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Lesson Learned: The Trick to Better Ball Striking

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

Tom Hoge at the 2022 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.Getty Images

Tom Hoge just won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The man who led the field in Strokes Gained Total on the Monterrey Peninsula put together an awesome Sunday afternoon round. With one beautiful approach after another, he had four birdies in his closing nine and that 32 earned him the title of PGA Tour Winner for the very first time.
Those that follow the tour closely know Hoge as a ball striking machine. He has a world class iron game as witnessed by shots like this one…
Although you may not know of Tom Hoge, once you hear him hit a golf ball you’re instantly impressed. Now that noise is something we should all strive for. Even the average golfer can replicate the sound of a solid strike by simply committing to hitting through the impact zone. Watch Hoge’s swing again in the video. He possesses that classic acceleration in the shot which not only feels great but sounds even cooler.
The key to achieving Tom’s terrific tone at impact comes from his ability to get the club handle past the ball as he’s hitting it. Some refer to it as shaft lean, of trapping the ball. For the purpose of this piece, let’s keep it even more simple. Once you transition back toward the ball at the top of your swing don’t stop the handle. Have you ever seen or used one of those bright yellow impact bags?
Most PGA Coaches have one. If you don’t have access to an impact bag, then you can easily make one on your own. Take an old pillowcase and fill it with towels or rags. Something soft that has a little weigh to it. Fill the pillowcase enough that it becomes a decent sized target and can withstand the impact of an iron swing. Once you either acquire the training aid or build one head to the practice range.
Get warmed up. Go through your usual routine to get loose. Once you are mobile and swinging freely, drop the impact bag down in place of the ball. Make sure you use a middle iron (6 or a 7). Address the bag as if it were the ball and take a normal swing and hit the bag. Pay attention to the position of your hands. Do you see and feel how the momentum of the swing carries them past the pillowcase?
Hit the bag a couple more times. Keep focusing on swinging through the heavy dense object. See that handle accelerating through impact and travelling past the bag. Once you have felt the strength of that commitment to swing through move the bag away. Replace the bag with a ball and take the same committed swing. Notice what happens when you hit the ball. The feeling at impact is completely different. Not to mention the sound it makes!
Continue to go through this training regimen. Now don’t go hitting the bag so hard you hurt yourself. The point is to feel as if you are swinging through it just as if you were hitting a golf ball. Continue to retrain your mind where that handle should be when you’re hitting the ball. The more you commit, the better the strike and sound will be.
There weren’t many people that heard of Tom Hoge before yesterday.
Today that’s a little different. Work on swinging your handle like Hoge and I bet the sound you make will catch everyone’s attention just like Tom did.
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