Golf Tips Newsletter - Issue 392 - Wed. March 9th, 2016
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USGTF Class "A" Teaching Professional
WGTF "Top 100" Teacher
IGPA Certified Golf Psychology Coach


Prepare to play your best golf by doing something now!

Tom's Featured Tip: Hitting Down on The Ball
Tour Greens: Tour Quality Synthetic Greens
Tom's Bonus Tip: Putter Comparison Test
Lesson Comments: What Students Have To Say
Sponsors: Plum Creek Driving Range 
Batavia Country Club
Tour Greens Western New York 
Genesee Community College Golf Management Program 

Click here:  INDOOR GOLF LESSONS  for details on how to improve your game over the winter.

Plum Creek Driving Range, Batavia, NY, Open All Year
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Tom's Featured Tip: Hitting Down on The Ball

For simplicity, all advice on actual swings or drills is provided from a right handed perspective.

There are a couple of popular misconceptions floating around about hitting down on the ball.

First of all are the very words "hitting down" on the ball. I prefer to call it "ball first" contact at impact, meaning that first the clubhead strikes the ball, then it makes contact with the ground (except for the driver), not ground first then the ball.

Another is that you have to hit down to make the ball go up. The ball goes up because of the loft on the club, not because you hit down on the ball.

Another is that you have to consciously try to hit down on the ball. Don't get me wrong, for almost every club in your bag but your driver, I want my students to have a ball first, ground second strike at impact. But to accomplish that I rarely use the words "hit down" in that context during a lesson. The reason is that when I have used those words (early in my teaching career), many of my students tried to hit down with a dramatic axe chop type of swing which I then had to correct.

The key to ball first contact at impact is to understand how it happens in the geometry of the swing.

Golf literature talks about swing plane, single plane, double plane, "D" plane, etc. Sooooo many planes that I feel that casual golfer often feels like he or she is in an airport by the time they are finished reading some golf instruction.

I try to simplify the thought process so that the student has a concept of how their swing should work.

Here's my simple explanation of how "ball first" contact at impact (hitting down on the ball) happens. Understand this and you'll be able to get yourself back on track if you start hitting shots fat or thin.
  • Your swing bottom, the lowest point of your swing, in your downswing will generally be a straight line down from your front shoulder socket to the ground on your target line, in front of your body when you are in your golf stance. Where that falls in relation to your feet depends on how far apart they are spread.

  • When you swing the club in your backswing then your forward swing in golf posture, you create your own personal swing circle.

  • Here are few caveats for swing circle consistency:
    • You generally need to maintain a consistent swing radius with your left arm during your swing, and it absolutely must be consistent at impact
    • You need to have consistent folding and straightening of your right arm during every swing
    • You need to have consistent wrist impact angles through to impact
    Maintain these caveats and your swing circle will remain consistent in its length at the various points of your swing, and most importantly at impact.

  • As long as a lateral "bump" of your weight towards the target initiates your downswing sequence, and your pivot is consistent, and the majority of your weight is positioned on your forward foot at impact, the point where your swing bottoms out will be consistent.

  • Key Point: After you have achieved swing radius consistency and swing bottom consistency, ball position will then determine how much you "hit down" on the ball.

  • Assuming that you have an attack angle in your downswing that approaches the ball from inside the target line, not down the line or outside to inside, then your swing path is moving as follows:
    • down and to the right, from a greater to a lesser degree as it approaches the bottom of your swing
    • then it's flat and straight for a very short distance, perhaps an inch
    • then it moves up and to the left to a larger degree as it moves away from the bottom of your swing arc
    • that's the path of your swing circle

  • So it stands to reason that the further back from the bottom of your swing that you place your ball in your stance, the steeper the downward angle that will occur at the strike. In other words, the more you will be striking downward on the ball.

  • The more forward you place the ball in your stance, the less downward angle at the strike. The extreme example would be the driver, where the ball is placed well forward in the stance to allow for an actual upward strike angle to produce as much carry as possible with that particular club.

  • Trajectory is also affected by ball position, but this discussion is all about a executing a ball first strike.
As an experienced teacher, every now and then I do have to plant seeds of thought like "feel like you are pulling the club head right down into the back of the ball" to a student or two if their swing starts to get a little "scoopy". But most of the time, a review of the principles laid out above will get the brain straightened out enough to start making solid "ball first" contact again.

