START BACK IN ONE PIECE: When I begin my takeaway I make sure my shoulders, arms, hands and club are moving together as if they were one unit.
I recall reading an article in which Arnold Palmer said the first couple of feet of the swing are the most important. I believe it. The takeaway does a lot to determine your swing path and tempo.
If you're right-handed, concentrate on moving the club back off the ball with your left hand, forearm and shoulder maintaining the same relationship they had when you addressed it. The right hand is just along for the ride.
As for the set up, you should be able to see that your forearms and upper body create a triangle. Your goal is to maintain that triangle during the initial part of the backswing.
I want a feeling of togetherness among my hands, arms and body until the clubhead is past my right foot (above). Then the weight of the club will cause the wrists to bend. They'll naturally hinge as the club gets to the top of the backswing and put you in position to come down on an inside path. One more thing: Don't hold the triangle too long into the backswing. If you do, your right arm won't fold properly.
Ernie Els is an example of a player who perfects this unified takeaway. A key checkpoint can be seen in this bottom photo. Notice that the clubhead looks slightly outside the target line but my hands are inside it, like they started. This means everything is moving back together. If you break your wrists too soon and flip the club inside the target line at the beginning of the swing, it'll feel heavy, and you'll struggle to make an effective downswing.
WATSON is a Golf Digest Playing Editor and the golf professional emeritus at The Greenbrier, in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.