Ball Striking: How to Cover the Golf Ball

So, you’re wondering what does it mean to cover a golf ball, right? You may have heard the term on TV or your friends talking about it at the course. In this post, you’ll learn exactly what it is and why is it important.

But before that, a fun fact. Covering the ball has nothing to do with the ball position!

What Does it Mean to Cover the Ball?

There are two main schools of thought when it comes to covering the golf ball. One can associate with your body movements and the other one can be associated with your golf club loft.

In the majority of cases, covering the golf ball means keeping your posture intact until after the swing. So, you can almost throw it into the follow through portion of the swing. In that way, you’ll be keeping your sternum on top of the ball, essentially ‘covering’ it with your body.

The idea here is that you come down with your body a little at the beginning of your downswing to extend the lag you have on your club. When you’re coming through a lofted club face, you’re delofting it with your impact.

The delofting almost feels like ‘covering’ the ball with the club face. Hence, it’s the second move that helps you cover the golf ball.

The reason why covering the golf ball is so important is that it can help players hit straighter and more accurate shots without the expense of speed. It also helps tremendously with the consistency of your shots because you’re keeping your arms and shoulders locked at a certain position.

Another very common term that commentators and players use for this phenomenon is ‘compressing the ball’. You may have heard about compressing the ball many times in your career as a golf player, whether from an instructor or on TV.

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Where Do Amateurs Go Wrong?

So, the question is what do people do so wrong that we had to create dedicated content on this topic?

There are many things that amateur players might be doing wrong. The most important one being an early extension.

Early extension is the act of releasing the bend you have on your waist and hips before you hit the ball. It almost causes your body to stand straight. You lose a lot of power from your swing when you extend early. And to compensate for that, you tend to flick your wrist to generate additional power.

When you suddenly flick your wrist to change the speed of the club, it results in inconsistent impact. In one shot, you may be hitting the sweet spot effortlessly but in others, you may be so far off to shank the ball or hit a duck hook.

Another area where we’ve seen many players make a mistake is the sudden movement of the upper body. They initiate their downswing with help from the shoulders. But in reality, the movement should be always starting from the lower body.

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How to Cover the Ball With Your Body?

To effectively cover your golf ball, you need to work the most on your swing and your posture. These are two of the most important aspects of a golfer’s life.

Here are the steps that you should be following.

Start with Your Lower Body

The downswing should always start from your lower body. You would shift your weight to the lead foot (the left foot for right-handed players) and untwist the rotation you did in your backswing. That’s the ideal starting point in covering the ball.

The sensation feels like you’re pushing on the ground with your left foot when you’re at the top of your swing. Pushing down with the leg will also shift your hips towards the target a bit which is a very necessary lateral movement.

The lateral movement allows you to keep your club shallow throughout the swing. Another great way to look at is through your belt buckle. As you need your club to lag behind, the belt buckle works as a great reference point. Your buckle should always be ahead of the club in your swing.

Focus on Your Arms

Your arms may not be the biggest player in a golf swing, but they certainly have an important role to play.

At address position, your arms should be straight below your shoulders. We’ve emphasized on this posture over and over in various posts in the past.

To start your swing at the best possible distance and posture possible, you need to make sure that your arms are directly under your shoulders.

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How do you ensure that?

Well, let gravity do the work for you! As you’re holding your golf club, whether it’s a driver, a mid-iron, or a wedge, let the hands hang freely under you.

The gravity will automatically pull your arms toward the ground at a perfect 90-degree angle.

Now, all you need to do is rest the sole of your club flatly on the ground and get into a position where your arms are directly under your shoulder with no stress whatsoever.

This is your ideal address position to cover the ball.

The Palm

We talk about big body parts like the legs, the shoulders, the arms, the hips, and whatnot when talking about golf. The palm is seldomly discussed among golf players. However, the concept of covering the golf ball in your ball strike has presented us with the unique opportunity to talk about them.

Specifically, we’re going to focus on your right palm. If you’re right-handed player, it would be your lead palm. As you’re approaching the ball for impact, the palm should be down. You can take help from your address position to achieve this. You’re going to hold the club at an angle so that you can compress the ball at impact.

This is where the delofting of the club face also comes into play. If you’re not sure what a loft exactly is, it’s the angle between the club shaft and the face. Wedges can have up to 45-degree loft! The loft is important for giving the ball enough flight as well as controlling the distance as you approach near the hole.

