Missing the ball? The golf Whiff explained – and how to stop doing it!

Everyone misses the ball in golf. For beginners, it’s likely to happen a few times every time you play a game or step into the driving range.

It’s easy to feel embarrassed when you miss a shot. There’s only one thing you really need to do when playing golf, and that’s hit the ball, so it can feel quite silly when you fail to do even that.

But don’t be dismayed!

The golf whiff is an incredibly common swing error and one that all golfers must combat at some point in their career.

The good thing about the golf whiff is that it’s relatively easy to fix in comparison to other swing errors.

There are no complex movements you need to incorporate into your swing, no new clubs you need to buy (necessarily), and you don’t need to re-think the way you approach the game.

All you need to do is step back for a moment and assess your swing. We can help with that!

So, keep reading as we get into how to stop whiffing the ball!

Let’s get started!

a golfer walks down the fairway with his club bag on his back after hitting a golf whiff.

The Golf Whiff Explained

Missing the ball in golf comes down to one thing. Your swing arc.

The most likely cause of a whiffed swing is that your swing arc is too high. Some golfers might also miss the ball because their swing is too short or too wide, but these are much less likely reasons.

That being said, it doesn’t mean that having a swing that misses the ball on either side of it isn’t impossible, it’s just that the way to fix these issues are the same as if your swing arc is too high.

It can be hard to diagnose just what you’re having trouble with sometimes in golf. The golf swing is such a fast movement that before you have time to think about what’s gone wrong, you’ve already made your swing and the ball is sat exactly where it was when you started.

That’s why its so important to make sure the fundamentals of your swing are correct before you take your swing.

You can also film your swing for added clarity in your analysis or remember this: every shot without a practice swing is a wasted shot.

So, let’s get into the ways that you can fix your swing arc so you can stop whiffing the golf ball!

A golfer looks frustrated after a golf whiff.

1. Club size

Remember when I said that you won’t have to buy new clubs to fix this problem? Well, you probably won’t…

However, it’s always worth making sure that your clubs are properly sized.

Improperly sized clubs can be the cause of many different swing errors and can also be the reason why so many people find golf to be a very hard sport.

A good way to quickly check that your clubs are correctly sized is by getting to your golf stance and letting your arms hang completely loose while holding your clubs.

If your club head sits comfortably behind the ball in this position, congratulations, your clubs are most likely properly sized!

But that’s assuming you are stood with the correct golf stance…

A golf club hovering next to a ball on a tee.

2. Incorrect Stance

The correct golf stance is something that can elude plenty of golfers for years, and it’s also one of the big reasons why you might be finding errors in your swing.

This is because there are so many components to get right for a proper golfing stance. It can be a lot to remember!

There are four things you must get right before you make your swing:

  • Your foot position.
  • Your knee flexion.
  • Your waist hinge.
  • Your shoulders.

So lets go over the basics of each of these components of a good golf stance.

A golfer begins his downswing.

Your Foot Position

Foot position is an often overlooked aspect of your golf stance that can have a huge effect on your swing.

Most basically, you want your feet to be positioned around shoulder width apart.

Having poor foot position can also be a big reason why you’re hitting a golf whiff! It could be because your stance is either too open or closed.

These are more technical stances used for more difficult shots, like playing out of a sand bunker for example, but for our purposes of avoiding a golf whiff, you want your feet to be running perpendicular to each other and side on to your target.

Your Knee Flexion

Your knee flexion can be a difficult stance to hold for a long time for some, so you want to make sure that you’re not pushing yourself too much with your knee flexion.

You don’t want to squat down so far that you could feasibly be sat on a chair, just far enough that you have space to move in your swing so you can use your legs properly.

If you watch Tiger Woods’ swing, you’ll see that he almost squats through his swing in order to really get underneath the ball with his driver and create more power and loft in his swing.

This is definitely an advanced skill and will take a lot of practice, but we wouldn’t be recommending it for no reason!

A golfer watches her ball fly through the air.

Your Waist Hinge

If you’re bending your knees properly, there’s a good chance that your waist will naturally hinge to make room for you swing.

The purpose of the waist hinge in the golf swing is to get your hips out of the way so that you have space to make your full swing.

However, the biggest risk with your waist hinge is losing your spine angle. Maintaining your spine angle is very important in the swing and could be one of the reasons why you’re hitting golf whiffs!

Your Shoulders

Your shoulders are where most of the movement comes from in your golf swing. Your shoulders are what move your arms through the swing, the reason why a lot of golfers are hitting golf whiffs.

When you putt, your shoulders swing like a pendulum which little flexion in your elbows.

A full golf swing with an iron is more difficult as there are far more components working together to create a powerful and precise swing, so naturally, your arms may take over to try and correct what might feel like an unnatural movement.

If you want to create lag in your swing, you need to use your wrists properly alongside your shoulders, not your arms.

Trying to use your arms to make your shot rather than your shoulders coiling and rotating through the ball could be why you are hitting golf whiffs!

A golfer smiles with his club while another golfer inspects a green.

3. Keep your Eyes on the prize

This is probably the most common advice given to any golfer: keep your eye on the ball.

It might not go a long way to fix other issues with your swing, but the importance of watching your ball can’t be understated.

Every time you hit a golf whiff ask yourself if you looked away from the ball. If the answer is yes, you know what to do. If the answer is no, it’s time to troubleshoot and use some of our other tips.

However, desperately trying to keep your eyes on the ball can cause a lot of tension to build in your swing, which can be worse than a golf whiff in the long run.

4. Golf Nerves

Nerves at the tee can be the cause of so many different issues in golf, one of the most common being the golf whiff.

You want to feel confident when you step up to the ball and prepare to make your swing. Bill Murray famously has buckets of confidence in golf, despite not being a professional player. It’s that confidence that has given Bill the reputation of being one of the best celebrity golfers.

While it might be difficult to emulate that kind of confidence, it’s not too much to believe that you can make the shot you’re about to make.

Without that confidence, the swing errors are just going to pile up and spiral out of control.

The best way to ensure that you are confident at the tee is to practice as much as possible. Practice putting, practice at home, practice at the driving range, practice hitting out of bunkers, practice hitting draws and fades, practice everything.

If you want to keep improving at golf, practicing is the only way to get rid of golf nerves and stop hitting golf whiffs.

You might be a high handicapper now, but if you practice enough, you’ll soon break 100, then 90, then 80, and maybe beyond!

So that’s our guide on how to stop hitting golf whiffs!

While the golf whiff can be frustrating beyond belief, it’s really not the end of the world – you can always try again!

Hopefully this guide has given you the tools to addressing the golf whiff and making sure that it doesn’t become a regular problem in your games.

Just remember, it’s not embarrassing to hit a whiff. We all do it, we’ve all done it, we’re all learning.

It’s the best thing about playing golf, everyone’s still learning how to play!

Keep learning and check out our guide on how to play out of sand bunkers!

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