If you want to hit better shots more consistently you want a flat left wrist in golf. The wrists ultimately determine the club face at the top of the swing and greatly impact the shaft angle at impact.
To get into a better impact position with a slightly forward shaft lean like the pros, you might need to change your wrist movement. While so many golfers focus on their grip, not enough seem to focus on their wrist as well.
Today, we’ll simplify this so you can start hitting it better than ever and hopefully start shooting lower scores fast.
Flat Left Wrist in Golf
Swing your swing is a common saying in golf as no two players have the same motion. For example, Brooks Koepka is very different from Rory McCilroy vs. Bryson DeChambeau. But all of them have different tempos, takeaways, wrist positions, and more to hit the ball solidly.
But elite ball strikers tend to have a bowed wrist or a flat lead wrist at the top of the backswing. While amateur golfers tend to have a flat wrist and/or a cupped wrist.
Let’s get into each type below and how wrist bent in the wrong direction can change everything.
- Your wrists play a big role in ball striking and shot shape.
- Players can have a flat, cupped, or bowed left wrist in the golf swing.
- A flat lead wrist is an ideal position as it makes it easier to hit straighter shots and reduce misses.
Keep reading to learn more about this important topic in the golf swing.
Wrist Positions in Golf
The wrist position is a good indicator of a lot of things at the top of the backswing. Your left wrist (assuming you’re a right-handed golfer) can be in three positions:
- Flat lead wrist.
- Bowed lead wrist.
- Cupped lead wrist.
Each type of wrist position leads to a different type of result in terms of ball striking and total distance. Before reviewing a flat position, let’s quickly discuss the pros/cons of the other two positions first.
A bowed left wrist is a common wrist position for elite ball strikers like Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, and Dustin Johnson. This position tends to lead to a more closed clubface at the top of the swing. The face is almost pointing straight up toward the Golf Gods and tends to promote a shallowing move and typically a draw.
Here’s what Golf.com said about this sought after wrist position. “Bowed wrists give you the best opportunity to hit the ball farther, and they also help you hit it more solidly. Additionally, you have better clubface and loft control when you have bowed wrists at impact.”
The opposite of a bowed wrist is a cupped left wrist which is from over extension. This is the most common position for everyday amateur golfers and not something you see when watching the PGA or LIV golf.
A cupped wrist position tends to lead to an across the line backswing and promote a more open face at impact. This is one of the reasons everyday golfers battle a slice more than a hook off the tee. It’s known as a more weak position as you can add loft at impact and thus, hit it shorter as a result.
The final wrist position is known as a flat left wrist which is more neutral. This is where the forearm, back of the hand, and lead wrist are all in alignment at the top of the backswing.
This is pretty common among elite ball strikers including Tiger Woods. A flat wrist leads to a better trajectory and straighter shots – plus, it’s easier to shape shots in either direction from this position.
How to Keep Your Lead Wrist Flat
So, how do you get a more flat lead wrist at the top of your swing?
It starts by having a neutral grip and solid address position to avoid a cupped left wrist. As Hank Haney (Tiger Woods’ old golf coach) said in Golf Digest, “Good players not only have the back of the left hand aimed at the target, they also keep the wrist flat.
That way, you’re trapping the ball between the clubface and the ground and preserving the true loft of the club — one of the keys to a powerful hit.”
Like so many swing issues, it’s important to start off in the correct position. You want to make sure your grip, alignment, posture, and arms are setting you up for a powerful swing.
Think about it like this – at the top of your swing you want your right wrist to get into a “waiter” position. Meaning, you want your wrist to get your hand facing up so you could carry a tray of food or drinks at a restaurant. This will help get your left wrist flat and hopefully into a much better position.
Flat Left Wrist Drills and Training Aids
If you want to work on this position here are a few drills and aids that can help get you in a better position.
Left Arm Only Drill
In the same Golf Digest article from above, Hank Haney recommends players hitting shots with their lead hand only. I’ve actually seen PGA players doing this a lot on the range, especially at the beginning of their session.
By hitting balls only with your left hand it’s easier to feel the connection between your wrist, hands, and arms. Pretty quickly you can see how the wrist and hands impact the direction and trajectory of each shot. Use this drill as part of your warm-up with wedges to get a good feel before the round.
The Ruler Drill
To use this drill you’ll need a plastic ruler and golf glove. Start by sliding a ruler under the Velcro of your glove and make a backswing without hitting a golf ball. The key here is to notate what the ruler is doing in relation to your lead forearm.
If the ruler is digging into your arm, that means you’re cupping your wrists. This wrist cup position is the one you want to avoid as it negatively impacts the swing plane. But if you have a big gap between the ruler and your forearm, this is bowing too much.
Ideally, you want to keep the ruler against your left forearm throughout your swing. This will help promote a flat lead wrist and it provides instant feedback. You can start hitting shots at the target line to feel a square clubface in practice.
If you need even more drills to get into a better position check out this golf swing video from Top Speed Golf on YouTube.
Hanger Training Aid
The Hanger training aid is a great small device that can easily help you fix a lot of common wrist issues. It keeps your swing on plane, promotes an ideal impact position, and makes it easy to understand the clubface throughout the swing.
