How to Stop Topping the Golf Ball (4 Simple Steps)

how to stop topping the golf ball

Author: WhyGolf WhysGuy

We want to preface this guide with the acknowledgment that neither WhysGuy nor anyone from the WhyGolf team claims to know everything about the golf swing. We don’t want anyone to treat what we say here as gospel. While much of what we’ll say is a reflection of decades of dialogue with PGA instructors and players, we’re always learning and we understand that knowledge about the sport of golf will continue to evolve over time. 

In this post, WhysGuy will discuss:

  • The leading 4 causes of topping the golf ball and how to fix them.
  • The key role ball position plays in topping the golf ball.
  • How you can use WhyGolf's ArmAlarm to stop topping the golf ball.

What is Topping the Golf Ball?

If you've ever topped a golf ball, especially with a driver, we're here for you. Topping the golf ball is an experience nobody should have to endure. We're here to give you a few pointers about how to stop topping the golf ball. If you read this article, we guarantee you'll top the ball less the next time you hit the range.

How to Stop Topping the Golf Ball

To fix the problem of topping a golf ball, it's really important to understand what's actually happening when the club hits the ball. Topping happens when the clubhead strikes the upper half of the golf ball. There are many reasons that can explain this, but we'll focus on the most important 4 reasons (and solutions). Read on to learn about them!

1. Check Your Ball Position

We often see amateurs with their ball position too far forward in their stance - especially with driver. The result? The dreaded top. If your ball position is too far forward, your club will generally bottom out before you make contact with the golf ball and you'll risk hitting the ball above the equator.

If you find yourself topping drivers, consider moving your ball position back in your stance an inch or two and see what happens. We often see golfers hit drivers with their ball position beyond their lead foot's toe. This is a recipe for topping driver.

A less common reason that you could be topping the ball is that your ball position is too far back in your stance. If your ball position is too close to your trail foot, you'll generally come into the ball with a steep angle of attack - which can lead to a top. If this sounds like you, consider moving the ball slightly forward in your stance (an inch is plenty) and see if it helps.

It's really important to understand in detail all the ways your ball position can affect your golf swing. Click here to read our blog post about the 4 signs your ball position is incorrect.

2. Keep Your Arms Fully-Extended Through Impact

Maintaining proper arm extension through the impact area is vital to preventing topping the golf ball. When your arms collapse or bend prematurely, it'll inevitably change your club's path through impact and can cause you to top the golf ball. Consider focusing on keeping your arms relatively straight (not stiff) through the impact zone and keeping your hands slightly forward of your clubhead at impact. With your arms extended and a slight forward shaft lean, you'll be looking like a tour pro.

If you're looking for real-time audio feedback in your golf swing, our ArmAlarm may be of great value to you. The ArmAlarm is a device that attaches to both arms and provides audio feedback when your arms break down. It helps you train your muscles to maintain the proper extension throughout the swing, promoting more consistent ball striking and eliminating topping. Click here to learn more about ArmAlarm.

3. Shift Your Weight Properly

Weight shift is one of the most important elements to a golf swing. Generally speaking, we want our pressure and weight moving toward the target through the impact area.

We often see golfers struggle with the so-called "reverse pivot", where their weight and pressure move away from their target through impact and into their follow-through. This move can often result in topping the golf ball. If you're not getting your weight and pressure to your lead side well before impact, it's easy to release the club early with your wrists and strike the upper-half of the golf ball. Additionally, a reverse pivot will make it challenging to deliver a descending blow to the golf ball - which is generally considered to be critically important if you want to hit your irons consistently.

Click here to read more about weight shift in the golf swing and how our Pressure Plate can help you dial in your weight and pressure shifts.

4. Get Rid of Your Chicken Wing

A chicken wing can be characterized as a bent lead arm after impact with a cupped wrist. Golfers often end up in this position after an attempt to "lift" the ball into the air through the hitting area. As TPI puts it: "Chicken winging can not only create a loss in power, but it tends to add loft to the club and excessive spin to the golf ball."

The chicken wing motion can lead to topping the golf ball because the lifting motion pulls the club up, shortening the swing radius. As a result, we see the clubhead making contact with the upper-half of the ball, resulting in the top.

It's generally quite a challenge to get rid of a chicken wing in the golf swing. However, our ArmAlarm can help immensely. With ArmAlarm, you'll know in real-time when your lead arm bends through the impact area, allowing you to train your muscles without the use of an artificial stimulus. If you want to check out ArmAlarm, click here.

How to Stop Topping the Golf Ball - Key Takeaways

  • To stop topping the ball, consider adjusting your ball position, working on your pressure shift, and keeping your arms extended through the impact area.
  • The ArmAlarm can help a golfer keep their arms extended and in sync in their golf swing.
  • The Pressure Plate can be a useful tool to learn how to shift weight and pressure correctly.

Ready to stop topping the golf ball? Purchase your ArmAlarm here.

What does topping the golf ball mean?

Topping the golf ball refers to striking the upper half of the ball instead of making clean contact with the center. This results in shots that fall short and lack accuracy. Topping occurs due to factors such as lifting the head too early, improper weight distribution, an incorrect swing path, and insufficient arm extension through impact.

How do I stop topping the golf ball?

To prevent topping, consider the following points: make sure your ball position is close to your middle of your stance, ensure you're shifting your weight and pressure properly, and keep your arms extended through impact. It can be challenging to stop topping the golf ball but if you implement the above tips into your game and train with the right tools, it's entirely possible to stop topping the golf ball.

How do I stop topping my driver?

Above all else, it's absolutely critical to ensure your ball position is not too far forward. The most common reason for topping driver is that your ball position is too far forward. If you're having trouble topping driver, take a video of your swing and make sure your ball position isn't too far from your lead heel at address.

Secondly, ensure your weight is transferring correctly during the swing. An improper weight shift can cause you to hit the ball with the bottom edge of the club. Practice shifting your weight smoothly from your back foot to your front foot during the downswing.

Lastly, consider ball position. When hitting with a driver, the ball should be lined up off the inside of your front heel. This promotes an upward strike on the ball, crucial for maximizing driver distance.

How do I stop topping the golf ball with irons?

As discussed in the article, your ball should be placed in the middle of your stance or slightly forward, depending on the club. Incorrect ball position can completely ruin your chances of making consistent contact.

Secondly, focus on your weight shift during the swing. A common cause of topping is hanging back on your rear foot. Consider shifting your weight from back to front during the downswing, allowing for a downward strike on the ball with your irons.

Last, try to keep your arms extended through impact. If you finding yourself chicken winging, consider using the ArmAlarm so you can monitor your swing and make changes to it effectively.

What tools can I use to learn how to stop topping the ball?

As discussed the the article above, both the ArmAlarm and our Pressure Plate can be helpful here, and for different reasons. The Pressure Plate will help you make sure you're getting your weight to your lead side at impact and through the ball. The ArmAlarm will help you keep your arms extended throughout your entire golf swing. You can learn more about how each of these two products can help you with topping the golf ball in the above article.

What's the difference between topping and chunking the ball?

Topping and chunking the golf ball are both common issues in golf that result from improper swing mechanics, though they are quite different.

Topping the ball happens when the club's leading edge hits the top half of the ball, causing it to skid or roll. Topping the golf ball can be the result of a few different swing faults. To stop topping the golf ball, consider reading the above article.

On the other hand, chunking, or hitting it fat, happens when the club hits the ground before making contact with the ball.

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