In your golf game, are you struggling to hit crisp irons and instead, find yourself hitting thin, fat and generally inconsistent shots? Part of that is golf but the main reason you might have these results is a common mistake that a lot of players make. You might be suffering from the dreaded over the top move that holds so many golfers back from playing great golf.
As you probably know, swinging over the top and hitting weak fades is the number one miss for almost every amateur golfer. This generally happens because of an incorrect path on your downswing.
But if you look at PGA Tour pros, one of the few things they have in common is to come from the inside as they make contact with the ball. No matter what they do on the way back, they all find a way to reroute the club before impact. Some great examples of flat golf swings are Tony Finau and Rickie Fowler.
Yes, how you start the downswing in golf determines how the ball reacts off the clubface. If you don’t have the right angle of attack with your irons, you will continue to be inconsistent with your approach shots.
While it’s also important with the woods as well, it is even more important with your irons and wedges as you’re primarily hitting them from the turf. While I’ve covered how to fix a slice in a different post, I want to give you a different reason why most players make this mistake — your angle of attack.
Here’s the latest on how to shallow out your golf swing to start being more consistent, learn to hit a draw, and play some of your best golf yet.
Why Do You Need a Shallow Angle of Attack?
Before I get into specifics of how to shallow your golf swing for more consistent shots, it’s important to understand the why behind it. If you don’t shallow out your golf swing on the way down, it’s nearly impossible to make consistent contact at impact.
Shallowing the golf club means that you get the club to flatten out more horizontally on the way down.
Most golfers instead, have an over the top, casting motion which leads a steeper plane on the downswing. This can produce fat shots, skinny shots, and big misses to the right. With a driver, this can also produce the dreaded pop-up shot that everyone in golf hates. Obviously, you’re not looking for any of these shots in your golf game.
Ideally, you want to get the golf club to split the right forearm (assuming you are a right-handed player) on the downswing. This will allow you to have a perfect angle to compress the golf shot at impact and make great contact. If you look at the best players in the world, you can see how much they compress the ball at the bottom.
Some other flat golf swing benefits include:
- Compressing your irons and wedges
- Hitting your driver longer and straighter
- Having less movement in your golf swing which makes it easier to hit it consistently day in and day out
Let’s get real, what golfer doesn’t want those results?
Why Most Golfers Are Too Steep
If you don’t have a shallow angle of attack at this time, it probably means that you are coming down too steep on your transition. The reason(s) why this is happening might actually surprise you. Part of the equation is the arms/hands but more so it’s that golfers aren’t starting the downswing with their hips as well.
At the beginning of the downswing, there should be a slight move down into the ground which helps generate power and use your legs more in the swing. It’s a small squat almost that activates the legs.
If you watch a slow-motion swing of Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy, you can see how the first move on the downswing is into the ground. They are using their legs to create tons of power for momentum and torque. This allows them to use their lower body to use their weight and hit it extremely consistent.
On the other hand, most amateur golfers do the opposite and begin the downswing with their upper body. Instead of using their legs, they cast their upper half and never transfer their weight to the lead foot. This makes it nearly impossible to use the lower body to unwind on the way down. This also produces that steep motion that leads to hitting wildly inconsistent golf shots.
Instead, you need to learn how to use your left side to pull your shoulders, arms, and hands into the right plane on your downswing. If you can learn how to do this, you will shallow out your swing and hit the purest golf shots of your life!
How to Shallow the Golf Club
Here are four of the latest methods to help you learn how to shallow out your golf swing.
1. Shift Your Weight To Get Use Your Lower Body
In the video above, he talks about the importance of starting the downswing with the lower body. I can’t reiterate this enough and it was one the core lessons that the great Ben Hogan preached as well. If you start the downswing with your upper body, as so many golfers do, you will have a steep swing that isn’t consistent.
Instead, at the top of your golf swing, you need to immediately shift the majority (roughly 80%) of your weight to your left (or forward) side. Once your weight is on the left side, then you can use it to properly start the downswing. This athletic golf move will allow you to make the action I referenced above, where Rory and Tiger have a slight squat down at the beginning of their downswing.
This Rory extreme slow-motion video captures it beautifully. In this video, you can see how Rory uses power from his legs to create tons of power and momentum in his golf swing:
As you can see, this move allows him to clear the way for his and arms to drop down into the perfect slot for impact. He starts with the weight transfer which leads to the shoulders, arms, and hands all syncing together beautifully.
Remember in golf, power starts from the ground up.
2. Check Your Left Wrist
Another reason that so many golfers come down steep is that they don’t have a flat lead wrist at the top of the backswing. Instead, they have a cupped wrist. Ultimately, you want to make sure that your left wrist is flat or bowed to begin your downswing.
Here’s a quick video to explain why you need a bowed left wrist in your golf swing:
When you have a slightly bowed wrist, it usually means you’re coming down from the inside with a square clubface. Dustin Johnson does this a ton and is very noticeable, while others like Jordan Speith also do but not quite as easy to spot unless it’s slowed down.
If you’re struggling with consistency, check out your left wrist when your backswing is complete. If it is bowed the club should be laid off slightly, allowing you to drop the club into place on the way down.
3. Slow Down
If you ever have a chance, go and watch a PGA or LPGA Tour event in person. Not only is it a great way to spend the day but it’s eye-opening to see these professionals play golf in real life. Even though it seems like they are swinging out of their golf shoes on TV, in reality, they are much smoother than you realize.
