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Out of sync

Are you getting 'stuck' on the downswing? Here's how to check

January 25, 2023
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If you watch a lot of golf on TV, you’ve likely heard announcers reference players getting the club “stuck” behind them in the downswing. They might say a player’s club is coming down too far from the inside, causing them to flip their hands through the impact zone to square the face. Tiger Woods notably battled this issue early in his career.

It’s a term often thrown around with junior golfers and high-level players, many of whom rotate their bodies quickly in the downswing and have an in-to-out swing path, both of which can lead to being stuck. Yet, how do you define being stuck, and how do you know if you’re getting the club too far behind you on the downswing?

In a video posted to his YouTube channel, Golf Digest Top 50 Teacher Mike Malaska breaks down the issue with a student. You can check it out below.

What is the "stuck" position?

In the video, Malaska explains that being stuck is the result of the club excessively trailing the rotation of your body in the downswing. “When you feel stuck is when your arms and your body outrun [the club],” he says, demonstrating the feeling with the student, shown below.

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The "stuck" postition in the downswing.

As you can see, the player’s body has out-raced the club, which is trapped, or stuck. From this position, Malaska says, the only way for the club to get back in front of the player’s body is for him to flip his hands through the impact zone, which makes it very difficult to control the angle of the clubface.

The key checkpoint

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The desired position—the club is "in front" of the player.

The key to check if your club is too far behind you in the downswing is to see where the club is when it reaches waist high coming down. “When the club shaft gets parallel to the ground, if it’s in line with your hands, then it’s not behind you,” he says.

Notice how in the image above, the club, hands and left arm all form one straight line. Now compare this to the earlier image, where the club, hands and left arm did not all line up, and the club was stuck. When all three line up, the club is in front of the player, Malaska says, allowing for a more consistent release without having to use excessive forearm rotation to square the clubface.

“You’re not going to be stuck if the club is in front of your hands on the arc that it’s coming into the ball at waist high [in the downswing], he says. “You can come as much as you want from the inside. If the club is not behind your hands, then you’re not stuck.”

Luckily, for those of us golfers trapped inside this winter, the position is easy to check. Find a mirror, stop your swing when the club is parallel to the ground in the downswing and see if the club, hands and left arm are lined up.