Over The Top Golf Swing: 8 Easy Ways To Fix It

An over the top golf swing is the most common mistake made by golfers who struggle to break 90 or break 100 during a round of golf.

This faulty downswing can be a difficult swing to overcome. The over the top golf swing creates a “two-way” miss.

The most frequent result of an over the top swing will be a slice to the right, but you can also hit pulls to the left.

How do you determine where you should aim if your ball could go either direction? This is what makes an over the top swing and its “two-way” miss so bad for your scorecard and your golf handicap.

Don’t get frustrated. We have some answers for you. We have developed 8 tips to help you eliminate your over the top golf swing.

Over the top golf swing featured image: A male golfer beginning his downswing.

What Is An Over The Top Golf Swing?

Before we jump into golf tips and swing thoughts, let’s get aligned on the definition of an over the top golf swing.

At its simplest definition, an over the top golf swing is when your club moves too far away from your body at the top of the downswing.

A golf swing is a complex sequence of movements and positions. The “top” of the swing is the moment that your backswing is complete and you are transitioning to your downswing.

This is the moment that an over the top swing happens.

An over the top golf swing occurs during the downswing where, instead of bringing the clubhead back on the correct path, you pull it with your hands to the outside. This causes you to “cut across” rather than making full contact with the ball at impact.

The result of an over the top swing will be a significant slice or a pull.

Several different things can cause you to re-route the club during the transition, but the most common is overuse of your upper body and not engaging your lower body.

It almost looks like you are chopping down on the ball versus making a golf swing.

The silhouette of a male golfer after his swing, clouds litter the sky above him at dawn.

If you fight a large slice on the golf course, you most likely have an over the top golf swing.

While there have been a few exceptions (Craig Stadler, Bruce Lietzke), you will not see this swing when you turn on the PGA tour on TV.

It is very difficult to be a consistent ball striker with an over the top golf swing.

8 Tips To Fix An Over The Top Golf Swing

#1: Take A Video Of Your Golf Swing

We all have smartphones – time to use them on the golf course. There is no better way to check out your golf swing than to get a slow-motion video.

Ask a buddy to film you hitting a 7-iron and a driver. This will help you for two different reasons.

First, you can identify if you have an over the top golf swing. Pay special attention to your transition from backswing to downswing. Do you see your clubhead route to the outside?

Second, you are establishing a baseline. Before you start working on fixing your over the top golf swing you need to understand what it looks like today.

Female golfer at sunset, observing her shot after her swing.

Once you’ve done this, it’s time to work on the below drills and swing tips. Practice them for 30-60 minutes, then take another video of your swing.

Did you improve? Can you tell a difference? Take a new video at the end of every practice session.

Making a golf swing change will take time and repetition. Stay patient. Golf is a marathon, not a sprint.

#2: Put Something Next To The Ball

If you have an over the top golf swing you hitting the ball with an outside to in path. Find a way to make it impossible to make that swing.

Place an object just right of the golf ball, leaving only enough room for your club to hit the ball on a straight path.

We don’t want you to damage your clubs, so make sure the object is soft. An empty water bottle or a headcover will work.

Now hit 20 shots with that object right of your ball. If you use an over the top golf swing you will hit the object. Instant feedback.

A male golfer playing in front of a crowd.

Hit 20 shots without hitting the object and you will start to develop muscle memory of a straight swing path at impact.

Now remove the object and see if your over the top golf swing has gone away. Use this drill every time you practice.

#3: Arms Tight To Your Body – Towel Drill

Your arms getting away from your body (getting disconnected) during your backswing can cause an over the top golf swing.

There are a couple of different ways to attack this problem. You might be able to simply think about keeping your arms tight to your body.

If that works, great! If you are still struggling, try the towel drill.

Place a towel under both arms. You can use a large towel that goes across your chest or two small towels (one under each arm).

Now hit some shots without letting the towel(s) fall during your swing. It will feel strange at first, but you are teaching your arms to stay connected with your upper body.

