Stop Whiffing or Topping the Golf Ball

Asheville Golf Home

Dear Jitterbug,

Golf is frustrating to me because I hardly ever get the ball up in the air. I want to keep playing, but can’t stand to play like I do, that is, either missing the ball altogether, or rolling it down the fairway. Please help!

June Nichols

Jitterbug Gang Fan


All right, June, you must do exactly as I say. You have to decide right now to take divots. You have to lose whatever aversion you have to hit the earth and decide that you are going to hit the ball, hit the ground, and hit everything around it until you your troubles cease to exist.

The ground gives you feedback. When you hit the ground, you can see where your club is, and there’s a message sent to your brain. Even if you hit 10 inches behind the ball, you can see it, feel it, and make adjustments.

Missing the ground, however, gives you no feedback. You don’t know if you missed by one inch or two feet. There is no message, visual or other, and you’re no farther along than before you swung.

So, before you give up on the game, spend a few range sessions learning to hit the ground. I think you’ll figure out where that ball is in no time at all.

Mr. Vaughn:

Too many golfers picture impact with the ball as some sort of perfect pick, where the club barely nips the ball, and barely skims the earth. And, trying to barely skim the earth is what causes clean pickers to top the ball.

You have to embrace the ground! You have to take dead aim at it. You have to decide the ground is your friend. It ain’t gonna hurt you if you hit it. And, the grass you dig up will grow back, so there’s not a thing you have to worry about the prospect of taking divots. Just do it. Take some divots and you’ll discover the true joy of ball striking.

Lord Berry:

To find out if the advice Jitterbug and Mr. Vaughn offer is truly applicable to your troubles, perform the following:

Place one ball high atop some longer, rough-cut grass. Place another tight to the earth on grass cut fringe length or less.

If you’d prefer to hit the one from the longer grass, divot taking is what you need.

Asheville Golf Home

Ask Jitterbug - Golf Advice Column by Bobby Steiner

Ask Jitterbug - Author Bobby Steiner

About the Author

The following are a list of golf teaching columns generously donated to us by teaching professional and author Bobby Steiner. Bobby teaches golf at The Practice Tee in East Asheville during the summer months, and at The Westin Mission Hills Resort during the winter.

You can reach Bobby at: or

All the Same Distance

I hit all my clubs, seven-iron and longer, the same distance. Do you know of a cure?

Bad Rhythm

My swing rhythm gets fast when I play. Do you have any suggestions to help me slow down?

Bad Teacher

There is a young assistant golf professional at our club who plays extremely well, but could use some help as a teacher. Any suggestions that might help him?

Ball Position

Can you explain your take on ball position? Forward for longer clubs? Back for shorter clubs?

Die or Lag

Do you think it is better to be a firm putter, or to putt the ball so that it barely drops into the cup?

Fanning the Club

My tendency is to fan my hands to the inside on the takeaway. When I use a straight takeaway I can't hit the ball.

Fix is the Problem

My friend has a knack for giving me helpful tips when we play. It works for about six holes, then I totally collapse. Have you heard of this?

Get the Ball to the Hole

I have a very difficult time getting my putts to the hole. Can you help?

Golf Schools

Are golf schools worth the money?

Guide the Ball

My golf instructor tells me that I try to 'guide' the ball too much. I've never heard this term, is it a bad thing?

Hip Slide

Can you explain the proper way to pivot during the backswing?

How Many Hours

I'm currently a solid 8-handicap, but I've reached a plateau. How might I rework my practice regimen to improve steadily like I used to?

Kids Learning Curve

My thirteen-year old son and I took up golf four years ago. Now, I am still struggling to break 100 while he shoots low 80s. How do I catch up?

Length of Backswing

I've read that the putting stroke should be the same length going back as going through. What is your take on it?

Long and Slow

I have great touch, and play standard chip shots quite well, but I can't hit a soft pitch of any length to save my life.

Make Practice Swing

I have a beautiful practice swing, but it doesn't carry over to my real swing. Any Suggestions?

More Distance

I'm a good athlete, but don't get the distance I think I should. How can I hit the ball farther off the tee?

No Scoop Chips

I suffer from the chipping yips; I can't prevent my right hand from taking over and flipping under the ball. How do I avoid scooping the ball?

No Touch Short Game

I have no short game touch, and I'm a good athlete. Everything I hit feels like a jab or punch. Any help?

No Whiffing

Golf is frustrating to me because I hardly ever get the ball up in the air. Please help!

Range Brilliance

I'm a great range player, but can't get it together on the course. Do you have any advice to help me?

Sound Swing

An assistant pro refers to some swings as "sound," and others, "not sound." Can you compare and contrast the two?

Taking Lessons

I've taken golf lessons for years from many different instructors, but I never get better. Are golf lessons the biggest scam ever thought up?

Teacher a Good Player

Do you think it is important that a teaching professional be a good player?
Home  |  About  |  Features  |  Mountain Living  |  A & E  |  Recreation  |  Food  |  Directory  |  Resources |  Login  
Help with whiffing or topping the golf ball.