Amateurs often struggle with their ball striking because the low point of their golf swing – the lowest point the clubhead travels in the downswing – is in the wrong place. When hitting from the fairway, you want the low point to be after the ball, so you strike the ball as the clubhead is still travelling downwards, talking a divot after impact.
Ball striking it a lot to do with ball position. I see a lot of amateurs will the ball too far forward in their stance trying to help the ball up by adding loft and leaning back on their right side (for a right handed golfer). When they do this, they actually catch the ground before the ball and duff it or miss the ground and catch the ball thin because the low point of their swing is too far back.
Moving the ball back to the middle or just back of middle in your stance should make sure you catch the ball first from a tight fairway and then you need to trust the loft of the club to get the ball up and stay down on the shot. The key to making sure you hit the ball first is to make sure your weight moves onto your lead leg in the downswing. Your sternum represents the low point of your swing, so getting this ahead of the ball should eliminate any duffs or thin shots.
Keep the angle in your wrists applying pressure to the ball and the ground with your weight forward and down at impact and through to the finish. Getting the hands are ahead of the clubhead at impact will ensure the shaft is leaning forward, allowing you to generate a clean, powerful strike. Your divot is a tell-tale sign of your swing’s low point. If it starts after the ball, you know it is in the right place.