We’ve all shot a pitch across the green on a line drive. We’ve all taken a massive divot just to watch the ball go about ten yards in front of us. Hitting fat or thin golf shots isn’t fun and won’t help you lower your golf score.
The good news is you can stop hitting fat and thin golf shots with a few good drills and some practice. You don’t have to be embarrassed anymore when you sail the ball 50 yards across the green or when you watch a fat golf shot go a few yards in front of you.
A recent set of user stats from GolfShot GPS showed the average golfer with a 10 to 19 handicap only hits about five greens per round. That’s not very good and leaves quite a bit of cleaning up to do around the green.
The number one reason so many amateur golfers miss greens is the type of contact they make with the ball. Even hitting a golf shot slightly thin or slightly flat could have you chipping onto the green instead of racking up another green hit in regulation.
If you want to eliminate fat and thin golf shots from your game, you need the right tips and drills. It’s also helpful to understand why both of these types of shots happen.
Why Do You Hit Fat Golf Shots?
The most common reason any golfer hits a shot fat has to do with the angle they approach the ball with the club. When your swing plane is too steep, it doesn’t leave much room for error at the bottom of the swing (where you make contact).
Another reason you may be hitting fat golf shots has to do with the ball’s position in your stance. Many amateur golfers rely on using their feet to position the ball when they should be using the breast bone or middle of the chest.
You can have the ball place perfectly when it comes to your feet, but your weight distribution is off, which puts the ball too far forward in your stand. When the golf ball is too far forward in your stand, you’re more likely to hit a fat golf shot.
A fat golf shot happens when you hit the ground before the ball. It’s most common with short irons and wedges but can also happen with fairway woods and long irons. Even on occasion, you might hit a fat golf shot with your driver, but this is not as common.
Why Do You Hit Thin Golf Shots?
Just as you may hit fat golf shots due to the arc at the bottom of your swing, you may also hit thin shots due to the same reason. A thin golf shot happens when you hit the top half of the golf ball instead of hitting it on the sweet spot of the club.
Thin shots are often caused by too much head movement, by lifting up during the swing, and by fatigue. Even good golfers may start to hit the ball slightly thin towards the end of a round if they become tired.
Golf shots coming off the club thin may also be caused by a poor ball position. If the ball is placed too far back in your stance, it may cause you to hit the ball first, but only the top half. This will likely result in an ugly thin golf shot.
Understanding the Proper Impact Position
With every club in the bag, except the driver and maybe your three wood, the proper impact position will have the grip of the club (your hands) leading the club through the ball. You will strike the ball on the way down right before the bottom of the swing arc causing you to hit the ball crisply on the center of the clubface.
Typically, a good impact position will have your weight slightly on the front foot with a nearly straight leading arm, and the front shoulder pointing at the target. When done correctly, you will see a good ball flight and the shot will have a specifically nice feel.
Fat golf shots end up with an impact position with less weight on the front leg, the hands may lag behind and the ground will be struck before the ball causing the golfer to hit the ball towards the top of the clubface.
A thin golf shot will be the opposite. Too much weight may be on the front foot and the top half of the golf ball will be struck low on the face of the club.
How to Stop Hitting Fat or Thin Golf Shots – 5 Quick Tips
1. Check Your Setup
A vast majority of the issues amateur golfers face can be traced back to a poor set up. If you’re hitting fat golf shots, make sure the ball is positioned properly in your stance by using your breast bone (middle of the chest) instead of your feet. Moving the ball slightly back in your stance may solve the problem.
For golfers hitting thin shots, check to ensure you’re not putting the ball too far behind your breast bone (center of the chest). You may not need to adjust your feet, but you may need to adjust your weight to distribute more onto the back leg.
2. Watch for the Hip Sway
You may have the perfect set up, but you still hit fat or thin golf shots. This could be caused by the dreaded hip sway. If you’re allowing your right hip to slide to the right instead of turning, you may be hitting fat or thin golf shots because of this hip sway.
You want to make sure your right leg stays in place and you turn your hip back behind you instead of swaying.
3. Shallow Out Your Swing Arc
A steep swing causes fat or thin golf shots rather commonly. If you have a steep backswing, you likely have a steep swing plane, which is causing your issues. Lowering your swing plane or shallowing out the swing arc may help fix the issue.
4. Posture Makes a Difference
A common cause of thin golf shots is lifting up during the swing. In other words, you could start with perfect posture and a good spine angle, but by the time you get to impact, you’ve straightened your spine some causing the clubhead to strike the top half of the golf ball.
This may be due to fatigue and working on getting in better shape for golf might help. As you get tired, towards the end of the round, you may need to focus more on maintaining good posture throughout the golf swing.
5. Stop Focusing on Keeping Your Head Down
Yes, you should see the ball hit the clubface, but your head won’t stay down throughout the entire golf swing. It’s a big misconception many amateur golfers fall for and it could be why you hit the ball fat or thin.
Instead of focusing on keeping your head down, focus on seeing the clubface hit the golf ball and finishing the swing properly. Have you ever seen a professional golfer with their head down after the ball has been struck?
When you keep your head down throughout the entire swing, it becomes harder to get your weight to the front leg at impact. This will result in more fat golf shots than good golf shots.
Two Drills to Stop Hitting Fat Golf Shots
Roll The Ball Backwards Drill
One of the best drills for shallowing out your swing plane is the roll the ball backward drill. This drill is exactly what it sounds like.
Start with the normal golf ball you plan to hit and place second golf ball about 12 to 18 inches directly behind the ball. Now, as you take the club back, roll the second golf ball backward and finish your swing.
This drill helps you to create a shallower swing plane, which helps to eliminate fat golf shots. Practice this drill on the range often and you’ll see excellent results on the golf course if you tend to have a steep swing plane.
Long Shaft Drill
There are several ways to do the long shaft drill, which will help you hit better golf shots. When you’re hitting fat shots, sometimes, it can be due to a bad impact position. Maybe the hands aren’t leading the club through impact causing you to flip your wrists and hit a weak, fat shot.
You can take an old shaft without a club head and tape it to the club your hitting with to make the shaft longer. You can also use an orange or yellow fiberglass stick (usually found at a hardware store and used to mark curbs in the snow) instead. Just shove it through the hole in your grip or tape it to the club.
Now, you want the extra-long shaft to be in front of your body. It will provide feedback when you hit golf balls. If you flip your wrists, this extra shaft will smack you on the front side of your body.
The goal of this drill is to help you lead through the ball with your hands. If done correctly, you won’t get smacked by the extra-long shaft. When you don’t perform it right, you’ll get a little bit of a smack providing helpful feedback.
Two Drills to Stop Hitting Thin Golf Shots
Head Against the Wall Drill
You can do this drill without a golf club and also with your imagination. It will help those golfers struggling to maintain the proper spine angle throughout the swing.
Take your normal stance and place your head against a wall. Now, practice your golf swing without a club and feel how your body turns around the spine angle, which doesn’t change throughout the swing. Your body should rotate around your spine like there’s a pole going through the top of your head, down your spine, and out your body into the ground.
You can also practice hitting balls on the rage with this drill, but you will have to use your imagination. Imagine your head is up against the wall and you’re swinging the club without moving your spine angle.
Hitting Balls From Your Knees
Another good drill to help you learn how to swing properly with the upper body is done by hitting balls from your knees. You will want to do this with your driver as it can be rather difficult, at first, with other clubs.
Tee the ball up higher than normal and lay a towel down on the ground where you will put your knees. Swing around your body and hit the golf ball with the club. When done properly, you will learn how to turn your body with a quiet lower body.
This drill can help correct your swing plane and help teach you how to quiet the lower body movement, which may be causing fat or thin golf shots.
Bonus Drill to Stop Hitting Fat or Thin Golf Shots
Chipping with an Exaggerated Impact Position
The short game of any golfer helps to feed into the long game. Chip shots are the shortest swing in the game and, if you’re good at chipping, it can help the rest of your swing.
When you hit a chip shot correctly, you’ll have most of the weight on your front leg and you’ll achieve perfect or near-perfect impact. Practicing chip shots and exaggerating the hands leading through the shot can help if you’re hitting fat or thin golf shots.
Golf is a game of muscle memory and this drill will help teach your muscles what a good impact position looks like. Make sure you have about 80% of your weight on the front leg and start with the grip in front of the ball and the clubface slightly closed. Use your body and arms to move the club slightly back and through. You can even exaggerate the forward motion by taking the club twice as far through the ball as you do back.
When you practice this chipping drill, it will help you achieve a better impact position with full swing shots since you will be teaching your muscles what it feels like.
These tips and drills will help you learn how to stop hitting fat or thin golf shots. The more you practice, the better you will get at hitting the ball with a proper impact position and good contact.
Golf is a game of minimizing the errors. If you can go from hitting really fat or really thin golf shots to slightly fat or slightly thin shots when you miss, you will have smaller misses, leading to better scores.