To hover or not to hover your club… that is the question of the day.
Chances are, you will do just about anything to improve your golf game. Whether it’s buying new clubs, getting lessons, buying a monthly range pass, or reading articles like this one. Today you will learn another trick that could have a big impact on your game and it’s 100% free!
If you’ve watched golf over the years, I’m sure you’ve noticed some players hover the club, while others don’t. Which leads you to ask… “Should you hover the golf club?”
While you have to hover in the bunker to not touch the sand (and you used to have to hover in hazards before the rule change), it’s not that common for the everyday golfer. Yet, some professional golfers swear by this move.
Keep reading to learn if/when you should hover your club, the biggest benefits, and how to get started.
Hover the Golf Club 101
What makes golf great is that there’s no one way to become great. Some players have a great long game, while others have a sound short game. While other golfers are expert course managers and can salvage a round even on an off day.
One part of the game that differs from player to player is hovering the club (or choosing not too). Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman, two of the best golfers to ever play the game, hovered the club.
Jim Flick said that Jack Nicklaus started hovering after a lesson from Jack Grout decades ago but it stuck with him. In his competitive days, the Golden Bear rarely let the sole of the club at address touch the ground.
Here are why some of the best players started swinging this way.
Why Pros Hover Golf Clubs
According to Greg Norman’s website, he chose to follow Jack’s pre-shot routine and hover for two main reasons. “First, it keeps my grip pressure constant. As you stand over a shot, you have a natural tendency to regrip, and each time your hands shift on the club – even a fraction – it has a major effect on the outcome of the shot.”
Let’s discuss this first point… grip pressure. It’s one of the most important parts of golf as your grip is the only thing connecting you with the club.
If you grip the club too hard, it can add too much tension to your upper body and limits your range of motion. This can limit distance, result in poor ball striking, and minimize your touch from short range. While gripping the club too lightly leads to other issues too.
So if you find yourself struggling with grip pressure, hovering the club might be a good option.
Greg Norman later went on saying, “Second, it promotes a very smooth one-piece takeaway with the clubhead flowing straight from the ball. This is particularly true with the driver; there will be no tendency to snap the clubhead up quickly and vertically as there can be when the club is soled.”
The other main reason that the Shark preferred to hover is it helped with a one-piece takeaway. It made sure he didn’t hinge his wrists too quick on the backswing which helped create a smooth, long swing that produced impressive results.
So if you find that you’re chopping wood on the course (aka getting too steep), this could be a good option too.
Other Reasons to Hover the Club
While those are a few of the main reasons, there are some other instances where it might make sense too.
Hit Longer Drives
Since 2020 I’ve been watching Bryson DeChambeau hit bombs off the tee and noticed how much he hovers the club. Jack Nicklaus did the same and explained more about this reasoning in a Golf Digest article.
The Golden Bear said, “When I felt the club resting on the ground, my grip and arms were too relaxed. By un-weighting the club–hovering it off the ground–I had to firm up my grip pressure just enough. Once I did that, everything seemed ready, and my hand and arm pressure felt uniform. I was then able to take the club back smoothly without fear of stubbing the club in the grass behind the ball.”
Similar to Greg Norman, hovering helped him keep a consistent grip pressure. I assume this is why Bryson and other Long Drive competitors do the same.
Remember, too much or too light of grip pressure hurts distance and overall ball striking. Keeping tension out of your swing, specifically with your driver, can have a massive impact on total distance.
Another good reason to hover the club is when your golf ball is in a dicey lie. If you ground the club and the ball moves, that counts as a stroke even if you didn’t swing.
To avoid incurring penalty strokes like these, sometimes it’s a good idea to hover the club when you are faced with a questionable lie. While you don’t need to hover in penalty areas anymore to avoid penalties, it’s not a bad idea if you think the ball could move.
As Jim Flick pointed out in Golf Digest, “When you set up to a ball on the ground, if the club isn’t soled, you’ve never technically addressed it. So if the ball moves you’ll not be penalized. And you eliminate the unfortunate possibility of causing the ball to move.”
Fairway bunkers aren’t easy for the everyday player especially if you ground the club.
You need to maintain your spine angle, not hit behind the ball, and this isn’t a natural tendency for a lot of players. But hovering is needed so you don’t touch the sand and incur any penalty strokes.
To learn more about hitting it well from fairway bunkers, read our full article here.
In the same Golf Digest article, Jack also spoke on hovering the putter on windy days. “I often would sole it lightly, but there were times when I didn’t ground it at all, mostly with an iron or fairway wood when I thought it might cause the ball to move. Or with my putter on windy days.”
While I haven’t seen a lot of Tour Players do this with a putter, it might not be a bad idea on gusty days.
How to Hover a Club
Hovering the club is pretty simple and would recommend starting with your driver. If you find that it improves your driving performance, try it out with the other clubs too.
For the driver, you will probably want to tee the ball higher. As discussed in this YouTube video, Tiger Woods doesn’t hover and tees it much lower than most modern professionals. But he recommends teeing it higher if you plan to hover to ensure you hit the ball in the sweet spot.
When hovering the club, make sure you don’t hover it too high above the ball. Just an inch or two off the ground is all you need to start seeing differences in your game.
If you have a launch monitor, I suggest hitting drivers grounding the club and hovering. Sometimes the numbers will make the decision for you. It’s also not a bad idea with fairway woods too.
FAQs About Hovering the Club Head
Do you have extra questions and are still trying to decide if you should hover the club? Keep reading our FAQs and answers below to learn more.
Do pro golfers hover the club?
Some PGA Tour players hover the club but not all. Some of the most famous players to hover their clubs include Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, Bryson DeChambeau, and many others. While other greats of the game like Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, and Ben Hogan did not hover the club.
Do pros hover their irons?
Some pros hover their irons but most tend to hover clubs that are hit off a tee. For example, it’s much more common to see a pro hover the club on a driver shot but ground the club for irons off the deck.
Bryson DeChambeau is a bit different and always chooses to hover the club. A Golf.com article said his reason was, “He wants to set up at the same level as he impacts the golf ball, rather than setting the club on the ground and adjusting an extra inch during his swing.”
This is a pretty typical Bryson answer as he’s known as the scientist when it comes to tweaking his golf swing. If he can eliminate variables, he will do it (hence the one length irons).
Did Jack Nicklaus hover the club?
Yes, he was one of the most prominent players to hover at address.
Over the years he has spoken extensively about the subject and attributes this to a smoother takeaway, better ball striking, avoiding penalty shots, and fewer putts on windy days.
If it worked for the 18-time major champion, it might be a good idea to try in your game too.
Does hovering the golf club help?
Hovering the club can help with a variety of swing issues including a smooth takeaway, grip pressure, and more. But it’s not for everyone as it can take some time to adjust and get comfortable hovering.
Should you hover the driver?
Hovering the driver can help with grip pressure, takeaway, and keep the same angles in your swing. This is why Bryson DeChambeau chooses to hover his driver and is one of the longest hitters in professional golf.
Hovering the club on some or all shots might be just what your game needs. Hovering the club can:
- Add more power to your drives
- Play golf with less tension in your upper body
- Promote better grip tension and avoid excessive tension
- Stop hitting fat shots by hitting the ball first then the ground
Before taking any of this advice to the golf course, make sure to test it out in practice first on the driving range.
I think for a lot of golfers hovering with a driver will be the most beneficial. I’ve found it hard to hover with wedges and irons but since a driver is off a high tee, it’s much easier.
As always, test it out and see how it affects your game.