Golf is one of the rare activities with which the better you get, the harder the sport becomes. One case in which you may experience this paradox, is with the double cross swing fault.
Advanced players know that when a shot needs to be hit with a fade, we align our body slightly left of the target while keeping the clubface square to the pin. If hit correctly, this shot adjustment will cause the ball to take a slight left to right flight towards the pin. However, when the double cross swing fault occurs, the ball will not fade to the right; it will either fly towards your body alignment line, or worst, hook to the left.
The cause of this error is simple. Because our brain is fixated on where we do not want the ball to travel, we overcompensate and release the wrists early, causing the ball to travel on the path of our initial alignment. In this case, the feet are already aligned to the left of the target and in the course of the swing, we adjust to hit the ball straight instead of keeping with the plan to hit the soft fade. To avoid hitting the double cross, concentrate on not releasing the wrists too early in the shot. Early wrist rotation will cause the clubface to be closed upon impact and force the ball to hook. Moving the ball further back in the stance, will also help avoid a closed club face during the shot.
The double cross for the hook shot and the correction for it, are basically the opposite of that for a fade. The cause in this case are a late wrist rotation paired with the ball being too far back in the stance. Be sure to release the wrists on time, as releasing them too late will leave the club face open and cause a definite fade. Putting the ball further up in the stance will allow the wrists the appropriate time to rotate and give your ball the left to right shape needed for the shot.
As with all things in life, timing is everything. Taking this shot to the driving range will help you get a better feel for when the wrists should be released and where the ball should be in your stance.
Avoid the Dreaded Double-Cross Swing Fault
What would you consider to be the worst shot in golf? Maybe a big slice, or a nasty hook? While those are certainly damaging to your scorecard, the double-crossis likely the single worst shot that you can hit during a round. When you hit a double-cross, you will be lucky just to find the golf ball at all, and the chances of being in a good position to hit your next shot are extremely limited. Avoiding the double-cross is one of the best ways to keep big numbers off of your scorecard.
A double-cross is a shot that flies in the exact opposite direction from where it was intended. For example, imagine that you are a right handed golfer and you plan to hit a fade on a particular shot. In order to accommodate that fade, you decide to aim about 10 yards to the left of your target. You make your swing, and the ball successfully starts on the line that you had picked out. However, instead of fading back toward the target, the ball quickly begins to hook when it gets up into the air. Instead of a controlled fade that works its way back toward the fairway or green, you now have an out of control shot that is almost certainly going to find trouble.
The big problem with a double-cross is obvious – since you have aimed to one side of the course, your miss is going to be made that much worse when the ball starts to curve. Using the above example, the hook that you hit will end up even farther left of the target since you had aimed left to begin with. You might have been able to get away with the hook had you been planning on hitting it, but you will have no chance at a good result when you were intending to play a fade. One of the most-important things to know as a golfer is which way your ball is going to curve on each shot. Even if you don't have great control over that curve, you can hit acceptable shots as long as the ball is bending in the correct direction.
It is possible to hit a double-cross in either direction, either hitting a hook when you want a fade, or hitting a slice when you want a draw. The good news is that based on your swing mechanics, you are likely to only struggle with one mistake or the other. Most golfers don't have trouble with hitting double-crosses in both directions, so you can focus on fixing the one that seems to give you the most trouble.
All of the instructions below are based on a right handed golfer. If you play left handed, please be sure to reverse the directions as necessary.
Start with the Easiest Solution
You certainly want to make sure you avoid the double-cross as much as possible. However, you don't want to have to totally rebuild your golf swing unless it is absolutely necessary. Most likely, you will be able to get rid of the double-cross simply by making better decisions, along with a few minor technical tweaks.
The first way you can reduce your chances of hitting a double-crossis by only trying to hit golf shots that you are capable of hitting. This might sound like obvious advice, but countless golfers ignore this basic principle every single day. As you make your way around the course, only choose to hit shots that you are comfortable with, and that you are sure you can execute correctly. Of course, you are never going to hit each shot perfectly, but better performance starts with making smart decisions that keep your game within the scope of your abilities.
Trying to hit shots that are outside of your comfort zone can lead to a double-cross when you plan a shot that you simply don't know how to execute. This can be better illustrated with an example. As a right handed golfer, you step up to the tee on a par four that doglegs from right to left. Typically, you play a fade off the tee with your driver. However, since the hole curves from right to left, you decide that you are going to play a draw. To account for that draw, you aim at the right edge of the fairway, planning for the ball to turn from right to left so that it can finish in the center of the short grass. On paper, this sounds like an excellent plan.
