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Do You Hit Down?

Golf is difficult-deceptively so-due to our perception of how to get the ball Airborne.  We want the ball to go up, our natural inclination is to hit up at it.  However, we need to hit down.

Golf is a game that seems incredibly simple to so many new golfers.  The objective is to strike a stationary ball and that’s it!  And, really, how hard can that be?  It’s not like baseball or tennis, where we attempt to hit a moving ball.  It’s not like hockey, where someone is trying to knock you down.  And if it is like hockey, you really need to get some new golfing buddies!  So why is it that this little white stationary ball is so difficult to hit?  Why is it that we completely miss the ball at times?

Part of the deception in golf is the fact of the ball is round, but the clubface is lofted.  It appears that our goal is to slide the lofted club head under the ball, hitting the lower half of the ball on the upswing, and driving-or lifting-the ball into the air.  However, we need to remember that the golf club has not been designed to go under the ball and lift it.  The golf club has been designed to hit the ball as the club head is on the downswing.  The clubface will then hit the surface of the golf ball just before reaching the bottom of the swing arc.  When this happens the golf ball gets trapped between the descending clubface and the ground, which compresses the ball.  Since the club head face is lofted, the ball will-rather than being driven into the ground as a downward hit might imply-spin backwards up the clubface.  As the ball spins up the clubface it decompresses and releases its energy making it climb into the air.  The trajectory of the golf ball is directly related to the loft of the club we have chosen to hit.

Unfortunately, until we understand the technicalities of hitting down, hitting up seems, on the surface, to be the thing to do.  We believe we need to hit up at something if we want it to go up.  If you have a tennis ball and a tennis racket and want to get the ball into the air you would naturally lower your racket and hit up at the tennis ball.  And, of course, the tennis ball would go up!  So why doesn’t this work in golf also?  Certainly hitting down at something you want to go up is not logical!  And until it becomes logical your muscles may resist as a result.  Completely understanding the golf swing-especially the mechanics of hitting down-is vital to programming muscle memory.  In golf good muscle memory is essential so you can stop worrying about your swing and concentrate on the game itself!

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