Here’s how they described this revolutionary product on their website. “theHANGER promotes instant structural changes in your body mechanics to encourage a tour-style golf swing. By grooving an on-plane swing, theHANGER helps golfers build a consistent, repeatable golf swing for more precise shotmaking.”
It’s very easy to use too – simply attach it to any iron or wedge in your bag. You can use it at home making practice swings or hitting balls in a simulator or on the driving range too.
What I love is that you can easily understand the club head relationship thanks to the design and optimal wrist cock. If you don’t have enough wrist hinge it can lead to a lot of issues but this device helps a ton.
Aside from promoting a flat lead wrist, other benefits include:
- Train club face to swing path relationship.
- Encourage lead wrist flexion in transition.
- Groove proper muscle memory for a more consistent swing.
Plus, they have a model for right and left-hand golfers. Not to mention it’s very affordable compared to other training aids.
HackMotion Swing Analyzer
The final training aid we suggest is the Hackmotion wrist and swing analyzer. This training aid will help you master the clubface for better accuracy and overall ball striking. It can easily help you identify poor wrist angles that lead to a slice or hook shot.
Simply wear the device on your lead wrist and pair it with the app to get visual and audio feedback on every swing. You no longer need to guess if your wrists are in the correct position and can easily see where in your swing the wrist issue is occurring.
What’s cool about this training aid is that you can compare it to PGA Tour players using their data library. Not to mention it’s easy to use, provides a live 3D model, and provides customized drills to improve your wrist position.
This device works with iOS or Android, comes with unlimited storage of all previous swings, and lifetime updates. You can also choose from different models for putting and advanced analysis as well. If you like tech and prefer to coach yourself, this is a great investment in your game.
FAQs About Wrist Position in Golf
Do you have more questions about the role of the wrists in golf? If so, keep reading to learn more now to start hitting the golf ball better than ever.
How important is the left wrist in the golf swing?
The lead wrist is arguably one of the most important factors in hitting great golf shots. Most instructors review the left wrist at the top of the backswing as a key checkpoint. With a neutral grip you can get the proper wrist flexion and get the lead arm in the right spot at the top of your swing.
Should your left wrist be flat at address?
Yes, you want the wrist pointed at the target from the address position.
This is the easy part of the swing – it’s maintaining that angle throughout the swing that is difficult. If you can keep it flat you will maintain the same loft for a powerful strike at impact.
Should the left wrist be flat at the top of the backswing?
It definitely won’t hurt your game.
A flat lead wrist is an ideal position at the top of your swing as it’s very neutral and promotes a straighter ball flight. It also helps create forward shaft lean and compress the golf ball for a solid strike.
Is the left wrist flat, bowed, or cupped?
These are the three positions the lead wrist can be at the top of the backswing. Most everyday golfers have a cupped or flat wrist.
While more skilled golfers have a bowed or flat wrist which is why they tend to be better iron players and overall, better ball strikers. Use the drills and training aids above to start changing your wrists and playing better golf.
Should you hit impact with a flat or bowed wrist?
A bowed wrist will tend to create more forward shaft lean and thus, longer distance. This wrist position delofts the club which can turn a 7-iron into a 6-iron loft and add distance. But a flat wrist can also deloft the club (which is a good thing) and promote more consistent ball striking.
A cupped wrist as mentioned above is the position you want to avoid. This opens the face and promotes a steeper downswing which can cause a lot of issues. Use the ruler drill or one of the training aids to get into a better backswing position.
Does Tiger Woods have a bowed wrist?
No, Tiger has a very neutral left-hand position. This Golf Digest quote sums it up perfectly, “Tiger always had a slightly closed clubface at the top of his backswing–meaning the face was at a more horizontal angle than his left arm (below, left).
I like that for most golfers because it requires less hand and arm rotation to square the face in time for impact. Plus, it puts the left wrist in a slightly bowed or rounded position, which is where it needs to be at impact.”
Since most amateurs have a cupped left wrist it requires too much timing and unreliable contact. But Tiger’s wrists have changed over the years so just remember nothing is set in stone.
The wrist action in golf is different for every type of player – similar to your grip. I never thought too much about wrist movement until a recent lesson after suffering from a lot of thin shots.
By adjusting my wrist hinge it got me into a much better position at the top of my backswing. Which led to a lot better downswing and significantly improved ball striking.
While a lot of golfers focus on grip and takeaway, don’t forget to factor in your wrists. The overall position – bowed, cupped, or flat – and hinge play a big role in getting the most out of your swing.
Use the wrist trainers above and record your swing to get some extra assistance. Hopefully you’ll fix this issue sooner than later and make it much more likely to break 80 (or better) regularly.
A flat lead wrist is a great neutral position to strive for at the top of your backswing. A cupped wrist is the enemy of great ball striking and why you don’t see this move among elite players.
Unfortunately, it tends to happen more with the everyday golfers who try to “scoop” the ball up. Don’t forget, clubs have plenty of loft and technology to get the ball airborne.
There is no need to try and assist the ball in the air.
Get your wrists into a better position so your impact and strike can improve greatly.