Should Wrist Be Flat, Bowed, Or Cupped?

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 14:00 -- Don Trahan

Your wrists play an important role in your golf swing and you've most likely heard me say that good wrist action is no wrist action. However, I see a lot of students that tend to bow or break their wrists near the top of their swing. This will hamper your ability to repeat shots, so I suggest you try and maintain a flat wrist. It can be a challenge, so I'm going to provide you with some of my techniques so that you have a better chance of cementing your wrist position during the swing and at impact.

This was a topic brought up by another question sent in from Doug Boone:

Wrists: The Surge swing has many parts that deviate from conventional golf and one of them is The Surge's view on no cocking of the wrists. I have always been told that the #1 alignment in golf is a bent right wrist and a flat left wrist or even slightly bowed is better. All players have these qualities at the top of their swing but only the great players are able to sustain it. There in lie the difference between players, how long can you sustain this position and the lag it creates? This is not just my opinion, it is geometry.

There are schools of thought that say that on the backswing the player must not attempt to cock the right wrist, it will happen on the way down all by itself. Hogan did not say that he wished he had 3 right arms for nothing.

You must have flat wrists, especially at impact. They should remain flat, firm, and solid, all while maintaining the same angle you set at address. Your hands will win the race to the ball, with the clubhead arriving just fractions after. This is why they cannot break, otherwise your clubhead can come into impact either open or closed instead of square.

Be sure to watch the video as I give guidelines on how to set up from the moment you pick up a club. 

Keep it vertical!

The Surge

If you can't view the YouTube video above try CLICKING HERE. You must allow popups from this site for the link to work.


Dave Everitt's picture

Submitted by Dave Everitt on

I hit the ball well with what I would call, a slightly cupped left wrist at address. Making sure that the butt of the grip points left of my belt buckle helps to keep the cup from being excessive. Perhaps the "relatively flat wrist" that Surge describes is just another way of saying the same thing.

A totally flat left wrist at address, does not work for me, because too much manipulation is required to reach the desired top of backswing position. It would also be too easy, to go from a flat left wrist at address, to a slightly bowed one and that can results in all kinds of bad shots.

Steve Smith's picture

Submitted by Steve Smith on

If I have a choice I'll take a bowed left wrist over a cupped one at impact any day.

Flat is fine. Bowed is fine. Cupped means I just turned into a flipper.

Dave Everitt's picture

Submitted by Dave Everitt on

I was talking about the left wrist at address, not at impact. I know if I maintain a firm grip with the lower fingers of the left hand the wrist stays relatively flat/slightly cupped to the top of the backswing and I hit a lot of straight shots. I don't really care what angle the left wrist is at impact as long as the balls keep going long and straight.
Although I haven't seen Tom Watson's "Lessons of a Lifetime", I understand that he advocates a slight cupping of the left wrist throughout the swing.

Dave Everitt's picture

Submitted by Dave Everitt on

His grip looks exactly like mine at address, not flat but slightly cupped. It flattens as he takes it back and bows as he takes it to parallel at the top. He certainly does retain the bow through impact.

I can't see how a bowed wrist at the top of a 3/4 turn, upright backswing would be compatible with the Surge swing. I would probably hook it off the planet instead of hitting it straight..

Kedick62's picture

Submitted by Kedick62 on

You always show the club in your right hand when making your setup does it matter if the club is in your left hand when you walk into the ball and complete your grip and setup.

Dave Everitt's picture

Submitted by Dave Everitt on

I don't know how Surge would answer this. I've tried it both ways and find holding the club in my right hand, helps with aiming the face at an intermediate target and seems to be a more natural way of walking into the shot. It's easier to feel where the club is aimed for any type of shot when using my dominant hand. My tendency, is to set up closed and too far right of the target, if I walk into the setup holding the club in them my left hand hand.

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

I also walk in with the club in the right hand for the reasons you stated. On your point of setting up closed and aiming too far right I concur 100%. If we are clear as to our aiming point and intermediate target, walking in with our body open helps us to set our feet parallel left. When I had the honor of playing with Don several years ago I notice how he walks in and at first he seemed to be too open and had his foot line aimed a bit too far left. Actually he was spot on in his alignment. I have practiced this routine including the "two step" as he calls it and now it has become automatic. I am looking forward to some day soon meeting him again and just maybe be one of those that get alignment correct while in his presence.

As for his description of the wrists in the swing, again I work on this constantly. For me it is the left wrist that gets the most attention. Keeping it flat and then thinking and feeling thumbs up in the BUS and then still feel it flat (not cupped or bowed) coming down. As he said the right hand then crosses over (rolls over) and the right hand is the flat one in the FUS after impact. My challenge at times is over rotating my hands (right over left) in the follow through. So it's best thumbs up again in the BUS.'s picture

Submitted by barrowcloughr@a... on

so its ok to cup the right wrist? i must say i find it very hard to differentiate between cupping and hinging, which is frowned upon by the Surge. can someone explain the difference please?

Robert Fleck's picture

Submitted by Robert Fleck on

I believe as Surge uses the term, hinging the wrists is when they are actively moved toward the sides of the arm, not the top or bottom of the arm. Hinging the wrists will also generally create either cupping or bowing, because they simply won't move very far on that plane otherwise.

In general, Surge believes we should maintain the wrists as much as possible in the orientation where we have them at setup until impact. At the same time, we want to be firm, not stiff.