The Ultimate Guide to Hitting a Golf Ball Properly [2019 Update]

There are many ways to hit a golf ball. Homer Kelly, who authored the book “The Golfing Machine” determined 24 different individual aspects to a golf swing, and calculated a quadrillion ways to hit a golf ball.

It is not possible to go over every single one of those shots here. However, we will go over some of the basics such as what stance to take, how to strike a driver etc.

What Your Stance Should Be to Hit a Golf Ball

To accurately hit a golf ball, you must first set your body up athletically. It does not matter how big or small you are or what your overall body composition is, the principles remain the same. The way you set yourself up physically is the same whether you are 5.4” or 6.8”.

To help achieve a proper athletic stance, here are a few practice steps that you can follow.

Step 1

The first step of this exercise requires the use of no golf clubs. You need to stand upright with arms hanging freely at your sides and feet placed firmly on the ground. Have the feet placed as much as the broadness of your shoulders?

This is necessary as you need to have a comfortable stance before you can start swinging that golf club.

Step 2

For this step, your knees need to flex. You need to have the right amount of bend on the knees to make a proper golf shot. If you flex your knees too much, you would not be able to perform a clean swing. On the other hand, if you do not have enough bend, you will not be able to hit the ball with enough power on your shot.

Step 3

The knees aren’t the only part of the body that requires flexing. You also need your hips to be flexed. Make sure that you’re making your spine to be in an angle concerning your body. The angle needs to be close to 40 degrees.

Too little bend would result in insufficient explosiveness and shot power, while too much bend could make your body feel unbalanced.

Step 4

With the knees and hips bent, the next thing you need to focus on is the position and placement of the arms and the shoulders. Have both your arms hanging nicely from the shoulders.

If the bend on your knees is too much, it will result in your arms being swinging too far from the body, while an insufficient bend would result in the arms being too close to the body.

It will take some practice. You will need to find that sweet spot yourself where the arms hang off your shoulders in a comfortable manner.

Foot Positioning

The positioning of the front foot has to match your physical ability.

As you complete your swing on your foot that’s positioned forward, turn the foot in an anti-clockwise direction to the target line. More turn on the anterior foot results in an easier finish. In addition, it removes any excessive pressure from the knee that is positioned forward when you are making your swing.

The back foot, just like the anterior foot can also affect how many turns you can add to your body by affecting the resultant swing. Rotate the back foot clockwise to the target, you would see a better rotation and movement of the body.

Accordingly, the further you turn the back foot in, the easier it gets to make your turn and swing.

Body Alignment

Now, if you follow all that has been said, you will still not be able to properly hit the golf ball the way you intend to unless your body is not completely aligned with the target you are hitting.

Therefore, when you are positioning yourself to strike the golf ball, you should try to get those shoulders, knees, feet, and hips of yours completely in line with the target.

To be perfect on that, you can do this mental exercise as well. Imagine you are playing golf on a railroad track. Visualize yourself standing with your feet on one track with the golf ball placed on the next track. This will help you to gain a perfectly balanced and athletic stance for hitting the ball.

Of course, you will not get your feet right at the first try.  Keep doing it until you find the stance that works best for you.

How to Strike a Driver

The benefit of a driver is that the ball is already airborne because of its being perched up on a tee. For ensuring that the ball is properly teed for your convenience, see that the ball is not stationed lower than the geometrical midpoint of the surface club. If it’s higher, you won’t get the necessary loft on your shot.

With a sand wedge, you can easily get some loft and elevation into your shot as it offers you 56 degrees of loft. However, the driver offers no more than 12 degrees of loft. Hence, you need to add some height to the ball’s position to allow you to add some loft to your shot.

After setting up the ball on a tee, the next step is to adjust the ball’s position relative to the position of your legs.

You will need to assume such a stance that will have the ball positioned closer to your front foot than the back. The further forward you place the ball, the easier it would be to get a more loft into your shot.

Otherwise, if the position of the ball is closer to your back foot, the club would hit the ball as it is moving down by making it harder to get the ball into the air.

When making the swing, your lead arm must be aligned with the golf club. You will see the club face pointing more toward the left by having the grip end of the club handle.  This happens while it’s facing away from belt buckle and hip will make the club face pointing more towards the right.

With the club handle and the lead arm-and-shoulder perfectly positioned in a straight line, you will see that the clubface will be pointing perfectly straight and square towards the target.

To effectively strike a driver, your shoulders need to be a little tilted. To properly hit that 300-yard driver, you need to make sure that your front shoulder is a little higher than the back shoulder.

Likewise, the tilt should be in such a way that if anyone were to pour water on your front shoulder, the water would trickle down your back arm. Moreover, adding more tilt would add more loft to your shots.