The problem, of course, is that you aren't capable of hitting the shot that you are picturing in your head. After aiming down the right side of the hole, you make your swing, and the ball fades (or slices) instead of drawing back toward the fairway. Since you aimed right to begin with, the ball is going to quickly head into whatever trouble is waiting beyond the right rough. Even if you make a good swing, you can lead yourself to a double-crosssimply by making a bad decision.
To avoid this problem on the course, do not allow yourself to plan for a ball flight that you aren't confident you can execute successfully. Think about it this way – if you can't hit a shot on the driving range consistently, there is no way you should be trying to hit it on the course. Almost every hole in the world can be played in a variety of ways, which is one of the things that makes golf so much fun. Even if your normal shot shape isn't ideal for the hole in front of you, you should still be able to find a way to make it work. Planning to play a draw when all you can hit is a fade (or vice versa) is simply a recipe for failure.
Good golf requires a series of good decisions over the course of the entire 18-hole round. Even if you slip up for one or two shots and make a couple of poor decisions, that can be enough to ruin your score for the day. When it comes to avoiding the dreaded double-cross, your first step should be to understand what shots you are capable of hitting consistently, and then limit yourself to those options when out on the course.
Another Mental Game Tip
Before getting into any technical details regarding how to avoid the double-crossswing fault, there is another element of the mental game that needs to be addressed. In order to succeed on the golf course, you have to be fully committed to each and every shot that you hit. This is important regardless of what kind of shot you are hitting, but it is especially important when it comes to preventing the double-cross.
It will be easy to highlight this concept by going back to the previous example. The set-up is the same, and you have aimed down the right side of a dogleg left par four, intending to hit a draw. However, in this scenario, you actually are capable of hitting a reliable draw with your driver from time to time. Your favorite shot is still a fade, but a draw is something that you have practiced on the range and are comfortable executing on the course. So, with those parameters, it is perfectly reasonable for you to try hitting a draw on a par four hole that turns from right to left.
Unfortunately, things can still go wrong if you aren't careful – and you could still end up with the double-cross that you are trying hard to avoid. When you aim out to the right with the intention of hitting a draw, you have to be totally committed to that shot. If you have any doubt regarding your ability to hit that shot, you should step away from the ball and start your process all over again. Making a ‘cautious' swing can lead to the club slowing down through impact, which is a great way to hit a fade instead of a draw. So, simply through a lack of confidence and commitment, you could wind up hitting the fade instead of the draw. You won't run into this problem on the driving range because you have nothing to lose when hitting practice shots. On the course, however, nerves become involved and you may find that you quit on your swing before reaching impact. You need more than the right physical technique to execute shots on the course – you also need the proper conviction in your mind to commit your body to the swing.
Most shots that are double-crossed on the course are the result of a mental game error. Either you have tried to hit a shot that you aren't capable of hitting in the first place, or you have doubted yourself during the swing causing poor execution of the shot. It doesn't really matter which mental mistake caused the double-cross, because the result is the same – a shot that has gone way off target and will likely cost you big time on the scorecard.
Tailor Your Swing to Your Favorite Shot
There isn't a single swing fix that you can use to eliminate the double-crossfrom your game. Technically, any golfer can fall victim to the double-cross if they make a bad decision or simply make a bad swing. In fact, if you watch a professional golf tournament, you will even see those highly skilled and experienced players make this frustrating mistake from time to time. However, you can take steps with your swing to reduce the likelihood that you will hit a double-crossat the worst possible time.
The first step you should take is identifying the ball flight that you are going to stick with as your main shot. It doesn't particularly matter if you choose a draw or fade as your go-to option, but you need to have a clear picture of which one you prefer. By making this decision confidently, you can then get to work on the driving range to tailor your swing mechanics to fit the ball flight you are trying to hit. If your mechanics are working against the shots that you hope to hit as you move around the course, you will be more susceptible to the double-cross.
As you might expect, the keys that you want to focus on for a draw are going to be different than those that you work on for a fade. Following are three important keys that you can use to guide your practice sessions if you are going to make the draw your preferred ball flight.
- Give yourself plenty of room. Hitting a draw requires some room between your body and the ball to allow the club to release fully. If you are going to focus on hitting a draw, make sure you are standing far enough away from the ball to facilitate a great release. Hit a few shots on the driving range and pay attention to the feeling that you get in your arms at impact. Are they fully extended, or do they feel a little bit cramped in toward your body? If you aren't getting great extension at impact, back up slightly farther away from the ball and hit a few more shots. Continue this process until you are sure that you have plenty of room to make a full release through impact.
