While the golf swing is often very fluid, it can be compartmentalized into separate actions that make uo the whole swing. Many people focus heavily on takeaway, backswing and downswing, leaving impact training to the bottom of the list. While often undertrained, the impact position is the single most important concept in the golf swing, yet so many people don’t practice the “feel” in that moment.
So, what’s the answer? A golf impact bag. The best golf impact bags will allow you to ‘pause’ your swing in real-time and at the moment of impact. They are great for ensuring correct swing mechanics. This guide covers everything from what a golf impact bag is, to which one you should buy; read our full piece below!
What is a Golf Impact Bag?
I’m going to put it simply.
A golf impact bag is a weighted and highly durable container filled with a material that has a little bit of give. You swing your club, and instead of hitting a ball, you hit the bag.
Think of it as a punching bag for your clubhead.
By swinging and hitting the bag, you can freeze your swing at the exact point of where your club would have been had you struck a golf ball. You’ll be able to observe several areas of your swing mechanics without having to worry about ball contact, shot shape, or any other distractions that normally take place on the practice ground.
By swinging, again and again, you can quickly and easily work on unfavorable elements in your swing.
Remember how I just said it was like a punching bag? Which do you think is the better training for boxers? Hitting an actual bag or shadowboxing? The difference is identical with your ‘practice swing’ and hitting the golf impact bag!
The best golf impact bags have to tick quite a few boxes.
First, they have to be pretty durable. If you’ve got a fast swing, then pummeling the life out of a bag at 100 mph will soon take its toll.
Secondly, they need to be large enough to be filled with a suitable material, giving the bag the necessary weight to avoid it acting like a giant golf ball.
What are they filled with?
Not sand. Remember, you do need a little ‘give’ in the bag. For those of you with a temper, you’ll know that golf clubs don’t hold up well to being hit into something too solid, like a sand-filled impact bag… Or the ground.
Your best bet is to fill the bag with towels, blankets, or another soft material.
Many of the best golf impact bags come with targets or aiming points embossed on the cover. This gives you something to aim for, as there is little sense in improving your swing mechanics but creating a less accurate swing as you practice.
Why Does a Golf Impact Bag Help Your Game?
The reason the best golf impact bags work is that they change the goal of your golf training.
Normally the aim of the game is to make a golf ball fly straighter and longer.
While this is still relevant for a specific golf impact training drill, this is secondary to working on your swing’s specific elements.
There’s a surprising number of benefits to using a golf impact bag.
Let’s take a look at some of the areas that you could improve if you used one.
When you are on the range and hitting a ball, a lot is going on.
Posture, backswing, follow-through, eye on the ball, hip rotation… To name but a few. One thing that will increase your distance massively is the transfer of weight from your back foot through to your front foot as you swing.
By being able to swing and hit against something with some resistance, you can repeat and practice weight transfer without worrying about the other elements that would normally affect your ball flight.
And because you can repeat it again and again, without pause, you can get a really great feel on what it should feel like to transfer your weight during a ‘genuine’ swing.
The key to hitting longer shots is clubhead speed. It’s simple physics.
More speed equals more energy. More energy means longer shots across your entire golf bag.
One of the keys to generating faster speed is clubhead lag. This is an area that a golf impact bag really comes into its own. Having something to hit against, you can effectively simulate what your body should be doing when you strike a ball.
Contrary to popular belief, on impact, you shouldn’t be in the same position as you were at the address. Your hips should be much more ‘open’ and pointing to the left of the target, with the clubhead lagging behind them.
Hand in hand with lag is shaft lean. Essentially this is where your hands are slightly ahead of the clubhead.
This makes the loft of your club slightly stronger, and by hitting down on the ball, you generate more power, spin, and get a lower trajectory.
If you don’t have a divot ahead of the ball, you possibly aren’t getting enough shaft lean.
How to work on it consistently?
Easy, a golf impact bag.
Ever noticed a ‘shape’ to your shots? Ever noticed a hook or a slice? These are all indications that your clubface isn’t square on impact.
Deciding on how square the face was as you twist through on your follow-through isn’t the easiest.
But here is what is…
Hitting the face of your club into a bag that gives instant feedback on face position. If you see or feel the club twist on impact, then you’ll know that the face isn’t properly squared during the crucial moment of your swing.
Drills for Golf Impact Bags
Buying the best golf impact bag is only half the battle. Like most specialized golf equipment, you need to know how to use it too!
There’s plenty of drills for golf impact bags. Let’s take a run through some of our favorites…
1) Reduce Your Slice
Position the golf impact bag about a foot ahead of where the ball would normally rest and make a few swings into the bag. You’ll probably find that it is pretty square…
Nope. If it’s square when it has passed where the ball would be, that means it’s probably open.
