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Over the Top

Over_the_Top- Over-the-Top is perhaps the most common swing characteristic among high handicap golfers. It usually occurs because of overuse or over-dominance of the upper body during the downswing. As a result, the club is thrown outside of the intended swing plane, with the club head approaching the ball in an out-to-in motion. This creates a pull if the clubface is square or a slice if the clubface is open.  This can create a lot of issues if your “misses” are potentially going in two different directions.


This over-the-top characteristic can rob you of power and limit your ability to control the ball flight as you add or decrease loft to the club and additional spin to the ball through impact. By changing the swing plane or swing path, you will create a more solid strike and increase your distance and accuracy.


The Over-the-Top move is diagnosed from the target line or down-the-line view. Using your video camera, pause your swing at the address position. Now using your graphic tools, draw a line up the club shaft plane, extending past the shoulder of the player. Run the video until the lead humerus (upper arm) is parallel to the ground, and draw a second line the length of the club from the grip end to the club head. You should now have two lines defining an area we term “The Slot.” Play the video and you start your downswing, notice if the club shaft travels in the slot or if the shaft travels outside or above the slot. If the club is above the slot, they are Over-the-Top.


Physical Causes

Several physical characteristics must be developed in order to prevent the club from coming over-the-top during the golf swing. It is paramount to develop a proper kinematic sequence of motion during transition and the downswing. The sequence of energy initiation is: lower body starts, thorax moves next, arms go third and the club starts last. This sequence occurs during the downswing. Without the ability to initiate the downswing with the lower body, you can easily dominate the downswing with an upper body throw right from the top, forcing the over-the-top swing plane. A good kinematic sequence requires several physical factors:

     The ability to separate movements of the lower body from the upper body allows the lower body to lead the downswing. Typically, reduced spinal and hip mobility causes limited pelvis-to-thorax separation.

     Core stability to help maintain posture and thorax stability is essential. Any loss in posture (flat shoulder plane or reverse spine angle) can force the torso and arms to fire first in transition to help reposition the body for rotation.

     Good balance on each leg, especially the lead side, is paramount for proper weight shift. Limited weight shift toward the lead leg can reduce the lower body’s contribution to power generation during the swing. Therefore, you will try to produce excessive power in your upper body by chopping down or throwing the club over-the-top.


The Over-the-Top swing characteristic can also be caused by:

     Weak grip at address.

     Reverse pivot or Reverse Spine Angle swing characteristic.

     Too much rotation (open face) of the clubface on the backswing.

     Poor address position with the shoulders too level or even leaning toward the target at address.

     Lack of understanding of an inside approach and the correct sequence.

     Clubs that are too stiff and too heavy. 

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