Connect with us


The Science of Square: Understanding the relationship between the wrist and club face



One of the biggest problems I see in today’s weekend golfer is an out-of-position clubface at the top of the swing. Understanding the articulations of the lead wrist at the address position versus at the top is crucial for you to get the face into a square position. In this article, I want you to truly understand how the grip and the top position work in conjunction with one another.

NOTE: In an upcoming article, we’ll discover why many teachers are now advocating a shut face at the top, and why they focus on getting their more serious golfers into this position. It does have several advantages for the better player, but as usual, it has limitations.

First, in this article, let’s show you the two basic left hand grips you will find in use today.

Strong grip, cupped wrist

The most popular grip today is one where the lead hand is rotated away from the target at address, showing several knuckles, which produces a big cup in the lead wrist at address as shown above. This is termed a stronger grip, and the cup you see in the photos above is referred to as “extension.”

Weaker grip, flatter wrist

The second grip is one where the lead hand is rotated slightly away from the target at address, showing 1-to-1.5 knuckles, which produces only a slight cup in the lead wrist at address as shown above. This is termed a weaker grip.

Now that you understand the two most common grips, you also need to understand how these grips control the face at the top.

Using Hack Motion Wrist Sensor, I am now going to measure how the lead wrist works to the top. Please only focus on the first number on the screen showing extension (cupping) of the lead wrist.

With a left hand grip that is less “cuppy” at address (or “weaker”), you will see that there is little extension if any at address, only 8 degrees. Therefore, if the club is square at address and you keep that same amount of flexion to the top, your clubface will stay in a square condition.

Address (weak grip)

Top of Backswing (weak grip)

So as you can see, if I keep the lead wrist in the same condition that it started at address, then I will have the face in a square condition at the top!

Ok, so what about today’s stronger grip, or players with a more flexed lead wrist?

Address (strong grip)

Here you see the stronger grip position with more knuckles showing in the lead hand producing 40 degrees of extension at address. Will the face be square if we keep that same amount to the top?

Top of Backswing (strong grip)

Of course! As you might have expected, the face above is square at the top, but only because the lead wrist is cupped the exact same amount at address it is at the top.

Therefore, in order to have a clubface that is square at the top, you must keep the lead wrist condition (extension) constant from the address position all the way to the top. If you interchange them, then you will have a clubface that is out of position, and you’ll have a hard time getting the ball to go where you want.

So, there’s my introduction to the wrist-clubface relationship. Look out for my next article where I analyze why bowed wrist players (think Dustin Johnson or Brooks Koepka) are finding success.

Your Reaction?
  • 105
  • LEGIT24
  • WOW8
  • LOL2
  • IDHT2
  • FLOP7
  • OB7
  • SHANK65

Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico ( He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email:



  1. Rusty Trombeauner

    Sep 12, 2018 at 1:27 am

    Tom, i’m Lovin’ this wrist action discussion, good stuff. Seriously, keep it coming. Same to you awesome guys in the comments section, woohoo!

  2. Ray Bennett

    Sep 7, 2018 at 5:02 am

    My understanding of square,open, closed clubface at the top of the backswing is the relationship of the leading edge of the clubface to the lead forearm (ulnar bone) just before transition to the downswing. Closed is still open to the swing plane line just less open than square and open. In the modern tour swing closed is the new square because there is less supination of the target wrist to square the clubface before impact with minimum rotation of the face through impact.

  3. Jeremy

    Sep 5, 2018 at 9:45 pm

    I thought DJ’s wrist position at the top of his backswing should normally result in a draw but he in fact hits a fade. It’s the wrist position at the top of the backswing in relationship to where it is at address that causes the fade (in conjunction with his swing path?)

  4. stevet

    Sep 5, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    Tom has provided us with irrefutable scientific data that explains how the hand position and wrist release functions in the backswing to the top of the swing. Personal opinions are scientifically worthless. Let’s wait for the next article on the downswing.

  5. Linwood

    Sep 4, 2018 at 10:40 pm

    this was confusing. As a really crummy, inexperienced player, it confused me as to how the heck I should position my wrist.

