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The truth about coming over the top:

We have all heard the phrase "coming over the top" Most of us struggle to try and correct this, but what is OTT and how do we fix it?

OTT happens when the club comes out and over the original plane of the swing in the downswing. This causes the swing path to come from outside in and generally results in a slice or a ball that curves from left to right (for right handers). So how do you fix it? You have to first find what is causing it before you fix it.

There are a few reasons or "helpers" as I like to call them that help you in coming OTT. For now we are going to focus on the one reason for it and later I will discuss the other issues that help cause OTT.

Essentially, OTT is caused by the right shoulder (right handers) In the backswing, the right shoulder moves up and in, but in the downswing, the average player moves the right shoulder out. This in turn causes the arms/hands/club to move out.

The key is to get the right shoulder to move down from the start, not out. Grab a club and go to the top of your golf swing. From the top position, allow your hips the slide towards the target and let the right shoulder dip back and down. You will see how the arms and club come down with it. Go back to the top and simply let the right shoulder turn out. Notice how the arms and club move out. Where your shoulders go, the club goes. I am not suggesting you slide the hips out and dip the shoulder down in the real golf swing. This is only meant to exaggerate the move so you understand the feeling of it and you can ingrain the proper motion.

The images below were scanned from Golf Digest. The person on the left is your average OTT player. The person on the right is PGA tour pro Stuart Appleby.

They are at the same spot in the downswing, yet the two swings look very diffent. Stuart's right shoulder is much more back than the OTT player. Looking at the face view, I have drawn lines to show you where the spine tilt is. You can see that the OTT golfer has none... The right shoulder doesn't come down, it comes out. Stuart's right shoulder has worked down so he maintains spine tilt. This also creates room for the arms to work from the inside. The right shoulder working down allows the arms and hands to stay complete, as a unit and this means the shaft to arm angle is retained. When you look at the OTT player, you can see that he has have lost a lot of shaft to arm angle.

Now that we know the main reason for coming over the top, we can discuss the "helpers". Generally speaking, there are 3 things that aid you in coming OTT. Some players only have 1, others might have 2.

The first helper is a swing plane that is too flat in the backswing. This is usually caused by a shoulder turn that is too horizontal. As I said, the shoulders rotate up as well as back. In an effort to get more shoulder turn/rotation, many golfers will simply turn the shoulders back. This causes the club to work very much to the inside and from this very flat position, the golfer lifts the arms to a more upright position then rotates the shoulders out. This is a very looping swing.

To fix this problem, one needs to allow the shoulders to rotate more steeply. The shoulders rotate on a plane. This plane is perpendicular or at a 90* angle to the spine. The more you bend over, the steeper your shoulders will rotate, the more upright you are over the ball, the more horizontally the shoulders will rotate. Think of the shoulders and the spine as a " T " The two ends of the T (the shoulders) rotate around the center post (the spine). Also, simply getting the club to work more outside in the backswing can help.

The second helper is also a swing plane issue, but the exact opposite of the first one. Some golfers keep the club out and it stays out. This tends to be a problem with golfers that have flexibility issues. Keeping the hips very stiff doesn't allow the shoulders to rotate in the proper manner. The club starts out and stays out. Allowing the hips to rotate back will do a lot to free up the swing, it will promote a more inside swing path. Also, simply allowing the arms to work more inside in the backswing can help.

The last issue and possibly the biggest is improper shift. This could be shifting to the target side in the backswing, then away from the target in the downswing, or simply staying on the back side in the downswing.

The important issue is to shift to the target side in the downswing. Many great players have stayed more on their target side in the backswing, but they maintained the spine tilt that they created at address and shifted even more to the target side into the downswing. When you shift back to the right side (right handers) in the downswing, this has a tendency to throw the club out. And also, one has a tendency to throw the club themselves or known as a "cast". This results in a great loss of shaft to arm angle (as seen in the photo above)

Spend some time focusing on your balance and your weight transfer. You don't have to make a big shift back in the backswing, but it is important to feel more like you are behind the ball(spine tilt) and in the transition you start to make the shift to the target side, and you continue to shift until you have about 90% of your weight on the lead foot at finish. Many OTT golfers will fall back to the right.

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