Coming Over The Top In Golf – What It Is & How To Fix It
Coming over the top is a dreaded swing issue that can wreak havoc in your golf game. You never know when it is going to strike but, when it does, it’s important to be able to recognise it and fix it. This is a problem that many golfers will face in their life, if you’re going through it now then you’re not alone.
Coming over the top is an error which occurs when you get to the top of the backswing. The next move is supposed to be powered by the lower half of the body and getting it wrong will mess up your swing plane, causing hooks, slices and other common swing issues.
In this article I want to talk you through a personal experience with this issue that nearly had me giving up golf. Then I will help you with how to recognise when you are suffering from this move and what to do about it to get out of it. Let’s go.
Two Years Of Trouble
I used to live on a golf course in Florida, I was living the dream at Reunion Resort playing as much as I wanted. The problem was that because I was deep in a “coming over the top” rut, I didn’t really want to play. From the tee I was hitting wild hooks and savage slices without warning.
It was soul-destroying. Eventually I had someone take a video of me swinging my club and I noticed it, clear as day. I was coming over the top and that was the source of all of my woes.
What Is Coming Over The Top In Golf?
This is a small move at the top of your swing that can derail everything on the downswing. You get to the top, your next move should be led by the lower half of your body which makes the club “drop” into the plane. This takes the club on a nice path into impact and beyond.
When you get this wrong, the club actually comes up and out of the swing plane during the downswing. This creates a swing path that becomes very steep into the ball which can cause hooks and slices. The inconsistency of the flight makes this flaw so difficult to manage.
What Does An Over The Top Swing Look Like?
As I said above, one of the characteristics of the over the top swing is how steep an attack into impact the swing has. You will also see that the hands make the first move at the start of the downswing, this is one of the biggest clues.
Starting the downswing with your hands takes you swing out of sync and can cause you to “throw your hands” at the ball which can make the swing look fast. Keep this in mind because it is one of the feelings you must concentrate on to fix this issue.
How Does It Effect Performance?
When you are coming over the top, you will be delivering the club inconsistently, hence the resulting slices, hooks and everything in between. This will ruin your accuracy as you can miss both left and right without rhyme nor reason.
This is very much related, given the inconsistent striking and shot shape, it becomes very difficult to judge yardages. Delivering a wedge with a hook path, for example, will often result in you hitting shots that are long and left.
Loss Of Confidence
This is the biggest one, certainly from my experience. Given what happens as described above, you can imagine that your mental game takes a bit of a beating during this issue. It is common to lose confidence as you have a lack of control on the ball.
What Causes You To Come Over The Top?
I find that one of the main causes of this is often trying to hit the ball, by this I mean golfers chasing more distance by swinging harder at the ball and losing good sequence.
This causes your hands to get ahead of your body and disconnected from the swing.
You then start to create an “out to in” golf swing creating that steep glancing blow. Another cause can be taking the club away too far outside which can cause you to start your downswing from a bad position and never get the club back on plane.
How Can You Stop Coming Over The Top?
1. Head cover/towel drill
There are a few tricks you can use to get out of this bad habit. One great tool is your golf towel or a head cover which you tuck under your arm (right for righties, left for lefties).
This puts a focus on you keeping your arms in sync with your body and helps you get your swing on plane.
2. Other Drills
There are a number of drills you can do, you should try a few and see which works best for you.
The important thing is to find a drill that you can carry out easily and that you frequently hit normal shots to solidify the drill.
3. Swing Thoughts
The swing thought that you need to have in your head is that your lower body leads the swing and your arms just help deliver the club.
I find that concentrating on turning my hips through the ball as the first move of my downswing helps me get out of this rut.
4. Get A Coach
Having a qualified golf coach have a look at your swing and give you strategies to help you fix your swing.
Our golf swings are unique and having a coach take a look at your swing can get to the route of your particular problem,
5. Slow Things Down Then Build Them Back Up
There is a great drill you can do where you start swinging the club at 50% speed, then up it to 60% and on to 100%.
By slowing down like this, you can reset your swing and get your sequence back in order.
How Do I Stop Coming Over The Top With My Driver?
The tips above are a good place to start, especially number five about slowing things down. We live in a world where distance off the tee and club head speed is everything, well that’s what manufacturers would want you to think. That means we often get too quick with the driver.
