Thursday, August 1, 2002
Stop Coming Over The Top
To fix golf's most common flaw, find out what's causing itIt's a phrase heard on driving ranges, tee boxes and fairways nationwide. “I’m coming over the top.” It’s a lament as common as “I’m lifting my head” or “I’m swinging too fast.” And as hard as golfers try to correct this fault, most endure little success.
Golfers who come over the top do so because they have no other option. In other words, coming over the top is a necessary compensation for an earlier problem. In fact, if a player was to actually come down on the “inside” or “on-plane,” he or she would be worse off. The key to fixing the problem of coming over the top is to first understand why it happens. Once a player understands what created the need to execute an over-the-top move, he or she can fix the problem at its root, resulting in a downswing that’s from the inside or on-plane.
4 most common backswing errors that result in coming over the top in the downswing are:
1. Taking the club away too flat or under the swing plane
2. Stranding the majority of weight on the left (forward) leg at the top of the backswing
3. Creating a narrow swing arc
4. Leaving the clubface open at the top
Taking away the club too flat is the most common of the backswing flaws. This flaw can cause a vicious cycle. The more a player is aware that he or she is over the top, the more he or she is likely to take the club away to the inside.
Learning to take the club back correctly on-plane begins with learning the proper setup posture. When most players set up, the first thing they do is look down at the ball by bending at the neck and shoulders, in effect, not bending at the hips. When a player fails to tilt from the hips, his or her natural takeaway plane will be to the inside or too flat—more like a baseball swing than a golf swing.
The proper posture begins by tilting from the hips while keeping the shoulders back and the chin up. This posture is the one that best allows you to take the club back properly, with the clubhead lining up with the hands at the waist-high position and the shaft hinging skyward in line with the left forearm. These moves set the club on-plane and in front of the body and in perfect position to come back down on-plane or even slightly to the inside.
A second flaw that causes an inside takeaway is rotating the arms faster than the upper body. When this happens, the player’s arms get trapped behind the body, and the only way to get them back in front and strike the ball squarely is to come over the top.
Your forearm rotation should match your shoulder rotation. When these two rotations are linked, the arms will remain in front of the body, effectively leaving room to bring the club down on-plane.
The next most common error that leads to an over-the-top move is having too much weight on the left (forward) leg at the top of the backswing (left). A player’s natural reaction to this misallocation of weight is to fall backward in the downswing. “Weight always goes where it hasn’t been”—in other words, if the majority of your weight is on your forward leg at the top of the backswing, you’ll naturally transfer it into your back leg on the way back down. Bad news, because if you transition into your back leg at the beginning of the downswing, the club will be centrifugally thrown out and over the top. If you transition into your forward leg at the beginning of the downswing, however, the club will be centrifugally pulled from the inside.
What causes a reverse pivot? The most typical flaw is lower-body sway. When the lower body slides away from the target on the backswing, the upper body falls toward the target. The cure to ending the reverse weight shift is to learn to resist with the lower body and coil with the upper body. The lower body should be the foundation for the upper body during the backswing. Tiger Woods commonly talks about the importance of maintaining pressure on the inside of his right leg by slightly forward-pressing his right knee toward the target as he takes back the club. By doing so, he keeps his hips from sliding, yet allows his right leg to accept the rearward transition of weight.
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