How to Stop Hitting Heel Golf Shots

Are you hitting off of the heel in your golf swing quite often?

Hitting off the heel of the golf club, often leading to shots that are weak, lack distance, and veer sharply to the right for right-handed golfers (and to the left for left-handed golfers), is a common issue that can frustrate many players.

In today’s guide we will explore the causes of heeled golf shots as well as the fixes for correcting this golf swing fault.

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What Causes You to Hit Off the Heel in Golf?

This mishit is typically caused by several factors, each related to the golfer’s swing mechanics, setup, or equipment.

Standing Too Close to the Ball

One primary cause is standing too close to the ball at address.

When golfers position themselves too near the ball, their natural swing path is altered, leading to a swing that comes too ‘inside-out’, causing the heel to make contact with the ball first.

Adjusting your stance to ensure you’re the correct distance from the ball—where your arms can hang naturally and you have enough room to swing freely—can help mitigate this issue.

Swing Path

Another factor is an incorrect swing path. Golfers who struggle with slicing often attempt to compensate by swinging more from the inside to the outside.

While this can sometimes correct a slice, it also increases the likelihood of heel strikes because the clubface is closing too quickly, leading to heel-first contact. Working on maintaining a more neutral swing path can help avoid this problem.

Body Movement During the Golf Swing

Body movement during the swing can also lead to heel hits. Golfers who sway or move off the ball during their backswing, or who slide forward during the downswing, can find their body too close to the ball at impact, resulting in heel strikes.

Focusing on a more stable, centered swing where the body rotates rather than slides can help keep the club on a more consistent path through the ball.

Equipment Mismatch

Equipment mismatch is another less obvious cause. Clubs with shafts that are too long or have the wrong flex can contribute to a golfer hitting off the heel. If the shaft is too long, the golfer may subconsciously stand too close to the ball or adjust their swing to compensate, leading to heel strikes.

Similarly, a shaft with incorrect flex can affect the timing and position of the clubhead at impact. Consulting with a golf professional to get fitted for clubs that match your swing can significantly reduce the occurrence of heel hits.

How to Fix Hitting Off the Heel on the Clubface

Fixing the issue of hitting off the heel in golf involves addressing several key aspects of your setup, swing mechanics, and possibly your equipment. Here are actionable steps to correct this common problem and help you hit the ball more consistently with the center of the clubface:

1. Check Your Stance and Distance from the Ball

Begin by ensuring you’re standing at the correct distance from the ball.

A good rule of thumb is to allow your hands to hang naturally when you address the ball, with the clubhead resting behind the ball without having to stretch or retract your arms.

This setup promotes a natural arc in your swing, reducing the likelihood of heel strikes.

2. Improve Your Posture

Adopt a posture that’s neither too slouched nor too upright. A proper golf posture involves bending from the hips, keeping the back straight, and slightly flexing the knees.

This position helps maintain balance and allows for a more consistent swing path.

3. Stabilize Your Base

Focus on keeping your feet firmly planted and avoid excessive movement or sway in your swing.

A stable base ensures your body stays centered over the ball, which can help prevent the club from coming inside too much and hitting the ball with the heel.

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4. Work on Swing Path

Often, golfers hit off the heel due to an inside-out swing path.

Practice swinging with a focus on keeping the clubhead traveling on a straight line toward the target for as long as possible.

Drills that encourage an outside-in swing path can exacerbate heel hits, so aim for a neutral path that’s neither too inside nor too outside.

5. Practice with Feedback

A simple practice technique involves placing a headcover or an object about an inch outside of the ball (toward the toe side).

This setup provides immediate feedback if you’re swinging too close to the ball, as you’ll hit the object.

The goal is to swing without making contact with the object, encouraging a swing path that avoids the heel.

6. Check Your Equipment

Ensure your clubs are suited to your style and size. Clubs that are too long or have the wrong lie angle can contribute to heel strikes.

Consider getting a professional fitting to ensure your clubs are optimized for your swing.

7. Focus on Tempo

A rushed swing or trying to hit the ball too hard can disrupt your rhythm and lead to off-center hits. Work on maintaining a smooth, even tempo throughout your swing.

A good swing thought is “slow back, fast through,” emphasizing a controlled backswing and a more dynamic downswing.

8. Use Drills to Correct Swing Faults

There are several drills designed to help correct heel strikes. For example, the “gate drill,” where you place two tees in the ground just wider than your clubhead on either side of the ball, can help you practice hitting the ball without striking the tees, encouraging center-face contact.

Incorporating these steps into your practice routine can help eliminate heel strikes from your game.

Remember, making changes to your swing can feel awkward at first, and improvement may take time. Consistent practice, possibly under the guidance of a golf instructor, can accelerate your progress and help you achieve more consistent, centered strikes.

Resource: How to Score in the 70’s Golf Training Plan

How to See Where You’re Striking the Ball on the Clubface

(1) Buying Clubface Stickers

One effective way to gain insight into your swing mechanics and precisely how you’re striking the golf ball is through the use of clubface stickers.

These stickers are specially designed to adhere to the face of your golf club, providing a clear visual imprint of where the ball makes contact with the club at impact.

