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Open or Closed Clubface at Top of Swing? (Pros, Cons & Which is Best?)

As a golfer, you likely know that a clubface needs to be square at impact to find success. However, the position at the top of the swing is not talked about quite as much.

Some golfers have an open clubface at the top of their swing; for others, it’s a little closed. The question is, which is better?

I’ll show you everything you should know about a golf club being open or closed at the top of the swing and, most importantly, how to practice this area of your golf game.

Should Clubface be Open or Closed Clubface at Top of Swing?

A clubface position at the top of the swing will determine the work a player has to do on the downswing to square the face up.

  • For golfers with an open face, work needs to be done to close the face and remove some of the extension from the wrist.
  • For players with a closed face, a bit of extension could happen through impact to help decrease a bit of the bowing or flex in the wrists that you find at the top.

You can get to square from either position.

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However, if we look at the best players in the game and amateurs with solid results, many of them have a slightly closed clubface at the top.

Why is this?

With a closed clubface (slightly closed), your work is almost done. From the top of the swing to the impact, very little manipulation of the clubhead needs to happen, so you can increase speed and acceleration through the ball.

With an open clubface, there is more work to be done. This work can slow down your speed through impact and make it so that you have to manually flip or “save” the clubface just before it gets to impact.

A square clubface at the top is a great position to be in, but many players struggle to get there and to do it consistently.

Pros and Cons of Open Clubface at Top of Swing

As with any change in the golf swing, there are positives and negatives. The open clubface isn’t perfect, but it works for some golfers.

Here are the pros and cons you should know about it.

Can be Easier to Hit a Fade

If a fade is your preferred ball flight, and your clubface is slightly open at the top, you should have an easier time getting that left-to-right ball flight.

Allows for Wrist Rotation on Downswing

From the time you first put a club in your hand, chances are you learned about wrist rotation on the downswing and releasing of the club. When your clubface is open at the top, you really have a lot of work to do on the downswing.

Some golfers are comfortable with that because it’s considered more of a traditional swing thought or movement.

If you like taking more of an aggressive motion with your wrists and hands through the ball, the open clubface at the top can help.

Helps to Eliminate the Left Side of the Course

With an open clubface at the top, it becomes harder to miss left. If left misses are a problem for you, then getting slightly more open could allow you to see the center and right side of the golf course a bit more.

Opens Up the Right Side of the Golf Course

Of course, the downside to opening the clubface a bit is that you bring in the possibility of a slice or an unwanted fade.

Many amateur players struggle with hitting the ball right, so it’s important to ensure your clubface at the top is not the cause.

Can Reduce Speed and Acceleration Through Impact

If your clubface is open at the top (especially wide open), then you have quite a bit of work to do on the downswing to square it. Many people refer to this as a flip. Just before impact, you flip your wrists in order to get the club square.

flipping wrists at impact data screen on HackMotion

Unfortunately, this flip is not a good movement in golf, and it certainly does not help from a speed and power standpoint.

Again, you can be slightly open and not have to flip it, but the more open you get, the more work you have to do to square things up at impact.

too much extension at impact position using HackMotion app

Pros and Cons of Closed Clubface at Top of Swing

Even though the closed clubface at the top is my preferred method, it doesn’t come without issues. Here are the pros and cons of a closed clubface at the top of the swing.

Allows Golfers to Rotate Through Impact with More Speed

The best thing about a closed clubface at the top is that you are close to the position you need for impact and, therefore, can turn through the golf ball with more speed and rotation.

If you want to be able to fire through impact, the slightly closed clubface position will help you do it.

Can be Less Manual Manipulation from Wrists and Hands

For golfers looking to use their larger muscles in their game, the closed wrist position at the top will help eliminate some manual manipulation of the wrist and hands.

In other words, if you feel like your swing is handsy and needs more power from the core, the closed position is a better one to be in.

