Juggling a golf ball on the face of your club became significantly more popular when Nike released a commercial of Tiger Woods doing it in the late 90s. It’s not a skill that helps to improve your actual golf game at all, but it looks cool. Plus, people assume that, if you can juggle a golf ball, you’re probably a pretty good player too.
To get started, you’ve got to select the right club and grip it properly. Grab one of your wedges with the most loft; preferably a lob wedge or sand wedge. Then, hold the club in your dominant hand, making sure it’s resting in the fingers rather than the palm. This will give you better control over the movement of the club.
Next, put a golf ball on the ground next to the foot opposite your dominant hand. The ball should be touching the outside of your foot near your toes. As you get more advanced, you may learn to start without your foot next to the ball, but for now, it makes getting the ball significantly easier. Your foot will act as a backstop, so the ball can easily roll on to the club face.
After that, open your club face as far as you can, so that it’s as close to parallel to the ground as possible. You’re then going to slide your club face underneath the golf ball, again, using your foot as a backstop, so the ball is forced to roll on to the club face.
From there, make a quick, but short motion directly up and then down with your golf club, so that the ball flies in to the air about 1 foot. You don’t want it to fly too high at first. The higher it flies, the tougher it is to hit the ball multiple times.
Once the ball is in the air, you’ll want to position the club face directly under the ball, so that when it falls back down, it will hit the club face again. Too many beginners think that the goal is then to hit the ball back in the air. While that is sort of true, you don’t want to hit it too hard. The harder you hit it, the higher it’ll fly, and the more difficult it will be to hit a second or third time. Instead, keep your grip fairly firm on the club, so that it stays steady and won’t move much when it hits the ball. Then, let the ball fall on to the club face without striking up at it too much.
Juggling a golf ball is a fairly gentle motion. The softer you strike the ball, then less it’ll fly off line and the longer you can juggle. Practice doing this and, once you can keep the ball going for 10-20 hits, try moving on to more tricks below.
Between the Legs
A fun first trick to try after you’ve learned to juggle is to move your club between your leg. This seems like it’d be fairly difficult, but it’s not. All you really need to do is get the ball high enough that you can move a leg underneath the ball and continue juggling. It’s not about moving the ball at all. Instead, it’s more about moving the leg over the club and under the ball to create the appearance of a difficult trick.
I think it’s easiest to start with the leg opposite of the hand you are holding the club with. This makes the transition a little bit easier because of your body placement. Obviously, once you get more advanced, you can try the other leg too. Remember, when you’re doing this trick, it’s not about moving your club and ball through your leg, it’s more about the movement of your leg while maintaining the location of your club and ball.
Around the Back
As you probably noticed in the linked Tiger Woods commercial, after going under his legs, he starts juggling around his back. This is a natural transition, but a significantly more difficult one to make. It requires a little more movement of the body, club, and golf ball. So, you’ll need to learn how to move the ball around in open space while still juggling. You can practice by walking a little bit while juggling. This allows you to get the feel for juggling a ball that doesn’t move directly up and down, but side-to-side also.
To accomplish this trick, you want to make sure that you are able to move your entire body away from the golf ball. You don’t want the ball to hit part of your body and drop to the ground, so make sure you get your hips (and rest of your body) completely cleared first. This trick will also require that you hit the ball a little bit higher in the air. So, again, you can practice by juggling like normal with the addition of more height to your hits.
Resting the Ball
A trick that doesn’t look super difficult, but actually requires some skill is resting the ball on the club face. Again, you probably noticed Tiger do that in the commercial as well. It’s not as simple as just stopping your swinging/hitting of the club. Doing that will still cause the ball to fly up in the air because of its downward movement coming into contact with a stationary club face.
Instead, you’ll want to raise the club face in the air when the ball is in the air and then bring it down at almost the same pace as the ball. Imagine you’re catching an egg with your club. You need to be super gentle in order to quickly stop the ball’s motion, so that it rests on the club face. The key to this trick is letting your club face softly catch the ball.
Hitting the Ball
Juggling the golf ball is great, but juggling it and then hitting it perfectly out of the air is even better. This part of the trick requires incredible hand-eye coordination. To do this, you’ll need to make sure the golf ball is in control. Sometimes there are moments in juggling a golf ball where you’re not in complete control of the ball. It is spinning weird and the height isn’t controlled; that’s not the time to attempt hitting it. Also, you want to make sure that no one is around you and you have space to hit the ball.
Before hitting the ball, make sure you get your feet set in the right place. Then, you’ll want to get the ball a little bit higher in the air on the strike right before the swing. This will allow you time to get your backswing completed in plenty of time. You’ll want to be at the top of your backswing when the ball is at its apex. This will allow your downswing to happen at the same time as the ball falling down towards the ground.
Make sure the ball is falling down with the proper ball position; somewhere close to the center of your stance. You also want the ball to be as close to the ground as possible when you hit it. This will allow you to almost simulate a normal swing. The higher in the air you hit the ball, the more you have to change your natural swing to make contact with the ball.
After that, it’s all timing. You definitely won’t get it on the first swing, but keep at it and soon you’ll be able to pull off the coolest party trick in golf.