Here’s how they can help:

  • Immediate Feedback: Clubface stickers offer instant feedback on your shot’s quality. After striking the ball, you’ll see a mark on the sticker showing the impact point. This immediate feedback is invaluable for making adjustments to your stance, swing path, or club orientation.
  • Pattern Recognition: Over time and multiple shots, you’ll begin to see patterns in your impact marks. Consistently hitting towards the toe or heel, for example, can indicate issues with your setup or swing path that you might not have been aware of.
  • Easy to Use and Analyze: Applying the stickers to your clubface is straightforward, and their use doesn’t require any sophisticated technology or equipment. Simply apply, hit, and observe. This simplicity makes them an excellent tool for golfers of all levels.

Using clubface stickers is a practical step towards understanding and improving your golf swing. By identifying where you tend to make contact on the clubface, you can make informed adjustments to your technique, leading to more consistent and powerful shots.

(2) Using a Clubface Spray

Another innovative tool at the disposal of golfers looking to refine their swing and improve contact quality is clubface spray.

This aerosol product is lightly sprayed onto the clubface before a shot, creating a temporary, thin film over the surface. Here’s why it’s beneficial:

  • Non-Intrusive Feedback: Like the stickers, the spray provides clear feedback on where the ball contacts the clubface without altering the feel of the club or the flight of the ball. The impact of the ball leaves a visible mark on the film, showing the exact point of contact.
  • Versatile Application: Clubface spray can be used on any club in your bag, from drivers to irons to wedges, making it an incredibly versatile tool for comprehensive swing analysis across all aspects of the game.
  • Quick and Easy to Use: Application of the spray is quick, and it dries almost instantly, allowing for rapid analysis between shots. It’s easily wiped off after your practice session, leaving no residue on the club.

By utilizing clubface spray, golfers can obtain precise, real-time feedback on their impact conditions. This knowledge empowers players to understand their swing tendencies better and make necessary adjustments.

Whether it’s correcting a consistent heel strike or working on hitting the sweet spot more frequently, clubface spray is a potent tool in the golfer’s arsenal for improving accuracy and consistency.

Both clubface stickers and spray offer unique benefits for golfers seeking to enhance their game. By providing immediate and actionable feedback on impact conditions, these tools help identify and correct inefficiencies in your swing, leading to better performance and lower scores on the course.

Resource: Step by Step Golf Practice Routines + Training System

FAQ: Hitting Off the Heel in Golf

What causes golfers to hit off the heel?

Hitting off the heel is often caused by standing too close to the ball, having an inside-out swing path, excessive body movement during the swing, and sometimes using improperly fitted clubs. This mishit can lead to weak, inaccurate shots.

How can I tell if I’m hitting off the heel?

You might notice a distinct, less solid feel at impact, and the ball may veer sharply to the right for right-handed players (left for left-handed players). Visually inspecting the clubface after shots can also reveal impact marks towards the heel.

Does standing closer to the ball prevent heel strikes?

Contrary to what some might think, standing too close to the ball can actually cause heel strikes by disrupting the natural arc of your swing. It’s important to find a balanced stance where your arms can hang naturally.

Can my golf clubs cause me to hit off the heel?

Yes, if your clubs are not properly fitted—especially if the shafts are too long or the lie angles are incorrect for your swing—it can contribute to hitting off the heel. Professional club fitting can address these issues.

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Are there any drills to help fix hitting off the heel?

Yes, several drills can help, such as the “gate drill,” where you place objects on both sides of the ball to create a narrow path for the clubhead, encouraging center-face contact. Practicing with a headcover placed just outside the ball (on the toe side) can also provide immediate feedback if you’re prone to heel strikes.

How does swing path affect heel strikes?

An inside-out swing path can lead to the clubface closing too early, causing the heel to contact the ball first. Working on a neutral swing path that brings the clubhead straight through the ball can help reduce heel strikes.

Can adjusting my grip help reduce heel strikes?

While grip adjustments alone are unlikely to eliminate heel strikes, ensuring you have a proper grip can improve overall swing mechanics and contribute to more centered hits. Consult a golf professional to assess if your grip might be contributing to your issues.

Is there a quick fix for heel strikes on the course?

A quick on-course adjustment is to slightly alter your stance by standing a fraction further from the ball, ensuring your arms have enough room to swing freely. However, long-term improvement usually requires addressing the underlying swing faults through practice and possibly instruction.

How important is equipment fitting in preventing heel strikes?

Very important. Clubs that are too long or have inappropriate lie angles can encourage off-center hits, including heel strikes. A professional fitting can ensure your clubs are suited to your swing, helping to promote centered strikes.

Will heel strikes significantly affect my game?

Yes, heel strikes can lead to a loss of distance and accuracy, negatively impacting your scoring. Consistently hitting the ball off the heel can make it difficult to control the direction and flight of your shots, making it challenging to play at your best.

By understanding the causes and solutions for heel strikes, golfers can take steps to improve their swing mechanics and equipment setup, leading to more consistent and satisfying performance on the course.

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Thanks for reading today’s article!

Nick Foy – Golf Instructor

nick foy golf academy
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