One of the things that make a great golfer is the ability to put the ball into play by skilfully manoeuvring its
This skill is sure to make any golfer stand out from the rest of the competition. But as any golfer may attest,
it can be frustrating to play yourself out of position when your shot results into an uncontrollable ‘ball flight’
that was totally unintended.
A thin ball flight (topped ball) is one of those ball flights you want to avoid on a golf course: you set up the
ball and envisage a towering blast, only to end up with a dribbler. For a detailed look on this, read our article
on golf ball flight faults and fixes.
What’s a topped ball?
A topped ball is when the leading edge of the club strikes the top of the ball, causing it to fly lower than
usual. Sometimes it may simply run along the ground. It may also be referred to as a thinned shot.
This results from either the ‘upper body’ or ‘lower body’ or both moving upwards through your position of
impact, causing the ‘swing path and swing plane to veer off their natural path and plane. Your club-head will then
ascend farther away from the ball when going through the impact position, causing stopped ball strike.
Common causes of a topped shot
• The swing plane is on a steep, inside-out plane and the club’s base or sole bounces off the turf farther
behind the ball.
• At impact when you lift up, the base of your driver touches the top of the ball, and it barely runs a few
metres off the tee.
• Your swing plane is on a steep, outside-in plane, which leads to a ‘thin skim’ atop the ball, sending it
swirling along the ground.
How to avoid a topped ball
Swing plane is steep and inside-out – While there’s no problem with an inside-out swing plane
in itself – it encourages a draw, which helps to increase distance – it can create a dropkick when it’s overdone.
Therefore, you should try to touch the ball’s inside lower quadrant on your downswing; however, you need to rotate
your hands such that as the club exits the hitting area, it is parallel with the target line.
Rising up at impact – In order to stay down and through the ball, keep your knees flexed and
relaxed during your entire swing, and maintain your right heel on the ground for as long as you can keep it
Do not try to ‘slap’ at the ball, instead, concentrate on swinging through the ball and your right shoulder
should turn under your chin. The club will help the ball into the air, you don’t need to do that.
Swing plane is steep and outside-in – You should ensure that your right shoulder does not pull
your clubhead across the top of the ball. This is achieved by keeping your address with your left shoulder higher
than your right. Your right elbow should also be bent such that it sites nearer to your torso than the left
You will then be able to avoid a dip when you make these fixes and your shoulder movement will be kept in check.
Your club will then make solid, centered contact because it stays on plane.
The material in this site is intended to be of
general informational use only.
Although every attempt has been made to make information as accurate as possible, we are not responsible for any
errors that may appear.