The dreaded top … when you have a lot of effort going into your swing but as you look up hoping to see the ball flying high down the fairway, instead you see it dribbling in front of you. The sound of a top is a harsh clunky sound — nothing like the feel of hitting a flush iron shot in the center of the face. Instead, a top comes from the clubhead hitting directly on top of or in the middle on the ball, instead of much lower.
The topped shot is caused by different sources, none of which are fixed by the oft-heard advice of “just keep your head down,” “watch the ball” or “keep your left arm straight.” I’ve seen plenty of blind players hit solid shots without ever topping the ball . Don’t waste your time with bad advice!
Here are the primary causes for topping:
Tight hands and arms slam the breaks on the clubhead. Use medium to light grip pressure and try to maintain consistency throughout the entire swing. Don’t tighten at the most important part — prior to and at impact. On a scale of 1-10, your grip pressure should be a 4.
You are either too steep (swinging to much to the left or out-to-in) or way too shallow (swinging in-to-out or with a path too much to the right). The correct path should be on an arc, slightly in-to-in, not in-to-out or out-to-in.
The drill below addresses both of the issues outlined above, and will have you hitting the ball beautifully in no time!
The Hockey Stick or Split-Grip Drill
- Separate your hands on the club by sliding your bottom hand down to the very bottom of the grip and make a backswing (see photo above).
- To start the downswing, envision what a hockey player would do to skate into the shot, and shift some pressure onto your front foot.
- Next, simply deliver the club back where it started with the grip end coming in towards your body and the club head coming slightly outward to the ball.
- Brush the grass aggressively with the back of the club
- Finish the swing on your front foot, allowing your lead arm to fold so the club comes around you on a correct arc.
- Do this 4-5 times, then slide your hands together in normal grip position and hit a shot.
If you practice keeping the tension light to medium on your hands and arms and learn to swing the club on its natural path from in-to-in, you will hit your irons high and straight!
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