Analyse low point to fix your contact
When we are assessing a shot, what we are really trying to do is figure out what the club did as it impacted the ball. We can use that information to understand what occurred in the swing and what to try and fix. Last week I talked about how to assess what the face and path were doing through impact. Those aspects control the start direction and curve of the shot. By trying to change what happens to the face and the path, players will often change the shape of the swing (their technique), which is why I start with that element of understanding.
In this article I am going to focus on low point control. Low point control is one of, if not the most, important skills in golf. While c0ntrolling the low point in your swing is paramount to hitting solid golf shots, understanding what is happening with the low point can provide great insight to what is happening in your swing.
If you imagine the swing as arc around you, the arc will have a bottom point on the way down and then it will start to work back upwards. That bottom point is called the "low-point" of the golf swing. The low point has 3 components to it: the height of the arc in relation to the ground, where it bottoms out (behind, at or after the ball) and its alignment with the golf ball (Heel, toe, center of face).
To test low point put a towel on the ground about 6 inches behind the golf ball and create a gate on either side of the ball with tees. Where the divot starts, or if you hit the towel, will give you an idea of where your club is bottoming out. The gate with the tees will give you an idea of your clubs' alignment with the ball as it comes into impact. If you see consistent patterns in where the club is bottoming out or how the club is coming through the gate, you can start to make adjustments to your swing to create better impact conditions.
If you are consistently hitting behind the ball, the number one goal has to be to move the low point forward for more solid contact. The key is to figure out why it is occurring. The most common reason for early contact with the ground that I see is casting of the club. Casting occurs for a mirid of reasons, but it is usually created by a reaction to something earlier in the swing or a poor intention. When people are hitting it thin and low, or very heavy, I often see them try to help the ball back into the air which creates a casting effect. If you look at the Trackman data, the average low point on these shots with an 8 iron was 3.7 inches after the ball.
The best thing you can do if you are struggling with contact and this drill is to get out your camera and a tripod. Video your swing from face on, like the picture of the golfer above and see what you notice. If the club is hitting the ground early, what can you do to move the low point forward? The goal is always to hit the golf ball before you hit the ground. If you can hit the ball solid, you can create more predictable distances with each club, which allows for a better plan when playing a hole.
In the next post I will discuss dynamic loft, and how to analyze ball flight. In the interim, if you can strike the ball solidly and control the face and the path, you have a chance to play some really good golf. As always, feel free to reach out with any questions.