Hitting Behind the Ball

by Phil

Love your website, especially the fundamentals section.

I have a question regarding my cousin's swing. When he hits balls at the range with his irons (off the mat, not teed up), I notice that he hits the mat first, then the ball.

Of course, loss of distance and incorrect ball flight is the result. What causes this? Early release (casting)? Too much hands at the start of the downswing and not enough body turn? Look forward to your reply.

Hi Phil,

Thanks for your question and your positive comments. It is always good to hear from visitors who benefit from my site!

I was actually busy writing a page up on the same topic you have brought up, and am so glad I can help you with some answers.

Mats are very forgiving but the sound of the shot gives the mishit away.

There are a few reasons for hitting mother earth before the ball and I shall mention them and how to fix the problem.

Hitting the ground first slows the club head speed and makes poor contact with the ball.

Crouching Posture

Crouching over the ball with the head tucked into the chest is a big cause of fat shots.

Crouching causes the arms to be bent in the address position and if you correctly straighten the arms in your down swing, the club head is going to be lower than the ball when it reaches impact.

This will then cause the club head to strike mother earth before impact.


Stand tall to the ball with your head out of your chest. This posture position will straighten you arms in the address position, give you a better turn of the upper body and most likely help you to return your club to the ball first at impact, not the ground first.

Should you lower you upper body during the swing the same fault can occur as I have described above.

Try to maintain a consistent upper body posture angle throughout your swing or at least till you reach past impact.

A good exercise to prevent your head or upper body dropping during the swing is to get someone to hold you head steady while you take a slow practice swing back and through to a little past impact. Repeat to build the feeling.

Weight Transfer

Failing to transfer weight back to the left side can also be the cause of hitting behind the ball.
This action cause you to release the club too early on the down swing.

What I mean here is the shaft straightens out in line with your left arm too early before impact. This is commonly known as casting.


Feel the hips "bump" left to get the weight back to the left foot and at the same time bring your hands, arms and club down for as long as possible without losing the right wrist angle.

This action will help you to hit later in the down swing bringing the club head into the ball first.

Swing Path too steep

A steep swing path on the down swing also causes a fat shot. A deep divot is the telling tale of a down swing that is too steep.

The shoulder turn is too steep which causes the arms and club to swing too steep in the back swing.


Take a good posture, standing tall with the arms hanging down under the shoulders and head out of your chest. Try to feel the shoulders take more of a level turn (parallel to the ground)on the back swing. Feel the arms and hands swing more around your body. This will help to flatten out your back swing plane and prevent hitting fat.

I trust these fixes will help!

Thanks for your contribution,


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