already as well. The golf clubhead was the last part of the matrix to get to the ball!!!
To do this, your set up and ball position have to be correct. In this video, notice that the ball is well back of the golfer’s left heel. This appears to be a mid-iron, not a short iron or wedge, however. Ben Hogan wrote that all shots are played off the inside of the left heel, while others teach that as the club shortens, the ball moves further back into the stance. What works for YOU is what you want to do.
My recommended practice session is to begin hitting 8-iron shots, with your normal ball position. Work on the “clubhead last” idea for getting through the ball. See where impact is happening. If you are not hitting the ball first, just move the ball back about a half ball-width each swing until it becomes easier. A great tip for this kind of practice – and for playing – is to focus your eyes on the front edge of the ball . . . the side toward the target . . . as you swing. That re-orients you to the “target”. I believe most of us focus too much on the club at set-up, so we actually play the ball too far forward. Make the front edge of the ball your focus, and it helps your body’s eye/hand coordination immensely.
So, Deryl, I hope that helps you understand solid impact and gives you some study points so that you can build better impact into your game this spring. I’m sure all our readers will chime in with other tips and insight as always. Have fun, guys!
And Deryl, enjoy your new EIDOLON V-SOLE wedge.
* The Wedge Guy's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.
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Brian Boxer says:
This is very good information that works but, it has led me to ponder whether I would strike my Rescue and Fairway Woods a little more solid with such a conection ?
Enjoying all your Views, Wedge Guy, keep up the good work. BB
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