The backswing in golf is a series of movements that places the body into an athletically loaded position from which there can be a free release of power through impact. A well-coordinated backswing is the combination or blending of three simple body movements.
Backswing movement 1 – Wrist cock:
The club is raised in the backswing due to the cocking of the wrists. To feel this motion take your normal address position and bend the wrists so that the club is lifted up in front of you.
Backswing movement 2 – Arm lift:
The club is raised up over shoulder height due to the lifting of the arms. It is important that the arm lift stays in front of the body and is not accompanied by a raising of the body or loss of posture.
Backswing movement 3 – Body rotation:
The club head moves away from the ball due to the upper body rotating away from target and loading into the rear leg. There will be a point in the backswing where you will not be able to turn the upper body any further without the lower body rotating. This is the point at which the lower body should start to turn, not before.
The challenge that most golfers face is in blending these three actions together in the correct amounts. A common mistake that players will make is to take the club away from the ball through wrist and forearm rolling. This takes the club too far behind the body and forces a correction in the downswing to get the club back to the ball – the common over the top move which starts the ball left of target.
So how can you learn a good back swing and thus make hitting the ball more consistently a little easier.
Drill 1: Handshake drill
Take your normal set up position but without a club in hand. If you are right handed, place your right hand behind your back and keep the left hand in front of you. Now turn to the right like you would to shake hands with someone. You will notice how you turn the arm and upper body together and the arm stays in front of the upper body. This is how the arm and body should work in an athletic backswing.
Drill 2: Plane drill
Take your set up with a mirror to your right side and hold a 5 iron at the bottom of the grip. Place a second club on the ground to represent your target line. Now slowly make your takeaway, arms and upper body turning together as in Drill #1 and watch your movements in the mirror. Your goal is to ensure the club you are holding is either pointing at or parallel to the club on the ground at all times while the triangle formed between your arms and chest stays in front of you. When you can do this, you are swinging on plane with arms and body working together in a well-coordinated backswing.
Derek Hooper is the Director of Instruction at Lake of Isles Golf Academy. Derek has a college degree in teaching and over 13 years experience conducting lesson programs in Australia, Japan and Taiwan. Before moving to the United States Derek was the Director of Instruction at the David Duval Golf Academy in Miyazaki, Japan. Derek can be contacted at 888.475.3746 or firstname.lastname@example.org.