how to hit down on the golf ball: 4 great Drills to hit it Perfectly every time

Professionals hit the ball differently than amateurs.

If you watch any tournament on television or get the chance to go to a professional tournament, you’ll start to understand exactly what this means.

If you do go to a tournament, there is an interesting audio clue that pinpoints how differently professionals make contact with the ball.

The audio clue is a very distinctive “whizzing” sound from the golf ball as it accelerates away from the club face at impact.

This noise relates to how well the ball has been compressed at impact and indicates that professionals know how to hit down on the golf ball.

In this article, we will cover the following:

  • Hit Down On The Golf Ball – What It Means
  • Hit Down On The Golf Ball – Why It’s Important
  • Hit Down On The Golf Ball – 3 Misconceptions
  • How To Hit Down On The Golf Ball
  • 4 Great Drills To Hit Down On The Golf Ball

Let’s get this going!

how to hit down on the golf ball

What does it mean to hit down on the golf ball?

Hitting down on the golf ball refers to the club head’s natural path as it goes through impact.

This is not something that is manipulated by the player.

Hitting down on the golf ball compresses the golf ball between the club face and the ground, helping you to hit crisp and solidly struck iron shots.

Why hitting down on the ball is important

Hitting down on the golf ball not only maximizes the distance you hit the ball, but it also produces the right levels of spin and trajectory for your shots.

But one thing we need to be clear on at the outset.

If we are dedicating this article to how to hit down on the golf ball, we are referring in the main to iron play.

You would not want to hit down on the driver.

Modern drivers work best when you are able to hit up on them, which is aided by the fact that you tee the ball up.

For iron play, whether off the tee or fairway, you are looking to hit down on the golf ball. 

golf player hitting down on the golf ball

3 Misconceptions on how to hit down on the golf ball

For some golfers, hitting down on the ball seems a little counterintuitive to getting the ball airborne, especially with longer irons.

There are some common set-up and swing thoughts that golfers can fall foul of:

  • Club head leads hands into impact
  • The wrong ideas about taking a divot
  • Playing the ball back in the stance

#1: Club head leads hands into impact

Some golfers will try and manipulate getting the ball airborne at impact by letting the club head overtake their hands.

They can also leave some weight on their back foot to aid a “scooping” motion in getting the ball airborne.

These two actions can actually lead to a lot of thinned shots where the club head makes impact with the ball above its equator.

golfer playing at sunset

#2: The wrong ideas about taking a divot

Golfers will also think about taking a divot as a way to hit down on the ball, and that works to a point.

But the important thing to note is that the very best iron players hit the ball first before they take a divot.

The divot is created by the momentum of the iron head still traveling marginally downwards post-impact. 

#3: Play the ball back in the stance

This is also a common piece of advice that golfers receive if they want to know how to hit down on the golf ball.

Playing the ball too far back in the stance can lead to the golfer getting too “steep” and also leaning into the shot or not moving their weight into the trail leg in the backswing.

Either way, the result is still the same: poor contact and potentially very sore wrists from knocking lumps out of the ground before contact with the ball!

golfer staring at the bunker with the tee in the background

How to hit down on the golf ball

If we take inspiration from tour professionals, we will see that the one thing they all have in common is that they hit down on the golf ball with their iron swings.

A study by TrackMan showed that, on average, tour professionals will have a -4.3 degree angle of attack into the ball with their 7-irons.

The -4.3 specifically refers to the path the club head takes in striking down on the ball.

If you see TrackMan figures with a positive angle of attack, you will most likely see this relating to the driver swing and means the club head is moving up through impact.

If we want to emulate the tour stars, there are methods available that can help you.

golfer hitting down on the golf ball

hit down on the golf ball: Set up

As we’ve mentioned, setting up well to the ball will encourage good movements in your swing.

When considering your set up, pay attention to the following:

Having your hands slightly ahead of the club face at address will help to promote a descending blow through impact.

Tilting your spine away from the target at address is good for the driver as it helps to promote hitting up on the ball – we don’t want that if we to hit down on the golf ball.

