There are some swing faults in golf that just seem impossible to fix. Even players who consistently head to the driving range for practice sessions have trouble breaking these habits, causing them to play the same quality of golf year after year with no end in sight.
While golf can be fun even if you don’t play at a high level, it’s frustrating to be stuck in neutral without any improvement in your play. All golfers want to improve, and even seeing minor bits of progress along the way will be enough to keep you motivated to move forward.
As you can tell from the title of this article, the content below is going to be focused on fixing one specific swing fault – the over the top move.
This is a swing fault which affects millions of golfers, and it is the main cause of the dreaded ball flight known as the slice. If you are currently fighting a slice in your game, and you have been fighting that slice for some time, it is almost certain that you are moving the club over the top during your transition from backswing to downswing. Fixing your slice is probably as simple as getting rid of that move – of course, getting rid of that move is not going to be simple at all.
What is an ‘Over the Top’ Move?
To fix any problem in your golf swing, you need to first have a clear picture of the problem in your mind. In this case, you need to understand exactly what we mean when we say the club is moving ‘over the top’.
Simply put, the club is moving up and away from your body during the transition, rather than dropping down into the slot for a powerful downswing. The club should fall during the transition of your swing, getting closer to your body as you build lag and start to turn toward the target.
That doesn’t happen for players who are swinging over the top, however, as those players push the club up and away as they begin the downswing. The results speak for themselves when you make this move – you lose lag, you lose power, and you swing across the ball from outside-in at impact.
It is possible to hit a push with this kind of swing, but most people see their ball flight turn into a slice after coming over the top.
The Underlying Problems
There are a couple of potential causes of an over the top move. As is the case with most issues in your golf swing, solving this problem is all about understanding cause and effect. By working backwards through your swing, you should be able to locate the issues that are leading to the end result of an over the top move.
Specifically, there are two swing issues which most-commonly wind up resulting in an over the top action:
Cause #1 – A Narrow Backswing
The ideal backswing is one that has plenty of width, with your hands reaching back well away from your body as you turn to the right (for a right handed golfer). Unfortunately, many golfers make a backswing that is far too narrow, with the hands quickly coming in close to the body during the takeaway phase of the swing.
When you do make a narrow backswing, your hands will be very close to your head at the top of the swing. From there, they only have one choice – to move up and away from your body. There simply isn’t room to drop the club to the inside after a narrow backswing, so an over the top action is your only option.
Cause #2 – A Quick Tempo
Countless amateur golfers rush through their swings, either because they are trying to swing as hard as possible, or because they are nervous about the outcome of the shot. Either way, rushing is only going to put you off track and out of position when you get down to impact.
As it relates to this discussion, rushing your swing is going to rob you of the time you need to let the club fall naturally to the inside. As your transition arrives, you need to give it plenty of time to develop properly – but that doesn’t happen when you rush. Instead, your hands push the club up and away as the rest of your body hurries to turn back toward the target. There is very little that can save a swing which has been rushed in this way.
Getting On Track
To finally kill off this habit of swinging over the top once and for all, you are going to have to address both of the points above. First, you are going to need to make a wider backswing. Work on the extension that you get in your takeaway, keeping your hands out of the equation as you rotate your shoulders away from the target. By maintaining great extension, you will naturally have good width at the top and your issue of a narrow backswing should become a thing of the past.
With the backswing sorted out, you then need to correct your tempo. On the driving range, try hitting some shots where you actually pause your entire swing at the top for a second or two before swinging down. This will feel awkward at first, but you might be surprised to find just how well you can hit the ball with a pause in your swing after a bit of practice. Of course, you aren’t actually going to use a full pause out on the course (then again, it certainly works for Hideki Matsuyama!), but this drill will help you feel how you can take your time while still hitting quality shots.
As long as you give yourself plenty of time at the top, and you combine that timing with great extension, you will no longer have to worry about that dreaded over the top move. Good luck and play well!