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Finding the Ball



When we work with students, we often tell them that we don't expect them to hit the first 20 or 30 balls "better" or even as good as they were before, we just expect them to hit them "differently." Sometimes that "difference" is better, but often it's worse.

The difference is often (not always… it depends very much on what the change is…) an insight into how good a golfer can ever expect to be. You see, some golfers are just better at what @david_wedzik and I call "finding the golf ball."

Finding the golf ball just means that a golfer has that "something" that lets them hit the ball reasonably solidly even when not making their normal golf swing. For example, if I put the ball six inches closer to a golfer, or on a sidehill lie, or make them grip down five inches on their 7-iron, or completely change their grip… golfers who can find the golf ball will still, far more often than not, be able to hit the ball pretty solidly.

You can test yourself by doing some different things. Here are a few tests. Complete them all with your 6-iron:

  • Hit the ball with just your right and just your left hand.
  • Put three balls down about six inches apart and perpendicular to your target line. Address the middle ball normally, then try to hit either the outside or inside ball.
  • Put a ball on top of a pencil (the normal kind, not a golf pencil) and hit it.
  • Put your hands four inches apart on the grip.
  • Make an exaggerated swing where you sway way off the golf ball and move your head a foot back on the backswing.

If you can do these things and hit the ball "okay" (you're not looking to hit the ball as well as usual… just on the clubface and occasionally solidly), you have the ability to "find the golf ball." That doesn't guarantee anything, but you are more likely to have a higher ability ceiling. Golf is still an athletic endeavor: hand-eye coordination, muscle control, proprioception, etc. are still important.

If you cannot, you can still be a great golfer, but you may need more time and possibly more determination/effort to improve, as changes won't take hold as quickly.



I can do this pretty well. And sometimes I feel its a lil unfortunate. With so much golf instruction available,  performing the tip of the week has been pretty easy for me, but lasting improvement I have struggled with.  Though I am definitely better than last year all it takes is a bad day off the tee or on the green and I feel like I am searching for an answer. I usually find one, stand closer or further, loft or lie delivery, all temporary solutions it seems.


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I'm happy if I can find the golf ball in the fairway after I hit it. ;-)

How does one put a golf ball on a pencil? ::scratches head::


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I'm curious, even though it seems "finding the ball" is presented as more of an instinct kind of thing, do you have any drills to work on this?

I'm okay with some of these tests. When I set 3 balls up and address the middle one, I can smack the outside ball just fine, but the inside ball is much, much harder. One-handed shots are pretty good, normally takes a swing or three to get in the groove for it though. I was hitting my 4-iron off the tall rubber tees at the driving range the other day just for fun (thinking of this blog) and was consistently drilling the sweet spot and launching balls straight down the range...seriously made me think about trying this when I play.

A big weak point in my consistency on shots is side-hill lies, especially with the ball above my feet. Below my feet is normally okay, as I'm pretty comfortable opening up my stance and playing the fade off the slope, but above my feet is just horrible most of the time. I chunk them, top them, pull them, etc... Aiming right sometimes works for better contact, but I don't get the required draw (normally resulting in a trip to the beach :~(). The course I've switched to recently has made this more obvious, as many of the holes have big side-slopes to them.

On flat ground, I can walk up to a ball and smack it decently with just about any club without much thought, but I can't stand the huge slice that typically results from it. With focus on a proper swing, I can (normally) hit the ball pretty straight, and I like that. :-)

Any thoughts on drills that may improve my ability to find the ball sub-consciously? Or do you think it's just a matter of continuing to practice my full swing properly (i.e. slowly) and waiting for the chips to fall into place?

Edited by roamin

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2 hours ago, roamin said:

I'm curious, even though it seems "finding the ball" is presented as more of an instinct kind of thing, do you have any drills to work on this?

No, it's kind of a measure of hand-eye coordination.

Or talent.

Probably not the answer you wanted, but it sounds like you didn't have much trouble with those drills, so… maybe you're better than average.


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On 9/10/2016 at 9:14 PM, iacas said:

Probably not the answer you wanted

Not quite. But even though I've consciously accepted that there's no quick-fix to golf, I think I'm still looking for it, so ignore me there. ;-)



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