The Backswing

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Posture … the starting point for the swing

 

Yes, this is a review ... it's that important

Posture creates the possibility for a natural, free-flowing swing

The old saying about “sit on a barstool” is a ticket to bad golf.  The knees should barely break.  When you sit too deeply, you balance moves to your heels.  This is a swing killer.  Your back should be relatively straight not only to help your swing, but to protect your back.  Humpbacked whale golfers will end up with back problems.  Properly fitted clubs are necessary for hanging your arms.  Shafts that are too long require you to reach for the ball or have an excessive wrist angle and upright lie.  Reaching causes an out to in swingpath.  A toe up lie angle pulls the ball.  An large wrist angle causes you to steer or flip with your hands.

From a correct posture, you can make an easy shoulder turn while keeping your vertical swing center level.

 

 

Swingpath … semi-circles aimed at your target

The inside to square to inside swingpath is the natural result of a relatively stable swing center … the head moves laterally with the shoulder turn … and the folding of the elbows.  The arms and shaft form a “Y” shape at address and in the impact area.  On the backswing, the left arm and club shaft form the radius for the arc of the clubhead.  At impact and for a few inches through impact, both arms are fully extended, controlling the length of the swing arc.  On the followthru (waist high), the left elbow is slightly folded, allowing the right arm to control the swing arc.  The important point is knowing and trusting that a slinging/throwing motion a round a swing center will produce a very consistent swingpath.  At all times at least one arm is straight.

 

The 3-Part, 3-Quarter Backswing Motion

The golf swing is performed better as a three part motion rather than the traditional 2 part, back and through.  A three part motion lends itself to a "Slooow annd THROW" swing rhythm.  The Slooow is the backswing up to chest high.  The annd is the transition.  The THROW is the release and followthru motion.

The three orange arrows indicate the movement of the hands, arm and club up to the 3/4 backswing position.  The transition (dark blue arrows) begins at the 3/4 backswing position with the cocking of your wrists and the club over you shoulders.  The transition consist of three movements ... cock, bump and drop.  The transition ends somewhere near the waist.  The forward swing (green arrows) consists of a hold down to YOUR release point and a throwing of the handle of the club through impact and early, middle and late followthru.

Swingplane

The inside to square to inside swingpath is the natural result of a relatively stable swing center … the head moves laterally with the shoulder turn … and the folding of the elbows.  The arms and shaft form a “Y” shape at address and in the impact area.  On the backswing, the left arm and club shaft form the radius for the arc of the clubhead.  At impact and for a few inches through impact, both arms are fully extended, controlling the length of the swing arc.  On the followthru (waist high), the left elbow is slightly folded, allowing the right arm to control the swing arc.  The important point is knowing and trusting that a slinging/throwing motion a round a swing center will produce a very consistent swingpath.  At all times at least one arm is straight.

 

 

 

 

The Correct Use of the Hands

 The correct use of your hands is to NOT use your hands.  The mental image of holding a book between the palms of your hands conveys the correct idea of using both hands to move the handle away from the ball.  Other concepts include ... forget the clubhead, it only goes where the handle has gone first and the shoulder are the prime movers/motor for the swing.  Most recreational players have a difficult time trying to rotate the shoulders while keeping the the handle "in front" of their body.  First the term in front is golf pro speek for the triangle formed by the shoulder line and both arms.  At address this triangle looks like a capital "Y".  As the handle reaches a point just past the trail hip, the Y begins to deform into a lower case "y" as the elbow begins to fold.  If the handle is in front of your chest, there will be a generally straight line relationship between the center of your chest, the center of your grip (your thumbs) and the shaft.  This two-handed takeaway technique insures there will be minimum hand action ... no radial (thumbs "cock" towards forearms or flexion/extension of the wrists

 

         

Wrong

Flexion /Extension

Wrong

Pronation/Supination

Correct

Neutral wrist position

2/4 Backswing … swing extension and weight transfer

What to Think What to Do What NOT to Do What to Feel

Thumbs back and on top of the shaft; imagine moving your thumbs into a catcher’s mitt … shaft point straight back away from the target, thumbs up on top of the shaft and toe of the club points to the sky.  Weight moves to back foot, elbow is folding

Slightly increase your grip pressure in both hands by “pinching” the thumb and index fingers of the right hand against the shaft, pinky pressure to connect the hands and the last three fingers of the left hand; Move both hands at the same time … swing the handle

No rolling of the wrists.  No early wrist cock.  No extended right arm.

Lead arm extends away from the body; Trail arm folds at the elbow; thumbs up on top of the shaft … swing the “Y” to waist high.

 

3/4 Upswing … shoulder turn and complete weight transfer

The image on the right illustrates my concept of how the length of the backswing can vary among individuals, yet be fundamentally sound regardless of length.  All five checkpoints of a solid backswing have been accomplished … nose on the ball, left shoulder behind the ball, weight transferred onto the right foot, elbow down and connected grip.  The backswing consists of 3 movements or 1/3 positions (takeaway, backswing and  upswing to chest high).  The transition consists of 3 movements … cock, bump and drop.  The forward swing consists of 3 movements ... hold, turn and throw.  These technical points can be learned separately but must be blended into one slow (backswing) and (transition) throw (foreswing) movement.

The picture on the lower left illustrates the completion of the backswing.  Note the delayed wrist cock.  Doing this ensures a full shoulder turn and weight transfer.  The middle bottom picture represents the fundamental of keeping the right elbow pointed at the ground.  All five top of the backswing checkpoints of correct performance have been accomplished.  The bottom right picture represents two critical fundamentals.  First the left wrist should be as flat as possible, showing no bowing or "layed" off flexion,  and second the right palm must remain connected to the left thumb.  If you grip stays connected at the top, your left elbow cannot "fly". 

The length of your backswing will be determined by your body build and flexibility.  The best news is all of this is natural.  The backswing will naturally stop when you feel the stretch of your left arm across your chest. 

All of this is actually a matter of having a correct posture and using a two-handed movement of the grip.

 

Moving the club away from the ball has always been subject of far too much discussion.  The initiation of the backswing is a critical point of performance, but it is neither difficult to understand or to execute.  A good starting point is to look at the things that should and should not happen.

1.        There is a progressively proportional and synchronized relationship between the hands,  hips and the shoulders

a.       At the top of the backswing and at the finish of the forward swing, there is about a 2:1 difference in the rotation between the hips and the shoulders … the shoulders showing twice as much turn

b.      At the top of the backswing the hips have turned about 45° (relative to the target line) and the shoulders have turned 90° (or more for more flexible players

c.       At the finish position  the hips have turned about 90° (stomach faces the target) while the shoulders have rotated about 135°

d.      This change in rotational positions is smooth

 

The Whole Swing is a 3 Part, not a 2 Part motion … the setting of the hands by cocking the wrists at the top of the backswing is presented as part of the Transition phase of the 3 Part swing motion.  While learning, focus your attention on the movement of the handle.  The clubhead goes nowhere the handle has not gone before.  The handle is your only point of contact with the club.  The position of your hands relative to the position of the handle at different points in the swing motion will determine your success of failure.  If the handle is out of position, the clubhead will also be out of position.  Learning can proceed from slow-mo part swings to longer, faster normal swing.  As a general rule of thumb, NEVER swing the handle faster than you can sense it's position. 

Sling the Handle

 

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Copyright © 1992  [CraftSmith Golf Enterprises].  All rights reserved.  Revised: January 15, 2016