How To Stop Topping The Golf Ball: 5 Adjustments To Test

All golfers have their demons. We all have the one shot that keeps us up at night.

For some, it is the duck hook (snap hook) and for others, it is the banana slice.

Even worse, maybe you hit the occasional shank.

The most embarrassing “bad shot” might be “the top”. You make a big swing hoping for greatness, but end up dribbling the ball off the tee.

Your golfing buddies snicker or look away.

You just want to go hide somewhere, but because the ball didn’t travel very far, it is your turn again.

We don’t want you to ever experience this again.

Let’s determine how to stop topping the golf ball.

In this post, we’ll look at:

  • What exactly is happening when you’re topping the golf ball
  • 3 common causes of topping the ball
  • 5 fixes and technique adjustments to test out to stop the top!


Let’s get into it!

How To Stop Topping The Golf Ball

What Does It Mean To Top The Golf Ball?

Before we discuss how to stop topping the golf ball, we probably need to define the shot.

To some extent, the definition is in the name.

Topping the golf ball is when you accidentally only catch the very top of the golf ball.

Topping the golf ball produces a shot that doesn’t go very far and simply dribbles along the ground.

Did you know that you can top any shot? It’s true. You can top a driver, an iron shot, a chip, or even a putt.

Yes, even a putt.

Do you ever hit a putt and instead of rolling on the green it hops and bounces? If so, you mostly like hit the top of the ball.

For the purposes of this post, we are going to focus on how to stop topping the golf ball during a full swing. When you are hitting a driver, fairway wood, or iron.

How To Stop Topping The Golf Ball

3 Swing Mistakes That Cause You To Top The Golf Ball

Before we share some ideas on how to stop topping the golf ball, let’s talk about some common mistakes made by golfers.

Mistake #1 – You Watch Your Shot Before You Hit It

We all enjoy watching our good golf shots. Love to see them fly down the fairway or towards the green.

The problem can be if we “jump the gun”. Do you get anxious over certain shots and look up too soon?

If you try to watch your shot before you have completed your golf swing, you could top the golf ball.

As you go to look at the shot, you naturally raise up a bit and this can cause your club to miss the center of the golf ball and produce a top.

Don’t get in a rush to watch your shots and you will more consistently strike the golf ball.

How To Stop Topping The Golf Ball

Mistake #2 – Slide Instead Of Turn

During a perfect golf swing your spine doesn’t change position. You simply turn around it.

A common mistake is to move your body back and forth during your swing or to slide. If you slide to the right during your back swing, you have to perfectly time the slide back to the left.

Slide in your swing complicates the timing and makes it much harder to play consistent golf. This move can often result in poor shots, including tops. You won’t see many scratch golfers with a “slide” in their swing.

You will hit the top of the golf ball if you slide in front of it before your club reaches the impact position.

Can you hit some great shots with a “sliding” swing? Yes, but it is much harder to do consistently or under pressure.

Mistake #3 – Trying To Lift The Ball In To The Air

We understand. You hate topping the golf ball. You simply want to get the ball in the air. It is human nature to try and help it up.

Here is the problem. By trying to lift the ball you create the upward swing motion that causes you to top the golf ball.

It may sound counterintuitive, but never try to help the golf ball into the air. This will only increase the chances you hit the dreaded top.

You want to swing down through the ball to eliminate the tops.

How To Stop Topping The Golf Ball

How To Stop Topping The Golf Ball – 5 Ideas

We have talked about common mistakes that produce a topped golf ball, so now let’s transition to some things you can try to avoid ever hitting this shot again.

Idea #1 – Keep Your Head Down

It seems simple, right? Keep your head down.

Keep your eyes on the prize (in this case, the prize is your golf ball).

Unfortunately, many golfers have too much head movement during their swing and fail to keep it level.

Our first idea for how to stop topping the golf ball is to keep your head still during your swing.

