Topping is often the result of rising out of your address posture during the downswing. Your impulse to get the shot airborne makes you hang back and try to scoop the ball with your wrists or hit up on it, and you stand up in the process (above, left). Either of these moves can lift the bottom of your swing arc, causing the club to glance the top half of the ball.
To fix this, you need to get used to maintaining your posture and attacking the ball on a downward angle. Set up with a clubshaft or stake behind you. When you start your downswing, stick your butt out and bump the shaft (above, right). This will keep your lower body and upper body in the posture you established at address, and you'll feel the clubhead moving downward and slightly from inside the target line. Practice this move through impact, and you'll get back to solid ball-striking.
RICK SMITH, ranked 11th on Golf Digest's list of the 50 Greatest Teachers, is based at Treetops Resort in Gaylord, Mich., and Tiburón Golf Club in Naples, Fla.