The Tiny Golf Swing Change that can Make or Break Your Game

The Tiny Golf Swing Change that can Make or Break Your Game

We’ve all experienced it – one swing good shot followed by disaster and the swing felt the same.

That’s because there is something small in the golf swing that can dramatically affect the outcome – and this article will reveal it.


Before We Read On

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  • fats,
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The Good Shot

Here we see a club come into impact on a 6 degree angle of attack (represented by the white line) – this is around tour-average for a 7 iron.

You can see the club would effectively strike the ball first, and then contact the ground after (pink star).


The Bad Shot

What would happen if, for some reason, the club trajectory were to be just half  an inch deeper into the ground?

Let’s take a look…..

Now, in this scenario, the club (incredibly) hits the ground first a whopping 4 inches behind the ball.

We know (from my data collection) that hitting just 2 inches behind a ball can lead to more than a 23% distance loss – and more than a full stroke dropped when compared to a perfect strike (based on stroked gained). 

Hitting 4 inches behind – well, that’s just horrible!


Not 1:1

Think of the trajectory of the clubhead as a big circle around your body (it’s not a perfect circle, but that’s less relevant here).

Shifting the lowest point of the swing circle (the white part of the arc) forwards and backwards (think moving the hula hoop towards/away from the target) will affect the ground in a more or less 1:1 relationship (e.g shift the circle forwards 1 inch and ground contact moves forwards 1 inch).

However, changing the height/depth of the hula hoop (think of dropping it deeper into the ground) has a much more dramatic effect on ground contact.

Depending on a number of variables (such as angle of attack, how tight the lie is etc), it can be closer to an 8:1 relationship – where 0.5 inches of drop in height can change ground contact by 4 inches.

Hence the title of this blog post.


What Influences Arc Height?

While we could go through all the moving parts that could potentially change arc height/depth, think of it like this;

Anything that causes the hands to move closer to/farther from the golf ball (in 3D space) at impact than they were at address will be the biggest determinant of arc height.

For example;

If your lead arm started very straight at address, but returned to impact more flexed – this would influence the height the club comes into impact.

The above table shows many of the elements that relate to arc height control.


One Problem

And it’s a biggie….

There are a load of variables in the golf swing which can all contribute to changes in arc height/depth.

And all of these variables are constantly changing – you may even have some variables making your hands get closer to the ball, and at the same time have other variables making your hands get farther from the ball at impact. 

It’s the net effect of all of these variables that matters.

Very complex – but there is a solution.

It’s like a game of tug of war between all the variables – hoping to achieve balance


The Solution

You can make the task of controlling arc height/depth a lot easier by;

  • Developing a technique that makes the arc height more consistent through impact 
  • Some neat drills that allow you to improve your ability to control arc-height on demand

In The Strike Plan, I show you how to do all of the above. The Strike Plan also contains everything you need to know to be able to improve low-point position for pro-quality strikes.

I also show you how to take all that complexity and turn it into simple drills which offer quick but lasting success.

To learn more about The Strike Plan, click the image below.


Take Home Message

The next time you hit that great shot and follow it with a stinker – understand that it could have been something as small as a half inch (or less) drop in arc height. Perhaps focusing on improving this variable (which an astounding number of golfers don’t work on it) will pay great dividends in the long run.


  • BJ Fitzhugh

    Went to range before reading this email. I was concentrating on swinging a wedge with my arms,taking my hands out of picture.Made much better contact

  • Robert Davis

    This fact, “0.5 inches of drop in height can change ground contact by 4 inches”, was so hard to believe that I had to check the geometry myself! My math shows 4.76″ of change in ground strike point for a 0.5″ change in height. That implies we need verticality control in the 0.1″ range, if we want to control ground contact to within 1″.

    The list above shows 10 different movement elements that affect arc height. And those elements all have to somehow combine for 0.1″ arc height control. Two observations: 1) The brain is truly amazing, and 2) Wow! No wonder this game is so hard!

    Quick question Adam, because I know everything in your images is there for a reason. Why does the line slope down after ground contact? Looks like it comes in around 6 deg, but then goes to like 20 deg after ground contact. Why is this?



    • admin

      Best comment ever !
      Crazy isn’t it – both in the difficulty and the amazing ability of our brain to control all of this mess – at least if you train in the right way.
      The reason for the deflection in the line is because the clubhead gets deflected downwards through impact (the force on the ball acts on the clubhead). Dave Tutllman calls it “newtons divot” –

  • Robert Davis

    Thanks! The physics in that Tutelman article makes perfect sense. Impact with a lofted club should clearly push the clubhead downward.

    Makes me re-think the whole concept of “Angle of Attack”. The list below shows five different definitions AoA, with a huge (12 deg) range in values depending upon which one you choose. My mental image has always been “Clubhead approaching ball”. Now I wonder how to best define this term.

    Clubhead approaching ball: -0.4º
    Average angle during impact: -6.3º
    Average angle from first contact to maximum compression: -4.3º [Trackman]
    Average angle from maximum compression to separation: -8.4º
    Immediately after separation: -12.5º

    I need to mentally process this new information, and figure out how it fits into the whole “shallowing” discussion that is so common these day.

    Thanks again,


    • admin

      I believe this is a part that Dave initially got wrong. Trackman reports AOA as if the ball wasn’t there. It can see the rate of curvature of the circle and take the deflection out of the equation – otherwise it would get messy and skew the path readings too.

  • Mark Moyer

    Once in a while my driver will hit a good foot behind my ball & I think how can I miss it by that much? It can be discouraging. Also I’ve got your book the practice manual. (I love it.) What book would you recommend next. The strike plan?

  • Ronan Quinn

    Hi Adam,
    Which parts of NLG should I concentrate on for this?

    • admin

      Impact drills section, strike modules. Also see parametric acceleration modules in the university section.

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