The ball is ruining my swing

I just can’t duplicate my practice swing when having to hit an actual shot. I understand people think they have a great practice swing but due to face angle, etc if there was an actual ball it may be a lousy shot. But when I record my practice swing I have lag, weight shift, flat lead wrist and hip turn.

This all goes away when I put the ball down. I cast, flip, scoop, hit 4 inches behind the ball, etc.

My driver and wood/hybrids are the only clubs I can hit fairly well. (Relatively speaking)

I’ve searched far and wide for tips or drills to help stop focusing on the ball and just swing and let the ball get in the way but this is a mental block I cannot get through.


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You know your “practice swing” is better than your “real swing” ? How? Are you certain? You might want to video yourself from Back and Side view and break it down. I would bet a QUARTER it’s not! In my experience, and it’s very recent, I just got tired of playing like garbage and very inconsistently. I recorded myself and what a mess. I am still in the process of rebuilding, but I’m way better than I was 18 months ago. When you look, you will probably cry and laugh at the same time! BUT, you can record, you can go on YouTube and re-build with lessons from really good teachers and improve. You will have to work at it, you cannot do it by osmosis.

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I know fr recording. The look is much different. Smoother, actually has lag, hits the ground at the right spot, it’s a completely different looking swing.

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OK, why are you hitting the ground? Tells me something right there. You should be hitting air on your practice swing. You’re supposed to be brushing the grass, you’re supposed to hit the ball. Technically, a ball just gets in the way of a perfectly executed swing Just sayin!

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I’d say you’re getting “ball bound”, but if you’re hitting the woods well then that may not be the whole story. Are you hitting the woods well only off a tee or can you consistently hit a 5w off the deck?

I had a pro show me I was “ball bound” once by rolling balls to me and I was hitting them great, but couldn’t do it once they were just sitting there. A byproduct of playing sports where the ball is almost always in motion. He would have me set up balls in a row and hit them quickly. I had to learn to set up, trigger my swing and go.

There are different things you can do. You may want to give Tour Tempo a try. With that you can react to the words Swing, Set, Through or the tones. It’s sometimes easier to react like you would in baseball and it may free you up.


Practice as the real situation. Take a divot when you’re not certain of your swing. Pick out a spot on the ground, a piece of leaf, a discolored spot of grass, a broken tee… think of that as the golf ball.

Always remember, the lowest swing arc for your iron shot is not at the golf ball, it is actually half an inch or so ahead of the golf ball, to create compression; while taking a shallow divot. Took me a few years to realize that. We had no tech equipment to analyze the golf swing back then. The only tool we had was the divot location relative to the golf ball.

If you feel your practice swing is different than your actual swing. Maybe they are different. Practice as you meant to hit a golf ball.


Given that you struggle with compressing your iron shots, it does not surprise me that you hit your driver better. The driver swing hits the ball slightly on the upswing, so golfers who struggle with a flippy release often hit the driver better than the irons because the driver does not have to compress the ball at impact.

One drill to help you develop the feel of properly compressing the ball with your irons is to hit punch shots. The shorter backswing and quicker overall swing of the punch shot allows you to concentrate more on getting your hands forward of the ball at impact so that you can forward-lean the shaft and compress the ball.

I would have your swings analyzed frame-by-frame with a good swing coach. Watching swings at full speed and even slow motion can be deceptive and not reveal movements in your swing pattern that could be contributing to your poor release pattern.

For example, if you are not maintaining good hip depth throughout your swing, your right arm may be blocked from P4-P6, which requires you to flip the club at impact to hit the ball.

One last point - the time necessary to develop the skill to compress the ball at impact varies widely among golfers. If you have played with a flip release pattern for a long time, it is probably going to take quite a few months of well-conceived practice to modify your neuromuscular pathways so that you can forward lean the shaft at impact and compress the ball.

Good luck!

