The only thing worse is not being able to correct it on the course. Topping shot after shot until you are ready to walk off the course. Now that's a test of nerves. Do you take it and finish the round, or do you crawl off the course totally humiliated?
Without seeing your golf swing in person, there are a couple of reasons for topping the ball. One I can think of is knee flex. If you don't maintain the same knee flex from address through your backswing, you will come out of your spine angle, causing you to dip. This in turn causes you to come up during the downswing as a reaction, which can result in a topped shot.
Another causes is dipping forward on your backswing. Many golfers have this tendency. During the take-away, you drift forward causing you to be out of position when coming back down and into impact.
Just like the first cause listed above, a consistent knee flex throughout your golf swing will help you maintain proper golf posture. During your take-away, focus on keeping your back leg knee flexed. It may feel awkward at first, but it will give you a more stable spine angle, improving your consistency.
The second cause above was drifting forward. Picture someone with their hand on the front of your head and not letting it go forward when you make your swing. A great drill for this is to put your forehead against a wall while you are in your golf posture. Try to make a partial swing keeping contact with the wall.
Apply these two golf tips for topping your ball consistently and you'll see a complete elimination of this ugly swing fault! When this swing fault creeps back in, you'll have a better idea of what's causing it, and how to correct it. Maybe even on the course when it happens.
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Mike Pedersen is the creator of the "Power Golf Training Online Membership - What Every Golfer Should Know About How To Hit Longer Drives And Play Pain-Free Golf", and has taught thousands of golfers how to add up to 40 yards to their drives.