Make sure your spine and chest are over the ball at address.

golf lady driving the golf ball

hit down on the golf ball: Move your weight

Sequencing your downswing correctly will aid your ability to hit down on the golf ball.

Starting your downswing by moving your weight onto your lead foot and leg will get the upper body moving correctly.

Having the feeling of keeping your chest turning through impact will help to create a more downward blow into the ball.

Golfers who can’t compress the ball well will tend to keep their weight on their trail leg, which hinders the movement of the upper body.

Inconsistent ball striking is guaranteed as there is an over-reliance of the hands to save the shot at impact.

golfer swinging driver at sunset

4 great drills To Hit down on the golf ball

#1: The clue is in the ground

This simple drill needs to be practiced on a grass range.

Make your normal set-up to the ball with one of your short irons.

Mark the ball’s position in your stance with either a tee peg or an alignment stick placed close to where the ball is.

Remove the ball

Make some practice swings on the same spot and see where the club’s leading edge is making contact with the ground.

Using the alignment stick or tee peg as the reference is the club head:

  • Making contact with the ground behind or in front of where the tee peg/alignment stick is positioned
  • Not making any impact on the ground whatsoever – no divot, not even bruising the grass

Using this drill will show you where your swing’s low point is.

golfer with iron club

#2: Head cover/towel drill

This drill is best used with an old head cover or a towel because if you haven’t been able to hit down on the golf ball successfully till now, you’re likely to hit the head cover or towel.

Set up with the correct stance, as we’ve discussed, and place the old head cover/towel 6-8 inches behind the ball. 

If you hit the head cover/towel in the downswing, it indicates that:

  • Your weight has predominantly remained on your trail leg in the downswing
  • Unhinged your wrists early and let the club head overtake your hands, leading into impact

The old head cover/towel also negates any damage to your club.

Keep practicing this drill using a short iron until you can consistently miss the head cover/towel on the downswing.

golfer with wood club

#3: Alignment stick drill

A lot of golfers now have access to alignment sticks, and if you don’t have them already, they are easy and pretty cheap to get a hold of.

For this drill, you only need 1 alignment stick and a pitching wedge.

We’ll set this drill up for a right-handed golfer, so for left-handed golfers, it will be the opposite.

  • Grip the club and alignment stick
  • The alignment stick should stick out enough so that it runs close to the left side of your rib cage 
  • Make short pitch shots, ensuring that the alignment stick doesn’t hit you in the ribs

The aim of this drill is to prevent your hands from “flipping” at the ball at impact.

This flipping action means the club head comes into impact first, leading to lots of thinned shots.

Having the alignment stick in your grip helps to promote the hands, leading the club head into impact and helps create a downward blow. 

golfer on the fairway

#4: Tee peg in the ground drill

  • Make your stance normal with the ball in the correct position
  • Place a tee peg in the ground 2 inches in front of the golf ball
  • Swing the club as normal
  • Aim to knock the tee peg out of the ground after hitting the ball

What makes this drill so simple and effective is that your focus goes from hitting the golf ball (which you’ll do anyway) to dislodging the tee peg.

To do this successfully, you have to have the club moving on a descending angle into and through impact.

Remember, the best iron players’ divots happen after they have struck the ball.

golfer gripping the club

Key takeaways to hitting down on the golf ball

Being able to hit down on the golf ball will help you hit great iron shots.

Hitting down on the golf ball and compressing it will improve:

  • Ball-Striking
  • Add More Distance 
  • Better Spin Rates And Trajectory

With some practice of the drills highlighted in this article, you’ll be closer to getting that feeling that all the top pros experience when they hit their irons!

Next Up: Stinger Golf Shot: 10 Steps To Hit Them Like Tiger

Photo of author
Golf has been a passion of mine for over 30 years. It has brought me many special moments including being able to turn professional. Helping people learn to play this great game was a real highlight especially when they made solid contact with the ball and they saw it fly far and straight! Injury meant I couldn't continue with my professional training but once fully fit I was able to work on and keep my handicap in low single figures representing my golf club in local and regional events. Being able to combine golf with writing is something I truly enjoy. Helping other people learn more about golf or be inspired to take up the game is something very special.

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