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Over The Top (And Other "Slicey" Things)
By Terry Koehler, The Wedge Guy

Terry Koehler has been in the golf industry for over 30 years and currently spends his days as the President of EIDOLON Golf, a small premium wedge company in Victoria, Texas. He's been blogging for over 3 years and has written hundreds of articles ranging from golf tips to equipment issues. His blog will appear on ClubSG twice per week. You can reach Terry to have your golf questions answered at askme@thewedgeguy.com.

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.

* The Wedge Guy's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.


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 ]
Dave Schell says:
I used a variation on this to reduce eliminate my horrendous slice. I place the ball with the logo on the target line but vertical to it and the number inside of the target line. Standing behind the ball the logo is running up and down on the target line, (also a great help in aiming), and the number is on the left. When swinging my intent is to hit the number which promotes a nice inside to outside club path.
5/1/10
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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