Faults and Fixes: Getting Too Steep
The idea of correcting your golf swing is one that all of us entertain, and we probably all should work to fix our swing at one time or another… at least those of us who want to play better. So golfers go in search of faults and fixes every chance they get. If a golf website, video or magazine offers a quick tip that might help, it makes too much sense to try it.
But there has always been something missing from this school of golf. In my many years of teaching, I have found that a singular swing correction almost never works. The reason is simple; when you get the golf club or your body out of position in your swing, you will inevitably attempt to correct that move to get the club face back to the ball.
Here’s an example. Golfers who get the club too “steep,” either during the backswing and especially during the downswing, are almost always “shallow” at impact. The reason is simple; NOBODY wants to hit the ground the behind the golf ball, so golfers make every compensation possible to avoid it (they stand up, they back up, they chicken wing, they raise the handle, etc.). So the result is a swing that is too steep, but an attack angle that is too shallow.
“I have found that a singular swing correction almost never works.”
What I’d like to offer to GolfWRX Readers is a series of articles that deals with two-part adjustments called “Faults and Fixes.” Each article will offer a correction of the initial problem, and just as importantly a correction to the reaction to that fault.
I will also discuss the order in which faults may be fixed. Make no bones about it; this is a series for serious golfers who wants to take their game to the next level. Let’s get started.
Fault: Too Steep
Most amateurs get the golf club too steep, particularly in the transition. If the butt end of the club is not pointed at the golf ball or the line of flight, it can be too vertical.
This incline can cause fat shots, toe hits, weak slices and occasionally toe hooks. The cause can be one of several things: a cupped lead wrist, crossing the line at the top, coming over the top, trying to “lag” the club down (instead of moving it down the plane) or a “flying” rear elbow.
This steepness in the swing is common and very correctable. But here’s the catch; does the steepness of the golf club need to be corrected, or does a golfer’s REACTION to the steepness have be fixed? And how do you know? How can you be sure if it’s the position of the club causing poor impact, or if it’s a reaction to the poor position? The only way to be certain is to know the answer to this question, “What’s happening at impact?
Too steep, by definition, should cause deep divots, slices and toe hits… but you may be very shallow with tops, hooks or even shanks. In the later case, you can be sure that the reaction to the golf club is your issue.
In the video at the top of the article, you saw a golfer who hits “thin hooks.” But if you only watched the video of his swing you would think he’s hitting fat slices. You see him raising the handle and flipping the hands through impact in the video. If he was actually sticking the golf club in the ground behind the golf ball and slicing, we would FIRST have to put his club in a better position. But remember if we do and he has the old reaction, he may actually miss the golf ball altogether! Tricky business, because the last thing a teacher wants to do is have the first few shots be worse.
What I usually do, and what I’m suggesting you do, is correct impact. In working with this golfer, I helped him learn to release the club and hit down through the golf ball. In other words, I made the club act as it should from where it was. I took away his reactions to the steep position instead of correcting the club first. Why? Because he’s shallow more than anything and hits hooks, even from that open club face position and steep shaft.
Let impact be your guide, NOT the positions the video suggests could be a potential problem. If and when you start actually getting steep, THEN try correcting the golf club.
Here’s a few tips for the golfers out there who are struggling with an impact position that is too shallow:
- Hitting balls from downhill lie.
- Turning through the ball at impact and getting more onto lead foot.
- Releasing the club down (not dragging the handle).
- Lowering the handle into impact.
With these corrections a golf swing will become steep, and then we can lay the shaft down a little.
Leave a Reply
Clement: “Infallible” release drill to add 30 yards to your drives
Yes, you heard it here: INFALLIBLE! This drill will end all drills as “the” go to drill when your golf swing is hangin’ on or being too forceful! None of my students in the last month either online or in person, French or English, male or female, have messed this up. Pure Wisdom! And we share it with you here.
Kelley: How a change in awareness can influence your body turn
A simple change of awareness can help you understand how the body can naturally turn in the swing. An important concept to understand: the direction the body moves is the engine to the swing. Research also shows the direction the body turns can be just as important as the amount of turn.
Golf is hard because the ball is on the ground, yet we are trying to hit it forward towards a target. With our head looking down at the ball, it’s easy to place our attention (what we are mindful of) on the ground, losing awareness to where we are going. This can make the body move in all sorts of directions, making hitting the ball towards a target difficult.
But imagine if we looked out over our lead shoulder with our attention to the target and made a backswing. Being mindful of the body, the body would naturally turn in a direction and amount that would be geared to move towards the target in the swing. (Imagine the position of your body and arm when throwing a ball). After proper set-up angles, this will give the look of coiling around the original spine angle established at Address.
With this simple awareness change, common unwanted tendencies naturally self-organize out of the backswing. Tendencies like swaying and tilting (picture below) would not conceptually make sense when moving the body in the direction we want to hit the ball.
