Nemacolin Blog
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Over The Top!

The oldest, most familiar expression in golf (after keep your head down) is “you came over the top." Let’s explore that prepositional phrase…

To understand what is meant by “over the top;” we need to know about swing plane. Swing plane is a cone shaped area. The perimeters of which are a line which would run through the shaft of the golf club at address and a line that would run from the golf ball through the shoulders of the player. These two lines are the upper and lower boundaries, for lack of a better term, of the golf swing. In other words, if we can stay within that that cone-shaped area, we have the best chance of hitting good golf shots. When our golf club swings under the shaft line (bottom end) we are said to be “under the plane." When we swing over the line running through the shoulders, (top line) we are said to be “over the plane,” or more commonly “over the top. ” (Golf pros love prepositional phrases).

Over the top is categorically the number one flaw in almost every amateur’s golf swing! At least 80% of the people I teach suffer this malady. It never, I repeat never, causes anything good to happen at impact. Typically golf shots are pulled, sliced, shanked and topped from that position at impact. The most one can hope for is a slice that starts well left of the target and curves weakly back in play; a major power outage!

What causes this? Well, like everything else in golf, probably a myriad of things. But here’s one you may not have considered: Golf is one of the few games in which we do not face the target. At address, we are angled 90 degrees away from our target. Think of a basketball player trying to make a basket or a bowler trying to hit pins in that position. Then the instructor has the audacity to tell you to turn your back to the target at the top of your wing. Now you are literally facing 180 degrees from your intended target. Is it any wonder your first move from the top is OUT, not down? And of course, some well intended, but often misinformed, friend says, “Hey you came over the top.”

Correction: Learn to hook the ball for a while. (The reason you come over the top is because you slice) This will begin to create a better habit whereby you swing more from inside the ball-target line and more on plane in the downswing. Try a stronger grip and freer release with the right hand rolling over the left through impact. Shortly after your golf ball starts to curve from right to left, you WILL stop coming "over the top."

I believe you have to SEE this on video to fully comprehend it, especially the extent to which you may be doing it. The real problem is this: This single error, coming over the top, causes the golfer more compensations in the downswing than any other; standing up, opening the face, releasing too early (more about that in another lesson) and losing balance are all a result of coming “over the top.”

It won’t be easy to lose this bad habit, but you can do it with a teacher who understands the problem.

Good Luck!
Dennis Clark
PGA Master Professional
Director of Golf
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort


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