Hitting fat golf shots can be quite embarrassing! Especially when in group play and not by yourself!
When you chunk a golf shot, only to realize that the ball has only traveled a short distance, it can be demoralizing.
It can also cost you extra strokes to your scorecard and slow down group play, making others wait on you.
The fact remains that most amateur golfers find it difficult to make a consistent, quality impact with the golf ball and need to correct some basic swing faults before they can start striking better. So you’re not alone! We will help you stop the chunk golf shot.
The two significant errors that impact a lot of golfers are; (1) hitting the ball thin or (2) hitting the golf ball fat.
When golfers talk about hitting a ball fat (chunky), it means hitting the turf under the ball, taking a big chunk of turf out of the ground, leaving a massive divot in the ground. It can occur in woods as well on non-solid surface like mud or leaves.
In this article, you will learn how to address the issue of hitting a ball fat. Also, it happens and enlightens you on how to stop striking the ground before the ball. Once you master ball, then turf contact, you’ll enjoy playing golf more!
What is a Fat Golf Shot?
First, let’s discuss what it means to hit the golf ball chunky, heavy, or fat. These are various phrases which mean the same thing in the golf swing.
For non-golfers, hearing this statement (fat, chunky) might imply something funny like the size or weight of the golfer.
But in a real sense, hitting a ball fat means that you hit the ground first instead of the ball and strike the lawn before the ball. A lot of golfers might have varying views on how to properly hit a golf ball.
The fact is, that the proper way to hit a golf ball (with iron or wedge) is to strike down on it; that is, you first hit the ball, followed by the ground. The hit creates what is known as a backspin which allows the ball dimples to create lift, kind of like an airplane’s wings.
In simple terms, all you have to do is hit down on the ball for its ascent. The golf club’s loft does the major “heavy lifting” for you helping pop it up into the air; hence there is no need to assist the ball by trying to scoop it.
When you hit a fat shot, the clubhead slows before the impact with the ball due to the resistance it encounters with the ground before hitting the ball.
When you strike the ball first before the ground, it allows the clubhead to travel as far as possible along with the ball, transferring maximum energy into the golf ball.
Preferably, you want the divot after the golf ball, not before it.
Causes of Fat Golf Shots
As mentioned earlier, the main reason for a fat golf shot is that most golfers think they need to hit under the ball. The primary cause of a fat shot is that a player’s unnecessarily moving their “swing center.”
There are two ways in which you can think of your center; your head or your sternum. The head reference is frequent because it doesn’t swing perfectly all around as the sternum does.
The head, however, should stay stable throughout the downswing and backswing. This way, the clubhead gets to follow a reasonably anticipated path and isn’t affected by the head moving or swaying.
The up and down movement of the head changes the spine angle, which you’ve made at setup, and can alter the arms and swing path on their way down to the golf ball.
Resource: Golf Plan to Score Below 100, 90, 80
The Pendulum Motion
First, try thinking of your entire motion like a pendulum. Like in the case of old drills, you would typically see at a driving range that assists you in creating the optimum pendulum motion.
A pendulum consists of a fixed point at the top, which is often referred to as the frictionless pivot. This point is the one that remains motionless while the rest of the pendulum swings back and forth.
Here, your head is the stable point in the whole movement. If that particular fixed point remains motionless or fixed, then the pendulum bottom weight (clubhead) always returns to its initial place at the swings bottom ( i.e., “bottoming out”).
For you to bottom out at the proper spot and not hit grass too soon, keep your center relatively stable, just as in the case of a pendulum. Good examples of people who move their heads on the way back include Lee Westwood and Paula Creamer.
When it comes to your address position, it should relatively resemble your impact position. You can have a slight forward movement in your address position to impact the ball first.
However, if you want to avoid chunky shots, you need to focus on keeping your head fixed. For most players, the significant move is to sway the head backward in the backswing, a drop-down, a lift up, or a combination of both and more.
Any more extra moves could hinder your club from returning to a good position during impact. A good gym routine and flexibility acts as a plus for your overall game.
The trick is not in the intensity of your shots; instead, it all lies in your impact with your center and then the speed. If you focus just on hitting the ball hard, it goes shorter due to you seeking speed rather than contact centeredness.
How to Avoid Hitting Behind the Golf Ball
By now, you know why you keep encountering those dreaded chunk shots. Now, let’s talk about how to avoid or fix them. The most common fix to apply is to keep your head stable throughout your downswing and backswing. No dipping. I repeat, NO DIPPING.
