Are you tired of “coming over the top” with your swing? Do you even know what that means? More importantly, how do you stop it? “Coming over the top” is golfing lingo you probably hear around the clubhouse of the pro shop, and it relates to your swing.
If you’re out on the course and another player tells you that you’re coming over the top, they’re saying that was an ugly shot. You most likely sliced or shanked it into the rough.
The thing is that most golfers aren’t even aware they’re making this mistake, and some players can go on for years before they finally realize that they’re doing wrong with their swing.
Fix the problem of going over the top, and you’ll find your score improves overnight. You’ll get better accuracy in your swing off the tee and on the fairway, and you’ll find it easier to get out of sand traps.
This guide gives you everything you need to know about going over the top and how to fix your swing.
What Does Coming Over the Top Mean?
Essentially, it describes a movement where the golf club travels too far away from the centerline at the peak of your downswing.
- When you draw the club to the peak of your backswing, its motion needs to drop and stay as close to the inside of your body.
- This posture allows you to contact the ball with your weight positioned as close to the centerline as possible during your swing. The result is a straight, clean shot that won’t slice or shank to the side. New golfers “come over the top” because they don’t allow their arms, hands, and club to travel close to the body as they complete their swing.
- It’s not a natural movement. Most newcomers to the sport try to force the arc of their swing through the contact point with the ball. These swing mechanics result in their arm posture moving away from the center line. As a result, they produce the action of “coming over the top.”
- When the arms are extended away from the body during the swing, the golfer is more likely to make off-center contact. This action results in shanks and slices. It’s virtually impossible to correct this error in mid-swing, and most golfers aren’t even aware that it’s a problem with their swing.
- Instead, newbies will either end up with a fellow player or a golf pro at the course identifying the problem. Once you understand you’re making a mistake, you can make the adjustments you need to correct your swing.
- For some players, changing their body mechanics during the swing is challenging, and for others, it’s easy. The longer you spend using the incorrect technique, the harder it is to correct. Our muscles have a “memory.” The body engrains these memories into our biomechanics.
So, it might take you a few days to eliminate the issue with your swing, or it could take months. It’s different for everyone. If you notice you’re slicing or shanking the ball often, ask a pro to assess your swing.
Sure, it might cost you a few bucks, but they’ll put you on the right track, and you’ll notice an immediate improvement in your game that’s simply priceless.
What Happens to the Ball Mechanics When I Come Over the Top?
When you come over the top with your swing, you’re going to fail to make contact with the ball in the sweet spot of the clubhead. Instead, you’re going to contact one side of the club, usually the inside.
As a result, your shot places topspin on the ball, resulting in a huge slice off to the side. It could also result in you hooking or “pulling” the ball. It depends on the swing dynamics, and that’s different for every player.
When you come over the top with your swing, it also results in a lack of distance.
So, you might find that your accuracy isn’t that bad, but the distance isn’t what you expect from your shots. It’s more common for players to make contact with the toe of the club, in this case.
Another telltale sign of coming over the top is that you’re cutting divots out of the tee or green before contacting the ball. This action results in a “chunked” shot. The ball doesn’t get any height or distance, petering out onto the fairway, much to your disappointment.
What are the Most Common Mistakes Resulting in Coming Over the Top?
So, what are the common errors causing new players to come over the top with their swing? It might surprise you that it results from two common mistakes that are easy to fix.
Tensing Up During the Swing
The first issue causing players to come over the top[ is tensing up during their swing. Your swing needs to be a natural, clean movement. Many new players find they are trying too hard to generate club speed to launch the ball as far as possible.
However, this approach to your swing is a mistake. When you’re trying too hard to control the swing, you’re placing too much pressure on your posture, resulting in coming over the top. When you tense your muscles in your arms and back during the swing, your arms push away from your body.
Instead of forcing the shot, it’s a better idea to find a rhythm in your swing that feels natural, without the need to force the movement
Trying to Hit Down on the Ball
The second-most-common error new golfers make that results in coming over the top is hitting down on the ball. While most newbies need to learn to hit down on the ball, most do it too much.
You need to hit down on the ball to get more lift and distance out of your shot, especially your drives. However, when you hit down too much, you’re going to come over the top with your swing.
