Here’s a question for you: what’s one aspect of golf you struggle with the most? If you’re a high-handicap golfer, your answer is likely “swing impact.”
Well, this is not a coincidence. Most struggling golfers think of the impact zone as the point where your clubhead meets the ball. As a result, they’ll spend far too much time trying to master that nano-second point of impact.
The real impact zone consists of about six inches on either side of the ball. This is where your golf swing impact position comes in. To improve your swing, you need to optimize how your clubhead travels through this zone.
Fortunately, improving your swing impact position isn’t as complicated as it may sound. Here’s everything you need to know about this part of the game!
Factors That Determine Impact
Before you can improve your impact position, you must know the theory behind it. Otherwise, any swing changes you make will be inconsistent.
There are five factors that determine the quality of any golf shot, from a 350-yard power drive to a chip shot. Mastering these factors is essential to improving your golf swing form. Here’s the list:
Centeredness of Contact
This impact factor refers to where you strike the ball with the clubhead. If you can’t master hitting the center, no other factors will come into play.
Why is this factor so important? Simple: toe and heel strikes reduce the energy that goes into the ball, resulting in less distance. These strikes can also impart a sidespin, which causes the ball to rotate more than you want.
You also need to consider the height of impact with your clubface. With top and thin shots, this is easy to spot. If you’re using an iron or wood, though, it can be hard to see how far you are from the center of the clubface.
Want to test your centeredness of contact? Put some impact tape on your club, then hit five to ten shots with it. If your strike is inconsistent, you’ll likely need to work on your posture (more on that below!).
Angle of Attack
The angle of attack refers to your club moving downward through impact. When your clubface strikes the ball, it can level out or rise upward.
The angle of your attack depends in large part on your ball position. The further back your stance is, the more powerful your descending strike will be. As you move forward, the angle of attack becomes shallower.
Of course, in-swing factors can also affect your angle of attack. For instance, keep track of where you position your weight at impact. If you put a lot of weight on your front foot, your angle of attack will be steeper.
The way you release your club through impact is a big part of the equation as well. The more you extend your left wrist and flex your right wrist, the more shallow your angle of attack will become.
Struggling to visualize your angle of attack? Think of it as the low point in your swing relative to the ball. If you’re using an iron, for example, the low point will be the divot after the ball.
Swing Path and Clubface Angle
The swing path and clubface angle are two impact factors that have a lot in common. As such, they’re best discussed together.
The swing path is the direction your clubhead takes through impact. The clubface angle can be open or closed relative to the swing path. If you hit the center of the clubface, these two factors determine your shot direction.
The combination of your swing path and clubface angle can create many ball flights. In general, though, you want your clubface squared to your target. You’ll also want to swing through on a neutral path toward the target.
If you miscalculate the angle, the start direction of the ball will change. In this regard, the clubface angle is far more important than the swing. If you keep slicing the ball, work on pointing your clubface angle toward the target.
Similarly, hitting a consistent fade doesn’t have to involve changing the swing path. Instead, try manipulating the clubface during the swing or relative to the swing path.
Clubhead Swing Speed
The final impact factor is your clubhead swing speed. If all other factors are consistent, a higher swing speed will lead to longer shots.
Keep in mind that the only thing that matters here is the speed of the clubhead through impact. That said, the best way to get into a position where you can unleash a powerful strike is to have a good downswing.
Building the Correct Golf Swing Impact Position
Now that we’ve gone over the basics, let’s talk specifics. Here are the main things you’ll need to know to improve your swing impact position:
Check Your Fundamentals
Without mastering the golf basics, you won’t be able to reach the next level. For this exercise, we’re talking about two things: posture and grip.
Your posture is the main thing that allows you to make the right kind of swing. Think of a golf swing as a baseball swing, except tilted at 45 degrees toward the ground. All you need to do is change your set-up angle.
First, stand tall in your natural posture and hold the club at waist height. Tilt forward while keeping the spine in a consistent position. This gives your vertebrae plenty of space to rotate during the swing.
With the club above the ground, flex your knees a bit. Don’t flex too much, as that results in upper body tilt and makes your swing too high. It also creates too much pressure on your heels, creating balance issues.
Another key element of a proper golf stance is your grip. First, place your left hand on the side of your club, against the grip. Before you wrap your fingers around the club, they need to be pointing toward the ground.
Once your left hand is in position, place your right hand slightly above it. It should feel as if you’re holding the club in your fingers. The more contact you get between your fingers and the grip, the easier it is to control the swing.
Prepare for Impact
If you keep mishitting your iron shots, look into your body dynamics. Hitting an iron shot is all about striking downward through the ball.
As counter-intuitive as it seems, striking a few degrees downward is the only way to get the ball high up. You’ll also need to position the center of your stance around the ball and keep your hands slightly ahead of it.
As with most things, practice is key to getting a great impact position. Take ten balls and see how many you can hit while keeping a balanced finishing stance. For the best results, stay in this stance until the ball stops rolling.
Improve Your Downswing
Earlier, we mentioned the importance of your downswing. Among the many basics of golf, this is one of the hardest ones to master.
A proper downswing looks fluid but consists of many smaller parts. To keep this explanation simple, we’ll focus on the three main steps in this sequence:
- Shift your weight to the right foot
- Turn your chest and hips toward the target
- Extend your hands and arms to the point of impact
If you do the first two steps correctly, the third one will be a formality. That said, getting there won’t be easy. If you’re a new golfer, you may want to exaggerate the weight shift or lower body rotation to feel “in sync.”
Keep in mind that all top golfers have their own downswing version. We’re talking about differences of up to 45 degrees in hip or shoulder rotation. The lesson: focus on the feel of your swing rather than the exact details:
Chances are, the above tips have given you some things to work on. If so, here’s an addendum: start small, then work your way up.
For instance, let’s say you want to work on closing your clubface angle. Don’t just head to the golf range and start flailing with any club that’s at hand. Instead, grab a 9-iron and work on your impact position for a 30-yard chip.
While you’re practicing, assess how your strikes feel and where the ball lands. Once you’re happy with the swing, build up to pitch shots and full swings. The point of this is to learn to control your impact zone one step at a time.
More on Mastering Golf Basics
As you can see, improving your golf swing impact position is a complex process. At the core of it, though, it’s all about wanting to get better. The above guide will let you know what parts of the swing you need to work on!
Interested in more golf swing tips for beginners? Tired of missing shots you know you can put away? This article on golf psychology will help you overcome any mental blocks you may have!