A great concept or drill to get this feel besides looking over your shoulder is to grab a range basket and set into your posture with Hitting Angles. Keeping the basket level in front of you, swing the basket around you as if throwing it forward towards the target.
When doing the drill, be aware of not only the direction the body turns, but the amount. The drill will first help you understand the concept. Next make some practice swings. When swinging, look over your lead shoulder and slowly replicate how the basket drill made your body move.
The Wedge Guy: What really needs fixing in your game?
I always find it interesting to watch how golfers interact with the practice range, if they do so at all. I certainly can figure out how to understand that some golfers just do not really want to get better — at least not enough to spend time on the practice range trying to improve.
What is most puzzling to me is how many golfers completely ignore the rationale for going to the range to at least warm up before they head to the first tee. Why anyone would set aside 4-6 hours of their day for a round of golf, and then not even give themselves a chance to do their best is beyond me. But today, I’m writing for those of you who really do want to improve your golf scores and your enjoyment of the game.
I’ve seen tons of research for my entire 40 years in this industry that consistently shows the number one goal of all golfers, of any skill level, from 100-shooter to tour professional, is simply to hit better golf shots more often. And while our definition of “better” is certainly different based on our respective skill level, the game is just more fun when your best shots happen more often and your worst shots are always getting better.
Today’s article is triggered by what we saw happen at the Valspar tour event this past Sunday. While Taylor Moore certainly had some big moments in a great final round, both Jordan Spieth and Adam Schenk threw away their chances to win with big misses down the stretch, both of them with driver. Spieth’s wayward drive into the water on the 16th and Schenk’s big miss left on the 18th spelled doom for both of them.
It amazes me how the best players on the planet routinely hit the most God-awful shots with such regularity, given the amazing talents they all have. But those guys are not what I’m talking about this week. In keeping with the path of the past few posts, I’m encouraging each and every one of you to think about your most recent rounds (if you are playing already this year), or recall the rounds you finished the season with last year. What you are looking for are you own “big misses” that kept you from scoring better.
Was it a few wayward drives that put you in trouble or even out of bounds? Or maybe loose approach shots that made birdie impossible and par super challenging? Might your issue have been some missed short putts or bad long putts that led to a three-putt? Most likely for any of you, you can recall a number of times where you just did not give yourself a good chance to save par or bogey from what was a not-too-difficult greenside recovery.
The point is, in order to get consistently better, you need to make an honest assessment of where you are losing strokes and then commit to improving that part of your game. If it isn’t your driving that causes problems, contain that part of practice or pre-round warm-ups to just a half dozen swings or so, for the fun of “the big stick”. If your challenges seem to be centered around greenside recoveries, spend a lot more time practicing both your technique and imagination – seeing the shot in your mind and then trying to execute the exact distance and trajectory of the shot required. Time on the putting green will almost always pay off on the course.
But, if you are genuinely interested in improving your overall ball-striking consistency, you would be well-served to examine your fundamentals, starting with the grip and posture/setup. It is near impossible to build a repeating golf swing if those two fundamentals are not just right. And if those two things are fundamentally sound, the creation of a repeating golf swing is much easier.
More from the Wedge Guy
- The Wedge Guy: It’s not all about distance
- The Wedge Guy: Are you really willing to get better at golf?
- The Wedge Guy: Anatomy of a wedge head
Ian Poulter opens up on “tough times” that followed LIV Golf announcement
Morning 9: PGA Tour’s designated event revamp | PIP changes | LIV and pros react | Bay Hill photos
Tiger Woods WITB 2023 (February)
Tom Kim WITB 2023 (February)
Tom Doak brings High Pointe back in 2024
Jason Dufner WITB 2023 (March)
Darius Rucker WITB 2023 (February)
Brett White WITB 2023 (February)
Chez Reavie WITB 2023 (February)
Stewart Cink WITB 2023 (March)
Rickie Fowler WITB 2023 (March)
Rickie Fowler what’s in the bag accurate as of the Valero Texas Open. More photos from the event here. Driver:...
S.H. Kim WITB 2023 (March)
S.H. Kim what’s in the bag accurate as of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. More photos from the event here. Driver:...
WITB Time Machine: Jordan Spieth’s winning WITB at the 2021 Valero Texas Open
At the 2021 Valero Texas Open, Jordan Spieth fired a final-round 66 for an 18 under total and a two-stroke...
Davis Riley WITB 2023 (February)
Davis Riley what’s in the bag accurate as of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. More photos from the event here. Driver:...
