What is a Double Cross Shot and Why Should Golfers Care?

Every golfer has likely experienced the anguish of hitting a “double cross” shot at some point – when the ball violently starts down one direction off the target line before bizarrely curving all the way back in the opposite direction. These extreme banana ball flights can frustrate even the most experienced players. While sometimes caused by an unexpected gust of wind, double crosses more often result from a perfect storm of swing faults coming together. In this guide, we’ll explore the swing mechanics behind double crosses, how to detect them, their consequences on distance and accuracy, whether they can be permanently resolved, and useful drills, mental cues and equipment adjustments to minimize these scoring nightmares.

What Causes a Double Cross in Golf?

A double cross is when a right-handed golfer hits a shot that starts out going left of the intended target line (a pull) but then curves back extremely from left-to-right (a severe slice). For a left-handed golfer, it’s the opposite – the ball starts right but then snaps severely from right-to-left.

The root cause of a double cross is typically a combination of several swing faults working together. It often starts with an overly open clubface at impact which imparts a powerful left-to-right sidespin on the ball (for a righty). However, the club path may also be severely coming from outside-to-in across the target line, further exacerbating the left-to-right spin.

In addition, many double cross shots involve strikes where the club’s heel impacts the ball first. This de-lofts the club even further and reduces backspin, allowing the sidespin to dominate and the ball flight to turn over aggressively. A hard release or flip of the hands through impact can also produce a double-crossed ball flight.

Finally, a double cross frequently happens when the golfer’s swing plane is too upright on the backswing and too flat or across-the-line on the downswing. This creates a severely out-to-in club path into impact and increases the likelihood of a dramatic left-to-right ball movement.

So in summary, a double cross results from an open clubface, out-to-in swing path, lack of backspin, and clubhead traveling steeply from outside-to-in through impact – a perfect storm of swing faults combining to produce one of golf’s most exaggerated sidespin ball flights.

How Can You Identify a Double Cross Pattern in Your Swing?

How Can You Identify a Double Cross Pattern in Your Swing?

One of the clearest signs of a double cross pattern is seeing an excessively bent ball flight that initially starts pulling across the target line before violently curving back in the opposite direction. For a right-handed golfer, double crosses will leak out dramatically to the left before snapping all the way back to the far right.

Paying close attention to your divot pattern can also reveal clues about a double cross tendency. Those who double cross will typically have divots that point well left of the target (for a righty) due to the severely out-to-in club path through impact. The divots may also be relatively shallow from the lack of descending blow.

On course video can be extremely helpful for detecting double cross issues in your swing. Look for videos where your clubface is open relative to the path very early in the downswing. Also watch for how quickly the clubhead gets trapped behind your body line in the downswing – a potential sign of an overly flat or in-to-out swing path.

Getting some face tape or foot spray on the clubface can sometimes make double crossing more visible by highlighting where precisely on the face you’re striking the ball. Consistent heel strikes that de-loft the face would suggest a double cross pattern.

Finally, have a knowledgeable instructor closely analyze your swing mechanics from multiple angles, looking for faults like: over-the-top move, early opening of clubface, standing too close to the ball, swinging too upright, or flipping the hands through impact. Any of these could be contributing to double crosses.

The bottom line is to watch your ball flight diligently, check your divots/face strikes, use video analysis, and get an expert eye check on your swing mechanics. With careful observation, most double cross issues can be rapidly diagnosed.

What are the Consequences of Frequently Double Crossing the Ball?

The biggest consequence of consistently hitting a double cross shot is the massive loss of distance it causes. Because the ball starts out traveling so severely off-line before curving back, a tremendous amount of extra sidespin is imparted. This exponentially increases drag forces on the ball, ripping away both carry and roll distances.

Even on well-struck double crosses, golfers can expect to lose 20-40 yards of total distance compared to straight shots hit with a similar club. And on mishits where contact is heeled or the face is wide open, it’s not uncommon to see 50+ yards of distance evaporate. Forget about holding approach shots on line to tucked pins.

Accuracy is also terribly compromised when double crossing frequently. The violent left-to-right ball curvature makes it extremely difficult to know how much the ball will realistically curve back towards the target line. Doubles crosses that just keep bending may miss fairways and greens by massive margins to either side.

This inaccuracy and inconsistent curvature from double crosses obliterates a golfer’s scoring potential. Scrambling for pars becomes the norm as these shots make consistently hitting greens in regulation almost impossible. The ups and downs in ball curves from round-to-round can wreak havoc on a player’s confidence over the ball as well.

Finally, the faulty swing mechanics that cause the double cross often put golfers at risk of extra injury stress. The violent twisting and manipulations required to produce the cross-crossing ball flight can dangerously strain back, knee, arm and shoulder joints over thousands of repetitive swings if not corrected.

