Sometimes it’s the simplest things that cause the most problems in the golf swing. The mis-step of standing too close to the ball at address can lead to a whole host of swing problems. This is likely why this is one of the toughest games in the world to master. The act of standing too close to the ball can ultimately lead to one of these three common swing faults: shanks, over-the-top swing path and poor contact. In this article we’re going to explain how this mistake can lead to a host of problems, and why it’s so incredibly important to check your address position before each and every shot.
Fixing The Shanks
Alright, so this video below actually explains it best, but here’s a summary: Your arms need room to swing the club down to impact. If you’re standing too close to the ball, you’re reducing the amount of ‘room’ you have. This then causes one of two things – either your arms will come into impact in a more upright position (which we’ll go into more detail a bit later), or, your hands will push out from your body as you swing into impact. This move is what causes a bunch of heeled shots, and ultimately the inevitable shank. The simple fix to this fault is to stand further away from the ball, but you may find that your swing has grooved this “pushing-out” move. You’ll have to shock your swing out of it. Try this drill: First, address the ball in the correct position, but setup a tee about 1″ off your ball perpendicular to your target line. Your goal is to make a swing, hit the ball, and miss the tee. You will likely feel like you’re pulling your swing inside, but don’t worry, this is just because you’re so used to the pushing-out move. Hit 10-20 balls like this, and then address the ball normally and swing. You should see a big difference.
In the video below we go into more detail about where you should be positioned:
Fixing Over The Top
The next two faults, sort of go hand in hand. When you stand too close to the ball, your swing is immediately forced to be more upright. When this happens, keeping your swing path in-check as you come into impact becomes very difficult. Your ability to swing the club with lag and attack the ball from the inside also disappears. Ultimately you have no choice but to come over-the-top into ball. This move is often accompanied with an early wrists release, that robs you of power and the chance of solid contact. For this fault, we recommend the baseball swing drill, as it emphasizes the importance of your swing path into the ball. Without a ball, grab a club and swing it as if it were a baseball bat. This move lets you feel an extremely flat swing path, and should help ween you off your upright one. When you address the ball after performing this drill, really focus on getting yourself into the right posture as indicated by this video.
A poor swing path is often accompanied with poor ball contact. Your golf clubs are designed to lie at specific angle. If you lay your club’s sole flat on the ground, you should be able to address the ball without moving the club much. If you do have to move the club, or find that either the heel or toe of your club is in the air – you’re either not fitted for your clubs, or your posture needs some attention. Regardless, your swing path ultimately dictates your clubs approach to the ball. An upright swing path usually cause the heel to be above the ground as you approach impact, this then means that the toe of your club is hitting the ground first. As this happens, the toe of the club slows down, and the clubface opens at impact, and the result is most commonly a weak fade or slice. Depending on how much your push-out your swing from your body (previously discussed), you can also get heel-first or even thin contact. The best drill for this type of fault is to get a friend to check your address position, and see how your club lies – or better yet go to a fitting professional and get fitted for clubs. For those of you a little on the frugal side, addressing the ball in front of a mirror should give a bunch of feedback on your address position, and how your clubs are lieing.
You can see how gone unchecked, a simple fault can lead to a whole host of problems. And for many of us, we tend to focus too much on the end-result in attempts to fix the fault. For example, a common result of this fault is fade or slice, and many people out there will try and fix this by simply making a stronger grip, or closing their stance, but unfortunately the root of the problem remains. We hope these drills will help you rid your setup of this annoying, but common fault.
Give it a try!