We aren’t saying you have to be frozen, but you don’t want it to move up and down.

Vertical head movement can cause both tops and fat shots.

When you hear “two way miss” most players mean left and right, but the same term can apply to tops and fat shots.

Looking to discover how to stop topping the golf ball?

Work on keeping your head stable throughout your swing (including just after impact).

How To Stop Topping The Golf Ball

Idea #2 – Trust The Loft

Your golf clubs are designed to help you get the ball in the air. In fact, they are built to make the ball fly the correct height and distance.

You need to trust the engineers that designed your clubs. You need to trust the loft.

We know, trust can be hard. Especially if that club has failed you in the past. We promise, your golf tops are not caused by your clubs.

When you make an upward swinging motion and your timing is off, you will hit the shot we are trying to avoid.

It may sound counterintuitive, but you want to hit down on the ball to get it to go up.

When you use the correct angle of attack and strike down on the golf ball, the loft of the club will elevate it for you.

If you truly want to learn how to stop topping the golf ball let your clubs do the work for you.

Never try to lift the ball in to the air with your swing.

How To Stop Topping The Golf Ball

Idea #3 – Practice with Half Swings

The idea of hitting down on the ball to get it in the air seems simple, but can be hard to implement.

Do you want to trust the loft of your clubs, but still seem to hit tops? Practice with less than full swings.

Learning how to stop topping the golf ball and make solid contact is critical to lowering your golf handicap.

The next time you visit the driving range start by taking half swings. Do you hit any tops while taking half swings?

If not, gradually add speed and length to your swings. Only extend your swing once you have hit 5 shots solid (zero tops). If you hit a top, go back to half swings.

Learn to hit the ball solid and build to your full golf swing. Be disciplined and in no time you will learn how to stop topping the golf ball.

This practice routine may not fix your tops in one session, but stick with it. Celebrate improvement and do not expect perfection.

How To Stop Topping The Golf Ball

Idea #4 – Tuck Your Shoulder

Would you be interested in one swing thought that could help you learn how to stop topping the golf ball?

Hopefully something that can help you keep your head still and trust the loft of your clubs? We can help.

Our favorite swing thought to learn how to stop topping the golf ball is “tuck your shoulder”.

Nice, simple, and easy to remember.

Here is how it works. During your backswing, keep your head still and simply turn your body until your left shoulder is tucked under your chin (reverse if you are a lefty).

Pause at the top of your swing, now simply untuck your shoulder, strike the ball, and finish your swing.

The “tuck your shoulder” swing thought helps in several ways. It reminds you keep your head steady. You don’t have to slide, you simply turn your shoulder under your chin. Finally, this motion will help you hit down on the ball.

Put in all together and this simple swing thought tells you how to stop topping the golf ball.

How To Stop Topping The Golf Ball

Idea #5 – Hands Forward

Our final idea to help you learn how to stop topping the golf ball is something you can check prior to each swing.

Setup to the ball and check your hand position. Are you hands behind the ball, even with the ball, or forward of the ball?

Ideally, your hands should be pressed slightly forward. This creates the attack angle you want at impact.

Of course, you need to maintain this angle during your swing to create the appropriate impact position and lag, but starting in the right place helps.

It might feel strange at first, but stick with it. Prior to each shot, push your hands a bit forward and then make your swing.

How To Stop Topping The Golf Ball

Stop The Top!

Never dribble another tee shot or blade an iron into the bunker. You can learn how to stop topping the golf ball.

Try the ideas above – you may not need all 5, but find the one or two that help you make solid contact with the middle of the golf ball.

Good luck and play well!

Photo of author
Ray has been playing golf for 35+ years, including being part of his High School and College golf teams. While he still enjoys playing in amateur tournaments, Ray now focuses on growing the game of golf through teaching and coaching. He has two sons that both play golf competitively and loves spending time watching them compete. Ray continues to play in local amateur golf events and currently has a +2 handicap.

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