Golf is a chain of compound movements and if one thing is off early in your swing, it can lead to some serious issues. While most of us want to hit it longer, straighter, and higher, we forget that all of this happens from a good setup position.
Sure, you need speed and a solid tempo too but most errors for everyday golfers happen before they swing. Specifically, alignment and grip issues which lead to all sorts of swing mistakes at the top of the swing and transition.
One of the biggest issues golfers struggle with is a cupped left wrist (for right-handed golfers). This leads to a slice, something that almost every golfer knows about all too well.
If you know you need to upgrade your wrist position and hit it nearly as well as Ben Hogan, this is the article for you. Keep reading to learn the best ways to improve your wrist action and start hitting the golf ball more consistently.
Cupping the Wrist in Golf
Your hands and grip are your most vital asset in the game of golf and a fundamental of your golf swing. Since they’re the only thing connecting you with the club, it’s important to establish a good grip and wrist movement.
In golf, there are three common wrist positions; cupped, bowed, or flat. Each one has their own advantages and disadvantages which we’ll briefly discuss.
This isn’t something you can easily spot at address position or even mid-way through your backswing. Instead, always evaluate your wrist position from the top of your backswing. This makes it easy to evaluate your wrist angle and make necessary adjustments if needed.
A cupped lead wrist (known as extension) is easy to spot at the top of your backswing as the clubface is open. This can lead to a slice and we’ll dive more into this topic today.
A bowed left wrist (known as flexion) is easy to spot at the top of your backswing as the club is pointing toward the sky. This type of clubface can lead to a nasty hook (thanks to a closed position) that has plenty of playability issues as well. Or, if your grip is too weak can lead to high slices as well. Read all about a bowed left wrist here.
While a flat left wrist is more of a neutral position where the clubface matches your wrist. Likely the best example of a wrist flat position over the years is Tiger Woods who is one of the best iron players of all time.
This is the preferred method as your left wrist will match your lead forearm and keep the face square. Keep reading to learn how to make this swing change for long-term consistency in your golf game.
Cupped Wrist Position in Golf
As mentioned above, you don’t want a cupped wrist position if possible as it can produce the dreaded slice. If you’re like most everyday golfers, you know about this shot shape more than you care to admit. A slice kills your total distance, makes it hard to hit fairways, and ultimately a weak shot that no one wants.
As Hackmotion stated, “Lead wrist cupping (extension) opens the clubface while wrist bowing (flexion) closes the clubface. Excessive lead wrist cupping (extension) during transition and downswing is why the clubface stays open too long and players struggle with controlling ball flight.”
Ben Hogan, one of the greatest ball strikers of all time, also discussed the importance of not cupping his book, Five Lessons. In the book he states, “In the sequence, there is one position of such signal importance that it warrants closeup study. This is the position of the left wrist and hand at the actual moment of impact. As impact, the back of the left-hand faces toward the target.”
Hopefully you can see how important this is in your swing. And if you’re like most golfers I’m sure you’re asking, “How do I stop my wrist cupping in golf?”
There are a few different strategies to help you flatten your left wrist and start hitting better shots. Let’s get into them…
Upgrade Your Grip
First, instead of trying to adjust your wrists, change your left-hand grip (for right handed players). Your grip plays a role in so many motions of the swing and the culprit of a lot of swing issues.
So many golfers have a weak left hand position. This almost always leads to a cupped wrist at the top of your swing and the weak slice you hate seeing off the tee.
You’ll want to move your left hand more over the grip so you can see more of your knuckles. This grip change will likely feel awkward at first but getting into a neutral (or slightly strong) position can lead to a better swing.
Try These Golf Drills
To develop a forward shaft lean at impact position and learn how to compress the golf ball, check out these drills from Alistair Davies Golf.
Start by inserting a tee into your golf glove as mentioned in the video. Then try to feel the tee pointing toward the sky at the top of your swing. You can hit golf balls or simply make practice swings to start to develop this feel.
Another drill he mentions to feel like you are “revving your wrists” on the downswing. This is similar to a motion you would make if you were riding a motorcycle.
When doing this drill make sure you’re hitting an iron with 70% speed. Don’t worry about distance or even accuracy yet, instead focus on the ball flight above all else. If you’re doing it right you should start to see a straight ball or slight draw as well.
The last thing he recommends using are the training aids mentioned below.
Buy a Wrist Training Aid
I’m sure you know that there are tons of training aids for golfers but not all of them are created equal. Some are great and can lead to lasting changes while others are cheaply made and not effective for your swing.
But some of the most effective and popular training aids in golf are wrist trainers. One of the newest ones is known as the Hanger.
