Thumbs

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Your only point of contact with the golf club is the handle of the club.  Where your thumbs are positioned relative to the shaft of the club indicates the position of the clubface ... hand = face.  Your thumbs go on top of the shaft at all positions in the swing with the exception of the top of the backswing where they should generally be on the bottom of the shaft ... actually they are in the same relative position, just cocked under.

There is some controversy about what constitutes a square position is at the top of the backswing.  There are two checkpoints to consider.  First is the position of the wrist on the top hand.  The second checkpoint is where the toe of the club points.  Much traditional instruction says the left hand image, depicting a "cupped" position, is a square position.  The view of the author of this website is when the wrist is cupped and the toe points down, the club is in a closed position.  If the hands are lowered to the ball without changing the cup in the wrist, the clubface will be dead closed!  Even a cursory look at most PGA tour players indicates they are in a position much closer to the middle image position.  In the right hand image, the club is said to be in a laid off or open position.  Very few teachers disagree with this.  So, the question is ... if flexed/toe out is open, then how does cupped/toe down position also end up being open?  This is a perfect example of confusing teaching.

The position of your thumbs should be under the shaft, not pointed straight down.  The 6 o'clock position is located relative to your forearm, not a vertical line.  The exact position of under will be relative to your swing plane ... flat or upright.  Trying to get your thumbs directly under the shaft will cause you to cup your wrists.  The center image (labeled square) is a bit distorted because the shaft has not yet reached a full, top of the backswing, parallel position.  When the shaft reaches a fully parallel position, the wrist should be flat, the toe should be at about a 45 angle and the thumbs will be under the shaft as depicted in the right hand image (clock inverted) .  If your flexibility does not allow you to make a complete backswing, then you should still work on achieving a flat left wrist.  For most players, short of parallel but in a correct position is far better than long and wrong.  The top of the backswing is a critical position where most recreational players are out of position.  Being in a closed, cupped top position is the most common fault leading to the weak, dreaded "over the top" swing.

There are two things the hands should never do in the swing motion ... flip-flop or roll.  Flip-flopping drastically alters the vertical part of the swing arc.  You will have zero control over where bottom dead center of the arc will be.  Flipping dooms your swing to total inconsistency.  Rolling the wrists (forearms) is nearly as bad.  The direction of the clubface is facing at impact will be completely inconsistent for all but the very best players who have the time to maintain their timing through much practice.  Some teachers advocate rolling the wrists to eliminate a slice.  This may work along with a dozen other gimmick solutions.  You are equally likely to develop a duck hook which is far more difficult to correct than a slice.

 

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