Hit 10 shots with the towel(s) and then hit 10 shots without it. This is a great drill to do at the start of your practice session.

Male golfer at the top of his swing, looking focused on the ball.

#4: Clear Your Hips

In Happy Gilmore, Chubbs famously told Happy, “It’s all in the hips”. We love this movie and we love this feedback from Chubbs.

An over the top golf swing will occur when your upper body is the driver of your downswing and your lower body isn’t used.

To solve this problem, you need to clear your hips as early as possible. This will fix your swing and give your more power.

Another way to think about it is, to start your downswing with your lower body. Instead of swinging from the top with your hands, get the club moving by clearing your lower body.

A side benefit of this swing thought is that you will create lag in your swing. Lag will give your more distance and better contact with the ball.

#5: Speed At The Bottom, Not The Top

Golfers love to try and hit the ball farther. Unfortunately, trying to swing hard from the top will not produce more distance and can cause an over the top golf swing.

You want your maximum speed at the bottom of your golf swing when you are making impact with the golf ball.

A golfers arm and hand wearing gloves, as he places a ball on the tee.

Here is a quick trick to determine where your speed is located.

Grip a golf alignment stick like a club. Make your normal swing and listen for the “whoosh” sound.

Where do you hear the “whoosh”? Is it behind the golf ball or in front of it? If you hear the sound as you swing behind the ball, then your speed is prior to impact.

Slow down your transition at the top of your swing and practice with the alignment stick until you can hear the noise in front of the golf ball.

This drill can fix your over the top golf swing and give you more power.

#6: Drop The Club From The Top

As we mentioned above, an over the top golf swing can come from the overuse of your arms and upper body during your downswing.

Instead of trying to swing the club from the top, let your lower body and hips do the work. Drop the club into “the slot”.

We don’t want you to let go of the club, but we don’t want your arms to do the heavy lifting. Turn through your legs and hips and let the club follow.

A female golfer smiles at the camera, club swung behind her back.

This will prevent you from getting the club to the outside and will add lag to your swing.

Smooth backswing, set the club during the transition, and drop the club from the top. It might feel weird at first, but you will be amazed by the solid contact.

#7: Return The Club On The Same Path

The over the top golf swing is created when you use force to “re-route” club during your transition to the outside. This causes you to cut across the ball at impact.

This means that the golf club in the downswing is wasting energy going outside and then coming down almost on top of the ball. Instead, it should swing down smoothly on the same inside path it swung up with, directly into solid impact with the ball.

The solution here is to return the club to the ball during your downswing on the same swing path you used during your backswing.

Male golfer practices putting, while a female golfer holds the flag.

Eliminate the “re-route” and you will eliminate the over the top golf swing.

The best way to practice this swing tip is to start with half shots. Slowly increase the length of your swing until you are hitting full shots.

#8: Get Some Professional Help

Golfers have battled for decades with the over the top golf swing. All of the above golf tips and swing thoughts can work, but it’s never a bad idea to get some advice from a professional.

Don’t spend years losing distance and hitting wild slices out of bounds. Don’t get frustrated and stop playing the game.

Find a certified golf instructor in your area and schedule a lesson. Yes, lessons can be expensive, but so are all of those golf balls you keep hitting into the woods . . .

It may only take one 1-hour lesson. You will leave the session with personalized drills and instructions to help you improve.

We understand that you may prefer a DIY (Do It Yourself) approach, but if a professional can give you a shortcut to breaking 90, you might want to take it!

Golf is a great game. Don’t let a swing glitch ruin your time in the fairways.

Female golfer kneeling down looking pensive, hand grasping club which is held to her hin.

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Photo of author
Ray has played golf for over 30 years and competed at the collegiate level. He enjoys growing the game of golf through coaching PGA Jr. and High School golf teams. Ray continues to play in local amateur golf events and currently has a +1 handicap.

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