You’ve probably observed players hitting down on the golf ball to cause it to rise if you watch professional golf. This is a method for playing long shots in golf that is counterintuitive, difficult for beginners to understand, and heavily influenced by the shape and construction of golf clubs. This is the reason you’ll hear golf coaches and instructors telling their students not to try to lift the ball on golf courses. or “Punch it in hard!”
What Does ‘Hitting Down’ Actually Mean?
As straightforward as it may sound, hitting down on the golf ball refers to the downward force that is applied when the club first makes contact with the ball. To accomplish this, strike the ball with the club as it is descending from the top position. Prior to impacting the ground, the clubface should make initial contact with the ball. All types of golf shots, including fades and draws, fall under this category.
The right way to do this is to hit down on the ball, regardless of whether you want the ball to fly straight up or curve toward your target. The ball will travel farther and higher if you hit it harder. This technique for making long iron shots is essential to know if you’re using one.
Why Hit Down and not Lift the Ball Up With an Iron?
In golf, our natural instinct is to hit the ball so that the club lifts it because we want it to go up. Although this seems logical, it doesn’t work well because clubs aren’t made for such an upward impact. This is a part of the initial confusion that new golfers experience when they consider hitting the ball down.
An iron’s clubface is made with a pre-built loft angle due to its unique design. It is angled backward so that the clubface points slightly upward when the club is positioned perpendicular to the ground. You should be able to understand why hitting down is sufficient to cause the ball to go up and a direct upward force is not necessary once you are aware of this small aspect of the club’s construction.
How to Swing the Club to Hit Down on the Ball
Practice is essential if you want to learn how to swing the club properly to hit the ball down. Take a step back before a shot to make sure your standing position will cause the bottom of your swing to land on the ball’s front side.
If you’re in the right place, the club will cross the ball itself before contacting the ground. You can even practise your swings in the air to make sure of it rather than just looking at it. The club should never touch the ground before it crosses over where the ball will be.
Knowing how the impact position looks is also crucial. Just before the club’s swing arc reaches its lowest point, it strikes the ball. The ball is now caught between the surface and the descending clubface. The ball’s surface contracts as a result of the strong impact force, and because the clubface is lofted at an angle, the ball is propelled forward and upward rather than deeper into the ground.
Move toward the ball and get ready for the actual shot once you are comfortable with your physical position and theoretical understanding of what happens at the club-ball interface. Lift the club all the way back, then proceed to take a swing while standing steadily and with balanced shoulders and arms.
Tips on Achieving the Perfect Swing to Hit Down
When you are playing with an iron and want to hit the ball far, the following tips should help you hit down on the ball.
When you reach the top of your swing position while preparing for a shot, move your right foot (or left if you are a left-handed player) and hip slightly closer to the ball. The center of your body should also be slightly ahead of the ball. Moving the center ahead of the ball enables you to strike the ball before striking the turf. This is a subtle move which makes sure the bottommost position of the swing arc always lies ahead of the ball.
This way, you can be certain that you will not be lifting the ball instead of hitting it down. A useful trick to further strengthen your downstroke is to make your dominant palm face downward as you approach the ball in the delivery zone. This is key to compressing the ball with your downward hit. Many players make the mistake of having their palm face the target which makes them scoop the ball which is rarely desired for long shots.