How to Stop Popping Up Your Drives in Golf

According to most golf players, there are very few shots in golf as embarrassing as the pop up shot. Maybe you can consider a shank or a missed putt from 2 feet distance in the same category. If you’re struggling with your tee shots or fairway shots and popping up the club, this post is exactly where you wanted to land.

In this post, we’re going to break down the most common causes behind your pop shots, how you can stop doing it, and a few drills that’ll help you overcome the issue faster.

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What is Popping Up the Driver/Fairway Wood?

A pop shot, popping up the driver, skyball, or skying the ball, whatever you want to call it, refers to the same embarrassing event. A pop shot is when you hit the ball off the tee and send it right toward the sky instead of the target.

As a result, you get practically no distance with a shot that is supposed to cover the maximum distance. As a bonus, you return home with an ugly scuff mark on your club head. Popping the driver is more common than you would think and it mostly happens to rookie players.

If you’re a victim of this dreadful event, we can help you overcome it. But before anything else, you need to know where you might be going wrong.

The Common Mistakes that Cause a Skyball

So, what do you think the problem is? Is it your swing? Is it your setup? Or is it something completely unrelated?

There is no direct answer to these questions. The problem could be anything. You won’t know until we present the facts to you.

Setup Issues

Usually, a setup in golf consists of your feet position, ball position, and your weight distribution.

As you’re popping the driver or the fairway wood, it’s safe to assume that you’re miscalculating the club face position at impact during your setup. One of the most common causes for it happen is narrow feet position.

How you stand during your shots has everything to do with how the shot will pan out. With longer clubs like drivers and fairway woods, you need to widen your stance just enough to compensate for the longer shaft.

However, many players tend to stand the same way as they do with their iron shots or even chip shots. If you’re one of them, it’s time to change the habit. An ideal stance would be right outside your shoulder lines.

Another common setup issue is ball position. Practically every golf shot requires a different ball position. Drivers and fairway woods are on the farthest edge of the spectrum. It means you need to push the ball as far from the center of your body as possible.

According to the experts, the ball should be right on the inside of your front foot. If you’re a right-handed player, that would be your left foot. Try placing the ball on the inside line of your left foot the next time you’re at the tee.

The last common cause for popping up the driver might be your weight distribution. Your weight should transfer from your back foot to your front foot during the swing in one fluid motion. If your weight is still on the back foot as you contact the ball, the club face will be lower than it’s supposed to, causing a skyball.

Improper Tee Height

Improper tee height is a very real problem for new players. It takes a while to get the hang of how much you should push the tee into the ground. If you don’t push it deep enough to coordinate with your playing style, you are more likely to hit the top edge of your driver. As a result, the ball will go flying toward the sky.

Reverse Pivot

The pivot is the area on the ground where you hit the club after the ball. However, if your setup is not right or you come down too steep, you’ll contact the ground before you hit the ball. It can not only ruin the shot but also damage your club badly. And we all know that drivers are very expensive!

How to Stop Popping the Driver

Thankfully, it’s relatively easy to prevent pop up shots with a few simple tweaks to your playing style. It might take a while for you to accommodate the changes in your playing style, but it’s going to be well worth it.

Here are the steps you need to follow.

Change the Ball Position

Just because we said you need to put the ball on the inside line of your front foot doesn’t mean you’ll get it the first time. There can be hundreds of lines on the inside of your front foot. You need to try different positions to see which works best for you.

It’s extremely important because every player is different in their own way. Even if we give you the exact distance of the ball from your foot, it won’t be fruitful. Only you can figure it out. So, give the ball position some attention the next time you’re at the driving range.

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Change the Stance

The same principle as the ball position will apply in this case as well. While the rule of thumb is to take a stance wider than your shoulder, you need to figure out the exact parameters. Your shoulder width will not be the same as the player next to you. Flexibility, height, weight, etc. properties will come into play when you’re chalking up the perfect distance.

So, get the driving range and try different stances to see which one feels the more natural. That’s your cue to stop hitting pop up shots.

Evaluate Your Attack Angle

Attack angle refers to how aggressively you come down on the ball. The shallower the angle, the more aggressively you can hit the ball. Conversely, the more over the top you come down the more chances of you popping the shot.

If you want to learn everything about shallowing the club, you can check out this guide. A shallow attack angle will keep the club face more aligned with the target and help you control the shot better.

Work On Your Swing

If you watch professional golf, look at how the players swing from the tee. Record a few of your swings as well. Now, compare them side by side to see what you’re doing differently.

If we have to guess, we’d say that you’re getting up right before you actually hit the ball. Also, you might be flicking the driver at impact instead of holding your wrist angle throughout the swing.

The key to successful swings in golf is consistency. You need to maintain the arch on your back and the angle on your wrist up to the follow through. You only need your shoulders and your hip to twist your body toward the target. Any movement on other joints or muscles will impact your performance.

Stay Behind the Ball and the Club

Also known as swing lag, it’s a very important trick to master for all levels of golf players. The reference is your trailing arm and the club head. Your arm should be relatively close to the body and always stay behind the club head.

You can figure out whether you’re doing it right or not from the videos you’ve recorded earlier. If you see that you’re doing the ‘chicken arm’, it’s time to discard the habit.

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A Few Drills to Help You Out

Very few things in golf work as effectively as drills. So, we’re here with a few simple drills that you can practice to stop popping up the driver.

Staying Behind the Ball Drill

You would need a 2nd object other than your ball for this drill. It can be your headcover, a tightly rolled towel, or something soft.

  1. Set up your ball on the tee and place the soft object behind the ball.
  2. Do your regular swing. If your usual swing is over the top, you’re more likely to hit the object before the ball.
  3. Try to come from the inside and avoid the object. It’ll shallow your swing and help you make better contact with the ball.

The knee Drill

You might be victim to a few odd looks at the practice range when doing this drill. But it’s a very effective way to tap into the feeling of coming from the inside.

  1. Set up your ball on the tee as you would normally do.
  2. Instead of standing, hit the ball off your knees. And don’t forget to choke up the driver to compensate for the lack of height.

Final Words

Popping up the driver or the fairway wood can be very frustrating. Especially when you have friends or colleagues with you at the course. However, if you follow the steps we’ve covered in this post, we’re pretty confident you’ll be hitting great distances in no time. Also, incorporate the drills into your practice sessions for faster results.

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Thanks for reading today’s article!

Nick Foy – Golf Instructor

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