Chips Tips :: The Importance of Swing Bottom

Chips Tips :: The Importance of Swing Bottom


The first PGA tournament that I ever attended was the Westchester Classic in Harrison, NY and it hit me right away that this was not going to be like watching it on TV. First, I could not believe I was directed to park on a grass polo field and then after getting my ticket I walked by ten beautiful grass tennis courts to get to the practice range where there was another surprise.

I was able to get right behind the Pros and watch and hear these guys hit pure shot after pure shot. I noticed the lush grass range had patches of grass missing in square blocks. The caddies were not positioned alongside their pros, but out on the range with baseball gloves catching every ball hit by an iron. I watched as one of the golfers signaled to his caddie a change of clubs, then watched the caddie pace off a certain distance and when the Pro hit, the caddie did not have to move one inch to catch the ball. Watching these Pro's hit irons, I noticed they carefully placed the next ball right behind the last divot and kept doing this until they had a strip of grass about three feet long. Then they started at the front of the missing strip of grass but moved over a little so they could start another strip and that's when I realized that the square patches of missing turf I first noticed were from the previous days practice. So that day I learned two things: first, that these golfers knew something I did not—grass range etiquette; and the second thing I learned was that they take divots with almost every club they hit off the ground.

Did you know that it is normal to take a good size divot with your pitching wedge?

This leads me to the advice I want to share with you. As you know, the club moves through an arc as you swing, and when it bottoms out, it creates a divot or at least cuts some grass. Where the bottom of this arc occurs, in relation to the ball, is much more critical than you might realize. Check out the data below, collected by a golf instructor over several months at a club in North Carolina.



Avg Handicap

Avg Swing Bottom

Swing Bottom Range in Relation to Ball



PGA Touring Pro

plus 4

plus 4

plus 3-5 inches

Handicap 0-9


plus 1.5

0 to plus 3 inches

Handicap 10-19


minus 2

0 to minus 5 inches

Handicap 20-32


minus 4.1

minus 2 to minus 5 inches



Handicap 8-19


minus 2

plus 1 to minus 4 inches

Handicap 20-45


minus 5.2

minus 4 to minus 6 inches

This study reveals that all golfers should aspire to have the club bottom out four inches in front of the ball on each shot, with the exceptions of green side bunker shot and driver shots.

Now, you may be thinking, “Chip, that’s great information, but how do I apply it to my swing? Well, that is exactly what I would like show you some time. However, if you do not have the time to come work on your swing with me, please stay tuned for the next "Chip's Tips." The next tip will be how to get your grip and the effect your grip has on the swing bottom and many other aspects of your shots.

Chip Dwyer is a veteran instructor at Killington Golf Course. Call the Pro Shop at 802-422-6700 to set up a lesson with Chip.


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