Improve Your Impact- The Pathway to Better Golf Shots

John Stahlschmidt
PGA Director of Instruction
JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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We have all hit that amazing shot – The one that leaves the face and tracks directly to the target. The feel is similar to cutting through soft butter. I call this sensation the “addicting agent” to golf.  After one experiences this, the desire is to achieve it again and again.

This solid contact can happen much more consistently when applying the golf club into the ball properly. Make no mistake; there is a correct way to strike a golf ball. Every tour pro, some more than others, creates forward shaft lean at impact. (See photo). By striking shots with the shaft leaning forward, you will achieve a descending blow. This is often referred to as hitting down. In order for this to happen, it is important to understand the role of the right hand and arm through the impact zone.  

The function of the right hand in the golf swing is to create lag. Lag is defined as the angle between the lead arm and the shaft. All tour pros create lag in the golf swing which allows them to “hit down” on the golf ball. Conversely, most amateurs lose this lag during the downswing because the right hand lets out creating a “scooping” effect. This motion will create a “low point” that occurs too early and creates inconsistent contact resulting is poor ball striking.

Try this simple drill to improve your impact conditions. Take an 8 iron and make knee high to knee high swings. Make a short backswing allowing your right hand to bend or hinge. This motion creates lag. As you swing down, allow your body to rotate. This body rotation will make it possible for you to maintain the bend in the right wrist.  Allow your right arm to straighten as the clubface makes contact with the ball. The result will be a shaft that leans forward and a club head that is moving down. 

Once you have mastered these little swings, attempt to incorporate this sensation into your full swing. The outcome will be more consistent golf shots that will allow you to shoot lower scores every time out.

John Stahlschmidt is the Head Instructor at the TOUR Academy TPC Scottsdale. To comment on this tip or to inquire about lessons, email John at