Why Do I Top the Golf Ball When It Is Wet or Soggy?

If you live in the southeast you have had to endure one of the wettest winters in recent history in 2020 and 2021. This is two winters in a row in which golf courses and country clubs have had to deal with an abnormal amount of rain. It seems any time the sun is out for a day or two, it is followed by a weekend of rain. Even on beautiful 70 degree days, the fairways are completely drenched or at least soggy. Amateurs all over North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Florida and Georgia are trying to figure out why the top it when the conditions are wet.

If you are like many amateurs you do not exactly hit ball first when hitting iron shots or fairway woods. The quickest way to determine a “true scratch” is to notice contact with long irons and a 3 wood. Time and again I hear a guy claim he is a scratch but “can’t hit a 3 wood unless it’s teed up”. Yeah, true scratch. Anyway, amateurs do not have golf swings in which they hit ball first. They either get lucky and have a glancing blow that sends the ball someone straight (with a ton of side spin) or they drop kick it which turns the club square once in 10 tries. Honestly, it is a miracle that some amateur golfers can get around the course in less than 100 strokes.

One of the most common complaints by amateurs is they cannot play well in wet conditions. In these same conditions PGA Tour Pros simply light it up on the course. When tour pros see wet or “lift and place” conditions, they know they are going low. When amateurs see these conditions, they want to stay in bed.

So, why are amateurs topping the ball or hitting the ball fat when it is wet? It all comes down to contact. When the ground is hard there is a better chance to glance the ground and get through it with some resemblance of swing speed. An amateur does this a few times on the range and feels confident when they take that swing to the course. If conditions are wet, it is likely the case that the grass tees aren’t open on the range and even if they are, they chunk a few and they try to adjust with their hands or arms.

Anyone that understands the golf swing knows that adjustments should never start with the hands and arms. Amateurs do this so they flinch right at impact or they try to “clip” the ball when it is wet. They do not have the hand eye coordination to pick the ball clean so it is a mix of topped and fat shots. You’ve likely been on the course where one of your buddies is topping all of them on the front 9 and by the back 9 he is hitting them all fat. This happened to our Waxhaw, NC orthodontist buddy just the other week.

So, how can you remedy this? There is not a quick fix for this problem. If you have an issue hitting balls fat or topping them when it is wet you are a hands and arms player. The only way you are going to fix this issue is to get lessons and use your body, specifically your core, to create swing speed. Instead of dreading the 9:00 am tournament starting time when there is dew on the ground and fairways are wet, you would be advised to create a rotational swing with your body. It could take years to master this but once you have it, you will never fear wet conditions again. In fact, when it is wet you will be going super low and your buddies will be carding a score 10 strokes higher than their handicap.