12 Steps to Improving Your Ball Striking

When it comes to striking your golf ball successfully, one of the best techniques is the proper foundation of a quality golf education. You’ll want to implement a simple, but effective routine that you can perform exactly the same, over and over again. Every time you step up and address your shot, you’ll want the elements to fall into place, almost unconsciously.

Following are 12 steps, that when performed precisely and in succession, should lead you to orderly golf shots every time:

1. Probably the most important step: Know your limits, and start your routine by studying the golf shot in front of you. If you’ll need a near miracle to get out of the rough, around the hedges, over the sand and near the hole, ask yourself if your game has the ability to shape such a shot. If so, go for it. If not, consider simply pitching out and getting the ball back in play. Ultimately, you’ll lose fewer shots (and golf balls!) if you stay within your abilities versus trying to be Tiger Woods on every swing.

2. When you’re at the tee, be sure to place the ball correctly in your stance and choose the best club for the shot. Keep in mind again, your limits. If you cannot shape your drives around a dogleg, consider a long iron. Similarly, understanding how far and the general shape of your shots for each of your clubs is very important to your overall game development.

3. If you’re this interested in the game, you most likely have studied how to properly grip a golf club. Once you have it down pat, be sure you’re not experimenting with your grip in the middle of a match. Save that for the driving range and your practice time.

ETOBICOKE, ON - JULY 22: Rich Barcelo plays his second shot on the 18th hole during round one of the 2010 RBC Canadian Open at St. George's Golf and Country Club on July 22, 2010 in Etobicoke, Canada. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

4. As you study the shot in front of you, one of the considerations you’ll need to make is determining the correct stance. Is the ball lying above or below your feet? If on level ground, would you have a better chance of getting to the hole with a draw or a slight fade? These answers will tell you exactly how you should stand.

5. One of the hardest aspects of ensuring quality ball striking is keeping your head steady. Poor footing, improper stance, distance from the ball, ill fitted clubs can make your head move when you swing. When your eyes move, your ability to judge the distance and position of the club face changes. Unless you’re a pro with stellar golf training, you may find it extremely difficult to compensate a swing when you move your head.

6. As you start your backswing, your left knee should naturally dip a bit and point just to the right, or behind the golf ball. Relaxing and opening your hips and shoulders should provide for the proper pointing of your left knee during your swing.

7. Your hands should grip the club with enough force to allow you complete control of it without squeezing the club excessively. Both of your hands should remain on the grips at the height of your backswing resulting in a cocking of your wrists.

8. You’re now at the apex of your swing. Remember to pause briefly in order to facilitate proper timing. Do this and you’ll almost always have a smooth, steady ball strike.

9. As you begin your downswing, your hips will start to rotate out to the left. This should naturally cause your right knee to move in towards the ball. Don’t speed through this portion of the swing thinking that you need to do so in order to have the power to maximize the ball’s distance. Smooth and steady will provide proper club face contact with the golf ball.

10. Again, keep your head steady. Many things have happened and are yet to happen. You still need to maintain the distance of the club’s face to the ball’s surface. The easiest way to distort this distance is to move your head. You already know what happens when you move your head: you skull the top of the ball or dig up turf behind the lie of the ball.

11. As your downswing brings your club head closer to the ball, keeping your wrists cocked back should allow you to drive your hands through the ball’s position before you actually strike it. With proper timing you’ll be able to perfectly whip your right hand into and through the shot maximizing ideal ball striking and power.

12. Finally, and not to beat a dead horse, keep your head still. As you follow through, a steady head allows your club action to complete its natural arc and finish up high and over your left shoulder.

Obviously, golf is not the simplest of sports out there. With an eye on detail and time invested in a quality golf education, you too can learn to strike the ball better than you ever have before. Better ball striking should lead you to lower scores and a better appreciation for the time you invest in this wonderful game.

Have you noticed problems with your ball striking technique? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author

Eric Wilson Ph.D. is a PGA Master Professional and the Vice President of The College of Golf at Keiser University in Port St. Lucie, FL. You can find The College of Golf on Twitter (@CollegeofGolf) or on Facebook.



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  1. well job done! Nice post….Helpful tips for the amateur golfers. will also let my friends know if they have any questions.

  2. I really think the tip about the left knee pointing just behind the ball at the top of your swing is crucial in the proper initiation of the down swing. You always hear about starting your down swing by rotating your left hip but it’s your left knee that really starts the beginning of the down swing if you believe the swing as a whole starts from the ground up! It’s also key in allowing your hips to fully turn in your take away and allowing a complete shoulder turn. (IMHO)

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