How to Compress the Ball in Three Easy Steps

Tuesday February 2nd, 2016
Photo: Angus Murray/Illustration: Ben Mounsey

Ever watched a Tour pro up close on the range? His iron shots don't just soar -- they sizzle. That's not just because he hits the sweet spot with lots of clubhead speed. He also delivers the clubface to the impact zone on a descending attack angle. Hitting down on the ball is what creates that pure, powerful feeling of flush contact. No matter how fast you swing, you can hit shots that hiss off your clubface. Here you can learn the explosive -- and addictive -- art of compression.

You hear a lot about hitting up on the ball with your driver (good advice) but little about doing the opposite: hitting down on it with your irons. For perfectly pure iron shots, you must make descending, ball-first contact. You're doing it right if it feels as though you're pinching -- or compressing -- the ball between the clubface and the ground. The payoff is big: tighter approaches, shorter birdie putts and a lot more fun. The three moves at right will help you deliver the club on a proper attack angle. Oh, and pay extra attention to step 2. Getting your right palm facing the ground at impact is a game-changer. In fact, Ben Hogan once said that he wished he had three right hands to hit the ball with. So get ready -- Hoganesque strikes are just seconds away.

1. LEAD WITH YOUR LOWER BODY

Once you reach the top, push off your right foot to shift your left hip closer to the target. This should happen before you think about moving your arms. The goal is to get your belt buckle ahead of the ball before impact. It's a subtle move, but an important one. Moving your center ahead of the ball allows you to strike the ball before the clubhead catches the turf—a huge key to impact. SHIFT: Bump your left hip toward the target so that your belt buckle is in front of the ball before impact.

Photo: Angus Murray/Illustration: Ben Mounsey

2. MAKE A PALM-DOWN STRIKE

This one's very important: As you reach the delivery zone, make sure that your right palm is facing the ground. This will ensure the proper downward strike. It will also square the face. If your palm faces the target or—gulp—points skyward, you'll scoop the ball off the turf instead of compressing it. PINCH: Strike the ball with your right palm facing the ground—the key to compression.

Photo: Angus Murray/Illustration: Ben Mounsey

3. GET ON "UP"!

With your right side and right hand applying downward pressure on the ball, it's critical to get your left side moving up and back to create balance in your motion. Not only that, it'll send your swing speed off the charts. Get it right and the ball will literally "squeeze? against the clubface. LIFT: Get your left side up through impact. You'll catch the ball first and the turf second.

Photo: Angus Murray/Illustration: Ben Mounsey

COMPRESS TO IMPRESS WITH THIS EASY DRILL:

Compressing the ball is all about your attack angle. To hone the perfect path through impact, try this drill: Slide a tee into the ground behind the ball. While in your setup, visualize the clubhead driving the tee farther into the ground underneath the ball, just like a hammer driving a nail into wood. Then make a swing to match. The ball will take off like it owes you money.

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