What Causes Hitting Behind the Golf Ball?

By Jim Hagerty
Improper weight transfer and dropping the right shoulder can lead to "fat" shots.
Improper weight transfer and dropping the right shoulder can lead to "fat" shots.

Hitting behind the golf ball, or hitting it "fat," is a common problem, especially with high handicappers. It is a frustrating mishit that results in added strokes to the scorecard. There are several causes to hitting fat shots. Many can be remedied easily. In fact, it's often necessary during a round to think quickly to take care of the problem, especially in tournament play.

Ball Position

Perhaps the most common problem for fat shots is playing the ball too close to the front foot, especially with shorter clubs. As a general rule, the ball should be played in the middle of the stance and slightly back with shorter clubs.

Sliding the Hips

Sliding the hips forward before or at impact causes the body to shift forward, causing the club to drop behind the ball. To remedy the problem, concentrate on keeping lower-body movements out of the swing equation.

Head Slide

During the downswing, players sometimes have the tendency to slide their head forward. This causes the upper body to slide forward, impeding a proper recoil. It also prevents the player from concentrating on watching the club strike the ball. The head must stay behind the ball on every shot.

Loose Leading Arm

When the leading arm (left arm for right-handed players) isn't straight, it causes a short backswing and prevents the upper body from making the proper coil. Keep the left arm straight, but not tense, and lead the body into the shot with the head and hips behind the ball.

Back Shoulder Dip

Dipping the back shoulder during the downswing causes the body and hands to scoop at the ball (commonly called a "chili dip"). Keeping the upper body upright during the swing and concentrating on leading with the front shoulder can remedy this habit.

Improper Weight Transfer

During the backswing, the player's weight is on the back foot. Failure to naturally transfer the weight through the ball and onto the left commonly causes the club to drop behind the ball. The body and the club must work together in a proper weight transfer.

Early Release

Releasing the club too quickly, commonly called "casting," throws off the swing plane, causing the club to hit across the impact area. It can also promote a hip slide that causes fat shots. Practicing to allow the club head to release naturally and not too high in the backswing can remedy this problem.

About the Author

Jim Hagerty is a writer and journalist who began writing professionally in 1996. He has had articles published in the "Rock River Times," "Builder's Journal" and various websites. He earned a Bachelor of Science in public relations and journalism from Northern Michigan University in Marquette.

Photo Credits

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