Column: Fixing the dreaded topped shot

Jennifer Greggain writes a bi-weekly column offering tips on how to improve your golf game.

Many golfers struggle with the dreaded ‘topped shot’ in golf.

What many don’t realize is that this issue is not usually caused by lifting your head, a piece of advice often given by fellow golfers.

However, when a golfer believes they are lifting their head, they will do anything to try to convince their body to stay down through the shot. This usually results in poor weight transfer, and can actually cause more topped shots!

Instead of trying to keep your head down, continue to swing through the shot allowing your arms to extend through impact.

This should be a natural, organic motion, and not forced.

One drill I like to use for this is the simple half swing drill. Taking a short iron, be sure to hold onto the grip light and relaxed. Then begin rotating and transferring weight to the trail leg and back to the lead leg several times with half swings. While transferring weight, allow your arms to extend through the shot, striking the ground in the same place at the bottom of your swing arc each time.

I can’t emphasize enough how natural this should feel.

This is physics at work in the golf swing. As you rotate your torso and transfer weight, gravity and centrifugal force pull the club head away from your body. Yet many people try to create loft in an iron shot by pulling the arms in toward the body through impact, and swinging up.

To strike a ball into the air with a high trajectory with an iron, the angle of attack with the swing arc must be downward.

Although swinging up feels like it will create loft and help the ball into the air, it will actually just expose the leading edge to the top of the ball, causing a topped shot. Instead, be sure to transfer weight through the ball, allowing the arms to swing away from the body, with the swing arc bottoming out right where the ball meets the ground.

If you or someone you know are struggling with topped shots, do not try to fix this by keeping your head down!

And please do not offer this advice to your buddies or loved ones, unless of course you are trying to win the match.

Jennifer teaches golf to adults and juniors at the Chilliwack Golf Academy. She played professionally on tour for over 10 years, including 2 years on the LPGA. She is the 2016 LPGA Western Section Teacher of the Year, and is now the lead instructor of the Sardis Golf Academy. She can be contacted at 604-798-9805,, or at

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