How Can Bouncing a Golf Ball Help You?

By M.L. Rose
Tiger Woods isn't the only golfer who can bounce a ball off his club, as Stuart Appleby demonstrates.
Tiger Woods isn't the only golfer who can bounce a ball off his club, as Stuart Appleby demonstrates.

The same technology that causes a golf ball to compress and spring forward when struck by a club also permits the ball to bounce when it strikes some surfaces. Bouncing the ball can be helpful, both on the course during a round of play, or as a practice exercise. There are other times, however, when you don’t want the ball to bounce.

Tiger Woods Ball Bouncing Trick

A well-known TV commercial showed Tiger Woods bouncing the ball off a club for about 20 seconds, then gripping his club quickly with two hands and swinging at the ball while it was still in the air, driving the ball straight down the fairway. Some cynics claimed that computer graphics contributed to the effect, but Woods repeated the trick while being taped for a 60 Minutes interview in 2006. Woods has said that the exercise is “good for hand-eye coordination.”

Bounce a Ball Off a Club

To bounce a ball off a golf club, start with a wedge or a short iron. These clubs have shorter shafts, so they’re easier to control. Wedges and short irons also have larger club heads than long irons, giving you a bigger target on which to bounce the ball. To begin, place a ball on the ground, then slide it onto the club face with your foot. Holding the club in one hand, lift the club face off the ground to get a feel for balancing the ball on the face. When you can balance the ball successfully, simply flick your wrist to pop the ball in the air. Try flipping it in the air a few times, then attempt to bounce it off the club face. Keep the face horizontal, as you did when you were just balancing the ball, and pretend that the club face can catch the golf ball. Just let the ball strike the face’s sweet spot. As you improve, flick your wrist slightly on impact to pop the ball a bit higher in the air.

Don’t Try This at Home

Do not try to duplicate the end of Tiger Woods’ ball-bouncing trick unless you’re in a secluded area, with no people around. Tiger’s hand-eye coordination is off the charts. Yours most likely isn’t. There’s no telling which direction the ball will travel if you strike it while it's in the air.

On the Course

A bouncing golf ball can help you or hurt you on the course. If you smack a drive down the middle of a straight fairway, for example, you’ll enjoy seeing the ball bounce as far as possible, adding length to your drive. If the ground is firm, you may even purposely hit the ball with a lower trajectory to take advantage of the course’s bounciness. But perhaps the most frustrating shot in golf is the approach that hits the green, then bounces off into the rough or a bunker. To prevent excessive bounce on approach shots, learn to hit the ball with more backspin, or at a higher trajectory. If the front of the green is hazard-free, you may wish to use less club on certain approaches and land the ball just short of the green, hoping it will bounce onto the putting surface.

About the Author

M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.

Photo Credits

  • Sam Greenwood/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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