YOU DON’T WANT TO TOP THIS!
One of the most fun experiences in the sixty years I’ve been around golf, was working with PGA Tour player and 1982 Masters Tournament winner, Craig Stadler, on the book, I AM THE WALRUS: Confessions and Tips from a Blue-Collar Golfer, published in 1995.
Craig, known for his power, letting his emotions out on the golf course, and creative shot-making, particularly his wedge-game prowess from 100 yards in from the flagstick, gave me a perplexed look when it came time to discuss the techniques for hitting fairway-metal clubs off fairway grass or out of light rough.
I wondered why?
The reason: Craig could not hit a golf ball with a fairway-club into the air. He topped every single shot he tried to hit in my presence. And, because he gave me that killer-stare and yelled out, “I told you so, Andrisani!” I was afraid to tell him what he was doing wrong, and what to do to set things right, technically.
Problem: As a former teacher and former scratch golfer, I knew that Craig’s problems were swinging the club on an overly rounded backswing path, as if he were swinging in a giant teacup, then straightening his knees prior to impact. Because of these two faults, Craig delivered the bottom of the club into the top portion of the ball.
Solution: If I had to do this session with Craig all over again, I would wait until he cooled off, then instructed him to swing the club on an upright backswing path, as if swinging inside a tall water-glass, then down along the same path, while maintaining the flex in both his knees, particularly his left, for purposes of attaining power through leverage and body-rotation.
If you have a problem topping, swing like this and you’ll deliver the club’s face sharply into the back of the ball, making contact on the descent and sending the little white pearl soaring up into the air, then flattening out on a lower and more powerful trajectory.