What Causes Hitting The Ground Behind The Golf Ball

Every golfer I know has experienced the frustrating result of hitting the ground first before their intended target of the golf ball. Sometimes the mishit is less than and inch and other times it is a few inches. This universal challenge had me wondering if there is one single reason for the mishit or is it an accumulation of many factors? As an amateur, this is a valid question because it will shape the ‘correction plan’ to eliminate hitting the ground first before their golf ball.

After watching many videos, reading a few articles and thinking of my own experiences, I concluded that the reason for hitting the ground first is not focused on one specific reason. Every golfer is different whereby fixing one area of their swing will fix hitting the ground first, but in many cases it is a couple of mechanical challenges that produces the fat shot. Without looking at your swing, it is difficult to conclusively isolate the area to fix first. I recommend taking a video of hitting 10 golf balls to see what might be the challenge. Ball position, swing sway, or poor follow are three main swing errors experienced by many golfers and fortunately Rick Shiels addresses fixes that are easy and repeatable.

The one error I experience not addressed by Shiels is casting my golf club. Casting is where I release my wrists too early which in turn increases the size of my club arc. As a result, I hit the ground behind the ball producing a very frustrating poor shot. Casting or flipping my club is something I have struggled with for my entire time I have golfed. It generally shows up when I try to hit the ball harder (which barely works by the way). By trying to hit the ball harder, I lose my swing sequencing which results in poor contact of a heavy golf shot. Casting is a challenge for my swing and might be yours as well.

Hitting the ground behind the ball is a universal problem for golfers. There is no one fix for all players because there are a multitude of reasons for making these poor shots. Finding your core challenge is not difficult especially if you video your swing. Once you determine your main swing flaw, then finding a fix is easy. I would suggest that Shiels video is a great place to start.

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

6 thoughts on “What Causes Hitting The Ground Behind The Golf Ball

  1. Jim, fat is a very common miss for the high handicap player. As a single digit, laying the sod over a wedge shot from the middle of the fairway is THE most frustrating mistake in golf because it comes the closest to an unforced error. You’ve hit a good drive, managed the hole correctly, put yourself in the “A” position, and then “thunk” something comes out looking like Howard Cosell’s toupee and the ball goes halfway to the hole.

    There is no 100% surefire way to eliminate, but I’ve had the best success by pausing at the top of my backswing to allow my lower body to initiate the shot. Also rears its ugly head more often when my core is fatigued and the little muscles (hand and wrist) start the swing.

    Got the DIY setup yet? I’m still going hard through November and then will back off for the season.



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  2. Drill one is what I call the line drill. It’s a favorite of mine that I’ve been doing off and on for maybe 5, 6 years now. Rather than drawing a line in the sand like I did when I started or using a club like Rick does in the video I suggest putting two tees in the ground to create a gate that lines up with the back of the ball. That way you can work on hitting ball first and finding center face at the same time. An old shaft or alignment stick stuck in the ground and pointing at your trail hip is another good tool to give you feedback because if you sway back at all. When I use one I keep it about an inch, maybe two away and if I touch it, I know right away I failed. And one last thing on this one, at setup if you get yourself set up, shoulders toes and hips all aligned to the target line and then just before you start the backswing swivel only the hips a little open (trail side moves backward) it will help make sure you turn and don’t sway as you start the backswing. It only takes a very little bit of swivel to do the job and I have a pause after the swivel before I start my swing and that kind of presets me to move in the correct motion to turn and not move off the ball as I do.

    Drill 3 is pretty much what I do while playing. I don’t focus on the ball I focus on where I want the club to bottom out. Generally the back side of the ball or a blade of grass just past it. Works for all clubs. Just remember that with a driver, you want to bottom out before the ball. The logic here is when I take a practice swing without a ball the club tends to bottom out where I’m focused so I trust that it will when I’ve a ball in front of me. I just need to make sure that the point I focus on in the the right path that I want the club to take. And in fact, this gives a mental aid as well. Your minds sees that path between the ball and the spot you’re focused on. It helps you follow it. The ball is just in the way. That’s how I think about it at least. And btw, I do this with the gate exercise above too.