    • Jake

      Sep 5, 2018 at 3:05 am

      Ignore this advice according to the writer the number one player in the world has an out of position wrist.
      Go figure.

    • stevet

      Sep 5, 2018 at 2:49 pm

      A little bit of knowledge is dangerous in the mindlets of incompetent golfers. Tom is sharing knowledge that is significant to other instructors, not crummy golfers like you who are confused continually. Get lessons.

  6. Jake

    Sep 4, 2018 at 2:38 am

    No such thing as an out of position at the top.If you are coming into impact clubface facing target then your position is good.Its advice such as this which keeps golfers on a backfoot and no improvement in their golf.

    • stevet

      Sep 5, 2018 at 2:53 pm

      So what straightens out the clubface to the target at impact? A super game improvement club design… or how you hold and release your wrists?

  7. Brad

    Sep 3, 2018 at 4:05 pm

    Has the Hack Motion Wrist Sensor been useful in your golf lessons for recreational golfers?

    • Tom F. Stickney II

      Sep 3, 2018 at 11:47 pm

      Certainly…the auditory biofeedback is a game changer.

      • stevet

        Sep 4, 2018 at 1:25 am

        Auditory biofeedback must be more effective than verbal instruction. The golfer has something other than their ‘feel’ to confirm their actions.

  8. Shifty

    Sep 2, 2018 at 6:35 am

    If only someone could shed light on this. I’m forever going between strong and weak. Strong ends up in hooks and weak is straight but looses a lot of distance compared.

    • Tom F. Stickney II

      Sep 3, 2018 at 9:09 am

      It’s because of your path being too far left at impact

    • geohogan

      Sep 3, 2018 at 8:02 pm

      What George Knudson said about the lead wrist and the golf swing:

      “I noticed every player who struck the ball well maintained the same firmness in the left wrist at the completion of the swing as was established in the Starting Position. The wrists don’t break down, as Tommy Bolt called flippy-wristed kids stuff.

      “I had no idea that to maintain firm wrists was to properly use my legs. I ignored footwork also because I was stuck on golf’s number one misconception … keep the head still. I later learned that the head has to go where the body carries it. The head has nothing to do with the golf swing, the head has no purpose in the swing”

      • stevet

        Sep 3, 2018 at 10:39 pm

        Hogan had a cupped lead wrist at the top of the swing and used pronation to flatten the wrist into impact.

        • stevet

          Sep 4, 2018 at 1:20 am

          Your head is a counter-balance weight that stabilizes your shoulder rotation velocity vector axis.

        • Ray Bennett

          Sep 7, 2018 at 4:49 am

          Hogan supinated his left forearm early in the downswing and bowed (flexed) his wrist with ulna deviation (thumb down) prior to impact. His left forearm then pronated past impact to the finish.

  9. stevet

    Sep 1, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    If your wrist is cupped at the top it must go flat in final release and impact for full swings. I hope Tom, in his next article, will explain the function of the trail hand in the backswing for flat and cupped lead hand. Thanks.

    • Tom F. Stickney II

      Sep 2, 2018 at 10:45 pm

      Certainly sir. Thx.

      • Brad

        Sep 3, 2018 at 4:02 pm

        Looking forward to your next informative article to tie everything together. You got the back swing, now the down swing through impact. Eager for your next installment.

  10. PG

    Sep 1, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    How are there so many “shank” votes? This is pretty good.

    • TomTaylor

      Sep 3, 2018 at 11:27 pm

      Agreed; definitely good stuff.
      As for your first question; it has to do with gossipy pointless articles written on this site that started popping up about 2 years ago. I won’t name authors but these articles are nothing more than click-bait and have drawn tons of kooks onto what used to be a site for serious golfers.

      • unoho

        Sep 4, 2018 at 1:18 am

        I came to this forum about a year ago and posted valid critical comments about golf club designs. I was hounded off by forum moderator(s) protecting gear heads and their fantasy WITB delusions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Walters: Avoid these 3 big chipping mistakes!



Chipping causes nightmares for so many amateur golfers. This s mainly due to three core mistakes. In this video, I talk about what those mistakes are, and, more importantly, how to avoid them.

