The Local Knowlege


#HelpMeGolfDigest: Solve your backswing issues with Brian Manzella

By Matthew Rudy

Golf Digest 50 Best Instructor Brian Manzella is known for his devotion to advancing the science of golf instruction -- and for his devoted internet fan base. The spirited instruction discussions on the forums at have received hundreds of thousands of page views in the last five years, and Manzella interacts daily with hundreds of teachers on his golf science Facebook page. 

This week, the popular pro from New Orleans mixes science with experience to break down several hashtagged swings submitted by readers for the regular #HelpMeGolfDigest project.

The first swing comes from @tom.carroll, who can get more power and control by trimming some extraneous moves from his swing. 

"Good swing, Tom, but we can make it better by eliminating some of the slack," says Manzella, who is based at English Turn Golf & Country Club in New Orleans. "Try to have your arms and club swing away from the ball while you make a little shift to your right foot. Your torso or hips should only be turning from that arm swing away from the ball. When the club is around parallel to the ground, push up from the ground from the inside of your right foot, which will help you get your left shoulder down more as the right shoulder goes up from that push. Then, push off that right foot as the club nears the top, so you can shift over to your left leg by the time your left arm is parallel to the ground coming down, which is earlier than you're doing now. Through impact, you want your left shoulder as far away from the ball as you can get it, with your hips forward and around and your body back like you're trying to hit a high shot. Do some mirror work and use the Angel Cabrera swing sequence as a model."

Reader @mike_haugen's backswing needs some adjusting to launch the ball with his driver.     
"Move your hands slightly more away from you as the take the club back, and rotate your left arm more when the club is about halfway," says Manzella, who has worked with David Toms and a host of other professional and top amateur players. "Those moves are going to temper your across-the-line position at the top. As you come down, rotate that left arm a little more while you start to twist the shaft closed. This will keep the club from getting too steep too soon. As you come down to the ball, you can go through with more of a covering moving with your right shoulder and arm, like you're trying to bounce a ball down the target line. Work on this with a middle iron and work your way up to your driver."

Manzella says a few upgrades are all that stand between @taylorcart1993 and a low single-digit handicap.     
"Swing toward the top feeling like your right arm is turning so that you could look into your hand," says Manzella. "This will have the effect of getting the club into a steeper position instead of being overly laid off. You can let that left elbow fly a little, like Jack Nicklaus did, which will help the club be less open at the top. You won't have to chase after it so much with your upper body on the downswing trying to square the face. Practice hitting shots behind some trees and using your new moves to launch it high, keeping your head back until you're near the finish."

With any change, Manzella says he likes to see players make a succession about a dozen of back-and-forth swings in succession to develop a feel for the new movements. "It helps smooth out all the rough edges," he says. "With an iron, you should be making a little divot both going and coming." 

Be sure to submit your swing videos via Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #HelpMeGolfDigest. Another top teacher will be reviewing swings here next week.