The thin golf shot – also known as a ‘wormburner’ or a ‘low screamer’ – can ruin any golfer’s scorecard if not properly addressed.
You may have heard golfers say that they ‘caught that one thin’, or ‘thinned it’, while out on the course before and wondered what it meant, until it happened to you.
A thinned golf shot can be tricky to fix sometimes, and many beginners may not address the problem properly or at all since, when compared to other swing problems, a thin shot might not be the end of the world for everyone.
A thin golf shot happens when your club makes contact with the golf ball above the sweet spot and sends it flying low across the fairway, rather than high up into the air.
Many golfers would prefer to hit a thin shot over a fat shot or over topping the golf ball as the ball will, in most cases, still travel a long distance, just in a slightly more unpredictable way.
But we golfers are looking for consistency on the course, and for anyone hoping to make it as a professional golfer someday, making sure you do not hit thinned shots is something you will have to figure out.
So, keep reading as we go over the causes thin golf shots, and how to stop hitting thin golf shots.
Lets get started!
Causes of a Thin Golf Shot
1. Your Swing Arc is in front of the golf ball
There are two main causes of a thin golf shot and this is the first and most common.
A proper and successful swing arc should be a smooth rotation through your swing where your club face meets the ball at the center of your swing, or its lowest point in the arc.
Most thin shots occur because the bottom of the swing arc is in front of the golf ball, rather than right behind it.
This means that the club face misses the sweet spot as it collides with the ball, and therefore sends it flying low down the fairway, and many times will career off in an unpredictable direction that can require a strong recovery shot to get back from.
2. Your Swing Arc Is Higher than the Golf Ball
Another reason that you may hit a thin golf shot is that the center of your swing arc is above your golf ball, or at least above the sweet spot.
This can happen for several reasons that we will get into later in this article, but whatever the reason, having the center of your swing arc above your golf ball will cause the leading edge of your clubface to make first contact with the ball, rather than the center of the clubface.
Having this improper connection with the golf ball can send it flying thin and make for a much more unpredictable shot.
Good golf means making good shots with good technique. Great golf means doing that consistently, so let’s get into the ways that you can fix your thin golf shots!
How to Stop Hitting Thin Golf Shots
1. Stand Up in your swing
Confusingly, standing up in your swing can be both a fix and a cause of hitting a thin shot.
Standing up in your swing is key to fixing this problem, but if done too early, it can affect your swing arc and cause it to end up higher than than your golf ball.
Standing up in your swing is all about your weight distribution and swing tempo.
As you begin your downswing, you should begin to press through your back leg shifting your weight down through your lower half. As you connect with the ball, you should stand up in your swing, shifting your weight from your back leg to your lead leg.
This is a great way to generate loft in your swing, and can really help you hit long drives if done correctly.
This technique takes a lot of practice though, so it’s worth putting the hours in before you take this technique out on to the course.
Doing this improperly is called a ‘reverse pivot’, which is where your weight starts in your lead leg during your backswing, and transfers to your back leg as you swing through the golf ball.
2. Create Lag In you swing
Creating lag in your swing is paramount for any great golf shot, but it’s especially important to maintain if you’re hitting a lot of thin shots.
Part of creating lag in your swing comes down to your wrist set and the way you hold your club.
Essentially, you want your hands to be in front of your clubface and the ball as they make contact.
This will ensure that your clubface makes proper contact with the ball, rather than hitting it with the leading edge of your club.
Regardless of whether you use a ‘late set’ or an ‘early set’ with your wrists, a proper wrist set should have both of your thumbs pointing to the sky if you held your arms out to the side.
Losing the lag in your swing is also known as ‘flipping the club’ or ‘scooping the ball’, which means that you are coming at the ball from the wrong angle.
‘Scooping the ball’ is actually more likely to cause the leading edge of your club to make first contact with the ball, rather than the center of the club face, giving it no loft whatsoever.
3. Maintain your spine angle
Like most of the other causes of a thin golf shot in this list, if you’re hitting thin golf shots you’re probably changing something mid-swing that should be maintained.
Getting your spine angle right in your swing set up is definitely important, but it’s only worth it if you keep that spine angle throughout the swing.
Many golfers who struggle with hitting thin golf shots are probably doing so because they lose their spine angle halfway through their swing.
Changing your spine angle in your swing can, once again, affect your swing arc and place the optimum contact point either above or in front of the golf ball.
The best way to practice maintaining your spine angle is to run through your swing in slow motion with your spine angle maintained throughout.
Only when you have it right can you take it onto the course.
Maintaining your spine angle is a great skill to practice at home, since you don’t necessarily need to be on the driving range to make sure you are doing it.
4. Get your Ball position Right
While this point may seem self explanatory, you would be surprised how many golfers still struggle with their ball position.
Ideally, the ball should be in the center of your stance, however with a driver the ball should be slightly to the front of your position.
If the ball is too far back, you are likely to have the center of your swing arc in front of the golf ball, which is one of the main causes of a thin golf shot.
If the ball is too far forward, it’s likely that you will unconsciously reach for the ball, which can cause you to miss the sweet spot and hit a thinned shot.
Dismiss this tip as too rudimentary at your own risk!
We recommend using a pre shot routine to make sure that your ball is in the right position before you take a shot. It might just save your game!
5. fix Your Foot Position
Getting your foot placement right is no easy task, although it is one of the most important factors in hitting a great golf shot.
To hit a great shot, you must first ensure that you are aiming the right direction. This typically means that your feet are parallel to your target.
You must then make sure that your stance is correct, with you waist bent, you spine angle maintained, your knees flexed, and your feet around shoulder width apart.
Remember: the wider your stance, the more power you generate, but the less control you may have over your swing.
A narrow foot position can cause you to generate less power in your swing, but can also give you more control. This is why we recommend keeping your feet around shoulder width apart, to keep you in control while being able to generate enough power.
You also want to make sure that you are standing close enough to the ball. Standing too far away might cause you to shank the ball, and standing too close can cause a thin golf shot.
If you want to shoot lower scores, you have to make sure you are stood the right distance from the ball.
To make sure you are stood the optimum distance from the ball, hang your arms loose from your body. Where your club head meets the ground is where the ball should be in your swing.
So, those are the causes and the fixes for a thin golf shot.
If you do hit a thin golf shot next time you’re out at your local course, don’t get frustrated and ruin your scorecard, think back to this article and the different methods you can use to make sure it doesn’t happen again!