This new training aid can help you build a more consistent swing by feeling the proper wrist position from address to impact. As they said on their website, “Clubface orientation plays the most significant role when it comes to accuracy. theHANGER also gives golfers physical cues if their clubface is open or closed at any point in the swing to prevent hooks and slices.”
The design of this product is amazing and makes it easy to see your clubface during the swing. Other benefits include keeping the club on plane, promoting a flat lead wrist, and creating dynamic shaft lean.
If you’re looking for a low-cost training aid with a high ROI, this is the one for you.
Try Hack Motion Wrist Sensor
If you want an even more immersive experience than a normal training aid and consider yourself a golf nerd, try out the Hack Motion wrist sensor. This golf tool can help you understand your wrist angles and other parts of your swing like you never imagined. If you like to geek out with golf tools and/or more of a visual learner, this tool can help you a ton.
This is a training aid that you wear on your wrist to master clubface control by better understanding your wrist angles. What’s great about this gadget is that it gives instant feedback on each swing and is easy to set up in only 30 seconds. Plus, the data is stored in the app and gives you audio feedback on the range just like a coach.
Just make sure to buy the Players model as it’s cheaper plus you likely aren’t teaching students.
Whether you use one or all of the strategies above, just know that these changes likely won’t happen overnight. Anytime you’re upgrading your swing it does take hard work and commitment but this is a change that is worth it. Don’t get frustrated and stay persistent as this will play a big role in your swing moving forward.
FAQs About Wrists in the Golf Swing
Do you have more questions about the left arm, correct wrist position in the golf swing? Keep reading to make sure you understand as it’s a vital part of the golf swing.
What does cupping your wrist mean in golf?
My Golf Instructor defines cupping as, “When you cup your left wrist, meaning you bend it backwards so that the top of your hand moves towards the top of your forearm, the club face will be open at the top of your swing. This of course necessitates manipulations on the downswing to get the club back to square by impact.”
This is the oppostie of a left wrist bowed position like Dustin Johnson has at the top of the backswing.
How important is a flat wrist?
It’s a big factor in your overall ball striking as it impacts the forward shaft lean and keeping the club on plane. It also helps players hit it straighter and with a better trajectory as well. Practice hitting knockdown shots on the range and other strategies mentioned above to flatten your lead wrist.
Should you cup your wrist in the golf swing? Is a cupped wrist bad?
No, this is a common fault for everyday golfers and not one on the PGA Tour. Most amateur golfers cup their wrist at the top of the backswing and even during transition. This leads to an open clubface at impact and some big misses to the right side of the golf course.
While a slightly open face is okay at impact (aka a power fade) too much kills your ball striking. Instead, you want a more neutral wrist position so you can decrease loft and hit the ball with your hands ahead at impact. This is the moment of truth in the golf swing and separates okay golfers from top tier ball strikers.
Use a wrist trainer or strengthen your grip to build a more consistent swing.
Does a cupped wrist cause a slice?
Yes, a cupped wrist tends to produce a slice for a right-handed golfer. When the left wrist is cupped at the top of the swing, the face is open and you need perfect timing to square it up at impact.
While it can sometimes happen, it’s not consistent for 99.9% of players. Building a golf swing on timing isn’t a great strategy as your scores and ball string will likely fluctuate round to round.
Does a strong grip cause a cupped wrist in golf?
Yes, a golf grip that is too strong can lead to a cupping motion in the swing.
While we encourage players to have a stronger grip vs. a weaker grip (as most golfers suffer from a slice from a weak grip) you can over do it. This can lead to hitting a lot of slices that kill distance and accuracy.
Aim to have a neutral or slightly strong grip if you’re just getting started for long-term consistency.
What about the trail wrist?
You might wonder, what about the right wrist? It’s a good question in the wrist angle debate but it doesn’t factor in as much as it’s not the dominant hand (unless you’re left-handed golfer).
Final Thoughts on Cupping the Left Wrist
Hopefully you have a better understanding of the proper wrist position in golf. Once you understand this conceptually and apply it to your swing, it can drastically improve your ball striking. Your wrist position at the top can dictate whether you hit a hook or a slice. Remember, grip strength plays a big role on a bow or cupped wrist!
Remember, the best ball strikers in the world have forward shaft lean at impact. They actually deloft the golf club with their hands unlike amateur golfers who do the opposite. You can learn a lot from watching golf on TV and this is a lesson you want to learn fast.
When you do, it will transform the way you hit the golf ball and make this challenging sport a little bit easier. Depending on how long you’ve been playing, it might take some time but it’s worth the awkward adjustment period for long term ball striking.