Funny you should mention that. That’s what I did just a few days ago. Surprised the heck out of me, but then, again, maybe I should have seen it coming. I took a lesson four days before that which changed everything.
If you follow this blog, you might have read, more than once, the imperative for hitting any shot when the ball is on the ground (except putts): Ball first, ground second. If you want to make anything your improvement project this year, make it that. It will pay off like you wouldn’t believe.
Most recreational golfers hit the ground behind the ball routinely. I’m not talking about laying up sod, which we all do on occasion. I’m talking about bottoming out maybe a half-inch or so behind the ball. You get a decent shot out of it, but there’s no power, no backspin, and the reverse divot is lurking.
The proper place for your divot to start is in front of the ball. I thought that if you hit the ball first, ground second, that would be the result. Silly me.
I went to the range last week and the grass tees were finally open. After I had warmed up, I put a ball on the ground, and laid two tees beside it, pointing to the front of the ball and to the back of the ball. That way I could see exactly where my divot started.
It started behind the back tee. Sometimes by a lot, sometimes by a little. Sometimes, when I hit it really solid, the divot started between the tees. I never could get it to start in front of the front tee. Not once. Not good. I could not figure out how to start the divot in front of the front tee without sliding to the left, which we all know not to do.
Since I was at a driving range, I went right into the pro shop and the pro was behind the counter. I explained the problem to him, and asked if he could teach me how to start the divot in front of the ball. Of course, he said, I signed up for a lesson the next day.
It worked. He taught me how to do it. It was so easy, but most things about golf are like that. It’s easy once you know the secret.
I won’t tell you what it is*, not because I want it to be a secret, but because it’s difficult to describe, and if you got it wrong it would be disastrous. Besides, your pro should be able to teach you what to do.
If you want to see what the move is, get Johnny Miller’s Fixing Your Swing instructional videos and watch the segment titled Slice Cure. You’ll see it at the 2:25 mark. It concerns what you do with your hands when they come into the hitting area. This video is available only at eBay as of this update (Feb 18, 2019).
Here’s the thing, and this is a big one, it’s hard to install into your swing. I’ve been hitting my 9-iron for four days and am getting reasonably consistent with the new move. I tried moving up to my 8-iron and it’s like starting the process over again. I tried the 7-iron and it was a disaster. You learn this move one club at a time.
Back to the 145-yard 9-iron. After a productive practice session with the 9-iron with plastic balls in my backyard, I took a couple of real balls into the big field only a few blocks away from where I live. I connected with the first shot and it took off fast, low, and straight. So did the next one, and yes, the divot started in front of the ball each time.
I stepped them off. Normally, I get 125 tops. I got 145 and 148. I figure they released a bit after they landed, so about 142 in the air is close enough. I didn’t hit them that hard, either. I hit them the right way.
It’s will likely take me a few months to get this change in place through the bag reliably. After that, watch out. And I mean it.
* Yes, I will. See Covering the Golf Ball
My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at www.therecreationalgolfer.com. It will change everything about the way you play.