Golf Swing Problem – Player Q&A;

Question: Golf Swing Problem – Head down

i am a bogey golfer. i have great difficulty maintainingeye contact with the ball thru impact. i have a tendency to want to look out ahead of the swing to locate it if it is errant. are there any drills to help me eliminate this weakness? on the rare occasions i do keep eye contact thru the swing, my distance is greatly improved as well as ball trajectory. pleasehelp, thanks

T.M. – USA

Answer: Golf Swing Problem – Head Down

Thank you for sending in a great question regarding the most common phrase used on the golf course…”Keep your head down/Eyes on the ball”. I will be honest…I have never, in all my years of teaching, spoken those words. I believe it is the most over used line in golf.

I believe that most of the time our head pulling out of a shot is the effect of another golf swing problem. This could include poor timing with the hips, starting the downswing with the shoulders, losing the angle in your wrists and arm in the downswing or simply trying to lift the ball in the air instead of hitting down on the golf ball.

There was an article done by Golf Digest regarding the myth of keeping our head down. It showed both Annika Sorenstam and David Duval at impact. Proof was certainly in the pictures as neither player had their head down at impact. In fact at impact their heads rotated with their body. Since their hips have shifted and rotated open, and their chests are opening up to the ball their eyes/face are looking ahead of the ball and not facing down at impact. These are two players who spent time at number one in the world. In fact, Annika is still revered as one of the greatest LPGA champions of all time.

This helped prove that the head down was not as big a golf swing problem as people believed.

There is another example from Loren Roberts, who once said that when he putted his best, the ball was blurry. He along with Ben Crenshaw were two of the best putters at the time. What he meant was that he was not focussed on a dimple or a line. He freed up his stroke by not being focussed on the ball. He did not move his head like the other two in their full swing, but he also did not focus on the golf ball.

The reason I mention this is because we want to make sure that we are fixing the right golf swing problem. You may be keeping your head down just fine, but another aspect of your swing is causing you to lift your shoulders, chest or hips out of your shot.

We also do not want to keep your head down too long as that will restrict your follow through. We should always try to avoid fixing an area that is not broken.

Fixing the Head Lift

If, all things being equal, you are simply lifting your head then there are a few drills to help.

  1. Chip and Pitch Hold
  2. Tee for Two
  3. Line Your Range Ball

Chip and Pitch Hold

I love this drill because it serves as a dual purpose. It is intended to help us practice our short game (which you have probably read me rant about our lack of short game practice), and also trains us to keep our head down. The bonus is that since we are using a shorter swing we won’ t be training ourselves to hold our head down too long, creating a different golf swing problem.

The drill is as follows:

  1. Go to the short game area of your practice facility, or in your yard if you have room at home.
  2. Take a pitching wedge, sand wedge or lob wedge.
  3. Hit chips and pitches.
  4. The key is to keep your head down until you think the ball has landed. Only when you think the ball has landed can you look up.
  5. Then you can look at your result.
  6. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Tee for Two

This drill uses a similar concept as the previous drill. However, in this drill our swing gets a little longer. This drill uses the set swing to help cure this golf swing problem.

(Click Here for Set Swing Lesson. The picture in step 8 is what this drill should look like.).

  1. Go to your practice facility and tee a ball up so that the tee is all the way into the ground. The ball should effectively be resting on the ground, however here is a tee underneath it.
  2. Take your pitching wedge and set up for a full swing shot.
  3. Make a set swing backswing, pause, then make your downswing through impact and into a set swing follow through.
  4. Keep your head down until you can focus on the tee in he ground for two seconds.
  5. If your divot takes out your tee, then focus on a piece of the divot hole for two seconds.
  6. Look up to see the result of your shot.
  7. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

This is a drill that can be practiced at home. Simply make set swings with a coin on the ground. After you reach the set swing follow through, focus on your coin for two seconds. Then look up as if tracking the ball.

Line Your Range Ball

Now that we have started with drills using shorter clubs and swings, let’s move on to the driver. Head over to your driving range with a bucket of balls.

  1. Tee up a ball with the line of the range ball perpendicular to the ground.
  2. You can either aim the line at your target, or turn it slightly towards you. If you have been hitting hard fades and slices then I suggest turning he line towards you. It can help you swing a little from the inside as you try to make impact on the line.
  3. This line position will give you something to focus on when you are making your practice swings.
  4. Hit shots with the range ball in this position.
  5. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
  6. If you make a putting line on your game balls then you can use the same technique for tee shots. It is always nice to take something from the range and be able to use it on the golf course. It is the best way to feel confident over a shot.

I hope you find these drills helpful in working out the golf swing problem of keeping your head down. They are drills designed to serve a dual purpose and so therefore I hope you are able to take advantage of that and improve multiple areas of your game at the same time. I always think that it is a highly effective practice when we are practicing one specific element that will benefit multiple areas of our game.

Words of Caution

Please indulge one last thought on this golf swing problem. In my experience people who thought they lifted their head often had their head sliding towards the target at impact. they did not keep their head behind the ball. This would give the feeling that the head is lifting up and would also cause the poor contact.

The description you provided in your email makes it sound like when you focus on keeping your head down, you are actually keeping your head behind the ball at impact. That is how you are achieving better ball contact and distance.

As you practice keeping your head down, keep it behind the ball at impact. Think of the great baseball power hitters. They all do it very well.

I hope you found this answer helpful. I hope you achieve your golf goals sooner with the help of