In golf a whiff – or a ball whiffed – occurs when a golfer attempts to strike a ball and misses it completely.
In contrast to a practice swing where a swing is also performed but no contact with the ball is made, a whiff occurs when there is intent on striking the ball. A whiff still counts as a stroke and because no distance is gained at all it constitutes a shot error that should be avoided at all cost.
Read on to review the root cause behind whiffs and in order to pinpoint the specific reasons why you are whiffing some golf shots.
What Causes Whiffs?
Bottom of the Swing Arc Too High
Quite simply, you are failing to make contact with the ball in a whiffed shot because the club doesn’t reach down enough to allow for such a contact to occur.
That’s right, the bottom of the swing arc is too high in relation to the position of the ball. The specific reason for this can vary but ultimately you are not setting the right conditions for a clean contact with the ball to occur.
Read on to determine what specifically can explain why you are whiffing golf balls.
Ball Lie Conditions Leading to a Whiff
Was the ball too low on the tee?
The first possible reason to look at is the height of your tee, or in other words how high – or rather how low – the ball sits on top of it.
Yes, if your whiffed shots tend to occur from within the teeing ground while you are using a driver or a fairway wood then the height of your tee could certainly prove problematic.
It is quite possible that your tee was pushed too low into the ground and the ball was sitting too low to the ground as a result. Shots made using a driver and fairway woods are meant to occur while the clubhead is rising after reaching the bottom of the swing arc.
Furthermore, the sweet spot of woods is located higher than it is on putters or irons, which is why we normally use tees with these clubs in the first place. All of these help explain why it is crucial to position the ball on a tee that sticks out from the ground at the correct height.
FIX: Don’t push your tee so low into the ground
A good guideline is to position the ball on a tee in such a way that its equator is at the same height as the top edge – or crown – of the clubhead. If whiffing shots are still an issue you may want to position the ball so that its bottom will line up with the top line of the clubhead.
Related Tweak: How tee height impacts your shots
Was the ball below your feet at address?
It is also possible that whiffing a shot comes as a result of the ball being located below your feet at address.
While that is not an issue whenever hitting from the tee box where the grass is flat, hitting from the rough or from the fairway can occur under uneven lie conditions. A lie that sees the ball on a sidehill where your feet are located higher than the ball vertically can be enough to bring the risk of whiffing a shot into play.
Unless slight modifications are made to compensate for these uneven lies, you run the risk of seeing your golf club traveling above the ball, resulting in a whiff.
FIX: Bend your knees more than you normally would
Bending your knees a little more than usual might prove sufficient in getting a clean contact out of a sidehill lie where the ball is below your feet. However, you will need to make sure that you keep this knee bend constant throughout impact though.
More on: How to hit the ball when it is below your feet
Golf Swing Errors Leading to Whiffs
Are you standing up at impact?
In addition and in conjunction with the ball lie situations presented above, a swing error could also contribute to raising the odds of producing whiffed shots.
That’s because standing up at impact, which involves the lifting of the upper body during the downswing, raises the arms and hands and as a result can also raise the bottom of the swing arc.
FIX: Keep your spine angle constant all the way through impact.
Doing so will help shield you from seeing the club fly over the ball and missing it entirely, or producing thin or topped shots.
Related Swing Errors: