A timeless tip to help you shallow the club, courtesy of Payne Stewart

payne stewart swings

In today's edition of Play Smart, we're digging into the archives for a tip from Payne Stewart on how to shallow the club.

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Welcome to Play Smart, a regular GOLF.com game-improvement column that will help you play smarter, better golf.

Today we celebrate the late Payne Stewart’s birthday. The three-time major winner would have been 66 this year, in all likelihood on the tail end of a successful Champions Tour run. Instead, we’re left to celebrate Stewart’s life on Jan. 30 without one of golf’s most colorful characters. A tragic plane crash took Stewart’s life just over 23 years ago, and it left the golf world devoid of one of golf’s biggest personalities, kindest souls and best shot makers.

In remembrance of Stewart, today’s edition of Play Smart is taking a dive into the archives for a timeless tip from the man himself.

A healthy majority of recreational golfers have the same swing flaw — coming over the top. The cause can vary from golfer to golfer, but the result is all the same. It’s an easy move to fall into, and one that robs you of consistency and power.

Luckily, Stewart had a simple fix for the issue. As you can see in the video above, Stewart would use a spare shaft to create a barrier for that over-the-top move (although you can use an alignment stick as well).

“The idea behind this — the concept is I want to feel the club coming from the inside,” he says. “So when I put the ball underneath the shaft, if I get over the top of it, I’m going to hit the shaft.”

This drill is one you’ve likely seen instructors use before to aid an over-the-top move, and with Stewart using it all the way back in the 90s, you can see it has some longevity. With the spare shaft over the top of the swing plane, you have to shallow the shaft and work the clubhead from inside to out in order to avoid hitting the barrier.

“That’s what a majority of amateurs do,” Stewart says. “They come [over the top] … Luckily we get shafts for free out here.”

Even if you don’t have the luxury of free shafts, this is a great drill to teach you not to come over the top. All you need is an alignment stick in the ground and you will be well on your way to a swing that’s much more on plane.


Zephyr Melton

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at zephyr_melton@golf.com.