The duff shot, after the (sorry, I’m going to say the dreaded “S word”) shank, is probably the worst shot and most depressing shot you can hit in golf.
What is a duff shot?
If you’re asking this, then you may be lucky enough to have never hit one. A duff shot, in general, is a miss-hit where you hit the ground before the ball. The club then travels up, hitting the top half of the ball and causing a topped shot. This creates a horrible looking shot that may only travel along the ground with a few bounces, instead of flying through the air as intended. And to make matters worse, you may have turfed up half the golf course in the process by creating a giant divot before the ball.
Although this may be the main definition, a duff or chunked shot can be any bad shot where you have topped the ball by striking the ground first.
How does the duff shot happen?
As previously mentioned, it’s caused by hitting up on the ball. This is because the low point of your swing is before you make contact with the ball, not an inch or so after (inline with your left foot) like it should be. This causes you to hit the turf at this low point before the ball. Then the natural reaction is to flip up to try and correct your swing and get the ball airborne.
Here are the main causes:
- Loss of lag angle
- Hinge in your wrists and hands on the downswing
- Flipping the ball instead of holding the angle
- Having your hands in front of the ball at impact
If you watch any professional golfer, they will keep this lag angle on the downswing. And most, if not all of them, will strike the ball with their hands in front at impact. This is what all great ball strikers do, and so should you if you’re looking to fix your duffed and chucked shots.
The hands down drill
In order to fix your shots, we’ve got a handy drill (pun intended) for you to try out. This drill is called hands down. It will help with your contact on the ball and stop those nasty duffed shots.
1. Without a club, get in a normal set up position as if you were addressing the ball. Make sure your arms and hands are pointing straight down to the ground with your palms facing each other — pointing inwards.
2. Do a mini backswing. Only go back until your hands are waist-height or even less. Then, on the downswing, you’re going to create lag with your wrists by letting them bend as your arms and body pull them through to impact. Do this slowly to get the correct feeling, and stop where you would hit the ball. You want your left wrist to be bent so the logo of your glove is facing the ground, and your right wrist bent so your palm is facing the ground in front of the golf ball.
Another thing you can focus on while doing this is your weight shift. Make sure your weight is on your front foot (left foot for right-handers) on the downswing. This will help to move the lowest point of your swing forward, helping you hit the ball then ground correctly.
Try this a few times without a club until you have the feeling grooved. Then try to replicate it with some small chip shots with a high to mid iron, moving on to a few pitches until this feels comfortable. If you want to really get this feeling ingrained in your swing, then alternate from this drill without the ball a few times then again with the golf ball.
Make sure to practice this drill with your hands. It’s sure to help you improve your ball contact and get rid of those horrible duffed shots.
— Joseph Mills