Stop Hitting Pop Ups

Max Frustration: How to Stop Popping up your Driver

Is there anything more annoying than a pop up in golf? I guess it’s a toss up between a shank, top shot, and maybe a missed 2 footer.

But popping up a driver or fairway woods is frustrating, the ball doesn’t go anywhere, and it could leave a nasty skymark on your club. That’s the trifecta of a shot we never want on the golf course.

The funny part is that while all golfers hate the pop up shot, very few know why it happens. And some golfers think they know why, but in reality they are backwards… thus creating the pop up even more!

Luckily, this mishit is a pretty easy fix once you understand the basics and use the drills included in this post. Learning to fix this mistake should help you hit it further, straighter, and hopefully, lower your scoring average.  So if you’re ready to finally hit longer tee shots on the center of the face, keep reading. 

Skying Driver – 3 Mistakes You’re Probably Making 

Before teaching you how to fix the pop up (aka sky ball), we need to first learn how this happens. If you’re like most golfers, you’re probably thinking,  

  • “Why am I popping up my driver?” 
  • “Why am I hitting down on the ball with my driver?”

Then you overthink, read too many words online, watch videos about fixing your shoulders, target line, and end up confused as ever. So what’s the problem?

The biggest problem that you pop up drivers or fairway woods is because you’re too steep. The key is to change the bottom point of your arc and create a shallow path. This will allow you to hit up on the golf ball and not hit the ball high on the face (aka the crown). 

Here are three of the most common reasons why golfers hit pop up drives: 

Cause #1: Setup Issues = Pop Up Tee Shots

So much of golf happens before we ever swing the club. If you’re skying too many drivers, chances are you have some setup issues that affecct your impact position. Some of these issues might include:

  • Feet too narrow 
  • Ball position too far back in stance
  • Weight too far forward at top of swing (too much on your front leg) 
Why am I popping up my driver?

Cause #2: Reverse Pivot

A reverse pivot makes it nearly impossible to stay behind the ball with your drives. When your weight gets too far forward, you can’t come from the inside and up toward the ball at impact. Instead, you’ll get too steep and come down on it. 

Cause #3: Tee Height

Finally, another fault is the tee height might cause pop ups as well. This can make it easy to hit under it and not get the proper bottoming out point. But don’t worry, we’ll help you fix this nasty mishit quickly.

How to Fix Pop Ups (5 Fixes)  

Now that you know why the popup haunts lots of players, let’s help you rid this embarrassing shot once and for all. Use these five tips and several drills to make better contact and find the sweet spot more often than not. 

1. Adjust Ball Position 

Before making any changes, let’s change your setup first. With a few small adjustments, you are much more likely to hit up on the ball and make proper contact.

First, look at your ball position. For a driver, it should be off your left heel to promote hitting slightly up at the golf ball. But a lot of times golfers let it get closer to the middle of their stance and hit down on it (thus, creating the pop up).

Please NOTE: as you put the ball further up in your stance, it’s easy to open your shoulder and hips to the target line unintentionally. This setup error makes your back hip ahead of your left hip. With a higher right hip, your spine angle can adjust forward on accident.

2. Take a Wider Stance

Next up, take a look at your stance. If you’re too narrow and your feet aren’t wide enough, it’s very easy to make a steep, over the top move. Instead, make sure your feet are wider than shoulder width apart.

A wider stance will help you flatten out the backswing, gain extra speed, and make sure that you get around your body. This should help you create a circular swing and not an oval one.

3. Change Attack Angle

If you want to hit it better and avoid those pesky balloon shots, a big thing to work on is shallowing the golf club. Shallowing the club is arguably the most important move on the way down and something that solid ball strikers have in common.

Shallow the club comes from:

One of our favorite tools to help players create a more shallow move is the PlaneMate Trainer. This device is loved by teachers and players as it makes it nearly impossible to get steep and over the top on your downswing. Plus, you can use it indoors or outdoors hitting balls with a real golf club. Click here to read our full review of the PlaneMate trainer

4. Think Wide Swing Path

If you’re hitting pop ups, chances are you’re getting quick and too upright on the way back.

Instead, think slower and wider on the backswing. This move will allow you to get far enough away from your body and come into the ball at a better angle. 

5. Stay Behind the Golf Ball

Finally, you want to make sure that you’re staying behind the golf ball to hit it on the upswing. This is easy to spot when you record your swing and take notice of where your head is at impact position.

To make solid contact, you want to keep your head and chest slightly behind the ball at impact. If it gets ahead of you, then you’re likely to hit down on it. Try to feel your arms and hands go faster than your body to make sure you’re chest and head stays behind the ball. 

