Student Mo Macaulay practices a drill to help her not top the ball. The student must hit under the “topper stopper” at the orange part of the ball.

Most all beginner golfers start out topping the ball because they think they have to help get the ball airborne. Golf is a game of opposites – so one must hit “down” for the ball to go “up.” 

There are a number of reasons for topping the ball. Pay attention to the following areas of your swing:

• Wrists are usually the real culprit. If wrists are uncocking before impact, you are going to hit the ball fat or top the shot.

• The ball must be hit with a descending angle of approach, using the leading edge of the club.

• Arms and right elbow must extend at impact and not before.

• “Flipping” the wrists rather than letting the arms swing. When the wrist flips or uncocks early, the club head raises and you top the ball. 

• If your knees are moving up and down, you will top the ball. The target knee needs to stay flexed on the backswing and the trail knee needs to be flexed at impact.

• You must maintain your “spine angle” throughout the shot. Many golfers have their hips moving toward the ball at impact instead of rotating toward the target.

• Fear of hitting the ground. Some golfers tense up and the club never makes contact with the grass, thus topping the ball. The grass under and in front of the ball is your friend.

• Ball position is important. Playing the ball too forward in your stance can cause you to hit the ball on the upswing.

Try these drills to improve your swing:

• Swing at 50% speed until you start making good contact.

• Take a divot after the ball (Slanted Tee Drill: Put tee one inch in front of the ball with head of tee slanted toward the ball). Club head must hit tee out of the ground.

• Hit practice balls off a powder line and get rid of the powder and the grass in front of the ball.

• Put a penny or ball marker under the ball and practice hitting the penny.

• Place some “face tape” on the clubface and get the leading edge of the club hitting first and having the ball’s image high on the face tape.

If all else fails, give your local golf professional a call.

Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at local golf courses.;