Hitting the ball fat is not as common as the slice, but it can be just as frustrating. As with all golf swing mechanics, once you know what you are doing wrong, you can begin working on correcting it.
When trying to correct this problem, it is nearly impossible to see what you are doing wrong without someone else’s help. If possible, get a golfing buddy to watch your swing, and ask him or her to be on the lookout for the items discussed below.
If you find yourself hitting the ball fat, you are most likely dropping your rear shoulder. This is the one that is farthest away from the target: right shoulder for right-handed golfers, left shoulder for left-handed golfers.
When your rear shoulder drops, the club hits the ground before it should, resulting in a messy shot. More often than not, hitting the ball fat happens when a player tries to swing too hard, causing the downswing to start with a lot of hip motion.
As an example, try this simple exercise. Take a club and assume your normal address. Bring the club up to the very top of your backswing and stop. With the club at the top, slide your hips toward the target area, horizontally, and notice what happens to your rear shoulder. It naturally dips down too!
If your friend is around, do this exercise again, slowly, and ask him or her to watch your hips and shoulder and see if your shoulder drops. If so, you’ve likely found the cause of the problem.
To correct this issue, you have to learn how to use your lower body properly during the swing. Your hips need to twist, but don’t allow them to slide. A simple way to make this happen is to concentrate on starting the downswing with your arms, and your hips will naturally follow.
Another good technique is to concentrate on keeping your forward shoulder down. If you do this over several practice shots, your body will get the message and your shots will improve.
Remember to keep your forward arm straight as you go into your backswing. When you get to the top, think “down” for your forward shoulder, and then move into your downswing. Your hips will uncoil, but do not allow them to slide laterally.
The tips presented here are easy enough to apply, but they require some time spent practicing and experimenting. The best place to do this is at the practice range, which is also a good place to pick up a helper to watch your swing.
As you work on this fix, remember to go through all of your clubs, not just the driver. Hitting the ball fat can occur with any club, and you need to practice with each one to truly master a solid, crisp ball strike. Many players prefer to start with the short irons and work their way up when learning a new skill set.