If winter for you meant no golf, I know you're itching to get back out there. First, we need to do a little prep work. I've learned from all my years in New York that spring lies—those muddy ones with no cushion under the ball—are prime territory for fat shots. And when you hit a few of those, you can lose it fast. Let's talk.
Golfers who are afraid of hitting the ball fat tend to bend over too much, with their weight on their toes. They feel more in control if they're closer to the ball. But your body will find its balance as you swing, so you'll pull up and dump the club behind the ball (fat) or hit it thin. To stay in the shot, set your weight in the arches of your feet. Next: ball position. With an iron, play the ball in line with a spot on your body between the buttons on your shirt and your chest logo (short irons in line with the buttons, longer irons farther forward). I've got a 6-iron here (see below).
Now I'm going to give you just one swing key to think about: Drive your left shoulder closer to your left hip as you start the downswing (far right). That's probably a strange concept for you, so let's break it down. I want you to shift toward the target and feel like your upper body is leaning that way, your spine tilting left—we call that side bend. That will shift the low point of your swing in front of the ball so you hit the ball, then the ground. You'll love that crisp impact, and your confidence will soar because you won't be worrying about the next iffy lie.
That move—left shoulder toward left hip—also causes your upper body to turn open slightly. Perfect, because that brings your arms and the club back in front of your body, which is another key to avoiding fat shots. Golfers blame fat contact on a steep, choppy swing, but a shallow swing will often skim the ground before impact—and that's fat, too. The common denominator is, the club hits the ground too soon. Driving your left shoulder forward will prevent that and add compression to your strikes.
So get the ball in the right spot, set your weight in your arches, and focus on that left shoulder. You'll have the pieces in place to hit it solid—and beat those muddy lies. Come on, spring!
BUTTONS TO THE BALL
Focus on two positions at address: (1) Weight in the arches of your feet, never on your toes; (2) Ball just ahead of your shirt buttons (for a middle iron).
TURN INTO YOUR RIGHT SIDE
Let your weight shift to the heel of your right foot, and be ready to drive forward. What you do next will determine how solidly you strike the ball.
LEFT SHOULDER TO LEFT HIP
This is the key move for solid contact: Drive your left shoulder toward your left hip to start down. When you feel like your spine is tilting left, you’ve got it.
Michael Breed is Golf Digest's Chief Digital Instructor.
THE NEWEST WAY TO IMPROVE YOUR GAME
Two years ago, we launched a project to recast the Golf Digest Schools brand as a comprehensive digital-instruction service. The idea is, we produce a vast library of video curriculums, tapping the top teachers in the game, and use the latest technology to amass and deliver to you the finest instruction in golf. Along the way, we've started partnerships with some incredible talent. Now Michael Breed joins the Golf Digest staff and will help us conceive, develop and customize this new brand of golf instruction. No teacher in the game today has a better sense for coaching golf in video form. With his help, the Golf Digest Schools will be your one stop for game improvement. Stay tuned for more details—and welcome, Michael. —Peter Morrice, Executive Editor