Read this tip a few times until it sinks in. It's important.


Love your practice, own your swing, own your health,


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For more information please click here:, or feel free to call, text, or email me to discuss your needs.


Love your practice, own your swing, own your health,


Tom's Bonus Tip: Putter Comparison Test

For simplicity, all advice on actual swings or drills is provided from a right handed perspective.

On occasion I like to test either my putter or my style against another putter that I own or am considering buying.

For example, I have a couple of long putters I'm testing with variations of eye positions for a face-on stroke, and this test works perfectly.

When you want to compare your ability with two different putters, or even compare two putting styles to each other, use this two-part test to help you decide which one you should use on the golf course.

Bring a little pocket-notepad to the practice green to keep notes and scores for later comparison.

In the notebook, A /B will be either putter A or B, or style A or B with the same putter.

Part 1: Makeable Putts Fan Drill

Put tees down every 3 feet, starting at 3 feet and ending at 30 feet from the hole. You will need 10 balls so you can putt one ball from each tee position, don't run the tees in a straight line, rather fan them in one direction or another.

Do the Fan drill four times: first, with Putter A, next with Putter B, then Putter B again, and lastly with Putter A (40 putts total).

Each time you complete the drill with one putter, record how many putts you made out of 10.

Record the results in your notepad as follows:

Number of makes:
  • A
  • B
  • B
  • A
High number wins

Part 2: Lag Putt Drill

Using 10 golf balls, place three balls at 14 long paces, four balls at 17 long paces, and three balls at 20 long paces from the hole. Place a golf tee at each of these distances, as you will be doing the Lag putt drill four times.

Starting with Putter A, putt three balls from the 17 pace tee, then three balls from the 14 pace tee, then three balls from the 20 pace tee, and lastly, the final ball from the 17 foot tee again. Go to the hole and pace off your cumulative leave-distance for all ten balls.

The leave-distance for any one putt is simply how far away from the hole in long paces the ball is. Record your cumulative leave distance. Repeat this test with Putter B. Then repeat this test again with Putter B. Lastly, repeat the test again with Putter A.

Record the results in your notepad:

Cumulative leave distance (number of normal paces):
  • A
  • B
  • B
  • A
Low distance wins


This is a very good snap-shot your performance with each putter or style. Do this test on several different days, altering which putter is A and which is B to get more conclusive data. Also, review the notes you made throughout the testing to review your thoughts regarding the comfort and feel of each putter.

These thoughts are important, but the data rules.

The putter that makes the most makable putts and produces the shortest leave-distances on lag putts is the putter ( or stroke) you should use on the golf course.


Love your practice, own your swing, own your health,


Golf Lessons

I conduct lessons at The Plum Creek Driving Range & Practice Facility
there's a link for Plum Creek info here:

Lessons are available for all ages and skill levels, please contact
me - Tom Tucker - at (716) 474 3005 or email me at
for more information.

Outdoor Lessons Details and Rates:

Indoor Lessons Details and Rates:

Driver Fitting Rates:



Plum Creek Driving Range and Simulator  Outdoor range and play indoor golf on any of our 40 Simulator Courses. Call 585-993-0930 or email Mark at to reserve time for simulator play or practice!

Batavia Country Club   Great rates, the best greens in WNY. Golf Digest Four Star rating for public courses to play in New York State. Tee times online or by phone in season. Great membership discounts are still available until April 1st. The earlier you pay the larger the discount. Check website for specific rates then call or stop in to purchase your 2016 membership.

BCC is open for play, weather permitting.Call for tee times. Openings are availabe on some leagues, check out our events section on our website for more info .  (585) 343-7600

Tour Greens Western New York  Practice with purpose in your own back yard on your own synthetic practice green. Our greens LOVE Western New York weather!

Genesee Community College Golf Management Program   Click on link for more information if you or anyone you know is interested in a dynamic career in the golf industry, or in teaching golf.

All the best,

Tom Tucker
Teaching Pro, Plum Creek Driving Range & Practice Facility
WGTF ' "Top 100 Golf Teacher"
USGTF Class "A" Teaching Professional
Cell: (716) 474-3005

"There are no substitutes in the quest for perfection!"
~ Ben Hogan