Jack Nicklaus says these are the two most common faults in the downswing

Matthew Wolff is a case study in the enigmatic (and inconclusive) nature of the golf swing. The 2019 3M Open winner returns to TPC Twin Cities this week with an opportunity to repeat as champion despite what is surely golf’s strangest swing.

But while Wolff’s wacky takeaway won’t be drawing any comparisons to Hogan this weekend, his star as one of the game’s best young players has only grown since last year’s 3M Open victory. For swing aficionados, Wolff’s swing serves as a reminder of one of golf instruction’s universal truths: it doesn’t matter how the swing looks, so long as the club reaches the proper location more often than not.

In this week’s Flashback Jack, Nicklaus points out two of the biggest obstacles golfers face in achieving consistency in their downswing.

“Let me show you the two common faults that are made on the downswing,” Nicklaus says. “Not moving to the left side and not releasing from the top of the swing,”

The first issue, Nicklaus says, are golfers who remain too rigid in their downswing, not propelling the clubhead forward toward the target.

“First of all, let’s take the fella who stands up to the ball and doesn’t move to his left side, but releases from the top of the swing,” Nicklaus says. “What happens? It’s what’s called casting.”

“Casting,” as Nicklaus calls it, refers to the swing phenomenon that occurs when golfers release their swing without moving forward, giving off the impression of casting a fishing rod. Golfers who do this usually see issues with both ballstriking and overally swing power.

The other common issue Nicklaus sees is in the downswing? Those who don’t release from the top of the swing, an issue that can be a main culprit behind your dreaded slice.

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“Now let’s take the second fella, and that fella is a fella who does not release the club from the top of the swing and he holds onto it,” Nicklaus says. “What he does, he takes a nice backswing, he holds onto the club which throws him outside, and throws him out over across the ball, resulting in either a slice or a pull hook.”

Instead, Nicklaus says, focus on completing both actions — sliding to the left and releasing the club off the top of your shoulder — while letting the clubhead to the rest of the work for you. The result should be a downswing that puts your club in a consistent impact position, whether you look like Matt Wolff or Rory McIlroy through your swing.

“Now, let’s try to show you what should happen,” he says. “First of all, you want to complete the backswing. Swing the club slightly to the inside, at the top of the swing move to the left side and release the club. I frankly prefer that one.”


James Colgan

Golf.com Editor

James Colgan is an assistant editor at GOLF, contributing stories for the website and magazine. He writes the Hot Mic, GOLF’s weekly media column, and utilizes his broadcast experience across the brand’s social media and video platforms. A 2019 graduate of Syracuse University, James — and evidently, his golf game — is still defrosting from four years in the snow. Prior to joining GOLF, James was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at james.colgan@golf.com.