Drills to Stop Hitting Pop Ups

Drills To Avoid the Pop Up

Once you have the right technique, everything will get easier when it comes to driving the golf ball. But that doesn’t mean you can’t add on some extra drills as well. Here are some of our favorite drills to help you stop popping up drives and fairway woods.  

1. Behind the Ball Drill (Impact Drill)

Sometimes, a visual reminder can help you create a new feeling in your golf swing. After you’ve made all the adjustments above, use this drill with your driver:

  • Tee your ball up normal height.
  • Take your head cover (or extra grip or small rolled up towel) and place it behind your golf ball. 
  • Then, swing as normal. With this object being there (make sure it’s a soft one in case you make contact with it) try to come from the inside at impact. This move will help promote a shallow approach angle and should help you hit up on the golf ball. 

2. Baseball Swings Drill

If you’re getting too steep, take your driver and make 5-10 baseball swings. This should help you feel a flatter angle and create an inside swing path.

3. Hit Drives Off Your Knees (Downswing Fix)

Finally, if you really want to test yourself, try to hit some clubs off your knees. If you get too steep you’ll hit the ground first and pop it up. Sure, a golfer or two might give you some looks at the range, but it’ll help you shallow the club and avoid the dreaded pop up. 

Here’s how to do still make it to impact position:

  • Tee your ball at normal height.
  • Put a towel on the ground and address the ball from your knees.
  • Then, choke up on the club and make some slow swings. The goal here isn’t distance, it’s to feel coming from the inside. 

FAQS About Pop Ups

Do you hit up or down on a driver? 

For 99.99% of players you want to hit up on a driver to get extra distance and roll out. The .1% of guy who want to hit down on it are the guys getting paid millions of dollars to play the game.

For example, Tiger has said that he prefers to tee the ball low and hit slightly down on it for hit patented butter fade. But unless you have an incredibly consistent swing, stick to the basics and hit up on the golf ball for maximum distance. 

How do I hit up on my driver? 

Start with your setup position when trying to figure out pop ups. Make sure you have a wider than shoulder width foot position and make sure the ball is off your left heel. This will help with ball flight, swing arc, and avoid the clubhead coming over the top. Go here for a much bigger discussion on how to hit your driver better.

Why do I hit my 3 wood farther than my driver?

If you hit your three wood farther than your driver it could be a multitude of reasons. Some of them might include:

  • Technology: If you’re playing a brand new 3 wood that is hot, you might get extra distance than an old, outdated golfer. But other factors could also contribute on top of technology.  
  • Loft: The loft of each club also plays a role. For example, if your driver is 12 degrees and your 3 wood is 14 degrees, it’s not a huge difference. Similarly, the other factors below can also make a difference as well. 
  • Spin: Each club is different and why it’s important to get fitted for your unique swing. If you’re playing a driver that is too spinny or stiff, you won’t get nearly as much length off the tee. 
  • Shaft: The shaft also plays a big role in your 3 wood as well. If you have the right shaft for your swing in your 3 wood but not your driver, you might get very different results. 
  • Confidence: Finally, you might just have additional confidence with your 3 wood than a driver. Some players hate using a driver and don’t make the necessary swing to get the full yardage. 

Should I hit my 3 wood like a driver? 

Not necessarily, while there are some similarities between the two clubs, in general you need to make some slight adjustments. The biggest issue to consider is are you hitting the 3-wood off the deck or on a tee? 

If you’re hitting it on a tee, it’s similar to a driver, but there are still some differences. The first being tee height.

Since your 3 wood has a much smaller clubhead than your driver, you need to tee it much lower. The second thing is where you place the ball in your stance. You still want it in the front of your stance, but not nearly as much as your drives. 

But if you’re hitting it off the fairway, you need to hit it very differently. First ask yourself, do you need to hit 3 wood or can you use a higher lofted wood or hit a hybrid instead?

The reason I ask is because the 3 wood is the hardest fairway wood to hit off the deck. It’s nearly as long as your driver and doesn’t have much loft. Plus, the club is very wide which makes it challenging to hit down and through the golf ball. 

For more tips on fairway woods, read our full article on How to Hit a 3 wood.

Final Thoughts on Driver Pop Ups

While the pop up miss feels like you need to overhaul your swing, it’s actually not that big of a deal to your game. With a few small tweaks at setup, you can create a flatter swing without massive swing changes.

Remember, to hit your best drives, you need to hit up on the golf ball to get it in the air. When you make a descending blow with a ball that is teed up, you’ll hit it too high on the face. 

While these tips will help, make sure that a focus point for your entire game is shallowing the club. When you learn how to swing with a shallow attack angle, your ball striking wi th each club will improve. 

You’ll never hit pop ups, you’ll make better contact off the turf, and hit pitches/chips with crisp contact. 

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