As a drill, practice turning your hands, so the toe hits the bag. It will feel unnatural and isn’t how you want to hit, but it will help you gain the muscle memory needed to turn your hands over through the ball.
This will definitely prevent shots from leaking away from you.
Here’s a handy video demonstrating this golf bag drill
2) Work on Pivoting
For many beginners, ‘scooping’ is the enemy of straight shots. An easy drill is to position the impact bag at the point where the ball would be at the address.
From there, make quarter swings into the bag, but really work on minimizing your wrists. You’ll be forced to turn your body to make contact. As a happy aside, this drill is also a great way to understand the shaft lean concept as your hands will be ahead of the club.
To develop this further, try with only your lead hand.
You can see these drills, plus a couple more here…
3) Learn to Hit from the Inside
This is an excellent feedback drill for developing what it feels like to hit from the inside. It’s also an excellent way to reduce cutting across the ball, leading to a slice.
This drill is great if you have a circular bag.
Position the bag ahead of your stance and make gentle swings. If you are cutting across the ‘golf ball,’ you’ll find that the bag spins in a clockwise direction. The aim of the game is to make a pronounced swing that makes it spin counterclockwise.
Does it feel weird? No wonder, as you probably have never swung this way before!
Here’s a video demonstrating what I mean.
Slow the Swing to Get in the Correct Impact Position
This is a great all-around drill and is probably the most traditional use of an impact bag. It’s great for developing shaft lean in a controlled way.
Place the bag where the ball would normally go at the address. And make gentle swings into the bag.
By slowing your pace, you can really work on transferring that weight and getting a good pivot. The aim isn’t to launch the bag. Instead, work hard to stop after each slow swing and see where your weight and club are positioned.
It looks something like this…
Can I Make My Own Impact Bag?
We’d advise against it. Using a homemade impact bag could count as negative training. You don’t get the feel and feedback if you are busy whacking a makeshift golf impact bag.
I mean, check this out…
There are things we like in this video and things we don’t. While the tips and drills might be good, hitting boxes and holdalls with a golf club? Does that look like any way to treat your brand new Ping G710 irons?
Best 5 Golf Impact Bags: Reviewed for 2021
Remember how we talked about size and durability?
This circular golf impact bag ticks quite a few boxes. It’s sizeable, so you’ll be able to stuff it full of towels or sheets to make sure it stays put during your practice routine.
The outer shell of the bag is heavy-duty PVC. Aside from being supremely durable and long-lasting, it is also waterproof. You’ll be able to take it out on grey days without fear of it getting wet. You also won’t need to worry about soaking your best towels through with dew from the grass.
- The circular shape is useful for lots of drills
This swing training bag is a budget offering, but it works well. The strong nylon and PVC-backed cover will stand up to any swing, regardless of how many times it is hit.
Fill it with towels and swing away. One feature we really like is the heavy-duty zip. This is a common point of weakness even on the best golf impact bags, so it’s good to see.
It isn’t the largest on our list, but it could be ideal if you struggle with space.
- Heavy-duty zip
- PVC lined nylon cover
This impact bag is a little more premium and forms 6 swing trainers in one, with some clever features.
Each of the embossed ‘targets’ on this 6 sided bag is positioned to promote different swing characteristics. Flip the bag to the desired side and work on that element.
One feature that I really like is that the swing bag has a slanted side. This is perfect for aligning your club with when working on shaft lean.
- Highly durable canvas
- Clever design with different aiming points
- Slanted side to work on shaft lean and clubhead lag
If you are hitting big, then you will want a big bag. This thing is huge. The outer shell is pretty heavy-duty and will have plenty of room to add some inner padding and weight.
Although hitting a bag at full pace is sometimes counterproductive, you’ll be able to with this bag. It features ground loops that can be pegged into position.
- Large size
- Heavy duty
- It can be pegged into position for harder shots
This is another budget offering that should provide a reliable way to train all of the areas that we talked about.
There’s no chance you’ll miss it, as it is bright yellow (but if that’s not your thing, it’s available in red or black too!)
The standout feature here is the large and highly visible target on the bag. As with the Proactive bag above, you have a durable loop that can be used to attach it in place with a peg or golf alignment stick
- Bright color
- Huge target area
- Ground attachments
The best golf impact bags offer really great value. Considering that they are pretty portable and can be easily used in the garden for numerous drills, there is never an excuse not to have a quick practice. They do work to help achieve more power, distance, and accuracy. I’ll look forward to seeing you ripping a few shots down the fairway soon.