I tend to pick a spot on the back of the ball and focus on sweeping the club into the back of it on my full swings. Since the divot and swing arc should, in theory, be forward of the ball, does anyone focus on a point in front of the ball? Curious to know everyone's approach.
Where are you looking on full swings?
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I tend to focus on the centerline of the ball. I had trouble topping shots when I would look forward of the ball and we all know what happens when you start focusing behind the ball.
When I'm focused on the centerline my swing generally bottoms out correctly and I hit flush shots. When I'm unfocused on anything...I can hit toe shots, pulls, thin, you name it.
I also look in center of the ball never thought about it really but that is where i focus. I have helped some of my friends who was not hitting down on the ball by making them focus on hitting an imaginary ball in front of their ball. If they had to steep of a swing it did cause a top sometimes, but in general it hleped them understand hitting down on the ball more.
Not only do I focus on the middle of the ball, I do this wierd thing with my eyes right before pulling the trigger. I picked it up from tennis, where 'seeing' the ball is paramount. I do an extra focus with my eyes where all of a sudden every dimple on the ball becomes crystal clear. It's kind of like baseball hitters - when the ball is about to be delivered you can sometimes see them frown or change the expression on theirs faces as they focus intensely on the ball coming out of the pitchers hand. Same thing in golf even though the ball is not moving - as soon as the ball becomes crystal clear, I pull the club back knowing I will keep my head centered promoting clean contact. It especially helps with the short game. (I actually gave it a name in teaching it to my son - I call it 'Crystal Vision')
A lot of people look a few inches in front of the ball. Bobby Clampett's The Impact Zone is all about this for the reasons you stated. In fact, that entire book can be summed up in "just look a couple inches in front of the ball at address so you ensure you hit the ball first and then the ground."
I look at the ball though. I think it doesn't matter where you look. You'll still hit it fat looking two inches in front of the ball if your swing isn't that good. It will probably work for a little while, but eventually, the honeymoon I think will wear off. Just an opinion. It certainly can't hurt to try it. Maybe it would work long term, but I doubt it. I mean, I know it works for some people, but I'm skeptical it would work over a long period of time for a high handicapper. I could be wrong.
Handle location and weight location are the two most basic determinants of where your swing will bottom out. I think it's more important to know and understand that, so you can work on it.
PS- I should throw "head location" in there as well.
1. Flat left wrist
2. Weight Forward
3. Steady head
Control those things, and you'll control your low point.
I look at a single dimple on the front side (the side closer to where the ball will be sent) of the ball. I focus pretty hard on that single dimple for the same reasons others gave above. I never look at "the whole golf ball" as I want to hit/swing thru a very specific target and I do not want my club to bottom out before the club meets that target. If and when I produce a couple of poor swings I swing at 80% and look at a spot just forward of the ball, and this brings my golf swing back into better form.
the center of my swing is in front of the center line of my body - so I set up there (square body and alignment), I look there and sometimes even defocus a bit and just think about my takeaway and keeping my head still once I start my backswing
For a Ball centric answer:
(driving, I guess that means I look about 4 inches behind the ball)
(fairway woods and long irons - pretty much it'll fall somewhere on the ball depending on which club - back edge of the ball for the woods, middle to front of the ball for the 4i/5i)
(the other irons - focus is in front of the ball (ball on inside of right heel), and even if I can't setup in front of the ball with actual head of the club, I do try to set up my shoulders to that point and swing like I did)
Pretty much the same swing (allowing for different length clubs it'll refine somewhat) for any of those clubs. And in each case, a good swing will always find any ball that I happened to find in the path of the club head. (make a nice swing rather than "hit the ball")
I'm getting a LOT of consistency (repeatable distance and straighter shots overall) since I started doing this (learned it from a video on driving I read on these forum pages) - handicap has dropped from a 15/16 to now under 11 in a VERY short time.