We’ve all been there on the course. You line up, confident that this shot is going to be your best yet. Maybe you won’t even take your normal two practice swings. Then you swing and… thunk! You hit a chunked shot that rolls an embarrassingly short distance from where you’re standing. Probably right in front of your golfing buddy. Or that passing other golf cart.
Here’s why you might be hitting those chunked shots… and how to stop them.
Maintain Your Spine Angle
Remember that the golf swing is performed by swinging your arms and club around a fixed spine angle. Problems occur when additional movements are incorporated into that swing. A chunked shot—also known as a fat shot—is where the club hits the ground before making contact with the ball. A chunked shot is often the result of raising your arms (and club) up and down throughout the backswing, downswing, or on impact. Obviously, these movements can have a tremendous impact on the flight of the golf ball. In order to maintain your spine angle, practice keeping your knees flexed. Straightening your legs, back, or making any other vertical movement places a huge emphasis on timing and less on fundamentals. Often, the back leg plays an integral part of a successful shot. Avoid any unnecessary dip in the knees throughout the swing and maintain the same knee flex as you have in your setup.
Stay Behind the Ball
Many golfers find themselves in a situation where they try to finesse a shot to a tight pin. Finessing a shot often leads to a lateral movement of the body. To prevent this, you’ll need to focus on staying behind the ball. Again, maintain your original spine angle, or your arms and body will be completely out of position. A lateral slide changes your head position and center of your swing. To avoid moving out of positioning, ensure you make the proper turn and follow through. Remember to keep your head behind the ball at all times.
Chunked shots can be avoided by maintaining the proper tempo during your swing. Swing with a smooth tempo in the backswing and downswing, and remember to finish full. Many chunked shots are caused by decelerating during your swing or—conversely—swinging too hard at the ball. If you need to take a half or three-quarter swing, make sure you finish the same distance after impact as you did when you began. Decelerating is a common mistake when attempting delicate shots around the green and bunkers.
Finally, to avoid chunked shots, always check for proper ball position before you swing. A common mistake players make is playing the ball position too far back in a stance. This mistake creates an extremely steep downswing, and the angle of attack becomes too steep, causing your shot to shoot straight up in the air. To avoid this, move the ball position more forward in your stance. This could also be beneficial if you ever sky a ball off the tee box. Also, avoid playing the ball too far forward. If the ball position is too far forward in your stance it might promote a lateral movement in the swing. Remember, you want to swing around your spine angle, not move your spine angle forward to hit the ball.