The number one struggle of beginning golfers is topping golf shots.
I’m sure you are picturing in your mind right now when you first started playing and would wack the ball a whole five yards in front of you…time and time again. It sucks. It’s frustrating.
Golf might seem to be an easy sport to learn, but it is harder than it looks. No doubt.
Even if you learn a few basics that will allow you to play the game for fun or as a hobby, mastering it takes years and a lot of effort. Being decent at golf requires a combination of characteristics going right: a solid swing, a steady mental game, muscle memory, and lots of practice (which we help you with at Imagen Golf)
Before we get into some tips to help you stop topping the golf ball in your golf shots, I want to lay out some beginner tips as I’m sure you’ll find these helpful in addition to the tips to come shortly.
Quick Tips for Succeeding in Golf
For starters, a good swing technique for striking your drives and your irons is a must. You also want to be in a good physical shape in order to generate a flexible, smooth, and powerful drive and golf swing. There is a lot of terminology in the game that you will have to learn as you go as well.
As frustrating as golf can be, you must learn to not approach golf with high expectations when first starting out. It is better to be surprised than disappointed and it will take time to stop topping the golf ball.
This checklist will help you if you are completely new to golf:
- Get yourself the proper gear that fits your style of play
- Learn the basics of golf including the rules of golf
- Ask for professional help for faster and better results, especially with your swing
- Pay attention to already known beginner’s mistakes so you can avoid them
- Have motivation and patience, this is not a sport you pick up overnight
- Use training plans to give practice structure similar to how the fitness industry follows workout plans
What is a Topped Golf Shot?
If you are a beginning golfer, we should first explain what a topped or a thinned shot is.
A perfect shot in golf usually occurs when you hit the ball’s center (equator) and with a club face that is squared up with the ball. When the club strikes the ball at an angle, it creates side spin which causes the curve you see the ball take in the air such as a hook or a slice.
Topped shots occur when you hit the golf ball above the equator just as a chunked shot means the opposite or hitting below the ball’s equator. You do not want to do either of these but it happens. No golfer is error free.
This email will give you an overview of what is important and common beginner player’s mistakes. Most important, it will provide tips on how to stop topping the golf ball. This is one of the most common problems among new golfers. Most newbies top their driver as it is very hard to master. You’ll likely see improvement in your irons and wedges first and then the driver will follow eventually depending on your golf swing technique.
Why do beginners top the golf ball?
Here are several common reasons that may be causing you to hit topped golf shots:
- Standing up during your back swing or downswing. The smallest deviation of your hip position as you tend to straighten them up can cause you to top the golf ball pretty easily. Maintaining a good posture during both swing for power and balance swing is the key element.
- Lifting your chest higher than you should, will also cause you to slightly miss it and top the ball.
- The timing when you lift your head up after the swing is also very important. Lifting it too early will cause topping or thinning the golf ball.
- Swinging with a reverse pivot might also cause you to top your shot. This happens when you transfer your weight incorrectly during your backswing.
How to stop topping the golf ball?
Pay very close attention to your legs, your torso, and your head. It all begins from the legs and the perfect hip position. When you rush your golf swing, your upper and lower body get out of sink. Stay calm, relaxed, and try not to get too excited and exert extra power into your swing.
Quick checklist of things you should consider paying special attention to:
- Not changing your body height during the 90-degree swing.
- Maintaining a perfect wide arc while swinging
- Your eyes should be focused on the ball
- Practice on taking a divot after, this one is actually pretty hard to master.
- Restrict your dipping
- Not relaxing
- Leave the driver in your golf bag
Tip #1 – Maintain a perfect arc & restrict your dipping.
This is caused by not positioning your torso correctly. Bending your knees not enough or slightly more than you should, will cause straightening up too much when you do your back swing. This will lead to an imbalance in your swing arc causing it to be too small or too wide. Having a good arc will result in a dominant angular force as you strike the ball far away.
Dipping your knees more than you should in order to squeeze that extra power out of it, can result in taking a big scoop of the turf grass and end up making you look like a looser. Bend your knees slightly and lock them in in that position. Do not try to move them during the power swing. You could move them without knowing also, and this might the main cause of your dips and terrible shots.
Tip #2 – Take a divot and keep your eyes on the ball/divot
To ensure you hit the ball properly, focus on creating a divot after the shot. When you top the ball, there is no divot created so focusing on this can ensure you don’t top the golf shot.
If you are a beginner, this will take some time so have patience my friend! It takes a lot of misfired shots to craft the desired skill and golf shot. Remember this saying “first ball then turf” in golf. Meaning that you should hit the ball first then the turf, creating a divot.
You’ll also want to keep your eye on the ball and until you’ve hit it. This will restrict you from lifting your head too early which causes deviations in your torso placement and further leads to messing up the arc of your swing. I often look up a second or two after I hit the shot to ensure I don’t look up early to watch my ball flight, which can lead to a thinned or topped golf shot.
Tip #3: Relax, No Tense Swings
With the beginning of your back swing till you land the shot, everything must be smooth and fluid. Do not move like a robot. Stiff and tense swings lead to bad golf shots. Yes, you should have control of every part of your body but this does not mean to lock every muscle and joint in your swing position and just swing your arms. No.
Instead, you’ll build muscle memory over time from lots of swing repetitions where you’ll naturally and fluidly swing the club without thought. If you’re stuck thinking about your swing, it will cause you to tense up and try to control or force your swing to perform and this is likely going to lead to poor ball striking and topped golf shots.
Tip #4: Leave the Driver in the Bag
On a final note, beginning golfers will often struggle the most with their drives. Starting off the hole with a good golf shot is vital to setting up the rest of your shots for that hole.
Therefore, it’s recommended that you leave your drive in the golf bag until you’ve mastered it. Yes, this may be unconventional advice, but hitting a wood or hybrid or even an iron can lead to a safer play when you’re struggling starting out.
You will master every golf club from your bag as you go. Leave the driver for now.
Overall, if you manage to get a good grasp of the things listed above you will see your golf skills improving significantly. Do not get frustrated if it takes you longer to master some techniques.
Getting a professional coach is a big advantage if you want to pick up things more quickly. Once you learn how to stop topping the golf ball, stop hitting the thinned golf shot, maintain good weight transfer and balance, then you have progressed and no longer are a newbie to the game.
Learn more about our advanced golf training programs to speed up your improvement: