As South African Brendan De Jonge took the lead heading into the final round of the AT&T Classic at Congressional, the TV announcers couldn’t help but endlessly repeat the statement that De Jonge’s swing was “over the top”. Of course, they never took the time to explain what they meant by that phrase, why it had a negative connotation, and why it was usually associated with chops from the local muni and not guys who were leading Tour events.
I can’t tell you how many players I have taught, and this includes good players along with not so good, who thought that every shot they hit to the left was caused by an “over the top” swing, only to find that according to the video their club was approaching way too far from the inside and the “feeling” they had of an out to in swing path was exactly the opposite of what was really happening. So much for “playing by feel”. Think about it: you are missing left because you are leaving the club behind you where it swings way too much in to out, but you think you are actually “over the top”, with the club travelling into the ball from out to in. Your “fix” is going to be to try to come more from the inside, which is the problem in the first place. Obviously, you are going to screw yourself up even more, and eventually you will barely be able to hit the ball at all.
The use of such terms as “over the top” with no adequate explanation is one of the things that TV golf fails to recognize as detrimental to the ability of the average player to understand how a golf swing works and how different patterns have been utilized throughout history to play great golf and win major championships. In this video I compare De Jonge’s move with Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones, and Byron Nelson, choosing them because of the great similarities in all four swings. It wouldn’t take that much for a TV announcer with a bit of knowledge and access to the same swings I have compiled on this laptop to make an interesting one or two minute snippet which would explain what “over the top” means and how many great players have moved the hands and arms in that fashion. What would really help would be to point out how control of the shaft is the secret to making such movements work, and that if the shaft were not lagging back and shallowing early in transition then none of these players would ever have been heard of, much less have become such great players.