If you watch a golf broadcast for even an hour, you’ll hear about how players are “flighting the ball down” or “keeping it under the wind”. An amateur may easily understand the references, but executing those shots is a bit more difficult.
Hitting a shot much lower than a normal swing isn’t all that hard as Blue Heron Hills PGA pro Greg Mulhern points out. In fact, there are a couple of easy ways to keep the ball low.
The first is simple. Moving the ball back in your stance will naturally close down the clubface on impact and substantially drop the shot trajectory. It’s a technique that’s often used to escape from the trees.
Mulhern’s preferred method of lower ball flight is to change the swing. The normal backswing creates an “L” position at the top. The left arm is straight parallel to the ground while the clubhead is pointed directly up to the sky.
Instead of an “L” shape, Mulhern wants his students to focus on the “Y” shape the arms and clubs make at address (the club is the base of the “Y” and both arms form the upper half).
“Your traditional swing has a lot more wrist involved,” Mulhern says. “When we’re flighting the ball lower, we’d like to keep the club where it’s actually retaining the “Y” that it starts with.”
The “Y” position is something that needs to be held throughout the backswing and follow through. The latter is certainly the more difficult of the two.
As with most shots, this one requires a proper rotation of the body to hit well. Mulhern has an image he uses to help has players visualize the turn he wants.
“If you can picture the club as it’s going through the ball, we’d like to almost attach a string to our back shoelace. And then to our club,” Mulhern says. “Those are tied together on this shot.”
At first, most players will hit pulls or draws with this shot. The natural instinct for players is to come across the ball, close the clubface and not release the club. They’ll also close the club face a bit, trying to flight the ball down themselves. When done correctly, this shot should finish with a gentle fade. It won’t be side spin, but a shot that falls a bit to the right.
“That’s when you know that you’ve married up your footwork with your body and having the club going through with good timing,” Mulhern says.
The timing will take some practice. Most players generate swing speed with the arms and wrists. As a result, they will often take a while to figure the lower flighted swing out.
“The speed is going to pick up in your lower half snapping,” Mulhern says. “Your arms and wrists–the small muscles, as I call them–will just be along for the ride.”
He advises amateurs to start out with short chips and work up to the full swing. This shot can also be an effective way to escape fairway bunkers.
It’s one thing to hit the ball low. It’s another to hit the ball the proper distance. Mulhern says this shot can help take ten yards off the normal distance on a club.
This shot is primarily for wedges and shorter shots, but can be used throughout the bag. Most weekend hackers will still have a tough time generating the type of body rotation and swing speed that would make this technique functional on a 3, 4 or 5 iron.
“Tiger’s stinger would be this “Y” to “Y” swing basically with a longer club,” Mulhern says. “But he’s an extreme athlete, so I wouldn’t recommend it.”
Mulhern also can control the amount a ball is flighted down by how long he will hold the “Y” position. If a “Y” to “Y” swing is a ball that’s fully flighted down, Mulhern can cut that trajectory change in half by allowing his follow through the finish normally.
No matter what, the “Y” to “Y” swing is the answer to avoid shots a big breeze will typically gobble up.
“You’ll notice a big difference between your higher golf shots with your wrists involved and these “Y” to “Y” shots that keep the ball lower,” Mulhern says.
To schedule a lesson with Mulhern yourself, click here.