How to avoid the topped tee shot for now and forever

September 21, 2017

Few shots in golf are more embarrassing than the topped tee ball. Unfortunately, there’s more than one way to dribble the ball off the tee. You can swing too steeply from the outside and skim across the ball, or even drop-kick it from the inside. Or, as so often happens with amateurs, you can come up out of your posture at impact and all but whiff. Here’s a look at the two most common reasons for the dreaded topped drive, along with a fix for each that will help you avoid them in the future.

FAULT 1. EARLY EXTENSION

As you approach impact, you lose your original address posture and spine inclination to the ground, which causes you to practically swing over the top of the ball. This is often caused by the urge to help the ball into the air.

FAULT 2. SWINGING OUTSIDE-IN

You start down from the top with your upper body, pulling your shoulders and the clubhead across the ball from out to in. This error frequently leads to a slice or, even worse, a wormburner that never leaves the turf (and doesn’t go very far, either).

FIX 1. KEEP THE RIGHT KNEE FLEXED

It may seem counterintuitive, especially when there’s so little loft on your driver face, but you need to stay down and let the club do the work for you. To help you stay down, think about keeping your right knee flexed and your right heel on the ground for as long as possible. This encourages you to stay bent at the hips and prevents your legs from straightening and lifting the clubhead farther off the ground.

FIX 2. KEEP THE RIGHT SHOULDER LOW

At address, tilt your spine away from the target so that your right shoulder sits lower than your left and your right elbow hugs your torso. When viewed from behind, you should be able to see just a little bit of your left forearm. This setup adjustment promotes a fuller, deeper shoulder turn and, as a result, a more inside downswing path and delivery.