Thursday, May 04, 2006

How to stop coming over the top

I've been making a lot of changes lately, aided by a small amount of tuition. The result is that I'm hitting the ball fairly consistently now, but tend to either pull or slice the ball on most shots.

The cause of this is quite clearly that I'm coming over the top, and I'm certain that if I can iron out this error, my shots will become a lot more accurate and my scores will come down.

The trouble is, I'm told this is one of the hardest bad habits to break, so I have my work cut out for me on this one.

So, I've been online looking for tips and advice. Basically, anything I haven't tried before and I found the following:
  1. Laying off at the top of the backswing will promote an 'over the top' downswing.
  2. Think of hitting the inside-back quadrant of the ball rather than the back.
  3. Finish high
  4. The arms should start the downswing, and your back should still be to the target when this happens.
  5. Your right arm should be level with or below the left in the downswing
How these apply to me:
  1. I know that I lay the club off beacuse I did some swing practice with my shadow immediately behind me and could clearly see it.
  2. I've always thought to hit the back of the ball as straight as possible. This is one of those tips which you're not actually supposed to follow to the letter (otherwise you'd end up hitting the ball 45 degrees to the right) but is supposed to fool your body into making a smaller adjustment.
  3. My finish is generally quite low as the club comes across my body early on.
  4. I've always had a problem with this, as my body rotates at the start without my thinking about it.
  5. Having taken some practice swings to test this, I can say that my right arm is definitely higher than the left on the downswing. This is probably related to my tendancy to cast the club at the top.
So, I have a lot to look at, and yesterday I went to the driving range to try these out. Here's how I did:
  1. I found that trying to stop laying the club off caused my right elbow to fly out behind me. I'm sure that I can correct this, but it will take practice to convince my body to do it properly. I can also see this this is one of those thing I'll over-compensate initially, so I'll probably end up having a problem with crossing the line for a while. :)
  2. This is very interesting and I think it works really well. The best thing about it is you don't actually have to do anything: just make sure you're thinking about it.
  3. WHen I actually remembered to do this I hit better shots. The problem is that this comes after everything else so it's easy to forget it.
  4. This one helped me. If I thought of dropping my arms with my back to the target it made me more inclined to start the downswing with my arms. This may be the most important tip I've applied in this session.
  5. I completely and utterly forgot to give this one any time. Probably a good thing since I had a lot of other stuff to think about anyway. It will be interesting to see if I still have this problem given the other adjustments I've made.
The upshot is that while this is all going to take practice to have a sweeping effect on my game, I did notice some very positive things yesterday. More than once with my 7-iron I nearly hit the flag that I was aiming at with a lovely shot that went high and straight.

Probably the best thing was I nearly hit the flag I was aiming at once with the driver too! I've love to be that accurate with the driver all of the time.

I also gave my 8-iron and pitching wedge a go and was encouraged.

The downside was that I couldn't hit my 3-wood for toffee. The other downside was that thinking about all of this stuff made me forget about my more recent change or not overswinging. I consider that to be very important, so I'll have to make sure I keep that in mind.

However, I'm not going to get upset as I know that this is going to take time to practice and fix. Once I do, I should be more accurate, more consistent and finally be able to break 100 every time I play.

Then I can set myself a new target...


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