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How to Hit a Golf Ball

By Jeff Gordon

A typical round of golf requires you to use a variety of clubs and hit the ball a variety of ways. Good swing fundamentals carry from shot to shot, but how you actually strike the ball varies according to the situation. Some mechanics of driving the ball off a tee differ from using a wedge to fly the ball onto the green. Stances, ball placement and points of contact vary from shot to shot.

Grip and Club Control

Properly gripping the club makes hitting the golf ball in the right direction much easier. The club should rest along the third knuckle in both hands. Both thumbs should point down the shaft, with the palm of the front hand covering the thumb of the back. The index finger of the back hand should be loose, allowing the other three fingers to control the swing along with the middle two fingers of the front hand. The two hands must work as one during the swing.

Proper Swing

A smooth swing with proper weight shift allows golfers to strike the ball well. Align your feet, hips and shoulders parallel to the target. Flex your knees slightly and keep your back straight with your weight on the middle of your feet. Set your feet shoulder-width apart to hit a driver and hip-width apart for other shots. On the backswing, bend your back elbow and keep your front arm straight. Shift your weight toward your back foot. At the top of your swing, cock your wrists at a 90-degree angle. Keep your forearms relaxed and your lead elbow pointing down as you start your downswing to square up the club face. Shift your weight to your front foot, extend your arms and hit through the ball.

Ball Placement

Where you stand in relation to the ball depends on the club you are using and the shot you are hitting. To drive the ball off of a tee, a right-handed golfer should set the ball off the inside of his left foot. Hit the ball just past the bottom of your swing, allowing you to elevate your drive despite the 9.5- to 12-degree loft on the driver face. For the woods and longer irons, the ball should be toward the front of your stance, and for wedge shots the ball should be in the middle.

Hitting Inside Out

Golfers should focus on the back inside quarter of the golf ball to produce an inside-out swing. Hitting on the ball toward the outside causes your arms and wrists to release early. That can cause the club to lose velocity before impact, and you to lose command of the clubface. When the inside of your body leads the swing, your arms and hands follow and the power builds. You have more control of the clubhead trails your hands.

Hitting Iron Shots

To strike your iron shots solidly, hit down on the ball and compress the ball between the ground and the face of the club. This produces backspin, which makes the ball rise. Hit the ball first, then the ground with the clubface. "Good iron contact comes from a descending strike," LPGA legend Annika Sorenstam wrote for Golf Digest. "To hit down, your weight has to be moving toward the target. A lot of amateurs struggle with iron play because they hang back on their right side to try to lift the ball."

Hitting Wedge Shots

Hit wedge shot with an even tempo -- whether you are swinging half speed, three-quarter speed or full speed -- to adjust to the terrain and ball location. Match your backswing to your downswing. Do not try to adjust your shot tempo as you are making contact.

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