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A golf story: Over the top
By Jim Schwartz
Years ago, I had so much trouble with coming over the top that I seriously thought there was something about my physiology that made it next to impossible to do otherwise.
I’m not always so deluded, but this time, I was. So I went to my then coach/golf psychologist, Sid (not his real name). Sid believed that golf was a road to growth and self-awareness. He embraced his students and their foibles. I told him that I wasn’t so sure I could get around it without some gimmick, like a severely closed stance at address.
The look on his face suggested that he wasn’t impressed by my claim, though he did tell me a family member played that way for years to deal with the same issue.
I’m left handed. Coming over the top, I had been either pulling it right or starting it right and watching it slice to the left. Not only that, but I could see the clubhead cross my intended swing path on an outside in line. It was frustrating.
“You don’t have to come over the top. You can change that right now.”
Sid pointed out onto the range well to the left of where we were standing.
“Hit one out there. Don’t worry about anything else, like exactly where the ball goes or what you think is the right way to swing a golf club. That’s not what we’re concerned with right now.”
I agreed to give it a try.
“Pretend there’s a ball on the mat and address it like your target is down the middle, but swing like you want it to start left and stay left. Way left.”
He pointed to that spot off to the left again.
I swung. It was easy enough. And it was inside out, not over the top.
“Try it again.”
I did, a few times.
Sid threw a ball down onto the mat.
“This time, hit a ball.”
I started it left and it stayed left. Way left. Then I did it again. And again. And again. It was effortless.
“Looks like you can swing without coming over the top,” Sid said, without much surprise in his voice.
Happily, I agreed.
“Now try hitting one way right.”
I did that a bunch of times, too. That meant coming over the top more. I did have a choice in the matter, as it turned out.
“See, you can hit it left or right at will,” Sid informed me as if he knew I could all along, even if I didn’t know it. “We think we know what a golf swing is supposed to be, but a lot of times, what we think we’re supposed to do and what we’re actually doing aren’t the same. If we trust our innate abilities to do things, we can often do them.”
Sid pretty much taught everything like that.
Sometimes, when I’ve been with a friend who struggles with coming over the top and says so, I’ll mention this. But people don’t tend to want to let go of their swing and have some fun with it, even on the range, even if the results it produces are driving them crazy.
Sid had one more thing in mind. “Now, hit one straight.”
That wasn’t quite as easy.
But in all the years since, I’ve never had trouble coming over the top again.