Promotes a Natural Draw Ball Flight

Hitting a golf shot with a slightly closed clubface usually leads to a draw. When you know you will hit a draw, it’s a desirable shot. A draw usually travels a few yards further than a fade, so you may also pick up a few yards.

This Can Lead to the Occasional Hook

The downside of the closed clubface is when a hook comes into play. If you find yourself on the left side of the golf course too often, your clubface may be too closed.

May Require a Little Extension on the Downswing

The recommended wrist motion for a golfer is to decrease extension from the top of the swing to impact. For golfers with a clubface that is too closed, the pattern would be to add a little extension through impact.

This motion can be difficult and a little less natural, and that’s why it is best to stay away from a wrist position that is too closed.

Take a 2-minute Quiz and Step Up Your Game!

1. What do you want to improve in your full swing?

My Experience with Open/Closed Clubface at Top of Swing

There are two very different schools of thought about whether a clubface should be open or closed at the top of the swing.

I’ve always had a slightly closed clubface at the top. My miss is left, and I know that when I’m not swinging great, it’s going to go left. I’m ok with that.

However, at one point, I decided to seek out some professional help for my swing and see what information I could get about my clubface at the top. The teacher first noticed a closed clubface at the top, and they set to work on fixing it.

The problem was it brought the right side of the golf course into play. It felt awkward and even made me lose some clubhead speed.

I tell you this not to say that an open clubface at the top is wrong but instead to make sure you recognize what is natural for you.

Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm don’t need to force their wrists into that bowed position at the top of the swing; that’s more natural for them.

Always remember that there is no perfect wrist angle, only recommendations at any point in the swing.

Which Method is Easier?

From personal experience, I find it easier to be a little closed at the top. In addition, when working with students, I have seen more people succeed when their clubface is just slightly closed than those with an open clubface.

Why?

There is just less work to do when your clubface is a little closed, and you can focus on rotation.

I think it’s important to remember that the degree to which the clubface is open or closed plays into this a lot.

Extreme positions where the wrist is extended or bowed at the top of the swing require big movements on the downswing to compensate. Whichever method you choose, be mindful of the position of the wrist and how far from flat you are. If you can get to a flat lead wrist or square position, your chance of consistency in your golf game is higher.

wrist position at the top of the backswing and hackmotion app

How to Practice Clubface Position at the Top of Swing

You can’t see the top of your backswing and the position that the golf club is in. It’s much different to work on clubface at setup than it is at the top of your swing. Video will show us where your clubface is, but video feedback doesn’t happen in real time.

The best way to practice clubface position at the top of the swing is to use the HackMotion wrist sensor.

HackMotion wrist sensor and swing analyzer

With HackMotion biofeedback, you can set the range of wrist positions you are looking for, take a backswing, and know with full confidence that you are in the right position.

Take some swings with your HackMotion to establish a baseline, and then set the biofeedback range. When you swing back, you can play around with wrist position and clubface angle to get to the spot that works for you.

HackMotion gives you real-time feedback for a fix that is otherwise considered difficult to feel and master.

Drill to Help with Clubface at the Top

In addition to working with your HackMotion to analyze your clubface angle at the top of your golf swing. This coin drill from Chris Ryan golf is also an excellent option to try.

All you will need for this drill is a coin to place under your lead thumb when you grip the club. The coin won’t do much aside from creating awareness in where your hands are and how that impacts the clubhead.

Try this drill with or without hitting golf balls; the feel should be enough to square your clubface at the top just a little.

Final Thoughts

The most important of the open/closed clubface at the top of the swing position is that you understand the consequences of both. Awareness of this position and how it plays into your game is important.

Use HackMotion on the driving range to improve your clubface angle at the top and ensure your wrists are in the right position.

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Brittany Olizarowicz
written by Britt Olizarowicz

Britt Olizarowicz is a golf professional who has played the game for more than 30 years. In addition to loving the game of golf, Britt has a degree in math education and loves analyzing data and using it to improve her game and the games of those around her. If you want actionable tips on how to improve your golf swing and become a better player, read her guides.