As you address the golf ball there are some critical parts of the setup that must be in place before you start the backswing.
Across from Belt Buckle
Having the grip-end of the golf club across from your belt buckle assures you of having your head in the correct position, not tilted too far to the left side or the right side of the golf ball. The second part is your spine is probably in the correct position, if the grip end is pointing towards you chin, your spine is too long. If the grip end is pointing lower than your belt buckle, your spine is bent over too much. Lastly, the most crucial part is the golf club is soled on the ground with the correct amount of loft.
The golf club being soled correctly on the ground is the sure guarantee that you are in the correct set-up, after you confirm all the positions that we discussed above.
One of the top five most asked questions in the past 25 years has been, “What starts the backswing?” The answer is a bit complex, so grab your Hi-Liter and let’s get started.
One Piece Take-away
Right Shoulder Turns as Arm Swings Club
The take-away is one piece all the way until it arrives at the 9:00 o’clock position (we will get to that in two sections).
As you start back, both knees are flexed and during the backswing- the right knee NEVER changes positions. It does not flex more, nor does it straighten out and it does not slide back away from the target.
The left knee also plays a major role in the backswing. It does not move towards the line of flight and it does not straighten out. As the golf club starts back, the left knee moves towards the right knee as a RESULT of the upper body turning and the lower body resisting this turn. The left knee never passes the golf ball in the backswing.
If the golf club travels outside in the backswing the right shoulder will tilt up in the backswing and the golf club will swing vertical to the ground in the downswing. If the golf club travels too much to the inside of the arc in the backswing, the golf club will travel too level to the golf ball in the downswing. If the golf club swings too straight back you will have a tendency to hit the ball in the heel of the club at impact.
Too Much Outside
Too Much Inside
Too Straight Back
When the golf club travels back on the correct path the combination of the arms and hands will be able to swing the golf club back to the correct position at the top of the backswing as long as the right shoulder turns out of the way.
When the shaft of the golf club is level to the ground and parallel to your intended target line- we refer to that position as 9 o’clock.
First Check-Point is the 9 O’Clock Position
When you reach 9 o’clock, you are half-way back and this is a great time to stop and take a look around, as long as you know what you are looking for. The first thing you want to take a look at- is the golf club in the exact correct position? The club should be parallel to your target line and level to the ground. The second part to take a look at- is the right shoulder turning and not tilting? It is very difficult to get to 9 o’clock with a tilted right shoulder.
Right Shoulder Tilted Too Much
Right Shoulder Turned Too Level
If the right shoulder is tilting up the golf club will most likely be outside the path and pointed up. If the right shoulder turns too much in the backswing the golf club will swing around you too much. If you are in the correct position, it is time to head back to the top of the backswing.
From 9 to the Top
From 9 to the Top
This can only happen if you continue to turn the right shoulder out of the way. As the right shoulder turns out of the way, the arms, hands and golf club will continue to swing inside, however, after the golf club passes the 9 o’clock position, it will have to swing up. This combination is what I believe is the most difficult part of the backswing.
You can not stop turning the shoulder. If you do stop turning the golf club will start to swing up to much. If you continue to swing the golf club around with the shoulders the golf club will swing too much around.
Shoulders Stop Turning, Club Swings Up
Shoulders Turning Correctly
Hopefully this article gave you some insight. Certainly a detailed breakdown is worth a thousand words. Next week, we will study the Top of the Backswing.
This article is a sampling of what is available in the new book The Full Swing written by the same author that brought us Simple Swing. If you want to get a book that breaks down the golf swing in detail in hopes of riding that next wave of improvement, you owe it to yourself to check this one out, The Full Swing!