How to Avoid a Fat Shot

By Steve Silverman

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There are many things that can go wrong in golf. When hitting the ball from the fairway, golfers are told that it's fine to take a divot when they hit their shots, and it shows that a full swing with a complete hip turn has been taken. The size and direction of the divot taken can tell an experienced player a lot about her swing. However, if too much of a divot has been taken, a player is said to have hit his shot "fat." This means too much of the swing has been absorbed by the ground and not by the ball.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
  1. Adjust your stance when hitting from the fairway or the short rough. You want to take a small divot when you hit your shot, but you don't want to take too much of the grass because you won't get enough power behind your swing and your accuracy will be impacted. Start off by adjusting the ball position in your stance. The ball should be about one ball length closer to your front foot than it is to your back foot. This will positively impact the position of the club when it makes contact with the ball.
  2. Bend your knees slightly at address. A fat shot can be the result of having your knees bent too much. As a result, your club grabs more of the turf than you want it to. By having less of a knee bend--just enough to give you an athletic stance--you should be able to strike the ball in a more desirable position.
  3. Make sure you get a full hip turn before you come through the ball with the club head. Because you are on the fairway, there is a tendency to want to take advantage of your previous shot by swinging harder at a ball sitting nicely on the fairway. There's no reason for that. Bring your hips through the hitting zone before your hands come through the ball.
  4. Keep your head down through contact. Many golfers have the tendency to want to admire their shots after they have hit it from a decent lie on the fairway. As a result, they take their eye off the ball and are not looking at it when they make contact. Instead of hitting a little bit of the turf and then the ball, they take too much of the ground and hit a fat shot.
  5. Choke up about a half-inch every time you use a fairway wood or an iron. A longer club on the fairway can be difficult to control. By choking up a half-inch, you will have more control of the club and a greater chance of hitting more of the back of the ball and less of the ground behind the ball.

Tips & Warnings

  • Slow your swing down and you should be able to hit a solid shot off the fairway. Hitting the ball fat tends to result from a rushed shot.

About the Author

Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.