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Top of the backswing: Cupped, bowed or flat?

Dan Carraher left wrist position

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#1 zakkozuchowski

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 01:04 PM

Posted Image

Top of the backswing: Cupped, bowed or flat?

By Dan Carraher (iteachgolf)

GolfWRX Contributor

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.

Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image
[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.


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#2 MDP1555

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 01:08 PM

Flat, assuming all thing in the swing are on plane

#3 iteachgolf

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 02:46 PM

Did you read the actual article?

#4 J13

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 03:56 PM

Good info Dan I see way too many posts about the left wrist needing to look flat ala tiger otherwise your out of position.  Glad this can help clear things up
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#5 Sean2

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 04:04 PM

Interesting. Thanks for posting this.


#6 mikpga

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 04:10 PM

Well communicated...

#7 MDP1555

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 04:17 PM

View Postiteachgolf, on 31 October 2012 - 02:46 PM, said:

Did you read the actual article?

Yes I did and I understood your intent and message. Well written by the way. While I will not argue that it may be reasonable method for most to generate the lean by doing so. It is not what I want to see. Sorry I don’t agree.

#8 swanry30

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 04:18 PM

would love to hear more from you DC...!

next article pivot?
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#9 MizunoJunky

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 04:26 PM

Great article, I recorded my swing today and noticed the cupped left hand too. I guess I got some work to do!

#10 iteachgolf

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 04:28 PM

View PostMDP1555, on 31 October 2012 - 04:17 PM, said:

View Postiteachgolf, on 31 October 2012 - 02:46 PM, said:

Did you read the actual article?

Yes I did and I understood your intent and message. Well written by the way. While I will not argue that it may be reasonable method for most to generate the lean by doing so. It is not what I want to see. Sorry I donít agree.
Why not? What don't you agree with?

It's all based on the grip. All the left hand positions are geometrically flat, which means same right wrist bend but the left hand will appear differently based on grip. At impact they would match the top position, or be geometrically flat.  So weak left hand would require left hand to be bowed at impact to get right wrist bend.  A strong left hand would have left wrist slightly cupped at impact even though right wrist is bent and shaft is leaning forward. You can agree or not but if you want to see everyone with a flat left wrist every player must have the same grip, or you're going to get very different alignments at impact with vastly different clubfaces.  The only way to have shaft lean is to get right wrist bent, assuming right hand isnt completely under the club. The left wrist will look however it has to look for that to happen. Then that left wrist, regardless of how it looks, will be geometrically flat based on that grip type.


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#11 iteachgolf

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 04:33 PM

View Postswanry30, on 31 October 2012 - 04:18 PM, said:

would love to hear more from you DC...!

next article pivot?
I could do that. Something on how open you are at impact is dependant on the location of the arms and how they work.  I'm open to ideas for future articles

#12 MDP1555

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 04:47 PM

I agree with everything you wrote in the article in particularly the appearance at the top based on type of grip. I was just saying for me since I have a very neutral grip and I promote a very neutral grip I look for a flat or on plane left palm at the top. I do agree with everything you said based on variety of grips. I probably was too short and to curt with my first reply. Or I should have at least said with a neutral grip. We really have no augment here. I enjoyed the article. It was informative and factual. My bad

#13 tembolo1284

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 04:50 PM

So which grip would force you to rotate the most to keep it open?
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#14 iteachgolf

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 04:56 PM

None if right wrist is bent its bent. Most people feel the bowed left wrist is very strange feeling and therefore the most comfortable grip for most to get right wrist bent would be a strong left with neutral right hand. This places right wrist bend and the cocking of the left wrist on the same plane, so bend right wrist cocks the left wrist.  Feels simpler for most people

#15 bmellisen

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 05:00 PM

View Postiteachgolf, on 31 October 2012 - 04:33 PM, said:

View Postswanry30, on 31 October 2012 - 04:18 PM, said:

would love to hear more from you DC...!

next article pivot?
I could do that. Something on how open you are at impact is dependant on the location of the arms and how they work.  I'm open to ideas for future articles

I would be interested in hearing more about this.  Ive been focusing on feeling more open at impact because i have been seeing really good results from it, but dont truly understand the "why" behind it. Just noticed every pro was more open than i was at impact, so thought i would try it and see what happened.

Good article also.


#16 mikpga

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 05:01 PM

Understanding influences...

