Top of the backswing: Cupped, bowed or flat?
By Dan Carraher (iteachgolf)
Should a golfer have a cupped, bowed, or flat left wrist position at the top of swing? The answer is it doesn't matter.
Now that's not 100 percent true, but I will explain why you shouldn't be paying attention to the left wrist at the top of the swing (for a right handed golfer). If you look at the best players in the world, you will see some large variations in left wrist positions at the top of the swing. This is because they all have different grips. So you ask, "If we aren't supposed to pay attention to the left wrist at the top of the swing, what are we supposed to be working toward?"
When we get into wrist conditions at the top of the swing, we can keep it simple by looking at the right wrist. In order to have a forward leaning shaft at impact and take a divot after the ball the right wrist must be bent backwards. If you want the right wrist bent backwards at impact, common sense would tell you that you want to create this backward bend in the right wrist in the backswing. If your right wrist is not bent at the top of the backswing it will be much harder to create this bend on the downswing, and even harder to do it consistently. Let's look at a couple tour players at the top of the swing at see where they differ and where they are similar.
[Above, from left to right: Nick Faldo (cupped), Tiger Woods (flat) and Dustin Johnson (bowed)]
If we look at these three swings we see players on every end of the spectrum; cupped, flat, and very bowed. While these three players look quite different at the top of the swing in many respects they all have a very similar amount of right wrist bend at the top of the swing. The stronger your left hand is in relation to your right hand the more cupped the left wrist will appear when your right wrist is bent backwards. If your left hand is weaker than your right hand the left wrist will appear bowed when your right wrist is bent at the top of the swing.
For the majority of golfers who struggle to get shaft lean and slice the ball the left hand grip is weaker than the right hand. So when this right wrist bend is created, it makes the left wrist bowed which feels both awkward and wrong. For many golfers, creating this right wrist bend will make the club face feel very closed, almost like it is facing the ground. This is to be expected and is a good thing, because if the clubface is too open on the downswing you will never have forward shaft lean.
The secondary benefit of right wrist bend is it helps shallow out angle of attack and helps shallow out the plane angle making it easier to get path inside out for the average golfer. So in summary, the correct left wrist position at the top of the swing is whichever one that results from having your right wrist bent at the top of the swing. This will vary based on how you grip the club and for many will make the club feel more closed during the backswing.
As a drill I suggest hitting 3/4 punch shots where golfers focus on creating a bent right wrist in the backswing and then thumping the ground after the ball. Hopefully this leads to more solid contact and shorter putts.