It’s so frustrating when we are so close to the green and just need a small chip or pitch shot to get on the green and we instead send it rolling out of control over the green. This type of shot is called a thin shot, or skulled shot, and it’s no fun.
Knowing what happened in this case is super important so you don’t let it affect the rest of your shots around the green.
A thin or skulled shot is when we hit the ball with the leading edge of the club head instead of the club face, which results in a shot that rolls on the ground, wildly fast, wildly uncontrollable, and a distance far greater than intended.
This shot rattles our feathers and forever clips our short chips and pitch shots for the rest of the round and possibly rounds and rounds later.
Because the ball flew so much farther than intended, most of us think this shot was the result of too big or too fast of a swing. That’s probably not the case.
It’s important to understand that the length of your swing and the speed of your arms and hands that you used to deliver the club were probably good enough, and it was the leading edge of the club that got in the way and sent the ball flying out of control.
Avoid reacting to this miss with a shorter, stabby like stroke or decelerating the club on the downswing to avoid hitting it so far. Both compensations result in more missed shots and increase the psychological damage of ever successfully executing a pitch shot.
It’s important to understand that the thin, or skulled shot, is caused by the club traveling on the upward side of the swing arc before it hits the golf ball.
Basically, the club is traveling upward and not downward before hitting the golf ball.
There are two common swing mistakes that cause this to happen.
The first is just not understand the swing arc and swinging upward to meet the ball. When the club is on the way up before it hits the golf ball, the leading edge will hit the ball instead of the club face.
The second common fault is flipping your wrists early and letting the clubhead travel past your hands before hitting the ball. When you flip the club with your wrists and the clubhead travels past your hands, the club head will now be traveling on the upward side of the arc delivering the leading edge instead of the club face.
To prevent the leading edge from striking the ball first, practice without a club first.
Hold your hands and arms out in front of you. Simulate a short backswing, where you hinge your wrists and your right arm folds into your side.
The goal is to keep your right wrist hinged and left wrist flat through impact.
Notice how your body needs to rotate toward the target and right arm extends without the right wrist flipping.
Keep practicing this feel and then try it with a club in your hands. The goal is to deliver the club to the ball with your hands just slightly in front of the clubhead. When your hands don’t flip the ball will fly!
Peter Harris is the director of Golf at the Fore-U Golf Center in West Lebanon. His column appears weekly in the Recreation page during the golf season.