By Dean Hedstrom,
Undoubtedly, the most embarrassing tee shot in golf is the drive that pops straight up, barely
clearing the tee box. The pop-up is an agonizing mis-hit most often caused by an excessive
forward weight shift on the downswing and a club that approaches the ball on a very steep
angle of attack. The steep descent de-lofts the clubface to such a degree that the topline of the
club effectively becomes the leading edge. The result? Not only a humiliating pop-up, but one of
the most hated marks in golf: a scuff on the crown of the clubhead. Yuck.
Eliminating the pop-up can be as simple as fine tuning your setup. The key is to make sure your
address position encourages a longer and bigger backswing arc, which will automatically
shallow out your swing plane and reduce the steepness of your downswing. You’ll also find
that the correct setup facilitates a solid backswing weight shift. In addition to the plane errors
discussed above, a poor weight shift to the right side during the backswing can increase the
likelihood of a pop-up.
The simplest adjustment you can make to your setup to keep the pop-up at bay is to open wide.
A wide stance is needed because in order to create a bigger backswing arc, there must be
room for it.
Try the following drill. Make abbreviated swings with your feet placed wider than shoulder
width. Each swing should move from 2:00 to 8:00 (as if a large clock sits behind you).
Concentrate on maintaining a higher position at the top of your swing (hands at 2:00) and a
lower position at the finish (hands at 8:00). This will train your body to make a fuller backswing
and shift your weight to your back foot on the backswing and to your forward foot on the
downswing, instead of the other way around.