Whats in the Bag2 weeks ago
Brett White WITB 2023 (February)
Whats in the Bag3 weeks ago
Andrew Putnam WITB 2023 (March)
Whats in the Bag1 week ago
William McGirt WITB 2023 (March)
Whats in the Bag3 weeks ago
Jordan Spieth WITB 2023 (March)
Equipment2 weeks ago
Miura announces mid-size cavity back CB-302 forged irons
Whats in the Bag2 weeks ago
Aaron Rai WITB 2023 (March)
News2 weeks ago
Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (3/17/23): Bettinardi BB28 putter
19th Hole3 days ago
The current average driving distance of men and women amateur golfers by age and handicap
Feb 25, 2017 at 3:16 pm
Dennis, as always, a thoroughly researched article with great insight! And courteous answers to the disbelievers.
Feb 25, 2017 at 3:46 pm
Thx Roger…glad you enjoyed it.
Feb 23, 2017 at 4:28 pm
you have to fix the turn first . he doesnt turn his shoulders and has no depth at the top . all he can do is throw is hands forward. fix the turn first
Feb 23, 2017 at 4:43 pm
A+. Mr Clark mentioned a arms and hands connection. I agree but I’m sure Dustin Johnson wouldn’t hit anywhere without the ground and proper footwork. Needs depth big time.
Feb 23, 2017 at 3:17 pm
John Jacobs once remarked that the he had heard so much about footwork in golf that he thought the objective of the game was to kick the ball around the course. Footwork is critical to balance and creating force but does not direct the golf club. After observing this dynamic for some 35 years I have reached the conclusion that the body reacts to the position of the club. Not the other way around. No amount of footwork or leg work or great balance automatically puts the golf club in the correct position. It is held by the hands and arms. When it gets too steep, too flat, too outside, too open, too closed etc. the body will do whatever it can to right the ship. That’s why the grip is soooo critical. IT controls the face, therefore commands the rest of the motion. If i move the weight of my body perfectly but cup my lead wrist or orient the club too steeply I will hit a well
Balanced slice. And when my golf ball spins off to the right I will swing well left to combat it.
Feb 23, 2017 at 4:15 pm
Well, we agree to disagree. Try making a golf swing without touching the ground, you’ll get my point… Motion that takes place in the body in rotation from the ground, involves position, velocity, acceleration, plus angular position, angular velocity and angular acceleration. Each of which a vector is needed. Thus ground… It’s the initial start point, plus proper balance and footwork is very important…
Feb 24, 2017 at 6:56 am
But we are NOT disagreeing on proper use of ground reaction forces. No teacher who studies this craft seriously would disagree with that. Its simple physics and bio mechanics. However, where the misunderstanding lies may be this: I’m trying to explain WHY golfers misuse the ground and execute poor motions. It is because the golf club is well out of position and no proper ground force can put it in the correct place because the hands and arms hold the club. This is where some of the science today is divorced from the reality of what golfers actually do. He could have 100% correct turn and weight displacement with a poor grip, a flying elbow, a cupped lead wrist etc…and then when the golf club gets in the position we see here (or any number of poor positions) he will IMPROPERLY use the ground forces you correctly describe. Or even if he did push off the earth properly starting down it will not, could not, hit a good shot because the club is open and steep. In this case he would be very late into impact with an open face. So what does he do? He reverses his weight, hangs back and raises the swing center to try and right the ship. If someone can prove to me that proper ground reaction forces will correct the plane and face of the golf club, I will take another look at this. Believe me I have changed and adapted to many things the golf science community has taught us as I’ve grown as a teacher over 35 years. But I cannot see the connection here. BTW So Cal I am not disagreeing with you personally, I also raised this point at the teaching and coaching summit recently and raised a few eyebrows there too. I did not receive one logical good answer to the disconnect I see here. Thx for the discussion, these are always healthy for the game and our part in it. DC
Feb 23, 2017 at 4:27 pm
There is a video on how pressure helps hit a draw on golfwrx by meandmygolf. Give it a view Mr Clark. I think SoCal brings up a valid opinion. Plus your reference to the Great Mr Jacobs is ok, but technology now is what it is. The instructor I have in Arizona was mostly based on how my feet and body work. JAT
Feb 24, 2017 at 7:02 am
HoleIn2…I am aware of the video and own a boditrak unit myself, but let me ask you this as I did them: If I use the proper “force” and execute an inside path, WITH an open face from a steep shaft or a poor grip, will I hit a draw. And how will those forces correct that plane or grip? I’ll get on any force plate you want and execute all the correct motions and top, slice, hook etc all day, IF that golf club is not fixed. Thx DC
Feb 23, 2017 at 4:49 pm
Completely disagree about your position on proper lower body mechanics in relation to the path on the backswing. Went to a GEARS assessment and that’s what they stressed the most. Body lineage.
Feb 23, 2017 at 1:25 pm
IMO. You’re not discussing his poor footwork. Place him on a pressure plate to get him to feel dynamic motion.