Instead of focusing on coming down on the ball, newbies should focus on keeping their arms as close to their sides as possible during the swing.
Obviously, the same rule applies, and forcing the posture is also the incorrect strategy. If you identify either of these issues in your swing, it’s time to practice them out of your golfing habits.
Hire a golf pro, and they’ll help you correct your swing, preventing you from coming over the top with your shots.
How Do You Stop Coming Over the Top with Your Swing?
Sure, you could probably work these posture and form issues out of your swing without anyone’s help. All you need is a video camera or a GoPro, and you can record your swing, nothing where you go wrong.
However, doing your troubleshooting yourself is a bit haphazard. It’s a better strategy to hire a golf pro and get a few lessons.
Sure, no one wants to bruise their ego by hiring the services of a pro. After all, we all walk onto the green like we’re Tiger Woods, right? The reality is that a pro can help you identify problems in your game and give you the strategy you need to fix those issues.
Hiring a pro reduces your learning curve, helping you get your perfect swing way faster than assessing your form yourself. They might charge a bit, but it’s worth paying the money to fast-track and progress your technique.
When you hire a pro, they focus on the following three issues likely causing you to come over the top.
Let Your Club Do the Work
First, let the club do the work. Speak to any pro, and they’ll tell you that the club is merely an extension of your arm.
If you want the best shot, you need to stop forcing it and let the club do the work for you. It’s common for most newbies to think they need to generate explosive power through their swing to get the best possible distance from their shots.
However, this strategy is a mistake. Sure, you need a fast and powerful swing, but it’s the club that translates the energy through the club head and into contact with the ball. When you’re taking your swing, don’t focus on generating power. Instead, focus on keeping your swing as close to the centerline as possible.
When you focus on taking a smooth, clean swing, you remove the tension in your shoulders and arms. As a result, the club takes a natural path down the centerline, eliminating the issue of coming over the top.
Clear Your Hips
The hips play a huge role in your swing. The hips bring your core muscles into the shot, helping you stabilize your swing throughout the downswing and backswing in the movement. So, remember to get your hips out of the way.
Many new golfers make the mistake of transferring their weight too far back in the swing. This movement of the weight over the heels pulls you off-center, resulting in your swing never clearing the hips.
When your hips move forward or backward during your swing, the hands don’t have the clearance to come up from the inside.
Change your hip posture, and you’ll notice an immediate improvement in your swing. Make sure you keep the hips straight and light and don’t force the movement through the backswing, let the club guide your hip rotation.
Focus on the Back of the Elbow
The easiest way to improve and prevent coming over the top is to change what you’re doing with your elbows during the swing.
Focus on your rear elbow in the swing movement and keep it as close to your side as possible throughout the exercise.
This simple change usually produces the biggest results with golfers that are always coming over the top. Practice each of these principles using the following three drills.
Try These Drills to Stop You Coming Over the Top
Drilling the right form and posture of your swing is the only way to improve. As mentioned, your muscle memory gets encoded in your swing.
The only way you can break these bad habits is by drilling new ones. Use these three drills to get your swing back on track and prevent coming over the top.
Impact tape allows you to understand where you’re making contact between the ball and the clubface. Impact tape is available from most pro shops and from hardware stores.
Place the tape over your driver and long irons and head to the range to take a few shots. The impact tape will show you where the ball is contacting the clubhead, and you can use this feedback to examine where you’re going wrong with your swing.
The Hip Bump
Place an alignment stick on the ground, standing vertically. When addressing the ball, place the outside of the front foot against the base of the stick.
Focus on “bumping” your hip into the alignment stick during your downswing. Ensure that you position the alignment stick low enough to allow you to swing without making contact with your arms. However, the stick should be high enough to allow you to “bump” against it during your swing.
Glove Under the Arm
The glove under the arm drill is the best option for helping you resolve your issue of coming over the top.
Take a lanyard with a clip on the end of the loop and place it around your neck. Clip an old glove to the clip and position it under your armpit of the rear arm and start taking shots.
If the glove drops out of your armpit when you’re taking the shot, you’re coming over the top. Positioning the glove under your arm and keeping it there during the swing helps you keep your arm to the inside when making the shot, preventing you from coming over the top.
Keep practicing, and you’ll eventually train your muscle memory to the right form.