How to Stop Topping the Golf Ball

Golfer topping his golf shot
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There are only a few things worse than topping the golf ball when you’re on the golf course. It can be embarrassing, especially off the tee.

If you’re sick of topping the golf ball, it might be time to try a few drills and tips to help you learn how to stop topping the golf ball. With the tips and drills below, along with a few things you can do on the course, you’ll be able to recover better and avoid the dreaded topped golf shot.

What Causes you to Top the Golf Ball?

The main reason you start topping the golf ball is that you don’t deliver the club all the way to the ball. For some golfers, it happens towards the end of a round when they become fatigued. You may start lifting up during your swing causing you to hit thin shots and top the golf ball.

There are many other reasons why a golfer might top the golf ball, as well. Some of the main reasons include:

  • Clubs are too short
  • Wrong stance
  • Too much weight leaning forward or backward
  • Bad ball position
  • A chicken wing follow-through
  • A fear of hitting the ground
  • Poor posture during the swing
  • A reverse pivot

The reasons for topping the ball are varied, which makes it a bit more difficult to figure out.

Learn How to Stop Topping the Golf Ball With These 7 Tips

1. Check Your Golf Clubs

If you’ve been topping the golf ball quite a bit, it could be your clubs. When you play with clubs made too short for you, it forces you to take the wrong type of stance and makes your swing arc way too steep.

Switching out your golf clubs for a custom-made option specifically cut to your height and body type may fix the issue. Golf is a difficult game and there’s no good reason to make it harder by playing with equipment that doesn’t fit you.

2. Get in Golf Shape

One of the main reasons for a topped golf shot is fatigue. For some players, it becomes an issue towards the end of the round, which can cause a good round to turn into an average or bad round fast.

Getting in shape to play a full 18 holes of golf, whether it’s walking more often or working out at the gym, can help you stop topping the golf ball. If you mainly hit bad shots during the last three or so holes of your round, get in better shape for golf and watch those bad shots go away.

3. Adjust your Ball Position

It’s common for golfers to relate ball position in their stance with their feet. However, you want to use the middle of your chest or breast bone as this is a more accurate gauge for ball position.

Check your ball position and adjust it if you have the ball too far forward or backward in your stance. If you’re topping the golf ball and you’re not sure why try adjusting your ball position first. Usually, you have the ball too far backward, but it’s possible to top the ball with too far forward in your stance.

If there’s one specific club you tend to top the ball with, this could also be the issue.

4. Slow Down

Another reason why golfers top the golf ball is over swinging or being in a hurry. While it may seem like you should swing really hard to hit the ball a good distance, the harder you swing, the more chance of error.

When you start to top the golf ball, especially with the driver, you’re probably swinging too hard. Slow down your backswing and gain control over your body again. Take a deep breath and act like everything is moving in slow motion.

5. Worry about Hitting the Shot, Not the Results

Often, golfers will get so worried about how a shot will turn out they forget to keep their eye on the ball. While you don’t want to keep your head down the entire swing (it could injure you if you do), it is important to see the club hit the ball.

If you’re too worried about how a shot may turn out, you may lift your body and your head too soon causing you to top the golf ball. Focus on hitting the shot, not the results of the shot.

6. Keep Your Back to the Target

When you have the proper set up in golf and you take your backswing, your back will turn and face the target. As you follow through with your downswing and finish the swing, a topped shot often includes rotating too fast, usually due to over swinging.

Focusing on keeping your back to the target as long as possible can help you hit better shots. If you want to know how to stop topping the golf ball, practice this trick on the range and watch your golf shots improve.

7. Get your Tempo Back

Tempo makes such a big difference in golf. Some golfers use a slow count on the way back to keep their tempo on track. Others use a saying on the backswing to get the right tempo.

No matter what you do, if your tempo is off, it could be causing you to top the golf ball. If you want to know how to stop topping the golf ball, the answer may be rediscovering the proper tempo in your swing.

This is a good fix for over swinging, too. If you start to top the golf ball, practice slowing down and getting back to the right tempo.

What to do if You Start Topping the Golf Ball on the Course

There are many things you can do on the course if you start topping the golf ball. However, you have to diagnose the issue a bit first.

