Over The Top (And Other “Slicey” Things)
There’s no question that the slice is the #1 shot path affliction that troubles most amateur/recreational golfers. That’s really quite puzzling to me, actually, when the laws of physics are that an object struck with a circular motion will take on the same direction of rotation. So, according to “the law”, a draw or hook should be the “natural” shot path for a ball to take. But it’s not that way in our real world, is it?

The slice must be on people’s minds this week, as I got several questions about it. In the random “picked from the hat” winner, Ray G.’s question was chosen as the focus of today’s post. Ray asked:
“Can you explain "over the top"? I have heard the term described related to a slice but then I also hear it when someone hits a dead pull or pull hook?”
Well, Ray, “over the top” is probably the most common swing path error of recreational golfers. And yes, it can cause either a slice or a pull/hook, depending on the clubface angle at impact. Very simply, it means that you start the downswing more with a “hit” at the ball with your right hand (for RH players), which causes the right arm to separate from the body, the right shoulder to go around more than under and the clubhead to get outside the desired plane of the swing. I’ll come back to this.

Understand that there are only two influences on the path of the ball, as far as the golfer goes – clubhead path and fact angle at impact. If the clubhead path is outside the intended line of flight (from an over the top move), and the face is open, a slice occurs. If the clubface gets square, a pull, and if the face gets closed, a hook. It’s really that simple.

But let’s get back to the idea of the “over the top” move. This relates to my post last week -- “Let The Left Side Lead”. Since most golfers play from their “strong side”, i.e. right handed people play right handed and vice versa, they have a very difficult time keeping their weak side in control. So, your natural and subconscious tendency is to try to manipulate the club back to the ball with your master eye-hand coordination.

But another, and more significant influence on swing path, in my opinion and observation, is that most recreational golfers simply have an incorrect idea of what they are trying to do, and that forces the over the top move. Stay with me here.

You have a small round ball sitting on the ground or on a tee in front of you. You wish to use this golf club, with a small flat hitting surface, to move the ball down an intended straight line. Subconscious logic has it then, that you need to make precise contact on the exact rear of the golf ball, with the face exactly square to this intended line of flight, right? WRONG!!! And you’ve been told a thousand times to “hit down” on the ball. Sheesh, you hardly have a chance.

The only way to do that would be to get the clubhead out onto that desired line of flight and keep it moving down that line, effectively “pushing” the ball – downward -- into its desired path. Unfortunately, that defies the laws of physics as they apply to the golf swing. There are no straight paths in this circular motion. And the circular motion is pure when the club approaches the ball from inside the intended flight path, and then returns to the inside of that target line after impact. The shot is pure if the face gets square to the intended line during those very few inches when the clubhead is on the intended line.

So, there’s the problem – how do you fix it? I have a standing bet that I can cure any slice in five minutes. Here it is. Let’s learn this with the ball on a tee and a driver in your hand – why make it too easy?

Position the ball so that the logo is at the equator and rotated about a quarter inch or so toward you, inside the target line. Now stand back a few inches and think intensely how you would go about making sure the club was traveling parallel to the ground when it strikes that logo precisely. Take a few moments to move the club back and forth only a foot or two, imagining that flat bottom of the arc and that exact point of impact on the ball. Gradually lengthen your back and forth swings, focusing intently on that point on the ball where you want the club to strike it. As you “build-up” these swings to approach full swing length, you should find that your subconscious mind is keeping your right arm closer to your body back and through so that you can keep the clubhead on a path that will strike that logo. And voila, you are no longer making the “over the top” move. Or at least you’ve mitigated it significantly.

There are few “quick fixes” in this game, but this is one of the best I’ve ever found. Any of you who are plagued by the over the top move or a wicked slice, try this and get back to all of us as to how it works out for you.


photo source
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.


[ comments ]
KVSmith59 says:
will have to give this a try next time I start slicing :)
4/20/10
 
Kurt the Knife says:
FIRST!!

Interesting.
Since my ball flight ranges from 20-30 degrees left or right at any time,OK. If it stops raining, I'll make it to the range at lunchtime today.
4/20/10
 
lazorbeam says:
I have been plagued with a slice for years. This is the first advice that make sense. I'll try it out tonight and report back.

