The golf swing is a dynamic motion that follows a sequential, chain-like series of movements. Any break in this chain can have an adverse domino effect on the rest of the swing and cause you to hit an errant shot. A common effect is coming over the top, the club thrown off-plane and out of synch with the rest of the body. Because so many factors contribute to an effective swing, pinpointing the cause of coming over the top is difficult. But with some practice and patience, you should be able to fix your problem.
The most likely reason you are coming over the top in your golf swing is you are rushing the transition phase between the backswing and the downswing. Beginning golfers often make the mistake of tensing their shoulder and arm muscles at the top of the swing so they can make an aggressive swing at the ball. This tension can throw the club off plane, causing you to hit an inaccurate shot or top the ball. Solution: Think about relaxing and pausing at the top of the swing. Hold the position at the top of the swing for a count of one before beginning the downswing.
Right Elbow Flaring
Another common reason for coming over the top is that your right elbow -- for a right-handed golfer -- flares out away from the body at the top of the swing. While the right elbow should play a fairly passive role in the swing, it does a great deal to keep the club on-plane. Legendary golfer Ben Hogan believed the right elbow should remain tight and tucked into the body to help keep the club on a smooth, arcing plane. Solution: Think about keeping your right elbow tucked in. You can even hold a towel in your right armpit when practicing to reinforce this thought. The towel should not fall out until your follow-through.
As a rule, the club will go where your eyes go. Because your eyes are attached to your head, if your head gets ahead of the golf ball, your club will, too. When your head gets ahead of the ball, you will likely come over the top during your backswing and top the ball or catch it very thin. Jack Nicklaus felt head position served a very important role in the swing and should stay behind the ball at all times. Solution: Start with your head behind the ball and imagine there is a wall preventing it from moving forward. Let your body swing through the ball while your head remains in the same position as at address.
Inflexibility can lead to all kinds of mishaps in the golf swing. If you lack flexibility in your hips, back, neck or torso, you are likely to rush your swing in order to minimize lengthening the tense muscles any further. Rushing the backswing can lead to coming over the top of the ball. Solution: Warm up before playing and stretch after. Before each round, hit at least 50 to 100 shots and perform several dynamic, rotational stretches. After each round, statically stretch your muscles, holding each position for at least 20 seconds to improve flexibility.
- Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf; Ben Hogan and Herbert Wind
- Golf My Way; Jack Nicklaus and Ken Bowden
- Sports Injury Bulletin: Golf Strain Causes