You can only move your head after impact. A good golf player who exhibits this format is Ernie Elis, who keeps his head still throughout his swing.
This aids him in making a solid impact and consistent strikes. When practicing your swings, try as much as possible to keep your head still. While doing this, you might notice your neck muscles tensing up, but you should try to remain as relaxed as possible.
You gain greater control with relaxed muscles than with a tense muscle. With loose shoulder and neck muscles, you will be able to focus more on your head movement.
This also helps you hit farther. Golfer’s who try to kill the ball, tense up and this causes the ball to not fly as far.
Putting In Too Much Effort
Another primary reason why most golfers hit behind the ball is that they attempt to hit it too hard or far. A good strategy is to take an extra club to maintain a better tempo. Extra club, gives you extra distance, so you don’t feel the need to swing harder!
Instead of attempting to crush everything, take an extra club on each golf shot and swing easier with better control and tempo.
When you do this, you achieve a more relaxed feel, and your muscles don’t tense up.
Knowing that you have many clubs at your disposal allows you to relax and maintain a good tempo. And you don’t have to jump all over a shot.
Resource: Golf Plan to Score Below 100, 90, 80
Practice Drills to Avoid Hitting Behind the Ball
Just trying to fix your head in a stable position might not necessarily do the trick most times. A major influencing factor is a good practice routine with drills that work on your backswing and downswing. Golf swing drills can help cure a chunk golf shot.
Below are some helpful golf swing drills for you to try out to have the feeling of maintaining a still head position and hit pure;
Video Drill to Avoid Hitting the Ball Fat
If you search for helpful and updated drills to help you keep steady, you can follow these easy ones. The exercise enables you to be self-aware and understand the movement of your head throughout the shot.
- Take a video or recording of yourself hitting a golf ball in slow motion (preferably).
- You can then use free apps like “Hudl Technique” to draw a circle around your head at the address.
- You then watch the video. As you do, focus on your head movement and ensure that it stays within the circle until you’ve made an impact with the golf ball.
If you can successfully do that, you discover that you can reduce the number of chunked shots you get.
- Ensure you observe your most prominent tendencies.
- After seeing your trend, try hitting more by doing the opposite of what feels normal for you.
Golf Resource: Foy Golf Academy Practice System + Practice Plans
Stable or Fixed Head Drill
- Make a friend stay in front of you.
- Let them rest the grip side of their club on top of your head. Tell them to keep it stable throughout your swing, so they don’t have it resting on your head unless your head is still. This allows you to observe your head position throughout your swing.
- If your head hits the grip at any point, you know you’ve moved.
- If you feel a disconnect from the grip, you know you’ve moved as well.
- If you can maintain a good connection, you end up having good and crisper shots.
This drill is used by the golf top shots, including Tiger Woods, during his practice and coaching sessions.
- Balance a small book atop your head.
- Take a few shots with the book on your head.
- Focus on keeping it there during shots. If the book falls, you know you’ve moved your head (when you start, the book often falls, but over time you improve).
Eliminate the Tee Drill to Avoid Hitting Irons Fat
- Place the tee and push it deep into the turf, so it’s only the top that’s visible and it’s not shooting out of the ground.
- Place your ball about 1/2inches behind the barely visible tee.
- Focus your eye on top of the tee rather than the ball while swinging.
- You will aim to take out the tee with your divot. If you don’t achieve this, then it would be that you are doing something wrong.
This drill helps you master the art of making an impact with the ball first and then the ground.
Other Tips for Helping with Fat Golf Shots
Here are 3 additional golf swing tips to focus on to help you reduce the chunked golf shot:
- Avoid hitting off mats.
- Attempt more forgiving clubs.
- At the address position, ensure to keep your shoulders level. Don’t over dip the back shoulder.
Using these golf swing drills and tips outlined to stop hitting fat shots, you’ll get to play better golf and find more consistency. Less errors during your golf round. A vital piece of information to keep in mind is to ensure that you keep your head in a stable position while swinging and a smooth pivot.
Don’t dip during the swing, as this takes away your arms room to return to the ball normal, instead they’ll be lower to the ground, leading the golf club to hit ground first behind the ball, as it bottoms out too soon.
You want to achieve a smooth movement of your body around your spine while keeping your head stable. This will help you attain a perfect divot for an ideal golf shot.
Remember to keep practicing with these tips, and even though you don’t get it all at once, consistency is what matters in the long run.