Your Reaction?
  • 5
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK1

Continue Reading


The Wedge Guy: The importance of a pre-shot routine



I believe one of the big differences between better recreational golfers and those not so good—and also between the tour professionals and those that can’t quite “get there”—is the consistency of their pre-shot routines. It is really easy to dismiss something that happens before the ball is even struck as irrelevant, but I strongly urge you to reconsider if you think this way.

To have a set routine to follow religiously before every shot gives you the best chance to execute the shot the way you intend. To do otherwise just leaves too much to chance. Indulge me here and I’ll offer you some proof.

It’s been a while back now, but I still remember an interesting account on this subject that used the final round of the 1996 Masters—when Nick Faldo passed a collapsing Norman—as his statistical proof. This particular analyst reviewed the entire telecast of that final round and timed the routine of both players for every shot. What he discovered was that Norman got quicker and less consistent in his pre-shot routine throughout his round, while Faldo maintained his same, methodical approach to every shot, not varying by more than a second or so. I think that is pretty insightful stuff.

A lot of time has passed since then, but all competitive tour professionals pay very close attention to their pre-shot routines these days. I urge you to watch them as they go through the motions before each shot. And notice that most of them “start over” if they get distracted during that process.

While I do not think it is practical for recreational golfers to go into such laborious detail for every shot, let me offer some suggestions as to how a repeatable pre-shot routine should work.

The first thing is to get a good feel for the shot, and by that, I mean a very clear picture in your mind of how it will fly, land and roll; I also think it’s realistic to have a different routine for full shots, chips and pitches and putts. They are all very different challenges, of course, and as you get closer to the hole, your focus needs to be more on the feel of the shot than the mechanics of the swing, in my opinion.

To begin, I think the best starting point is from behind the ball, setting up in your “mind’s eye” the film-clip of the shot you are about to hit. See the flight and path it will take. As you do this, you might waggle the club back and forth to get a feel of the club in your hands and “feel” the swing that will produce that shot path for you. Your exact routine can start when you see that shot clearly, and begin your approach the ball to execute the shot. From that “trigger point”, you should do the exact same things, at the exact same pace, each and every time.

For me (if I’m “on”), I’ll step from that behind-the-shot position, and set the club behind the ball to get my alignment. Then I step into my stance and ball position, not looking at the target, but being precise not to change the alignment of the clubhead–I’m setting my body up to that established reference. Once set, I take a look at the target to ensure that I feel aligned properly, and take my grip on the club. Then I do a mental check of grip pressure, hover the club off the ground a bit to ensure it stays light, and then start my backswing, with my only swing thought being to feel the end of the backswing.

That’s when I’m “on,” of course. But as a recreational player, I know that the vast majority of my worst shots and rounds happen when I depart from that routine.

This is something that you can and should work on at the range. Don’t just practice your swing, but how you approach each shot. Heck, you can even do that at home in your backyard. So, guys and ladies, there’s my $0.02 on the pre-shot routine. What do you have to add?

Your Reaction?
  • 8
  • LEGIT5
  • WOW0
  • LOL1
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading


6 reasons why golfers struggle with back pain: Part 1



This article is co-written with Marnus Marais. Since 2011, Marnus has worked with some of the world’s best players on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, helping them to maintain optimal health and peak physical performance. His current stable of players includes Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, and Louis Oosthuizen, amongst others.

You find more information on Marnus and his work at


Back pain is by far the most common complaint among regular golfers. It is estimated that up to 35 percent of amateur golfers endure lower back injuries. And in our experience working with tour players, the prevalence is even higher in the professional ranks! 

Back pain can affect our ball striking and short game, diminish our enjoyment of the game, or even stop us playing altogether. It can make us feel anxious about playing (and making the pain worse) and just generally disappointed with current performance falling way short of our expectations. 

There is certainly no shortage of information on the topic of back pain, and with myriad back pain products and supplement options available, confusion about the best path to pain-free golf is one of the main reasons we don’t actually do anything effective to alleviate our suffering! 

We aim to present in this article an easy-to-digest explanation of the common causes of back pain, alongside some simple and practical ways to address the underlying issues. 