    As for casting, I think we should separate it into two areas. Casting being starting the release up top in the transition and just early release meaning we let the club fall maybe at belt level instead of pocket level. Both though can be helped with another simple drill. No ball needed for this one and using one doesn’t help at all. What we want to do here is simply take practice swings and don’t release at all until way late. Exaggerate it big time. This is also a drill I use with the driver for speed training. You want a faster swing. Hold the release. For casting alone, I do something that I’ve heard pro’s suggest and I’ve heard pro’s say not to do. I only partial cock my wrists on the way back and allow the cock to increase as I transition and then just try and keep that feel with my turn leading the way around. It really kind of helps keep me from casting at the top or early release at the bottom. What it doesn’t do is help me keep my hands forward but that’s a timing thing for me. I’m moving up too soon most of the time and end up presenting more loft than I want to because that changes the release timing too. So I send 9 irons ten stories high off the tee but only get 135 from them. lol.. It’s still fun but this is the main area I’m just beginning to work on.

    I hit about a hundred chips today. Not a one fell in. So I should be ready for tomorrows round now with all the “chip ins” saved up and ready to make their appearance. lol. Should have perfect weather too. Mid to low 70’sF and sunshine with winds less than 10mph. That’s going to be helpful on the shot makers course we’re playing.

    I played around some trying to go very hands forward with the gap wedge to start working on the too tall ball flight issue. That’s going to take some doing if I decide to keep at it. It requires a lot of leg work. A lot more than I usually use when hitting a wedge anyway. Without the leg work and turning through you can’t shallow out enough to do anything but dig in. And I’m sure I did the early release thing a couple times too. It’s a new feel so you do things like that.

    I will say though that the very few I managed to hit pretty well did what I wanted them to do. A 3/4 swing went about as far as my normal full swing. It just flew a lot lower but it still managed to stop so that’s a shot I’d like to be able to make on demand. 🤞 I’m thinking my pitching wedge and 9 iron might be a little more forgiving to practice with but they’re both too long from my little range so I guess using the harder clubs to use while practicing might help me do it better in the end. Maybe. Hopefully. 😂 Right now, I’ll club up instead. But I do want this on call with all my irons, and hybrids too. A stinger 4 wood doesn’t sound all that bad either for that matter.

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    • Whew Kevin,

      That is so much information to unpack. Your points about drills 1 and 3 are well taken. Each player needs to find their sweet spot for swing mechanics and ball position. Casting can be broken down into several different positions, but casting is a challenge for most amateurs. There are so many moving parts in a golf swing that each player has to find their own swing that works for their body make up and athletic ability. It is not difficult, but it does take time.

      Cheers Jim


      • It is a lot. I’ve done a ton of research and watched hundreds of hours of video. I know what they all say over and over. lol My biggest lacking is laziness. I don’t bring the camera set up down when I work on the range. That’s just dumb because I know I am particularly bad at judging what I’m doing by how it feels. I get it wrong so often I can often do the opposite of what I think for a quick fix on the course. lol

        Two good drives today and the rest terrible. They didn’t get me in much trouble though thankfully. My choices on the three holes did better on two of them. Still going to have to drop another club on one though. I still went too far today with the 4 hybrid and it funneled into a waste bunker with a 4 foot high wall to get over from 3 feet away. I got out but didn’t make the green and I did managed to keep that double away there I didn’t get the par I should on that easy short par 4.

        My best drive of the day rolled out past the 300 mark. Left me a 70 yard chip to a pin sitting in a bowl. Easiest birdie of the day. I missed right about about 8 feet and it just rolled almost down into the hole in a half circle. Crazy. Got a picture of that hole. I’ll send it to you on twitter.

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