#17 kekoa

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 05:11 PM

Not to derail, but I'd also like to see a write up on your opinion regarding a flat right foot at impact.  Seems like its debateable.  You, Tiger, Hahn, and several other really good ball strikers hit it with the right foot almost completely on the ground.  Is this a big deal or not?

thanks and great aricle on the wrist angles.

#18 iteachgolf

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 05:23 PM

View Postmikpga, on 31 October 2012 - 05:01 PM, said:

Understanding influences...
?

#19 iteachgolf

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 05:25 PM

View Postkekoa, on 31 October 2012 - 05:11 PM, said:

Not to derail, but I'd also like to see a write up on your opinion regarding a flat right foot at impact.  Seems like its debateable.  You, Tiger, Hahn, and several other really good ball strikers hit it with the right foot almost completely on the ground.  Is this a big deal or not?

thanks and great aricle on the wrist angles.
Ball doesn't know what your feet are doing. But how your legs work will affect the club.  The foot is a result of how the legs work and adds to the structure of the swing, but you can certainly play great golf with right foot coming off the ground early.

#20 mikpga

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 05:25 PM

How we grip the club will influence...

How we swing the club will influence footwork...

That's all...


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#21 iteachgolf

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 05:27 PM

View Postmikpga, on 31 October 2012 - 05:25 PM, said:

How we grip the club will influence...

How we swing the club will influence footwork...

That's all...
Gotcha just wasn't sure. Hope all is well in OH

#22 mikpga

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 05:34 PM

Getting cold!  Too many golfers are taught/commanded what to do, instead of being taught about cause/effect and influences IMO!

I have found from my own experience, that the more the golfer understands the why, the quicker they improve...

#23 jtotto83

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 05:34 PM

Best thread we've had in a long time....

#24 lookma_nobackswing

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 01:52 AM

View Postiteachgolf, on 31 October 2012 - 04:56 PM, said:

None if right wrist is bent its bent. Most people feel the bowed left wrist is very strange feeling and therefore the most comfortable grip for most to get right wrist bent would be a strong left with neutral right hand. This places right wrist bend and the cocking of the left wrist on the same plane, so bend right wrist cocks the left wrist.  Feels simpler for most people

this makes a lot of sense and checks out with my own experiences.

#25 armydiver

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 05:06 AM

Thanks for the write up. I have been checking myself at the top of the swing and was curious why sometimes I had a flat left wrist and why it was sometimes cupped. My left hand grip was always neutral so I thought it was something I was doing in the backswing. Thanks to your article, I now it think it may be related to a subtle weakening of the right hand which would could cause the cupping at the top. I have hit both good and bad shots with the left wrist both flat and cupped, but think I lack consistency because of innattention to the right hand grip.

Quick question, are you just holding onto the grip from the top or do you feel you should release the hands somehow? I feel like I am just holding on, but lately I have been fighting a two-way miss which again, I think was related to the right hand grip. Thoughts?

Edited by armydiver, 01 November 2012 - 05:08 AM.


#26 iteachgolf

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 06:16 AM

Shouldn't have to feel lil you are holding on or consciously releasing.  If  right wrist is bent at top and sequencing is good there will no conscious release or effort to not release. If you have to think about it you're compensating for something else along the way

#27 Jaybirdie

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 08:09 AM

The benefit I am finding from keeping my left wrist flat is controlling my over swinging.  When I bow my left wrist, it lets the club head dip and get too far inside at the top, which is really detrimental to timing. Does that make sense or am I out in left field?

#28 rocker40

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 08:31 AM

View Postiteachgolf, on 31 October 2012 - 04:33 PM, said:

View Postswanry30, on 31 October 2012 - 04:18 PM, said:

would love to hear more from you DC...!

next article pivot?
I could do that. Something on how open you are at impact is dependant on the location of the arms and how they work.  I'm open to ideas for future articles

Where are you posting these articles DC?  Im interested in reading more.

#29 Paulw007

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 09:17 AM

I know for me the "feeling" of keeping my right foot down through impact helps to control my lateral slide.  Great article Dan, keep them coming!

#30 iteachgolf

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 09:21 AM

View Postrocker40, on 01 November 2012 - 08:31 AM, said:

View Postiteachgolf, on 31 October 2012 - 04:33 PM, said:

View Postswanry30, on 31 October 2012 - 04:18 PM, said:

would love to hear more from you DC...!

next article pivot?
I could do that. Something on how open you are at impact is dependant on the location of the arms and how they work.  I'm open to ideas for future articles

Where are you posting these articles DC?  Im interested in reading more.
This is first one. Will right more in future. They'll be posted here


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