My tips for beating the over-the-top downswing and putting more pop in your tee shots
You're Too Far Inside
When I talk about the inside path, I'm talking about the downswing. You might think if you swing the club to the inside going back (above right), you'll be in position to swing down that way. But getting too far inside too soon encourages you to re-route the club to the outside -- known as coming over the top -- the very thing you're trying to avoid.Solution: check the shoulders and wrists. It's the job of your shoulders to move the club around your body. Simultaneously, it's the job of your wrists to move the club vertically. This combination move creates the perfect backswing. Make sure you're hinging your wrists up (above left), not just turning your shoulders, which pulls the club inside.
You're so intent on keeping your head still that your right hip slides away from the target, instead of turning behind you. This is a reverse-pivot, and it sets up a steep downswing that makes it almost impossible to swing down from the inside.Solution: don't bump the chair. Put a chair next to your right hip at address, leaving an inch or two of space. When you take the club back, your goal is to avoid bumping into the chair. You can brush the chair, but when you do, turn your hips, don't let them slide (above right). This turn puts your body in a powerful position for the downswing.
You're Not Turning Enough
There are two likely reasons you don't turn your body enough on the backswing : (1) You're uncomfortable moving the top of your spine behind the ball, because you think you'll mis-hit the shot; (2) you're not flexible enough. But if you want to swing from inside the target line and generate more power, you should focus on making a turn at least 90 degrees behind the ball.Solution: match the shafts. Lay a club on the ground, inside your right foot and perpendicular to your target line. Take another club and hold it across your chest, parallel to the ground (A). Your goal is to turn your upper body so the shaft you're holding is parallel to the one on the ground (B). When you hit shots, remember this feeling of being fully turned into your right side.
You're Not Creating Space
Your position at the top can set up a weak downswing. As you swing to the top, maintain space between your right hand and right ear, or you won't have enough room to swing down from the inside. This will also correctly move the top of your spine away from the ball.Solution: reach for it. Hold an iron with your right hand only, and swing to the top (A). Look to ensure that you have good width between your hand and your head (B). If you do, grip the club with your other hand (C). This is a good top-of-swing position.
You're Hanging Back
If your shots end up right of the target, your intuition tells you to swing more to the left. The most common way to do that is to hang back on your right foot and scoop the clubhead at the ball with your hands. But guess what? You just made your weak slice worse. To swing down from the inside, which will help straighten your slice, you have to shift your weight forward.Solution: separate from the shaft. Stick a shaft or similar object in the ground, and address a ball so the shaft is touching your right side (make sure the shaft doesn't obstruct your swing). Practice making down-swings where your lower body separates from the shaft (above, bottom). Feel your weight moving fully to your left foot while your torso rotates toward the target. You'll create room for your arms to swing, instead of scooping (top).
In an attempt to lift the ball in the air, you unhinge your wrists prematurely as you swing down (inset). It's known as "casting," like a person slinging a fishing line, and this unhinging of the wrists promotes an over-the-top swing and weak, scoopy impact.Solution: hold it back. Take the club back with both hands, and then hook the shaft with your right index finger. As you swing down, keep the hinge in your left wrist by resisting the swing with your right index finger (above). When it's time to hit shots, remember this feeling of resistance in the transition.
You're Not Trapping It
You know that great sound you hear when a tour pro hits an iron? If you're swinging over the top, your impact is more like a swipe. That's because you're not rotating your forearms toward the target, a key to creating speed and hitting the ball crisply. With your out-to-in path, your best chance of decent contact is cupping your wrists (above left), but that's a weak hit.Solution: keep the palm down. As you hit shots, hold your right palm facing down through impact (above right). To do this without swinging the club straight into the ground, you have to rotate your body forward. It will feel as if you're trapping the ball against the turf and closing the clubface. That's powerful contact.
You're Not Releasing Properly
Many of you are so afraid of hitting it right that you swing way to the left. You're trying to steer the ball, instead of swinging through it. This creates a handcuffed release, which seriously limits power.Solution: don't hit the bag. Set your golf bag a few feet in front of you so you can still reach it with the clubhead. Make slow swings where you rotate your body and forearms through the shot, missing the bag (above right). If you try to swing to the left through the impact area, you'll hit the bag (above left).