Back in November I read an article about the over the top golf swing that was both technical and silly all at once, at least to me. Perhaps many golfers would relate to the writer’s opinions but since I know better than to attempt to completely re-do someone’s golf swing you now have two sides of the story to consider. OVER THE TOP GOLF® came into existence as a result of a lifetime of my following advice that was, in fact, both technical and silly. The most frustrating part, as I learned, was that golf teachers wanted to eliminate my strengths and introduce me to what they felt should be my strengths. Here’s some of the article along with some observations from me.
Instructor: One of the most common ailments in golf is the “over the top.” It plagues golfers of all ages and ability levels. I would be rich if I had a nickel for every time someone said they swung the club over the top!
OK, let’s dissect that paragraph. There are two revealing “tells” that should at least make you somewhat wary. First is the writer’s contention that the over the top move is a “plague.” Without any attempt to explain that it is certainly a credible way to advance a golf ball down the fairway and into the hole, he dismisses it out of hand. Second, his assertion that he’d be a rich man if he saved all those nickels tells us that golfers possessing an over the top golf swing are numerous, perhaps in the majority. We love to do it so why not learn to do it right?
Instructor: So what exactly is it? And, how can you make changes in your swing to prevent yourself from doing it?
What it is, exactly, is an innate way to swing a golf club. Why try to prevent yourself from doing what comes naturally? Your swing was built by you, for you. Nobody else swings the club the same way so use that as a starting point.
Instructor: Over the top happens when your club crosses the swing plane to the outside at the beginning of the downswing. It causes a swing path that travels from outside to inside. At this point your angle of attack with the club is too steep and you have no chance of striking the ball from the inside. If you close the clubface too much you will pull hook. If you open the face too much you will create a banana slice. Bottom line is over the top creates too much sidespin!
Bottom line is that you either co-exist with the sidespin or die trying to correct it. Plain and simple. And you will die-a thousand deaths-attempting such recklessness. Ask thousands of golfers who have taken lesson after lesson only to come away with less confidence than before.
Instructor: A lot of beginners and weekend golfers play this way because they do not understand the cause and effect laws on sidespin. How many times have you seen “how to fix your slice” in Golf Digest? Probably a couple hundred in the last year because Golf Digest knows about the over the top plague.
The “plague” that’s being referenced is actually the sound of money leaving your pocket, not a swing flaw. And guess what? You’ll have to keep on spending because you can’t be “cured” of something you have done since birth.
Instructor: Why do baseball and hockey players suffer from this move more than anyone else? Because they want crush the ball with their upper body, similar to their respective sport. Using the upper body from the top is a tell tale sign of an impending over the top. Let me give you an example. At the completion of the backswing, there is very little weight shift to the front foot. The shoulders and hips rotate back to the ball at the same time and the club travels back to the ball too steep. The club crosses to the outside of the swing plane and cuts across the ball, producing tons of sidespin. This all happens mainly because the hands and arms maneuvered the club back down to the ball with too much force.
We just love force, don’t we? Want to hit a 300 yard drive? Seems natural that you’ll have to hit the ball pretty hard. So, go ahead and hit the damn thing. In fact, swing out of your shoes! As you’ll read, it’s what will produce the desired results without the need for an intimate knowledge of geometry and the laws of physics.
Instructor: Keep this in mind as a summary of the over the top. Your downswing begins without enough lower body movement and the club crosses to the outside of your swing plane as it begins a steep path back to the ball.
This is a paragraph I can agree with wholeheartedly. Now you’ll need just a bit more knowledge before entering any long drive competitions.
Instructor: Now that you know about the over the top move. What is the best way to prevent this from happening in your swing. The first thing to keep in mind is that the backswing starts with your upper body and the downswing starts with your lower body. Within this framework, at the completion of the backswing, your lower body shifts your weight to your front foot and begins the unwinding process. Your arms and hands do not consciously maneuver the club back down to the ball.
Don’t think about preventing anything. Your backswing can start from wherever feels best. Same theoretical premise for the downswing. You do not need to assimilate a weight shift nor do you need to keep your head down, hold your elbows in or purchase a new $400 driver. What you’ve already got is all you’ll need.
Instructor: Another concept to think about is the backswing sets up the downswing. If you set up a backswing that’s too upright, the beginning of the downswing will have a tendency to return on the same path. The best way to safeguard against this is to maintain width between your head and your hands. So at the top of your backswing your hands are not next to your head. There is enough space between your head and your hands to create some width and leverage in your swing. This will help to flatten out your swing plane and help you return to the ball from the inside.
Have an upright swing plane? Good. Stick with it. Hands next to your head? Excellent, if that’s what’s comfortable. Do not use artificial means to flatten your swing plane. If it wants to be flat, it will tell you. Don’t let anyone else make that decision for you. And if you try to force yourself to hit the inside of the ball you’ll suffer the same fate as thousands of others. Golfers who abandoned their strengths just to try doing what others told them they must do.
The Over The Top Golf swing is a misnomer of sorts. It’s not a swing at all, rather a new way to set up to the ball. A simple matter of five (5) set up changes and, using your own swing, the ball will come off your club face like a BB. Like to swing out of your shoes? Believe it or not, it’s not an issue because there’s no balance requirement any more. Even in your wildest dreams you never experienced satisfaction like this. Golf-wise, that is.
The instructor was correct in his theory that he’d be rich if he had a nickel for every over the top swing he’s seen. That’s because there are lots of them. And for good reason. It’s what we do best. Now learn how to do it right.
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