One reason why golf is so much harder than other stick-and-ball sports is that the ball is on the ground, not in the air, when you hit it. There really isn’t any room for error. If the club comes into the ball a half-inch too high or too low, that’s a mis-hit.
Maybe it wouldn’t be noticed if you were off this much while hitting a tennis ball, but in golf a half inch is a lot. It is imperative, then, that you learn how to find where the ground is.
Imagine this. I’ll bet you have done this more than once. You take a practice swing and miss the ground. You take another swing and miss the ground again. Now you know this is not the way to hit the ball, but you say to yourself, “That’s OK, I’ll get it right when I hit the ball.” And you mis-hit the ball.
Why? Because you had no feel for where the ground is.
You might say, “I know where the ground is, I can see it right there in front of me, I’m standing on it and I can feel it with my feet.” True. But when you swing a golf club, can you find the ground with the sole of your golf club?
Hitting into the ground and raising up a big chunk of dirt doesn’t count. That’s finding one inch below the ground. You have to be able to nip the surface of the ground with your swing every time, or at least much more often than not, to play golf well.
In 2006, I saw Paula Creamer at a golf tournament waiting to hit on the tee of a par-3 hole. She was taking loose practice swings, and she hit the ground in the same spot every time, and the hit made the same sound every time.
That sound of her club thumping the ground was the key. The only way she could have made the same sound was for the club to be hitting the ground at the same depth. That’s knowing where the ground is.
Practice this. Practice without a ball. Take easy swings and have the club brush the surface of the ground the same way every time as you swing through where a ball would be.
This is Johnny Miller’s “brush-brush” drill. Practice this so you get the club down to the ground consistently and without having to consciously search for it with your hands as you come into the ball.
Then, pay attention to where the club brushes the ground, because this is where you want the ball to be. Ball position is much more important than many recreational golfers realize.
On the course, if you take a few practice swings, brushing the ground each time, put the ball in your stance about an inch behind where the brush was at its lowest point. That is the perfect spot for it.
My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at www.therecreationalgolfer.com. It will change everything about the way you play.