The recommendations we make in this article are generic in nature but effective in many of the low back pain cases we have worked with. However, pain can be complex and very specific to the individual. You should seek the personalized advice of a medical or exercise professional before undertaking any form of remedial exercise.

Reason 1 – Lack of mobility in 2 key areas

Certain areas in the body need to be more stable, and others need to be more mobile. The lumbar spine falls into the stable category, partly due to its limited capacity for rotation and lateral flexion (side bending). We know the unnatural golf swing movement imparts both rotational and side bending forces on the spine, so it’s an area we need to keep stable and protected. 

In order to avoid excessive low back rotation in life and especially in the golf swing, it’s very important that we try to maximize the range of movement in other areas, most notably the joints above and below the low back, where the majority of rotation in the golf swing should take place:

Area 1 – Hips

We need sufficient range of movement to turn into, and out of, both hips. For example, if we can’t turn and load into our lead hip due to a lack of internal rotation mobility, we tend to compensate with excessive rotation and side-bending in the lower back.

Suggested Exercises – Hip Mobility

Foam roll glutes, you can also use a spiky ball

90 90 hip mobility drills, fantastic for taking the hips through that all important internal rotation range

90 90 Glute Stretch – great for tight glutes / hips

Area 2 – Thoracic Spine (mid to upper back)

Having sufficient rotation in our thoracic spine to both left and the right is extremely important. The thoracic spine has significantly greater rotational capabilities compared to the lumbar spine (low back). If we maximise our mobility here, we can help protect the lower back, along with the cervical spine (neck).

Suggested Exercises – Thoracic Mobility

Foam rolling mid / upper back


Cat / Camel – working the T-Spine through flexion and extension


Reach backs – working that all important T-Spine rotation

Reason 2 – Alignment and Muscle Imbalances

Imagine a car with wheel alignment issues; front wheels facing to the right and back wheels facing to the left. Not only will the tires wear out unevenly and quickly, but other areas of the car will experience more torque, load or strain and would have to work harder. The same thing happens to the lower back when we have body alignment issues above and/or below.

For example, if we have short/tight/overactive hip flexors (muscles at the front of the hips that bend our knee to our chest) on one side of the body; very common amongst golfers with low back pain. This would rotate the pelvis forward on one side, which can create a knock-on effect of imbalance throughout the body.

If the pelvis rotates in one direction, the shoulders naturally have to rotate in the opposite direction in order to maintain balance. Our low back is subsequently caught in the middle, and placed under more load, stress and strain. This imbalance can cause the low back to bend and rotate further, and more unevenly, especially in the already complex rotation and side bending context of the golf swing!

Below is a pelvic alignment technique that can help those with the afore mentioned imbalance

Reason 3 – Posture

Posture can be described as the proper alignment of the spine, with the aim of establishing three natural curves (low back, mid/upper back and neck).


The 3 major spinal curves – 1-Cervical, 2 – Thoracic, 3 – Lumbar

Modern lifestyles and the associated muscle imbalances have pushed and pulled our spines away from those three natural curves, and this had a damaging effect on our spinal health. Our backs are designed to function optimally from the neutral illustrated above, and the further we get away from it, the more stress we put on our protective spinal structures. 

Aside from promotion of pain, poor posture also does terrible things for our golf swings; reducing range of motion in key areas (hips, mid back and shoulders) and creating inefficiencies in our swing action, to give us a double whammy of back pain causes.

Fortunately, re-establishing good posture is really simple and you can combine the information and exercises featured in the videos below with the mobility exercises featured in the Reason 1 section above. The equipment used in the videos is the GravityFit TPro – a favorite of ours for teaching and training posture with both elite and recreational players.


In the next installment of this article, we will cover reasons 4, 5 and 6 why golfers suffer from back pain – 4) Warming Up (or lack thereof!), 5) Core Strength and 6) Swing Faults.


If you would like to see how either Nick or Marnus can help with your golfing back pain, then check out the resources below:

Marnus Marais –

Nick Randall –

Your Reaction?
  • 44
  • LEGIT3
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP1
  • OB1
  • SHANK4

Continue Reading

19th Hole