The best way to stop topping the golf ball, according to a major champion

Constantly topping the ball is a discouraging feeling.

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Topping the ball is something every golfer has experienced. It’s a mistake that even the best players have made, and one that plagues beginners. Worst of all, it’s embarrassing and can discourage even the most optimistic of players.

Diagnosing the reason for your tops can be tricky, as there are wide-ranging reasons for the ailment. Luckily, if you implement the proper technique, you can rid yourself of the tops for good.

Padraig Harrington is a three-time major champ, but even he’s topped a ball or two in his career. And while his swing and your swing are very different, he’s still familiar with the reasons for tops among amateurs.

“They go and they push up off the ground,” Harrington says. “And then they have a bit of a fall back. Usually, they hit the ball beforehand. They accelerate up and they get this sort of topping motion”

The tricky thing about this is that when you push up off the ground, you are swinging correctly. However, the movement is mistimed and results in a topped shot.

To fix this, you simply need to organize your swing sequencing in the correct way. When you start the downswing, you must squat down into the ball and then push up off the ground with your legs as you approach impact.

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“It delays where the ‘up’ is so it’s further down your golf swing and further over to the ball,” Harrington says. “The last thing we want is an early ‘up.’ If we get an early ‘up,’ we’re going to get that fresh air or top.”

When you approach impact, you want your left side to come up and extend. But the right side will stay down and help you get some side bend, bottoming out the swing at the proper time and creating speed.

“I guarantee if you go up in the backswing, you will have to come down,” Harrington says. “While if you stay down in the backswing, you’ll have the big tendency to come up and have nothing in it.”

If you can work on this “up, down, up” sequencing in your swing, you’ll not only stop topping the ball, but you’ll also generate some serious speed.

Zephyr Melton Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at