First FAIL!
4/20/10
 
Bryan K says:
You know...I'm a bit confused about this entire article. To start with, the terminology "over-the-top", doesn't really accurately describe what's happening when a player slices a shot, and I have no idea why people use the phrase. My golf pro uses phrases like "inside-out" and "outisde-in" to describe the swing plane, and he's constantly emphasizing how important that swing plane is. Club face angle really has nothing to do with it. Yes, a closed club face will result in a line-drive pull and an open club face will result in a pop fly push, but a hook or a slice is determined by the direction that the club face is moving at the moment of impact with the ball. For a righty, if the club face is traveling outside in, it will cause the ball to spin in a clockwise motion, which will result in a slice. If the club face is traveling inside out, it will cause the ball to spin in a counter-clockwise motion, which will result in a hook.
4/20/10
 
Bryan K says:
I think what is really needed is a diagram. I drew one on a piece of scratch paper for a kid out on the course about a week ago to explain to him why he was slicing the ball so bad. I didn't tell him how to fix it because I'm obviously not a pro (I did let him swing my Medicus a few times), but I truly believe that understanding why something is going wrong is the first step to fixing it.
4/20/10
 
Bryan K says:
Also thought I'd mention that my natural swing tendency is a hook, but I've been working on intentionally putting draw and fade on my hybrids by simply altering my swing plane over the past week or so with a great amount of success.
4/20/10
 
greendevil says:
Thanks for the advice Terry; I can't wait to try it out. I've done about everything in my power to stop slicing (except a pro lesson), but have had no luck getting rid of it. Matter of fact, the more I tinker with my swing to remove the slice, the slice gets worse.

In addition to this post, I read your post last week regarding letting the left side lead and am now confident that I will be able to cure my slice. I hope I will have good news to post once I try these ideas.
4/20/10
 
Kurt the Knife says:
EIGHT!!

WIN!!

smith beat me by 1 minute while i was typing
4/20/10
 
Bryan K says:
I just made a fancy diagram of what happens when a ball is sliced, but I'm having trouble uploading it to the site. I also don't dare access a picture sharing site, so I'll see what I can do when I get home tonight.
4/20/10
 
sepfeiff says:
Had me until "I can cure any slice in five minutes" over the internet. oobers: go get a lesson from a PGA instructor in person to fix your swing.
4/20/10
 
sepfeiff says:
May happens to be free lesson month....

www.playgolfamerica.com/index.cfm?action=flm
4/20/10
 
Banker85 says:
good article. Most of us dont understand why the ball is doing what it is doing 99% of the time. So any explanation is welcomed. I like to think logically about how the path of th club creates the ball path sounds like common sense but putting it together is not that easy. I try to to keep my right elbow like it is attached to my rib cage to prevent the slice.
4/20/10
 
raygrinberg says:
Terry, Thanks for answering my question. I'm looking forward to trying out your fix next time at the range.
4/21/10
 
raygrinberg says:
Did I really win a wedge?
4/21/10
 
Bryan K says:
lol....congrats, Ray.
4/21/10
 
Jattruia says:
FYI...anyone out there interested in an Eidelon Wedge, MYGOLFSPY has a write up on the wedges including a deal to get them for less than a $100. I know a lot of you read Terry's articles but the $130 tag is a bit steep.

Just a heads up, enjoy.
4/21/10
 
coojofresh says:
mostly only with my driver, so this should be great to try.
4/21/10
 
dave0498 says:
I'd like to try this but I can't quite figure out from your description where the logo should be.
4/21/10
 
aaronm04 says:
Taken several lessons and one drill stands out that I've tried that works similar to what Terry is advocating. Take one of your club head covers (a hybrid or wood since they are smaller than the driver) and tuck it between your right arm and your right side. About the level of your ribs and the middle of your upper arm. Now swing without dropping the headcover. IIRC, you can only do about a 3/4 swing, but it helps keep your right arm from drifting too far away from your body.
4/21/10
 
jeremyheslop says:
bjohn13, I think there is more to the clubface angle than you think. Check out this great article:

thesandtrap.com/playing_tips/ball_flight_laws

Good advice Terry. I need to keep my right arm in on the driver for sure. Will have to try it out today.
4/21/10
 
BlameMe says:
Very interesting stuff, found this too - www.playbettergolfblog.com/2009/11/understanding
4/21/10
 
Bryan K says:
@jeremyheslop: I would reread that article you linked again carefully. It seems to reinforce what I said. If 85% of a ball's curvature is determined by swing plane, that pretty much makes the club-face angle irrelevant in trying to fix a hook/slice.