This is beneficial because most amateur players are the exact opposite. Most play golf like they are in a hurry to get from their backswing to followthrough. But that moment of transition is where the magic happens in golf.
If you rush this part of the golf swing, you make it nearly impossible to get your timing right. This creates an over the top pattern which produces the inconsistency you don’t want in your golf game. If football is a game of inches, then golf is a game of milliseconds. By adding a slight pause in transition, you give yourself so much more room to shallow the club and reroute it on the downswing.
So instead of rushing, become super intentional with your tempo and transition. By slowing down, especially in tournament play, you will make golf so much easier!
4. Let Gravity Do Its Thing
Hopefully, this is all making sense and you can understand why getting shallow is so important. But one thing I don’t want you to do is to overcorrect the issue.
A lot of golfers who are trying to shallow out the club will try and do too much on the downswing. You don’t want to overcorrect the move and feel like you’re pulling the club down.
Instead, you want to focus on making the proper weight shift and starting the swing with your lower body. If you do this and have the proper wrist position, everything else will fall into place. There is no need to worry about this as gravity will do its job.
3 Drills to Shallow Out Golf Swing
Now that you understand why it’s so important and how to make the shallowing move happen, it’s important to have a few drills to help you practice this move. Remember, a flatter golf swing will make it easier to make more consistent contact with your irons and hit bombs with your driver.
While shallowing won’t happen overnight, it’s definitely one that you want to focus on. With any swing change, please don’t try to take these ideas straight to the course without first practicing them on the range.
1. Front Tee Drill
As Chris explains in the video above, in this drill you want to compress the golf ball and not hit directly at the ball. Meaning, you want to feel like you are swinging to create a divot that is ahead of the golf ball. Most golfers who don’t hit it consistently have a divot that is behind it or non-existent.
To get started, put a tee in front of the ball to help you try and compress the golf ball at impact. Do this 5-10x times to get the feeling down. This is one of the best shallowing drills to help your wedge game as it will force you to hit ahead which creates a downward blow.
2. Behind the Ball Drill
If the other drill doesn’t work for you, then try and reverse it. Instead of putting the tee in front of the ball, put something behind the ball like a plate from Fat Plate Golf. These will help you improve your angle of attack and make sure you don’t get too steep.
This drill will make sure that your low point is at or ahead of the ball. If the club hits the device, it provides instant feedback that your attack angle is not correct. This a great tool to help you practice in the upcoming winter months when hitting off of mats as well.
Head over to our post on the best golf training aids for more devices and gadgets that can help you improve your contact and consistency.
3. The Water Bottle Drill
I really like this drill as it will provide instant feedback if you are starting the downswing with your upper body and casting the club early. The water bottle drill will make sure you aren’t steep and ensure the club is behind the hands on the way down. Not to mention, it’s super easy to do at home to help you ingrain the feeling of swallowing your angle of attack.
Check it out here:
To get started, tie a half-full water bottle to the hosel of a pitching wedge or short iron. Make a slow backswing and pause slightly so you can really feel it. If you make the incorrect shift, the water bottle will hit you in the head so make sure to swing very slow and deliberate. You really want to feel the shallow swing in slow-motion before going to the range.
Instead, try to feel as though the water bottle is going behind you and coming more from the inside to hit the golf shot.
4. Alignment Rod Drill
The final golf drill for shallowing is with the help of three alignment sticks. By putting one behind the ball, one in front, and one into the ground, you can create a path to help your golf swing get shallow. Watch the full video below to make sure that you are positioning the sticks correctly.
Use this shallow downswing drill with a tee first before hitting a shot. With the alignment stick positioned the way it is, you don’t want to accidentally hit it and injure yourself.
FAQs About A Shallow Golf Swing
Is a flatter golf swing better?
A flatter golf swing isn’t necessarily as every player has natural tendencies but in general, a flatter swing is easier to keep on plane. And if you can keep your golf swing on plane more often, you will typically hit it more consistently. Which is the goal of golf… right?
On the opposite end of the spectrum, a high, upright swing is a lot harder to keep your arms and hands synced throughout the golf swing. This can lead to a lot of steep swings that will make it much more challenging to get the club square as you bottom out.
Why should you shallow the golf swing?
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, most amateur golfers start their downswing from the top instead of from the bottom. But if you begin the downswing with your upper half, instead of your lower half, you are missing out on your greatest power source – your legs!
When you begin to shallow out your golf swing, you can generate so much more power and hit the ball much more consistently. Shallowing the club will also help with driving distance and most likely accuracy as well.
As you know, improving your scores usually means improving how consistent you can hit the golf ball day in and day out. One of the easiest ways to do that is to shallow out your angle of attack and make sure that you are compressing the ball. Once you find the slot, you will hit longer and straighter shots with all of your clubs than ever before.
Before heading straight to the driving range and making all kinds of adjustments, make sure to film your swing and see if you’re doing this before trying any of the drills. Understanding where you are right now is crucial in making sure you don’t change things that are actually helping your game.
But if you are making the over the top move with your upper half, try a few of these drills, especially the ones you can do at home, to begin to learn the right angle of attack. Depending on where you’re at right now, it could be a slight change or it could be a huge shift so don’t be afraid to get a lesson or two as well.
Lastly, if you continue to struggle with shallowing the club, make sure to check out our post on the Reverse K Setup. Paired together, it can help you learn how to flatten a steep golf swing and improve your consistency.