One tip is to set up with an extra tee to the right of the ball to act as a visual cue to avoid and so improve your swing path.
How Do I Stop Coming Over The Top With My Irons?
Slowing things down with the irons can be helped by taking an extra club. This will force you to relax a little which should give your lower body time to lead the downswing.
Another way to improve your path into the ball is to use half swings and make a greater emphasis on the lower body. You can then elongate the swing and build-up to a full swing with a better sequence.
Drills to cure coming over the top
Knee-high swings/Pelvic punch drill
This one is difficult at first but it is great for your game. Take the club back to around knee height, the club should be parallel with the ground. From here, try to hit the ball as far as you can. You will need to really fire your hips to get any distance.
Tennis ball toss
This one, from Pete Cowen, helps you get your swing mechanics and sequence working well. Stand in a golf stance with a wall a few feet in front of you. Make a golf swing movement and release the ball at impact. It should come off the wall and be easy for you to catch.
The Impact Bag
Impact bags used to be everywhere on tour but they seem to have fallen out of favour, they shouldn’t have. Get one and fill it with towels.
Swing the club and work to get a really nice solid contact going with the bag at impact, over the top swings will feel weak against the bag.
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Training aids to cure coming over the top
The Impact Bag
I’ve only just mentioned this but it is a huge aid for your golf game.
The beauty of the impact bag is how simple it is to use and how much feedback you get from it.
Working with one of these will help every aspect of your game, have a pro talk you through how to use it properly.
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The best training aids are the simplest and the Swingyde fits that bill. It comes with a DVD to explain it fully, but attach this to your club and swing normally.
If everything is on plane, the Swingyde will sit nicely on your wrist. Quick feedback and simplicity makes this a great aid.
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The Eyeline Speed Trap is the perfect visual aid to help you get your club to impact efficiently.
This training aid can also help you develop control to shape the ball.
This is the most advanced training aid of the three, it is also the best one for sorting out your over the top downswing.
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Should I Get A Lesson To Fix My Over the top swing?
Yes. There may be more to it and a pro can help you get to the route of the problem then help you fix it.
What Is The Correct Swing Plane In Golf?
The textbook plane with a driver is 45-50 degrees. It shouldn’t be too far off the angle of your club at address.
Do Any Pro Golfers Have An Over The Top Swing?
Through the years there have been a few. Names like Craig Stadler, Craig Parry and Bruce Lietzke comes to mind but it is a rare move in elite golf.
Does An Over The Top Swing Cause A Slice Or A Hook?
It can cause both, this is one of the reasons it’s so damaging mentally. The swing path lends itself to a slice but if you deliver a square face you will risk a big hook.
Driving Range Drills For Curing The Over The Top Swing
My favourites are the pelvic punch drill and the slow swing drill, both are described in previous sections and can really help you reset.
How To Fix A Steep Golf Swing
This is often cause by starting your downswing with your hands/arms. Working to develop your lower body sequencing and leading from the ground up will really help to remedy this issue.
How To Get An In To Out Golf Swing
Working with a coach is the way to achieve this fastest.
However, aids like the Speed Trap and the impact bag can help you develop this swing.
Think about the tennis player hitting the forearm shot down the line then try to recreate that feeling in the golf swing.
Do You Pull Down During The Golf Swing?
During the transition phase of the golf swing, your arms and hands should really be passengers.
Your lower body leading the movement will help force your hands down into “the slot” and into the correct plane.
Why Do I Fall Back When I Make A Golf Swing?
This could be caused by your weight being on your heels too much at the start and/or during the swing.
It could also be caused by swinging too hard to maintain good balance.
You rarely see tour golfers losing their balance, you should never swing so hard that you lose yours.
Should I Hit A Draw Or A Fade?
This is very personal, however, the fade is becoming more and more popular with tour golfers.
I prefer a fade as my whole body has to work well to make that shot shape happen.
Your swing will create a natural shape, learn to use it to your advantage.
This is a subject that is close to my heart and if you are going through this then I genuinely feel for you. The most important thing to remember is that it is temporary and, with some determination, you can get out of it. A lesson is definitely something you should think about to help correct it.
Try some of the drills and aids listed in this article, give them a shot and see how they work for you. Spending time on the range and working through this is the best way, the golf course will only make you feel worse so use the winter to work out of this issue and hit 2021 running!