- Aggressive through the ball. One of the biggest keys for players who hit a draw is simply to be aggressive through the shot. You will have to completely release the club in order to impart draw spin, and that isn't going to happen if you are making a conservative or tentative swing. Specifically, you should allow your hands to take control of the swing at the bottom and try to rip the club through impact as hard and fast as possible. You don't want to swing so hard that you lose your balance, but you certainly don't want to be passive either.
- Left foot square to the target line. At address, make sure your left foot is square to the target line when you are trying to hit a draw. Many golfers play with their left foot turned open to the target slightly – which is fine, but only if you are playing a fade. The position of your left foot has a lot to do with the motion of your lower body in the downswing, so it can wind up affecting the ball flight that you achieve. When your left foot is open toward the target, you are more likely to slide to the left slightly during the downswing. That motion can lead to a fade. Instead, keep your foot square to the target line so that your lower body will be required to rotate through the shot. Good rotation is the best way to hit a draw, and it can all get started by having your left foot in the proper position at address.
If you have deciding you are going to be a player that favors a draw, use the three keys above while you are practicing your swing. As you make your draw more and more reliable, you will have to worry less about hitting a double-cross. The ability to repeat your draw over and over is something that will pay off in a big way on the course because you will be able to ‘eliminate' one side of the golf course. As long as you are sure the ball is going to draw, you can ignore the trouble on the right side of the course and simply focus your efforts on picking a good target and executing your swing.
If you are going to go with a fade as opposed to a draw, try using the three tips below.
- Left hand leads the way. Keeping your right hand out of the swing is a great way to avoid hitting a draw. If you are trying to fade the golf ball, work on feeling like your left hand is leading the swing down into impact. From the top of the swing, start pulling down toward impact with the back of your left hand. As long as your right hand doesn't take over and rotate the club through the shot, you should be able to easily hit a nice little fade. Make sure your left hand is in control throughout the downswing and you should be able to keep the draw out of your game.
- Soft through impact. When you want to hit a draw, you need to be aggressive through the shot. The opposite is true when you wish to hit a fade. This is a tricky point, however, as you don't want to be swinging ‘scared' or slowing down through impact. The idea is this – as the club collides with the back of the ball, your hands and arms should simply be stabilizing the club rather than actively working to turn the face of the club over to the left. As long as your arms and hands aren't too active in the impact area, you will be able to generate a fade.
- Move the club with your body. As soon as the club transitions from backswing to downswing you should be using your lower body to drive your rotation through the shot. A swing that is made mostly by rotating your body will be far more likely to create a fade than one that is led by the hands and arms. Make sure you are getting a good turn to the left early in your downswing to hit a beautiful fade time after time.
It is important to have tremendous confidence in your fade if you are going to play it consistently on the course. The worst double-cross of all is the planned fade that turns into a hook, so you have to know for certain that your ball is going to fly from left to right. Work on the three tips above to engrain the proper mechanics and eliminate that hook from your bag.
Be Smart from a Tactical Perspective
You want to do everything in your power to reduce the amount of times that you will hit a double-crosson the golf course. With that said, it is likely that you will still hit one from time to time. Knowing that, you have a responsibility to plan shots that won't damage your score too severely if you do happen to hit a double-cross. That means you need to consider all possible outcomes when you are picking a target line for each shot that you hit during a given round of golf.
To highlight this point, think back to the earlier example of trying to hit a draw on a dogleg left par four. Assuming that you are comfortable hitting a draw, you may decide that aiming right and hitting the draw is your best bet. However, you need to look out to the right and determine what trouble could await if you double-cross the shot and hit a fade. Will your ball be out-of-bounds if you hit a double-cross, or will it just be in some long grass? Is there water waiting to catch your ball if you hit it wide right? The potential dangers should have a lot to do with the shot that you ultimately decide to hit.
Every shot that you hit during a round of golf should be designed to simultaneously increase your chances of a good score and decrease your chances of an ugly score. If a double-cross off the tee could lead your ball out-of-bounds, it might be a good idea to find a different option for that shot. As mentioned above, there are multiple ways to play any golf hole, so use your creativity in order to limit risk. Keeping your ball in play as much as possible is an easy but important way to lower your scores.
The double-cross is a shot that no golfer wants to deal with. While it might not be realistic to completely remove this shot from your game, you can use the mental and physical tips above to make sure that it happens to you as little as possible.