Instant Bogey Golf: Getting the ball up

Even though I have never seen you play golf or swing a club, if you can’t break 100 (or 50 for 9 holes) I know one thing about your game:

I know that, when hitting a ball placed on the ground, you hit the ground and then the ball most of the time. When you don’t do that you hit the ball and not the ground. This is quite common.

Golfers do this because they are trying to swing up and under the ball to lift it into the air. The end result is we either hit the ground behind the ball or top the ball (also known as “skulling” it). These actions are not caused by a lousy swing, but by the way your brain - your subconscious - sees the ball and thinks it should get in the air.

Let me illustrate. Take a practice swing and try to knock off the head of a dandelion. No dandelions available? Lay a tee down flat or try sweeping a leaf or even a cigarette butt off the ground. You might swing over the object on the first couple of attempts but after a few swings you will zero in and be able not only hit the object once, but over and over again.

If, then, you can locate the small object on the ground with your seven-iron, how come you can’t locate the golf ball, which is a great deal larger? When I say locate it, I mean hit the back of the darn thing in the center of your clubface?

The answer is that your eyes are lying to your brain. When you put a club behind the ball the message your eyes send to the brain is to swing the club under the ball and then swing up. We should realize this is an impossible task since the ball is on hard ground and there is really no way to swing under the ball and then up. The brain, however, isn’t in a thinking mode, it is in a reaction mode. So when you swing the club you’re attempting the impossible. The result, more often than not, is a poorly struck golf ball.

Believe it or not, your golf club is designed to hit the ball and then the ground. Because of the angle of the clubface, as soon as the clubface strikes the ball with a downward blow the ball will jump into the air. In this regard the clubface works like a snowplow with the ball being the snow. The snowplow doesn’t work like a shovel, but a scraper. The clubface actually scrapes the ball off the ground.

Jim Flick of the Nicklaus-Flick Golf School said, “Golf is 90% mental and the other 10% is mental.” By “mental,” he doesn’t mean your IQ. Instead he is saying only that our brain is perfectly willing to select a faulty solution to our problem of getting the little ball up into the air.

Solution: Place an object - leaf, tee, cigarette butt or head of a dandelion - on the ground and place the ball either on top of it on just behind it. Now make the same swing you did before and ignore the ball and just sweep the object. Bingo, you hit the ball solidly and then the ground. The result was that the ball went higher (due to letting the club do its work) and the ball went further (because all the power of the swing went into the ball and wasn’t wasted on the ground).

The idea of swinging at something other the ball is borrowed from Karate. In Karate, if you wish to break a board you don’t look at the board. You look below it, and on the way to that spot your hand just goes through the board. You hit through the target. This is precisely what happened when you aimed at something other than the golf ball.

Thinking of the ball as an object to be swung through and not at will go a long way to getting your scores down, and turning you from a dangerous golfer into a respectable one.

Ron Curran, author of “Instant Golf” and “Instant Bogey Golf” instructor, shares his golf tips with you from time to time here at If you have a question about how you can improve your game, email him at For more info on Ron’s teaching and availability in your area, visit


  • Alex said:

    Question…On this comment…”Place an object - leaf, tee, cigarette butt or head of a dandelion - on the ground and place the ball either on top of it on just behind it. Now make the same swing you did before and ignore the ball and just sweep the object”

    I like this idea, but if I visualize an object under the ball and try to sweep the object, I am wondering if that would lead me to scooping. Your e-book mentioned the same thing, about swinging under the ball to sweep the grass. I haven’t tried it yet, but I was curious about this. Thanks.

  • Jacob (Author) said:

    I can’t speak for Ron, but I’ve had the lesson, so I think I can help explain it. The point is to not think of the ball as something to be swung at, but through. In most illustrations Ron has used with me, the leaf or the baby powder or whatever it is is in front of the ball, but “on it” is the same concept. You’re swinging through the ball to get to the item. Ron, you want to add anything?

  • Ron Curran said:

    Alex, good question. My point is if you swing down you can’t get to the spot under the ball until you move the ball out of the way with the downward blow. I is like “through the target” in almost all other sport. The student told me it was like in boxing you don’t aim for his jaw but the back of his face. In football you are told to drive through the guy you are trying to tackle and of course in karate when you want to break a board you are told to not look or aim at the board but to a spot below the board and on the way to that spot you break the board.

    The golf club is designed to hit the ball and then the ground with a downward blow. There is simply no up in the down swing.
    I hope this answers your question but if it doesn’t please let me know and I will be happy to expand on the idea of hitting through ,not at the ball.


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