In summary, massive distance loss, inaccuracy, severely limited scoring, shattered confidence, and potential injury stresses are all very real consequences golfers face if they fail to identify and fix a recurrent double cross ball-striking issue.

Can a Double Cross Pattern Be Eliminated Permanently?

Can a Double Cross Pattern Be Eliminated Permanently?

The good news is that for most golfers, a double cross ball flight pattern can absolutely be corrected and prevented from returning with proper instruction and diligent practice. However, it does require making sometimes significant changes to swing mechanics that may feel uncomfortable initially.

For a double cross to occur, there are typically several swing faults that have to come together in a kind of “perfect storm.” An open clubface, overly upright swing plane, severely out-to-in club path, and lack of rotation are usually the main culprits. Fixing any one of those issues alone can help reduce double crosses, but the best results come from comprehensively addressing all the relevant swing flaws.

Working with an instructor to build a more neutral/square clubface position and swing path is critical. Drills like foot spray practice, gate drills, and focused face control training can instill feel for consistently squaring the face at impact. Recording swing videos to check face/path relationship is also very useful during this process.

Changes to grip, ball position, posture and alignment may be needed as well to encourage a swing plane and path that avoids getting too upright and over-the-top on the downswing. The hips and shoulders need to properly rotate and lead the downswing for an in-to-square path.

It should also be noted that for some golfers, frequent double crosses could potentially be caused by a legitimate body asymmetry that tilts or planes their swing in a certain direction. In these cases, medical evaluation and tailored swing adjustments may be required.

The bottom line is that while a double cross can be a very difficult ball flight to groove and play with, making comprehensive changes with expert instruction gives golfers an excellent chance of eliminating this destructive pattern from their game permanently. It does take diligent, patient practice, but the payoff in regained accuracy and distance is huge.

What Drills and Swing Thoughts Can Help Minimize Double Crosses?

One of the most effective drills for reducing double crosses is working on squaring the clubface at impact. Setting up a alignment stick box around the ball and trying to swing through while brushing the sticks helps ingrain a square face position through the hitting area. Foot spray or Dr. Scholls foot powder can also provide valuable face feedback.

Another good drill is making practice swings while holding the club directly out in front of you at arm’s length. Focus on keeping the clubface rotating back to the target line in the downswing rather than hanging back and re-opening. This helps groove an in-to-square path.

Many top instructors recommend the “9 to 3” drill as a swing thought to prevent the over-the-top move that often initiates a double cross. Imagine your arm swing is just turning back and through on a door hinge from 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock in the hitting direction. This encourages a shallower, in-to-out swing path.

Placing an alignment rod on the ground just outside the target line can also help ingrain an in-to-out path visually. Make practice swings stopping the club after it crosses the rod – this simulates an in-to-square delivery path.

One of the best drills is to hit balls hitting a high 9 iron shot, then immediately a low 7 iron while holding your finish. The shaft plane and release patterns required are direct opposites, requiring tremendous adjustment and focus.

From a mental perspective, one simple thought is feeling that you’re simply swinging “around” your body and turning through impact rather than coming over the top. Another is imagining you’re trying to cover the ball with a big arm towel swing from the inside.

Ultimately, a combination of these drills and swing thoughts can help create the muscle memory and feel needed to minimize double crosses while improving overall path, face control, and body rotation.

Are There Any Equipment Adjustments to Combat a Double Cross Tendency?

Are There Any Equipment Adjustments to Combat a Double Cross Tendency?

While making swing changes is the most direct way to eliminate double crosses, adjusting certain equipment variables can provide some assistance as well. One of the most impactful adjustments is strengthening or delofting the club face angle relative to the path.

For example, if a golfer is fighting a double cross with the driver, their fitter may start by adding loft (strengthening the face angle 1-2 degrees upright). This makes it harder for the face to remain excessively open through impact and impart sidespin that causes the violent left-to-right球flight.

Similarly, adjusting the lie angle flatter can help players with an overly upright swing plane better square the face more consistently. Getting closer to a neutral delivery path minimizes the gearing effect that opens the face further on steeper over-the-top swings.

Shaft choices can influence how much or little a double cross curve is exaggerated as well. Golfers who double cross may benefit from a slightly shorter, stiffer shaft that reduces the deflection and gearing effect of the club face turning over. Less load on the shaft can quiet down severe in-to-out club head releases.

In the short game, using more upright bounce/edges on wedges can make it easier to strike the ball cleaner without excessive squaring and opening of the face through impact. Higher bounce angles help minimize those heeled strikes that start a double cross.

Finally, some golfers who just cannot overcome their double cross issues may want to experiment with an offset or draw-biased driver. While masking the root cause, the built-in hooking bias at least cancels out some of the excessive right-to-left spin.

While equipment changes alone can’t cure the swing flaws behind double crosses, making some calculated adjustments in loft, lie, length, shaft, and club design can provide helpful Band-Aids as bigger swing changes are implemented long-term.

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