Feb 23, 2017 at 1:27 pm
I agree with SoCal I think you’re working in reverse. SoCal might like from the ground up.
Feb 22, 2017 at 9:52 pm
So would you know why the golfer is steep? Or it really isn’t relevant in that everything is so interconnected and reliant on each other that it is easier to get impact correct first, and then over time the body will correct itself all the way back to one’s setup and how they hold the club? It’s just that one has to allow their body to teach them how to swing the club instead of thinking the swing? Just curious because I was stalled with my OTT (backswing too flat or totally upright ITO) for 3 years before I changed my approach 2 years ago to focus on impact. Since then little things have continually clicked and now my swing is falling into place over this winter. One of the bigger things for me was to just stop and take a minute to reflex on what it was I wanted my body to do – I never actually visually thought about what a golf swing looked and felt like from the person doing it – I was always looking from the 3rd person via videos and photos.
Feb 23, 2017 at 12:09 pm
right. What’s know as whole part whole style learning. You have to have the big picture in mind before working on details. I agree.
Feb 22, 2017 at 5:27 pm
Nothing wrong with an up right golf swing, agree getting to Impact with it takes a little practice, as Inbee Park, Jack Nicklaus, D.J. Trahan etc. have proven it can be done to a high level…..
Feb 22, 2017 at 7:11 pm
Yea worked pretty well for Jack huh? Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, nowadays Geoff Ogilvy…. Big diff here though. They were upright for sure and even more vertical into impact than say Trevino or Hogan, but…rarely will you see an elite ball striker get the center of mass of the golf club ABOVE their hand path in transition. Craig Parry, maybe Craig Stadler possible rare excetions. Mid, high cap club golfers do, so the face gets seriously open, as the video demonstrate. The first little move from the top flattens on even the most upright swings of the professionals. Take say Furyk, that almost gets too flat into impact, you’d never think it at the top. They MATCH components amateurs don’t bye and bye… Thanks for reading
Feb 27, 2019 at 3:09 pm
I have a friend who’s built very much like Craig Stadler, and is in an identical position at the top. He struggles with weak push fade shots, fat shots, and with impact as a whole. He’s not looking to start hitting draws, only to get better impact. Any drills you’d recommend to help him get better strikes?
Feb 22, 2017 at 4:30 pm
The last paragraph states: IF you are struggling from shallow IMPACT position, try these drills. DOWNHILL LIES and sidehill ball-below-the-feet lies are a drill for steeping attack angles; Uphill lies and ball above feet are used to SHALLOW attack angles. The golfer has a VERY shallow attack angle, hence the point of the article. The point is NOT to change transition but to change the REACTION to the transition. If/When he gets too steep at IMPACT, then and only then we will address shallowing the AA.
Feb 22, 2017 at 4:11 pm
I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE A GOLFER WITH A STEEP TRANSITION HIT BALLS FROM A DOWN HILL LIE AS A DRILL! WTF!?!?!?
YOU ARE OUT OF THE PROGRAM!
Feb 22, 2017 at 1:48 pm
Just do the A-Swing. You can go from the photo on the left to the photo on the right if you just did the A-swing. Simples!
Feb 23, 2017 at 11:12 am
Or, just copy Jim Furyk. Done!
Feb 22, 2017 at 12:42 pm
I agree Marnix. That would a good title.
Feb 22, 2017 at 12:08 pm
Why are there so many shank comments on this article? What I took from it is that it’s important to understand that just trying to fix the “look” of someones swing is a bad idea if you don’t understand that the glaring “look” can influence a players reaction at impact. Makes sense to me. You have to have the student understand the basic impact conditions you’re trying to get them to achieve before you start talking about the swing.
I liked the article. About putting the horse before the cart.
If people are going to click shank, they should at least give a basic explanation of why.
Feb 22, 2017 at 12:06 pm
Well done, although the title of the article is a bit confusing – it should really be something like “Impact is Everything”, or “Make Students Better, not Worse”. I have had quite a few lessons where my ball striking afterwards was worse then before, probably because they started with fixing the wrong fundamental flaw first. And yes, in the theme of ‘let’s start from scratch and get you a new swing’, that approach is defensible. But it really takes the fun out of your game for a (long) while until you have mastered the new fundamentals. It’s not about fixing what’s wrong, it’s about fixing what matters. Actually, that would be a good title too :).
Feb 22, 2017 at 11:59 am
When golfers get the club back to shaft plane at address or close to it they often shank the ball. That’s why they stand the club UP!
Feb 22, 2017 at 10:10 am
If you notice the grip end of the club is pointed up at his chest into impact; it started at his belt buckle. That’s what I mean by striving to get the handle lower into impact. He raises the handle because he is too steep to release the club properly.
Feb 22, 2017 at 7:51 am
What exactly do these things mean?
Releasing the club down (not dragging the handle)
Lowering the handle into impact.