How to Stop Hitting the Golf Ball on the Toe of the Clubface
There is no sound in golf quite as satisfying as the solid thwack of the ball fully compressed against the clubface. Unfortunately, you won’t hear that sound if you make contact off the toe of the club. Even worse, you'll also lose power and accuracy. If you tend to hit the ball off the toe, you can learn to find your club's sweet spot with tips and drills from teaching professionals.
The Good News
Golf instructor Chuck Quinton points out that toe contact may be a sign you're doing some things right with your swing. If you're rotating your body on the downswing, your shoulders will be a little open at impact, which means the club’s handle will be a little farther from the ball than it was at address. Quinton says good players develop two compensations to correct this. For example, Ben Hogan increased his spine angle on the downswing, tilting a little more away from the target than he was at address. Vijay Singh simply addressed the ball closer to the heel of the club to allow for the pulling motion.
Get A Little Closer
You may hit the ball off the toe because you have a steep downswing path that causes the clubhead to cut across the ball. Rather than change your swing, instructor Jeff Ritter offers a simple solution: stand a little closer to the ball. Hold the club in your right hand, set it behind the ball, and step in with your right foot so your toes are in line with the ball. Allow the handle to touch your right thigh. Now position your left foot and step back with your right until your feet are wide enough for a full swing. You'll be much closer to the ball than your previous set up, and you will have a better chance to hit the center of the clubface.
Two Tees, No More Toes
According to swing coach Jim McLean, if you've got this problem you're probably pulling your arms in toward your body on the downswing. You should be extending the arms and the club toward the ball. He recommends a drill where you set up two tees about a club head apart. He wants you to set up next to the tee closest to you, but swing at the other one. This drill will help you swing on a flatter downswing plane and extend your arms as you swing into the ball, he says. You should start to see contact on the center of the clubface.
Take Out the Tension
PGA professional Marc Solomon believes tension causes most chronic toe contact. When you’re hands and arms are tight, Solomon says you're more likely to pull them in toward your body on the downswing. The toe will be the only part of the club to touch the ball when that happens. Solomon believes the cause of tension is psychological. You fear hitting bad shots. He suggests hitting balls before you play so you'll have a good idea where your shots are going that day. It will give you some confidence and reduce any tension-producing stress you're likely to feel.
David Raudenbush has more than 20 years of experience as a literacy teacher, staff developer and literacy coach. He has written for newspapers, magazines and online publications, and served as the editor of "Golfstyles New Jersey Magazine." Raudenbush holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and a master's degree in education.