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Pro tip: Keeping your head down will help avoid thin shots

In your hand is a club you trust and you you have just the right yardage to paydirt. You feel solid and confident standing over the ball. Then you put what you think is the perfect swing on the ball, look up to see a great shot, then watch helplessly as the ball goes skipping down the fairway no more than an inch or two off the ground.

Golf offers many frustrations, but this has to be among the most common. From bogey-making amateurs to the best golfers in the world, those thin shots that produce “wormburners” creep into all of our games.

Often, the culprit is one of two things, said Dan McCleery, assistant pro at Black Butte Ranch.

  1. We either lunge at the ball, missing the sweet spot.

  2. We lift up our bodies just before impact in an effort to will the ball back in the air, with results that produce the opposite.

“Either way those thin shots suck,” McCleery said. “And you don’t really get a chance to make up ground when you hit those kinds of shots.”

Getting the back back in flight usually takes a simple fix and a little concentration, McCleery suggested.

The first thing golfers should do is keep their head down and eyes focused on the golf ball until after impact, not looking up until their right shoulder (for righthanders) touches the chin and naturally draws the head up.

The second tip is to think less about the shot, and focus more on the setup of the swing. Concentrate on balance, a slow, smooth backswing, and following through the shot.

“We always want to find our line, but you have to make sure you are focused on that ball,” McCleery advised. “To get the ball to go up, you have to strike down on the ball. So don’t try to help lift that shot in the air. That’s going to cause a lot of problems.”

Simply trusting that the proper swing will produce the best results can make a world of difference.

For more information on how to take a lesson from Dan or any of our Black Butte Ranch instructors, visit