Most golfers know they should avoid coming “over the top” on their downswings. But for golfers who do, the road to fixing it can be a difficult one. That’s because fixing an over-the-top move, which means getting the club more “inside” on the downswing, has two different causes, each with its own fix.
When the golf club comes from too far outside, it is the result of one of two things:
The upper body “spins out,” opening the shoulders early and forcing the hands out away from the body. This is by far the most common way I see my students getting over the top.
The shoulders stay closed, the hands come down from the inside, but the CLUB HEAD is swung well outside the hands. This is less common, but every bit as destructive in its effect.
- The Spin Out
I see this spin out move in varying degrees, and it is often the result of yanking the club inside too quickly on the backswing. When the club gets too far inside, or “stuck,” golfers cannot swing down. So what they do is spin their upper body out, which gets them over the top.
For this swing flaw “spinning out” I might have my students:
Learn to keep their back to the target a little longer in the downswing.
Keep the rear elbow in close to the body. I might even have them hit some balls from a closed position to see and feel the inside path. If, from there, they can begin drawing or hooking the ball a bit, the inside path becomes more natural, and the spin out will diminish over time. There are a number of good drills for this: Hitting balls with back to target and hitting balls with feet together are two great ones.
- Club Head Cast Outside the Hands
The other, less obvious way golfers get over the top happens when the hand path is actually down, but the club head is thrown outside the hands. This swing is often the result of casting, but not simply casting down — it’s more out. An early release or a cast down will hit fat shots, but it will not necessarily be outside. We see this in players who have wide swings and are often pointed left (short of parallel) at the top, which is called “laid off.” Laid off at the top and wide is a dangerous combination, as the center of the club is really elusive.
The correction is a bit different, too. Here a player might have to feel like the club head is actually stuck, that is, coming from behind the hands in the downswing.
You can also try another drill I use to feel a more inside club head path. Draw a line in the dirt and try making divots in front of the line. The divots must be straight or even point a little right of the target. This can reduce some casting, and again, give a feeling of the club head being more behind the hands.
Tricky business, but if you know what type of over-the-top move you have, you’re closer to making the correction.