How to Hit an Iron

When you are hitting a driver, the ball is positioned on a tee which means the club never touches the ground during a swing. On the other hand, when you are hitting an iron, the ball is positioned on the ground and not on the tee. The club touches the ground in this case.

A golf swing is a circular motion. There is a “Low Point” in your golf swing where the club is at the very bottom of the circle you make with your golf club. The club reaches this point after making a downward swinging motion and then ascends or moves upwards from that point.

When you’re hitting a driver, the club reaches this low point and makes contact with the ball in the following upward motion. In the case of hitting an iron, the ball is positioned on the ground, not a tee. Hence, the point of contact is a little closer to the low point of the swing.

Consequently, when the ball is positioned closer to your front foot while hitting a driver, the ball is placed closer to the middle of your stance.

After the golf ball is properly set up close to the middle of your stance, move the handle end of the club until it is in line with your lead arm and the ball. Moving the ball back and closer to your trial foot increases the angle with the ball. Conversely, while moving it towards your front foot decreases the angle.

Push your hips and the weight of your body more towards the anterior foot about 55% or more. This is because shifting your weight towards your back foot would have you make a swing that hits the turf and grass. The result would not be a very pretty looking shot.

It is Important to Properly Hinge Your Club

The ability to hinge and unhinge your club during a golf swing is very crucial. Itt affects the quality of the resultant shot. At one point in your swing, you need to bend the club to create a lever that will allow you to build power on your shot.

It’s like hitting a nail with a hammer. Your arm does not remain completely straight throughout the entire motion. Your arm bends to create an angle or a lever to create power for the action. Then you release the lever which has your arm along with the hammer crashing down on the nail or target.

If you hit the nail with your arm remaining straight throughout the entire motion, you would not be able to hit the nail properly or with enough power. The case with golf is no different.

The club does not remain straight throughout the whole swing. You have to bend the club at an angle to generate power on your shot. Then release it when you are about to hit the ball with the club.

L to Straight Drill

To practice your hinging and unhinging skill, you can do a simple drill known as the “L to Straight Drill.”

For this drill, you need first to get into your iron setup. Then shift all of your body weight to your front leg. This will prevent any mistakes such as moving backward during your swing.

The next thing you do is make short swings with the club. As the club reaches waist height level, make a 90-degree angle with the club and your arm. This is your hinging motion.

On the downswing, release the hinge and strike the ground with both arms perfectly straight.

Keep doing this repeatedly and check which parts of the ground you are hitting every time. Try to hit the same spot consistently. Paint a line on the ground with spray paint and try hitting on the line or in front of it. Make sure every time that you are not hitting the ground behind the line.

Initially do this exercise without a golf ball. As you get better, you can start doing it with a golf ball.

How to Hit the Golf Ball Straight and How to Make Curved Shots

The direction of the ball after being hit depends on the direction the clubhead is pointing towards. That is the exact moment the of impact. If the club hits the ball 5 degrees a little to the left, the resultant movement of the ball a 5-degree deviation to the left.

Again, if the clubface makes contact at 10 degrees to the right, the ball would deviate twice more than 5 degrees. This tells us that for a perfectly straight shot, the angle of impact must be perfectly square.

Drill to Practice Shot Angle

The following drill can help you practice your shots so that you can control the angle of your shots. To do this, grab two sticks or rods and plant them vertically on the ground a few yards away from where you are practicing your shots. Place each rod 5-6 feet away from each other. Now you start making shots.

To practice straight shots, keep hitting the ball and try to get them to pass through the gap within the rods. Notice how far off from the center the balls are traveling, and whether there is a slight bias toward either of the posts.

Regarding the curved shots, if you are attempting a left-directed spin,  make the shot towards outside the right post. For right-directed pin, direct the shots towards the outside of the left post.

How to Hit it Low

Bad weather can impact your golf shots. When you make a lofty shot, a strong wind can cause the ball to move sideways and drift farther than it normally would. In such circumstances, it is best to go low.

Especially when you are making low shots, you have to move the ball over long distances, and it is not an easy feat to manage. Tiger Woods has made a name for himself for perfecting the low stinger shot.

Although we can never hope to be as good as Tiger Woods, we can try and learn to do the low stinger. It’s possible and can be done with a little bit of practice.

Here are 6 steps that go into a low stinger shot:

Step 1

Set everything up as if you are taking an iron shot.

Step 2

Position the ball 6-12 inches back in your stance. The further backward you move it, the lower flight you will achieve on the ball.

Step 3

The handle of the club has to be in front of the ball. The handle and your lead arm must join to form a perfectly straight line.

Step 4

When making the swing, your lead arm should be perpendicular to the club. This is a must if you want to get a low shot.

Step 5

When making the downswing, loosen the grip on the club right before the ball is about to be struck. Make sure to procrastinate a bit on this loosening motion. The result is less loft created on the club which would contribute to less ball flight.

