Have you ever heard on TV that you need to learn how to cover the golf ball but have no clue what it means?
Announcers frequently throw around terms like covering or compressing the golf ball without giving much explanation to the view. And if you’re like most players, you’ve probably thought, “How do you cover the golf ball?”
It’s a slightly confusing term that announcers and pros throw around but it’s a vital part of hitting pure shots, especially with your irons. Luckily it doesn’t have to be that difficult with a simple explanation and drills to help you. Now you can learn how to cover the golf ball through impact and start hitting shots like the pros.
Covering the golf ball is basically the same as compressing the golf ball so I’ll interchangeably use the two terms for the rest of the post.
Compressing or covering the golf ball is the way you retain your posture and spine angle through impact.
It’s ensures that your chest says down and in the shot while still being over the ball. Having your sternum “on top of the ball” is one of the most important elements to consistently good ball striking.
When you cover the ball, there is no lifting or dipping of the upper body but instead a simple rotation around the angle of the spine. This means that from setup through impact, you are remaining on the same plane with your sternum over the golf ball through impact.
If you can master this aspect of the game you’ll hit it straighter, further, and much more consistent than ever before. When you hit the ball with the butt end of the club it should be slightly ahead of the hands and head of the club. This forward attack angle is key to hitting crisp iron shots like Adam Scott or Sergio Garcia.
Let’s face it, most amateurs don’t hit pure iron shots. Most amateur golfers lose their posture throughout the swing by either dipping or coming up and out of the position at impact. This results in a lot of thin shots or scoopy, topped shots, or fat and chunky shots. Neither of which make it easy to score well.
As Butch Harmon said in Golf Digest,
“One of the biggest mistakes I see with amatuers is, they hit off their right foot. But to make a good iron strike, you must hit down on the ball. The only way to do that is to get your weight left.”
Most amateurs tend to get started too quick with the upper body making it impossible to get their weight to the left side. Remember, power is started from the ground up. To maximize your power on the downswing you need to get your weight to the left side immediately when beginning the downswing.
The biggest reason amateur golfers get out of position at impact is how they start the downswing. If you want to cover the golf ball you have to make the correct initial move on the downswing with your lower body, not your arms!
Once you’re at the top of your swing, you want to feel like you’re pushing off with your right foot. This will shift your left side slightly toward the target and help get ahead of the golf ball. While it’s a very subtle move, it’s so important in making sure that you can hit down and through the ball.
Another way to think is to rotate your belt buckle so that’s ahead of the ball at impact. Beginning with your weight left and belt buckle ahead will help you clear your hips and hit down on the ball. This small move will help keep your chest over the golf ball and keep your posture consistent.
As Ben Hogan said in his book,
“The downswing is initiated by turning the hips to the left. The shoulders, arms, and hands. The great speed developed in this chain action carries the golfer all the way around to the finish of his follow-through.”
The second thing to think about is trying to keep your right palm down as you’re getting closer to impact position. To help get in this position, at address make sure to have some forward shaft lean. This will help ensure you are compressing the ball at impact.
PGA Tour player regularly deloft the club 15-30% depending on the club they’re hitting. Remember, you have to hit down for the ball to go up!
The shorter the club (i.e. pitching wedge), the more the shaft lean. This will make it easy to compress the ball. This is why the pros hit is so long, they are delofting the club and turning a wedge into an 8 iron at impact.
Not only will this help cover the golf ball but it will also keep the face square and hit it straighter. If you don’t do this, you’ll likely find inconsistent contact such as thinning it over the green or chunking it way short. This move is key to creating the lag effect and hitting down and through it.
The final move to covering the golf ball is ensuring that you keep moving to the left side and keep your weight moving forward to your front side and stay balanced. This will ensure that you hit the ball then the turf and create a really pure swing.
Remember, on your follow through the entire right side of your body should turn to face the target. As you shift left, extend your right arm and imagine that you’re shaking hands with the target.
The criss-cross drill has been used by a ton of professionals over the years including Nick Faldo, Jason Dufner, and other great ball strikers. Take a look at the Youtube video to get a look:
- At the range get out a 7 or 8 iron. Anything longer makes it difficult to repeat with the setup position.
- Drop your right foot back so the toe is equal to the middle of the left foot.
- Swing ¾ speed and try to get your right shoulder to cover the golf ball.
- Your spine angle should remain the same throughout the swing.
Remember, to compress and cover the golf ball you need to focus on your attack angle. Try this tee drill to help you visualize it on the range:
- Insert a tee into the ground directly behind the ball.
- As you set up, try and imagine the clubhead driving the tee into the ground directly underneath the ball.
- Make your swing with an 8 iron at ¾ speed to work on covering the golf ball.
- Just like the criss-cross drill, make sure that your spine is remaining the same through the entire swing.
If you can learn how to compress the golf ball and cover it at impact you’re going to hit shots that you didn’t know were possible. You won’t just hit irons well you’ll make them sizzle as they track the flag. You’ll not only find the sweet spot but you’ll have more speed than ever.
Remember, hitting down on the ball is what creates that pure and powerful feeling of consistent contact. Use these three tips to start covering the golf ball and watch your game soar to new levels.