If you look up the definition of overswing, it says trying to swing a bat or club too hard. By that definition, you can overswing in golf. However, overswinging in golf is defined as trying to take the club too far back on the backswing. Anytime the club head goes below the horizontal level at the top of the swing most instructors will call this overswinging. They use all kinds of excuses, like great hand eye co-ordination or lots of practice, to explain why some top players seem to overswing and still have had a lot of success in playing golf. The list will include John Daly, Phil Mickelson, Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus, Nancy Lopez, Brooke Henderson, Tom Watson, and Gary Player to just name a few. Golfers of the 1920’s 30’s and 40’s had a tendency to have very long backswings. Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen, Lawson Little, Ted Ray, and Tommy Armour all had swings that went well below horizontal on the backswing. Because of calling overswinging a fault, it has caused many a golfer to have way too short of a backswing. Golfers have developed many ways to restrict the backswing because of this belief that you can overswing. This simply is not true. There is a much more of a tendency to not complete the backswing, due to being anxious about trying to hit the ball. In my view a nice long backswing aids in making the transition from backswing to downswing. Before we get into the benefits of realizing that you cannot overswing, let’s look at what “causes” overswinging, and how you can “correct” it. Unfortunately, I am going to have to be rather redundant in order to prove a point.
The breaking down of the left arm is not overswinging, it is the breaking down of the left arm. Over cocking the wrists is not even a fault but it certainly is not overswinging. Picking the club up with the arms is not overswinging, it is picking up the club with the arms. Loosening of the grip at the top of the swing is not overswinging, it is loosening of the grip at the top of the swing. Overturning of the hips I do not consider a fault, but it does not lead to overswinging. The collapsing of the left knee toward the ball is not overswinging but is collapsing of the left knee toward the ball. Not making a nice turn and coil on the backswing is not overswinging but is not making a turn on the backswing. If you overswing, your clubhead at the top of the swing will point to the right of the target and this will make you have a tendency to come over the top on the downswing. Watch the videos of Jack Nicklaus in, Golf My Way, and you will see his club cross the line, and points to the right of the target. I don’t think Jack came over the top on too many shots. All the things, and there are more, that I have just listed are things that “cause” overswinging. All of these things are significant faults, but they do not lead to overswinging, because overswinging does not exist, therefore is not a fault. You could correct every one of the above faults and by definition you could still easily overswing. In fact, all the pros that we mentioned had none of these faults. You could demonstrate every one of those faults and still not overswing. I think it is much more detrimental to your game by even thinking of trying to restrict your backswing in anyway. It causes the downswing to be rushed, and in order to make a shorter swing work, you must swing with a faster tempo, which is never a good thing for the average golfer. Now let’s look at the things that I do not consider faults, that really contribute to a nice long backswing that winds up being easy on the body and allows you to hit the ball powerfully and yet smoothly.
There is always going to be limitations on how far back a particular individual can take the club back on the backswing. The other thing that dictates the length of the backswing is the length of the club. The shorter the club the shorter the backswing. Swinging with different clubs is a subject for another blog. Fully cocking the wrists will help you make a much longer backswing. Sometimes this full cocking of the wrists is called the collapsing of the wrists, when trying to correct overswinging. The more you can cock your wrists the more of a snap you will get at the bottom of the swing, and this will increase you clubhead speed. To know how far you can comfortably cock your wrists, from your address position, simply pick the club straight up, using only your wrists. Get the feel for that and then simply turn your body as you would for your backswing, and you should be able to get the correct feel at the top of the swing. In order to have a nice long leisurely backswing you need to turn your hips as much as you can on the backswing. Golf instruction will say that you can overturn your hips. This is simply not true. You can turn your hips as much as you want as long as your weight stays on the right side at the top of the swing. Keep your grip nice and firm at the top and there should be no problem with a long backswing. Having a long backswing is the best way to have a nice easy tempo. It is the shorter backswing that requires a much quicker tempo. The quicker your tempo the more well time your swing must be. That is what requires more practice than anything, timing your swing. Don’t do anything that you think is going to restrict or inhibit your backswing. Just wind it up as much as you can in a nice easy fashion and then just start the backswing nice a slow with the hands coming straight down from the top. Your ball striking should improve, and your body should be able to swing the club much easier with less stress on those joints, tendons and muscles. See you on the links.