Step 6

You must minimize the follow through on this shot as that again creates less loft on the club and that again results in less ball flight.

Practice Low Stinger Shots

Here’s a drill you can do if you want to get better at low stinger shots. You need to gather two sticks for this exercise, preferably of the same size. Grab the sticks and plant on the ground a few yards away from where your golf ball is positioned.

Make sure the sticks that you planted looks like a triangle (They don’t necessarily have to meet at the ends). Then you start swinging and try to get the ball through the hole inside the sticks.

The steeper you make the triangle, the easier it is to get the ball through. However, i making the triangle shorter would make this drill more difficult.

How to Hit it High

We’ve discussed in the previous section how to make low stinger shots. Now we look at how we can make high and lofty shots. Here are the 6-step process of making lofty shots;

Step 1

Set up the golf ball as if you are making an iron shot.

Step 2

Position the ball 6-12 inches forward in your stance. The more forward you move it, the higher the loft you will have on your shot.

Step 3

As with the low stinger shot, have your lead arm be completely in line with the club handle. In this case, the angle of the arm with the handle will be much less, and the handle should not be positioned as forward.  

Step 4

In addition, it is important to create an L between the lead arm and the golf club.

Step 5

With the downswing, there would require a little unhinging or loosening of the grip. On the other hand, unlike the case with the low shot, there wouldn’t be any procrastination or delay. The force created in the forward movement would result in a bigger loft.

Step 6

The follow through in this exercise has to be much fuller and stronger than the low stinger shot. You have the club travel as far and high as possible if you want a nice loft on your shot.

How to Hit with More Power

To understand how you can hit the ball with more power, there is a formula that you can employ. It is called the bash factor.

The bash factor is a measurement that compares your hitting speed with the speed of the ball. It is a ratio of ball speed to club head speed. The club head speed is the speed of the club at the instant it makes a direct impact with the ball.  

Some things can impact the speed of the club head but the most important is your ability to time the club hinging or unhinging motion, and how well you use the type of ground you are playing in.

One might think that a game like a golf that does not have any running or does not use the feet directly like in football (soccer) might not have any use for the legs. On the contrary, that assumption is far from the truth.

Imagine being a batsman in cricket or a batter in baseball. How effectively can you hit your shots if you are told that you will play sitting down? Your shots would be far less effective, less powerful and very inefficient. Plus, it would be very uncomfortable playing like that with a handicap.

There have been studies made on golfers to see how the movement of the legs can help with the quality of the swing. The studies have shown that players who make more vertical jumping movements have more power in their shots.

Ground Reaction Force Drill

Here is a useful drill to practice your vertical force otherwise known as Ground Reaction Force. Follow these steps to get that strong vertical force:

Step 1

Set your golf ball like you would for a typical iron swing.

Step 2

Swing the club to the very top of your backswing.

Step 3

Slowly bring the club down like you are about to make a shot but then get it to an abrupt halt as soon as the club reaches the waistline.

Step 4

Get into a deep squatting position.

Step 5

Push yourself up in a jumping motion and then finally complete the full swing.

You will find that you will very rarely touch the ground on the swing and you will never find yourself chucking the shot.

It goes without saying, but the ball speed is the measurement of how fast the ball is traveling after being hit by the club. Now you might assume that the faster you hit the ball, the faster the ball travels, but that is not always the case.

Shot Placement

Yes, it is true that to get more distance on your shot, you need to hit the ball harder. However, one factor that also has an impact on the resultant speed of the ball is shot placement by meaning the point on the clubface that the club makes contact with the ball.

What you must always try to achieve as every golfer does is to hit the ball with the center of the clubface. If you hit it a little off-center, the result is a shot that travels with more curve and less speed than was intended.

This is an issue that even pro golfers have to deal with, trying to balance speed with proper shot placement. This is why bash factor is such an important measurement that can help you better understand how to approach power shots.

If you want a number for reference, you should always try to get the bash factor as close to 1.5 as well. Meaning that, you need to get the ratio of the ball speed to club head speed as close to 1.5 as possible.

Shot Placement Drill

To find out and determine the point on the club face you are hitting the golf ball, here are a few steps you can follow:

Step 1

Get yourself a can of ‘foot spray’ from a local store.

Step 2

During practice, take the can of spray and apply a bit of it on clubface of your golf club.

Step 3

Give it some time to completely dry off.

Step 4

Now make your shot.

Step 5

After you’ve made the shot, check to see if there is any imprint of the powder where the ball made contact with the clubface. If you find, check exactly where; is it at the center, heel or toe?

Conclusion

Keep doing this repeatedly to get an idea of which part of the clubface you hit most. As you get better at hitting the center, try practicing hitting with the toe and hell. More important of hitting the ball with the center of the face is to know the shot you make will go exactly where you intend it to.

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