How to start your swing
October 17, 2007
One of the basics in golf instruction is the concept of a "one-piece" takeaway -- the club, arms and body moving away from the ball together. Players from beginner level to the tour practice it every day.But they are making the swing harder than it has to be. Much harder. A one-piece takeaway causes a fatal flaw in your backswing, a flaw that can be overcome only by compensations and lots of athleticism.In every swing, the clubhead travels a much greater distance from address to the top of the backswing than the arms, shoulders or hips do. That's simple physics. But with a one-piece takeaway, the body turns early, then has to stop and wait for the arms and club to catch up. When the body has to wait, it tends to tilt toward the target, and the arms move out of sequence and lift. Unless you make a compensation, you lose a lot of power.One simple move to start back -- the one on the previous two pages -- will get your swing in sync. The first thing you should move in your backswing is the clubhead. With a subtle clockwise rotation of your left forearm, start the clubhead away from the ball, without moving your hands from their address position, and let your right wrist cock.As soon as the clubhead moves, feel as if you're pushing down on the end of the grip with the heel pad of your left hand, so that the butt of the club points to the ground. It should feel as though the end of the grip is pointing straight down before your hands get past the outside of your thigh on the way back.By getting the clubhead into this position early in your backswing, you're setting your swing up so the club, arms and body can reach the top all at once. Then you can return the club to the ball on a good path and plane without making any quick compensations.Your swing might feel "handsy" at first, but know that your hands will be so much less active when it counts: through impact. Getting synchronized this way, at the start of the move away, is why players like Ernie Els (see his driver sequence) and Charles Howell III look so effortless when they swing. For them, the club, arms and body move in sync. By starting right, you can have that, too.
Even from a good address position, it's amazing how quickly things can go wrong if you're out of sync.
The club, arms and body go back together. Notice how far my left shoulder has turned already.
Look how my arms have lifted compared to below. My body is turned and now must wait for my arms.
When the body has to stop, it tends to tilt toward the target, which costs power and accuracy.
My upper body and lower body are stacked, and my arms are loose so I can start back correctly.
The club and arms swing first, before the body. Shoulder turn comes from the club's momentum.
My wrists are fully set, and my left arm is still low. Now I simply keep turning my shoulders to get to the top.
The club, arms and body arrive at the top together. I'm coiled over my right side, ready to start down.
The best reference point for an in-sync swing is an imaginary line in front of your toes, parallel to your target line. Practice with a club in front of your toes. If you swing everything back together, the club will pull back to the inside, well behind the line (left). From there, you'll have to re-route the club back to the ball.
Instead, when you go through your takeaway, be sure the club swings in line with the shaft on the ground.