Golf terms: What does it mean to hit it fat or thin in golf?
Golf Culture

Golf terms: What does it mean to hit it fat or thin in golf?

Spend just a few minutes on a golf course, and you'll hear golfers talking about hitting the ball fat or hitting the ball thin.

There are a lot of golfers, though, who don't know what it means to hit a golf ball fat or thin. Let's explain what the terms "fat" and "thin" mean in golf.

What does it mean to hit a golf ball fat?

Golf is a really hard game to play well, and the most important part of scoring well in golf is making good contact with the ball. However, for a lot of golfers, that's difficult to do at all, much less on a consistent basis.

When a golfer talks about hitting the golf ball fat, they're saying the didn't make good contact with the golf ball using their golf club. When a golfer hits the ball fat, they're making weak contact with the ball (if much at all) because they're hitting well behind the golf ball. If a golfer's club makes contact with the ground well before making contact with the golf ball, then they're hitting the ball fat.

Good contact -- with most clubs in the bag -- means hitting the golf ball with a descending or sweeping blow, hitting the golf ball just before or at approximately the same time as the ground behind the golf ball.

What does it mean to hit a golf ball thin?

If hitting the golf ball fat means to hit behind the ideal point of contact with a golf club, then hitting it thin implies the opposite.

Hitting it thin means the golf club makes contact with the golf ball ahead of or above the ideal contact position. That means a golfer is making contact with the golf ball at a point where the club is going through the ball instead of with a quality, descending blow. When a golfer hits the ball thin, their ball doesn't go as high off the ground as it would when hit properly with the loft on a particular golf club. However, this also means that the golf ball travels farther than originally intended.

Golf shots hit thin tend to sail well long of their target, but that's not always the case.

Is it true to say "thin to win"?

Golfers like to use the phrase "thin to win" to say that a thin shot is better than a fat shot. Statistically, that's probably true because thin shots go farther and likely place a golfer closer to the hole than a fat shot. However, both aren't great and typically lead to more strokes on the golf course.

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