If you look closely at how PGA professionals play, you may even see up to 30% delofting of the club! The thing with lofted clubs is that if you want the ball to fly high, you need to hit the ball down.

So, depending on which club you’re using, you’re going to deloft it using the lean angle. The more aggressive the loft, the more you need to lean it.

For example, the wedges will have the highest lean. And the drivers will have the least lean.

Speaking of lofts and lean angles, let’s talk about the angle of attack for a minute.

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Keep an Eye on Your Angle of Attack

At what angle you’re coming at the ball is a huge factor when your goal is to cover the ball. The steeper you come down, the harder it will be to maintain the posture.

If you follow PGA professionals or keep an eye open for tips about how to become a better player, you may have heard the term ‘shallow’ club angle. That’s exactly what you need to compress the ball.

By a shallow angle, we mean that the club should always be behind your body. It’s almost like you’re coming down from behind your head.

As opposed to shallow angles, we have a steep angle. A steep angle of attack is the cause behind fat shots. Also known as coming over the top, you hit the ball too much to the left in almost all cases.

When you’re coming over the top, it’s extremely hard to maintain the position because if you don’t, you’ll hit yourself with the club!

We have a handy guide on how to shallow your club. If you’re struggling with fat shots or hitting the ball left to the target every time, you may want to check it out.

Move Your Weight to the Front Foot

It’s one of the most important insights we can share with you. Your weight should always be moved to the front side of your swing as you impact the ball. By front side, we mean the left side if you’re a right-handed player. For left-handed players, it’s just the opposite.

Remember pushing the ground with your left foot? That’s exactly what you’re going to do to shift the weight to your front foot. When you do, covering the ball comes more naturally and it becomes easier for you to hold the bend at your waist.

Holding the Position

The goal of all the previous sections was to get you to do this move. The ultimate thing to cover the ball is to hold your position starting from your backswing to the end of follow through. It’s tremendously important because if you don’t, you’re not covering the ball anymore.

But covering the ball with your chest doesn’t mean that you’ll be right on top of the ball. It may be possible with shorter clubs like an 8-iron or a pitching wedge, but there’s no way can get your sternum over the ball with drivers. Because you’ll be directly digging into the ground if you tried.

Rather, it’s all about perception. In your mind, you’re covering the ball with your chest, although you’re pretty far from it. And you need to maintain this posture for the entire swing.

You may know that the ideal point of follow through is about a foot in front of the ball position. That’s when you can start to unwind the bend start straightening your body. Any movement before that is considered an early extension. There are only a few things in golf worse than an early extension.

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Drills to Cover the Ball Better

With our longstanding tradition of helping you to improve your game, we’re going to share some drills that you can practice the next time you’re at the course or at the driving range. Keep in mind that you won’t get to see the results immediately. You have to take your time to get your body acquainted with the feedback.

Covering the Ball Tee Drill

For this drill to work, it’s best to use a tee and ground surface. However, if you’re stuck at home, you may also use a coin.

  1. Stick a golf tee into the ground right behind the ball position.
  2. Get into stance.
  3. Your goal is to think that you’ll drive the tee further into the ground while practicing your shots. It’ll help you to deloft the angle with clubs like 9-irons and wedges.
  4. Make sure that you practice this drill at half speed or slower to really work on those muscles needed for covering the ball.

Criss Cross Drill

It’s a fun one. If you search on the internet, you’ll find many instructors suggesting this drill to cure various form issues among golf players. Lucky for you, covering the ball is one of them.

  1. Grab a 7 or 8 iron. This drill is not really designed for longer irons or drivers.
  2. Move your right foot (trail foot) about 6 inches back. It’s an exaggerating stance to give you the idea of the movement.
  3. Swing your irons at quarter speed. One of your targets is to get your right shoulder over the golf ball during your swing. It’ll put some extra stress on your joints, but you need to work through the process.
  4. Another of your goal is to keep the spine angle the same. You should be moving your shoulders not your spine.

Final Words

Covering the golf ball is not a very widely discussed topic. It’s one of the reasons why we see so many players struggling with their swing and the consistency of their shots overall.

In this post, we’ve tried to gather as much insight as possible on the topic to give a precise idea about what things you should be careful about. Also, don’t forget to practice the drills to truly dial in the settings you need to cover the ball.

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