If you frequently hit pop-ups off the tee, chances are your clubhead is striking the ball on an overly steep, downward trajectory. The result? Your clubface contacts the ball either above or below the sweet spot. Before you totally overhaul your swing, try the following swing-path-fixing drill.
Tee up four balls in a line, about three inches apart, and hit four drives. Next, check the position of each tee. Ideally, all four tees will still be in the ground, in roughly the same position they were in before impact. If they are, your swing path is level to slightly ascending, which means you caught mostly ball and not much tee, creating a high launch angle with lower spin. If the tees have hopped out of the ground, your downswing is too steep and you're hitting the ball with the top of the face—not the sweet spot—and popping the ball up. Conversely, if the tees stay in the ground but bend forward, you've made the same steep swing but have caught the ball thin. Keep at this drill until you consistently leave all the tees in place. Your pop-ups will disappear, and your distance will increase.
Tee images, from left to right:
- If the tee is completely out of the ground, you’ve made an overly steep swing and hit the ball off the top of the club face. Pop-up city!
- Tee still in the ground but leaning forward? This also indicates a steep swing path, but the bottom to the face has clipped the ball and the top of the tee.
- A tee that’s barely budged shows that you’ve made a proper ascending swing that has hit most ball and hardly any tee. Perfect!