It's really pretty simple stuff, believe it or not. I think that throwing any iformation at all about club face angle into any instruction designed to try to fix a hook or a slice only adds confusion. Hooks and slices are all about swing plane. It's that simple.
4/22/10
 
Bryan K says:
A very important thing to point out here: swing plane is defined in relation to the angle of the club face when the club face strikes the ball. That's very important. I'll give an example.
4/22/10
 
Bryan K says:
If you have what appears to be a closed club face, but you are swinging in what appears to be an outside-in swing plane, you are probably going to be hitting the ball very solidly. The result will be a straight pull. Note that the ball will go straight at the target that the club face was lined up to hit. This means that the swing plane was alligned for the angle at which the club face was sitting. However, since the club face was closed, the shot will be pulled.

However, if we have the same closed clubface to go along with what is commonly known as the "ideal swing place", then the actual swing plane would be defined based on what angle the club face is sitting at when it makes contact with the ball. This would be an inside-out actual swing plane. The result will be a ball that starts off as a pull because that is the directly that the club face is facing, and then it will hook because of the inside-out swing plane.
4/22/10
 
rxman says:
I believe strongly that slicing is very much a antisocial activity. Here's why: I try to golf with friends as much as possible, so we can keep an eye on each other's ball flight. A few years ago, a friend pulled his neck watching a ball of mine that sliced as sharply as you could hit it. It moved so fast to the right off the tee, that he jerked his neck. He held and nursed the left side of his neck in the cart, and tried to play on, but at the next hole we had to stop play entirely and retire to the clubhouse. He went to the doctor and was placed on muscle relaxants for a few days until it cleared. So, some of my friends do not play with me as much any more. ... They joke with me, and tell me I am too much of a pain in the neck. I am sure that the Surgeon General will have a warning on golf clubs soon. " WARNING: Misuse of club through adverse swing plane or negligent club face alignment may cause injury to you or friends. Be wary of second-hand slice injuries. Use with caution!"
4/22/10
 
Kurt the Knife says:
@ banker
"I try to to keep my right elbow like it is attached to my rib cage to prevent the slice."
I tried that today with the logo-displacement-strike-here method and it was near miraculous the improvement.
Of course, I started doing something else wrong about 10 minutes later but about half a bucket was straight.
cool
4/22/10
 
ipv6freely says:
This video demonstrates what "over the top" means pretty clearly: video.about.com/golf/How-to-Correct-a-Slice.htm
4/22/10
 
Bryan K says:
I know I've kind of been on a soap box in this discussion thread, but there is a pretty good reason for it. I've spent a lot of time and money over the last year or so trying to fix a nasty hook. Between lessons, videos, and articles, nothing seemed to help. They all cluttered my head with a bunch of exterraneous and irrelevant stuff, and the thing that bothers me the most is that I figured out how to fix it on my own using a swing plane trainer and a little bit of physics.
4/22/10
 
Trevor Spring says:
Terry ever heard of a "light" club with a 3/4 swing

look up don trahan he will explain all this

Trust me
4/23/10
 
mschad says:
@The Mustache Ride: Thanks for the heads up. I ordered their 52 and 56 to go with their 60 I already have. With that discount saved over $70!! These are great wedges in my opinion.
4/23/10
 
c5agalb says:
I swear I slice because my hands outrace my clubface going through the ball or it could be because my wrists are cocked at the top of swing and stay cocked through the entire down swing. Either way its a ball lost.
4/24/10
 
Dewdman42 says:
The angle that the clubface hits the ball is the initial direction the ball will fly, regardless of the swing path.

If the swingpath is different then the angle the club is facing, then there will be some side spin, depending on which direction its off.

Therefore, to hit a draw, you want to end up smacking the ball with the face slightly open to the target and an inside-out swingpath, more than the angle of the face. That will result in the ball starting out to the right and drawing back.

If you end up with anything other than a nice little draw, then to fix it, determine which direction you want the ball to start out and plan to have the face of the club pointing in that direction at impact, and then to work on a swing that is a little more inside then the direction the face is pointing at impact. If you remember that, you can sit back and figure out what you're doing wrong with all the possible shots(push, pull, straight-slice, straight-draw, pull-slice, pull-hook, push-slice, push-draw)
5/23/10
 
Dewdman42 says:
my pro tells me the best way to get inside-out swing is to work on initiating the downswing from the hips instead of the arms. If you start with your arms you are almost garanteed to swing outside-in, or over the top as they say.
5/23/10
 
Dewdman42 says:
This article explains ball flight variations quite well for those confused without diagrams: thesandtrap.com/playing_tips/ball_flight_laws
5/23/10
 
[ post comment ]
Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

Click here to learn more about Terry.
Click here to for Terry's blogroll.
 
    Golf Talk
Most Popular:

Subscribe