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I have to say I feel that concept of being ‘ball bound’ has a big part of it. A few on this chain have mentioned several things that suggest there are a bunch to work on to build a good swing. I believe the brain and the body can work together nicely to accomplish what we want to do with the ball. But our eyes get locked on the ball, body and muscles develop tension as we try to 'steer ’ the clubhead to strike the ball. Then timing, body movements become so mechanical it’s actually amazing we sometimes hit the ball well. Have you watched a blind golfer? The USGA adaptive open was amazing. I don’t believe that you have to have a perfect swing to hit well. When you close your eyes and take that part out of the equation, you swing smoothly, with good timing and the body naturally does what you want it to without thinking about it. I have a good friend who has developed severe macular degeneration over the last 10 years. He is now legally blind, can’t read a book, all he sees generally is a blur. But amazingly his golf game has improved! He lost his slice and hits it very straight and accurately. All he needs is someone to get the clubhead set to the ball and body aligned. He used to tell me that he would take a smooth relaxed practice swing, then address the ball and everything seemed to tense up and he hit it pretty badly. Now he can’t see the ball. It’s like hitting balls with your eyes closed. (try it). No more tensing up. I am not saying that is the whole issue but I am saying it can be a big part of it.


Some really helpful tips in here!

Two things I’d suggest:

  1. Be patient and keep working on your technique.
  2. If you have not already heard the phrase (seems to be common among golf instructors) = “… Just swing through the ball as if it’s not there…”

Believe me I know that sounds like a huge steaming pile of bull (droppings :smile:) but plz refer back to suggestion #1.

If you’re diligent it will … eventually … happen.

That used to me until I decided to stop taking practice swings. Now I just address the ball and hit.


Take a practice swing, please, especially with the shots around the green. At least to get a feel of the interaction with the turf. Pros do that.
The no look and no practice swing is a band aide fix. Sooner or later it’ll falter.
The more practice you get in, the more confidence you’ll gather, the better the outcome of the shots will be.
It is a percentage game. No one, I mean no one in the history had ever achieved perfection.
Learn to play with the imperfections, it is the key to get to the next level.

I shot 13 over today beating my handicap by 2 without taking any practice swings. 7 pars 9 bogies and 2 doubles. Just have faith in your swing and hit your shot.


My opinion really means nothing. It’s whatever works for you. For me, and I’ve said this many times, as far as your swing and preshot routines there are many. As far as the possible proper position of the club and club face on the downswing from the hip, to impact to about 2 feet past impact, there is only ONE proper position. So how you get there matters little as long as you get there. It’s whatever works for you, but you gotta get there in that last little bit of the swing. Just understand that clearly. I have changed my swing because I wasn’t getting there and I now feel overall for the better over the last 20 months because I’m much more consistent at impact. That’s what happens when you lose your way, I did because of injury, I kept adjusting from what I knew and was taught and bad habits and bandaid fixes took over. I had to unlearn bad moves. The swing itself is different than it was 2 years ago. The preshot routine hasn’t. I tee it up line up the name on the ball to a target and my intention of line. I’ll take a practice swing, get behind the ball one more time for reassurance, take my stance,2 waggles, one more glance down the intended target line, Try and take it away slowly in one piece and fire. I CANNOT take a swing without doing that. I’m discombobulated on the tee box. From the fairway, I do the same thing except pick a couple blades of grass in front of the ball to focus on. Same routine. I did change my putting routine completely to one practice stroke and pull the trigger. But all the routines are the same. You can set a watch by it. It’s within hundredths of a second. I have tried different routines but on full swings and now putting. It’s a warm blanket and repetition of the motions. Sounds dumb, but I don’t know one good or great player that does not have a repetitive preshot routine that works for them. It clears the mechanism

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If that works for you, and hope it’ll be a long term solution for your quest to better golf.
Do, please, take a practice swing or two when you are not facing a perfect lie in the fairway or green side. If for anything else, to pin point the expectation of actual contact of the turf.
One common trace every good golfer has is to exam the lie first before taking a swing at the golf ball. The lie will determine the contact with the turf and thus the ball flight. Not everyone of us could power through the golf ball sitting on imperfect lie, in the rough, uneven angle…
You will see this practice in tournament golf and on televised golf tournaments.