"Covering The Ball"

Can you help me out ???

What is meant by the “instructional term”…

“Covering the golfball” ?

Does it relate to a steeper shoulder turn through impact. As opposed to a shallow approach into the ball, when you “cover the golf ball” you are basically pointing your right shoulder at the ball or slightly INSIDE the target line. As opposed to OUTSIDE the target line.


“Covering the golfball” is what you do after pressing on the 18th tee and you’ve found your opponent’s ball in the rough as he looks for it feverishly for the next 4 1/2 minutes. :wink:

Captain Chaos

I’ve always thought such matters were better solved by using ground pressure. :smiling_imp:

That’s pretty funny Captain

Happy, I’m sure covering the ball means different things to different people but I first heard about it through Jimmy Ballard. It was taught in order to cover the shot you would try to wrap the toe of the club around the the outside of the golf ball from impact to P4. You would try to feel like there’s no chance of losing your shot to the right. Sometimes other golfers could better feel this covering sensation by making sure the right shoulder is very active & turns level through impact. If you cover correctly with the Ballard method, the ball doesn’t go left or right, just straight at the flag.

CaptainC reminded me of this classic:


Flat shoulder rotation through impact… working in unison with a fast straightening of the right arm on the downswing to keep the shaft on plane.
Hal Sutton is a good one to look at for this textbook move.

Would that be straight to a degree? I have used the frozen right arm to much success but sometimes it´s just not there and distaster follows. How does fast straightening of the right arm and frozen right arm concept correalate, any thoughts Lag?

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The straightening of the right arm would end at 120 degrees, then the torso takes it around to P4. This was a big MORAD concept back in the early days of Mac’s teaching. I don’t like to speak for Mac really because in all fairness, I don’t know what he is teaching these days, but at least back 20 years ago, he was into that concept without a lot of vertical ground pressuring. This covering the ball, with constant knee flex would then require the right arm to straighten, and the shoulders turn flat. I like the move, and used it for a long time, but it is difficult to learn. I think there are better ways now of doing things… as I am really not into the stagnant legs thing that was or still is popular… as that falsely plays into the concept of a stationary head or that the head should not drop at transition, which it should.

If the head stays tall, then something has to extend down to the ball, and using the right arm to do it is logical… if the shoulder rotation is flat. But I prefer the other option of using the legs to do it.

I see, so a frozen right arm has to be accomodated with the right legwork or ground pressures and the other way of doing it would be non-active legs but then you have to do the straightening out as you say to 120 degrees and then the flat shoulder rotation. My first impression is that the version with the more active legwork would be a better more consistent way of doing it and when I think about it that´s probably close to what I do when im flushing it. I haven´t given any thought to legwork really in my swing and what legwork there is comes by instinct. When I think about what your saying a big lightbulb is going inside my head right now…legwork and proper groundpressure is probably much more important to me than my swing coach says it is. He teaches swinging but he agreed to help me try to work out with this “hitting” thing that I have been trying to figure out for a year now. He always tells me to keep the lower body quiet, which probably results in a MORAD protocol as you described, but that couldn´t be the case in the instances where my right arm feels really bent through impact and I asbolutely compress the ball do death with a HARD through impact/post impact pivot. I haven´t seen myself on tape when I do but when you think about it it´s impossible that im not using ground pressures hitting that way, I just would´t be able to reach the ball now would I?. Some of my problems are probably related to mish mashing these two types of “right arm” swings. I foresee an indepth study of ground pressures in relation to a frozen right arm for the foreseeable future. Thank you Lag!

We will be changing that I would hope…

Having quiet legs can be deceiving… because you simply cannot always seen what kinds of pressures are going on within them.

You can look at a bridge, and although the supports may look quiet, there is going to be a lot of load on them requiring the proper engineering and support.

Sometimes it’s impossible to see, but sometimes we can see things if we know when and where to look…

So Lag/other ABS’ers, You’re also saying the we need to be careful (maybe it’s an “imperative”?) of maintaining that exact amount of knee flex. Otherwise if lost, there will be some thin shots and/or unwanted additional loss of wristcock potentailly causing weak steep shots through the ball and into P4?

Keeping the head still has been a long standing myth, and I am sure will continue to ruin golf swings well into the future as long as people compare golfers to robotic machines.

The concept is a nice one, but machines are typically mounted with big bolts to a concrete pad, while golfers are spending more and more time slipping around in spikeless shoes. Not all that great of an idea.

Hogan’s idea of adding spikes to his shoes is better than taking them away… and today’s golf shoes are another source of aggravation.

Maintaining knee flex if the torso is rotating strongly on top or to some degree independently of the hips. If the torso is weak then it is likely better to straighten the left knee through impact to help the upper body get moving. We certainly don’t want pivot stalling post impact… but I have seen some very straight hitters play into a firm but bent left knee into and beyond impact. Byron Nelson was one of the straightest hitters, and exemplified this action.

At the same time, I don’t think we should completely rule out hand eye coordination, as we see some pretty precision striking in tennis or other racket sports while everything, even the legs are in full motion.

I think adding knee flex on the downswing has many advantages, through both transition and then stabilizing through impact. Along with minimizing right arm straightening, we can create a situation that can give us excellent low point control and a lot less OTT shots. But this of course really requires excellent post impact pivot action from the core torso and chest muscles. This method is very well historically supported, even in modern players… Tiger comes to mind with his iron play.