If you let your emotions get out of control, it could be as easy as taking a few deep breaths, calming down, and slowing down your approach to the ball. Sometimes, golfers start to top the golf ball when they get irritated or even too excited on the golf course. Keep an even keel throughout your round and you’ll hit better golf shots.

How to Stop Topping the Golf Ball, if you’re Emotions are Fine

When emotion hasn’t caused you to hit bad golf shots, you have to figure out something else to fix the issue on the fly. There are only so many things you can do on the course since training aids and drills really are an option.

One of the tricks you can use is the stare tactic. This trick involves staring at the golf ball so intently before you hit a shot that you can still see the spot where it was after you hit the shot. It’s similar to staring at the hole when putting.

Since golfers often top the ball because they take their eye off it, this trick will help you hit better shots on the course.

Another thing you can do on the course is to focus on keeping your back to the target as long as possible. Since topped shots can be caused by over-rotating or rotating too soon, this trick will help you stay back until you’ve hit the ball solid.

You can also focus on keeping the clubhead as close to the ground as you possibly can on the backswing. Topped golf shots can be caused by a steep swing plane and this will help shallow out the swing plane. The ball behind drill will help you get the feeling for this, but this trick can actually be used on the course.

The Quickest Way to Stop Topping the Golf Ball on the Course

When you’re in the middle of a round, you can’t whip out your favorite training aid or hit 10 balls with a specific drill. You have to suffer through the bad shots, even if you just topped the ball five times in a row.

The quickest way to stop topping the ball on the course is to slow down and take a shorter swing. Switch to a three-quarter or 75% swing for a few holes or even the rest of the round. You’ll solve your issue with topping the golf ball quickly and get back to hitting solid shots.

5 Easy Drills to Stop Topping the Golf Ball

1. Feet Together Drill

A great drill to help you get the right posture and the right rotation is hitting balls with your feet together. This drill helps you quiet the lower body, which can often be the root cause of your topped golf shots.

When you have a stable foundation (the lower half of the body) you have a much better chance of hitting a good golf shot. If the hips start to sway, the kneed buckle too much, or you start to look like your lower body is dancing, your margin for error becomes very slim.

If you believe your lower body is causing you to top the golf ball, use this drill to hit with a quiet lower body.

2. Ball Behind Drill

As mentioned earlier, you can try to keep the clubhead as close to the ground as possible on the backswing when on the course. The ball behind drill helps mimic this on the range.

Place a ball directly behind the ball you intend to hit about 8 to 12 inches. Then, as you take your backswing, roll the ball backward.

The goal of this drill is to shallow out your swing arc and give you more room for error. Golf is a game of hitting great missed shots, which require a larger margin for error. The steeper your swing path, the smaller your margin for error becomes, and the more likely you are to hitting a topped golf shot, a thin golf shot, or even a fat golf shot.

Use the ball behind drill on the range when practicing and during warm-ups before a round. It will help you shallow out your swing path and give you more room for error.

3. Hit from Knees Drill

An excellent drill to teach you how to turn your upper body properly, hitting balls from your knees can help you stop topping the golf ball. It’s also a cool drill to use if you want to show off to your friends.

Tee the ball up as high as you can and use your driver for this drill. Place a towel on the ground where you plan to kneel and make sure you have room to swing the club properly. Now, hit the golf ball.

This drill will help you to use your upper body property and will also help exaggerate a shallow swing arc. It forces you to swing around your body without using your legs. If you’re topping your drives, use this drill to fix the issue.

4. Low and Slow Weighted Club

Another good drill to help shallow out your swing arc, the low and slow weighted club drill requires a weighted club, preferably a driver. You can add a donut weight or five or you can use an actual weighted club for this drill. The more weight the better, as long as you can still swing the club.

The weight makes it harder to pull the club up on the backswing. It forces you to keep the clubhead closer to the ground making your swing arc shallower.

5. The Tee Drill

You will need a handful of tees for this drill. Place the pile of tees about three inches behind the golf ball you intend to hit.

Line up with your clubhead positioned behind the tees. On the downswing, try to brush the grass behind the ball between the ball and the tees. You may even see the tees go flying up, which is fine.

If you do this drill right, you’ll be able to fix your issues with topping the golf ball.

If you’ve been topping the golf ball, use these tips, tricks, and drills to learn how to stop topping the golf ball. You’ll hit better shots and gain more confidence as you watch your scores get better.