Jimmy Ballard discusses this ‘feel’ in his book. The confusing thing about his book is that it shows many photos of “top of the backswing” players who have left arms well above their chest, yet teaches that the power source comes from squaring up the chest and leveraging the left arm in the process, which drops down essentially by itself as the right side is “fired”, etc. In order for this to occur without consciously pulling down the arms is if the left arm remains across the upper chest on the backswing. He goes on to compare that feeling to a baseball swing, which fires the right side too.

Ballard goes on to define the right shoulder differently than what people might think. He says its the front of the shoulder and the upper pec muscle next to it. Let’s call that the upper right quandrant of the chest. That is the shoulder he refers to. Then Ballard said that the first back to the ball move is out toward the ball. Although the feet and knees might kick first, its caused by firing the right shoulder “out”! Not down, not left, but out toward the target line that the golf ball sits on. This makes sense. At the top of the backswing, the right shoulder has moved further from that target line and it has to move back toward where it was in the address position and then further out toward the golf ball.

The “feel” of covering the ball means to pretend that you want to hit the ball straight forward with that right quandrant (nipple area) of your chest, or the front of the shoulder --as it is called here. This feeling will not only square you properly for impact but also keep your center behind the ball. You don’t need to even think about the arms as they will fall down as the body rotates. To “cover” the ball means that you have to rotate the shoulder out far enough to feel like your covering it, rather than to feel like you’re going “down and through”, whatever the hell that was supposed to mean.

The reason this subject is confusing is becasue conventional teaching says don’t make a move out to the ball. Covering the golf ball violates that concept.

Flat I think it is a valid feel. After almost two years in ABS John commented in an email that I was finally grasping how out and high the right shoulder must feel. I think ABS would differ that Ballard in how we transition the club. We get in a much flatter place and I think the out move of the right shoulder comes later. Hard to SS and do the right shoulder out at the same time!

Most hackers fire the right shoulder wonderfully… and come OTT. I disagree that the arms are going to fall automatically for most people. This is a learned or even trained move. It can be done passively or actively… but I agree that one way or another it must be done.

Ballard’s descriptions are accurate… as long as…the above mentioned happens.

Most new golfers first learn to go steep with the shoulders to stop from coming OTT. This is also taught by the majority of instructors.

What Ballard is describing is an advanced move. It’s correct. I don’t know a lot about his methodology, but I am sure he has a way of teaching transition to keep students from coming OTT… but I don’t think high arms at the top automatically drop down behind you by their own device.

I don’t know all the terms. What is SS? In my case, my arms are already lower at the top. I do nothing with them on the downswing. You can’t go “out” with the right side if the arms are too high. The other thing is that in thinking of squaring the right shoulder or chest, the hips and legs move properly to support the action. A neutral grip is also required as a strong grip will cause a pull or hook. A body properly squared up doesn’t need a strong grip to rely on unless the legs and hips have flared out too much. Its impossible to over pivot, or over shift the hips if you never think of them. Think about it, does a baseball batter ever think of his pivot, his hips or legs? He’s thinking of the waist up and everything else has a supportive function.

I’m not a Ballard guy, per se, as I find much of his teaching contradictory. My problem with the high and out right shoulder is that I sometimes shank the ball. Lately I went 5 degrees flat with my irons and suddenly that swing worked better. It had been retired in my inventory of “methods”, but is now active again. I read this site all the time without commenting but thought I’d share a thought on this thread.

Thanks for your response and don’t forget to explain SS to me.

SS refers to “super slotting” the shaft at transition. There is popular thread here you can read on this topic.
I teach students how to do this through a variety of drills and exercises once they have worked through a few necessary pre requirements to have any chance of actually putting it to use.

Every time you make a new move in the swing… it is going to affect other things… at least one other move will have to work together to make a change complete. In this case… a “covering” move will require the arms to work down… and then when the arms work down… one is going to need greater forearm participation to work in unison with a level shoulder rotation. This is a separate skill set which requires both strength and a keen sense of spacial awareness.

Then even if one does that… those forces and pressures must be able to sustain themselves through and beyond impact… so we have another whole area of development to cover those protocols.

One move to better golf?

Good luck with that.


Thanks for posting your thoughts… as they are always welcome here.

Just some thoughts of mine here…

Azinger worked fairly level and had an insanely strong grip… I think one can make that work… but I do agree that a neutral grip motivates a lot of good things with a flat rotation.


As far a baseball… I have read some of the greats talk about their legs… certainly they are pressuring off the rear leg by lifting their front leg to facilitate some kind of weight transfer into the strike. I can hit a golf ball quite well that way. I think there is good reason baseball players have “cleats” on their shoes… or at least they used to. As we see golf spikes get smaller and less functional… I have seen golf swings also deteriorate with the notion that foot work is not important anymore.

I would guess that your shaft is still too steep on the downswing, even though you went to flatter gear.
If the hands are on the right path, but the shaft is still steep, you loose a bit of tolerance for centered sweetspot strikes… unless you are trapping the ball void of much forearm rotation… in which case you would lose power.
Best to have both.

I was a soccer player for 30 years and know all about legs. My point was not to think about them so much in the swing. I do lots of leg training for golf and I never think of trying to swing without using them, like some people suggest.

I don’t have strong forearms, wrists and hands, so with regards to them, I can’t comment on what I can’t feel. The shanking I had from that swing could have been from a steep angle if I wasn’t slotted correctly in transition, but it also was caused by overdoing the outward move which made me too close to the ball at impact. It’s a subtle move outward, no good if exaggerated.

The move to the flatter irons was greatly influenced by my reading this site. Thank you.