by Derek Hooper
When players think of the backswing, they usually focus on two things. The first, if the club does not reach at least a horizontal position, then the player made less than a full swing. The second, the longer the backswing the further they will be able to hit the ball. If this was true, why then do we see so many PGA Tour players with backswings where their club does not reach horizontal yet they hit the ball such long distances?
When we are assessing a player’s swing in our Golf Schools, we are looking at a couple of key areas when making decisions about the efficiency of a backswing:
1. Body rotation. In an athletic backswing, we are looking for the upper body to have turned about 90 degrees to the target line and the hips about 40 to 45 degrees. In this position the back is facing target, and the lead shoulder is turned under the chin.
2. Weight transfer. The role of the backswing is to load the body so that you can unload into the downswing thus producing high club head speed and distance. While turning into the backswing, feel as though you pivot around your trail hip. This will allow the weight to load into the inside of your trail foot. In this position, you are balanced and loaded behind the ball to be able to make a dynamic and explosive move into the downswing.
3. Arm position. The arms and upper body need to work together to provide consistency in both backswing and through impact. At address the hands and arms are in front of the chest. At impact they are in a similar position. If the arms are in front of the chest at address and impact it makes sense to keep them in front for the entire swing rather than getting them out of position in the backswing and then trying to recapture that position in the downswing.
There are a couple of very good yet simple drills that you can do to learn the movements of an athletic backswing:
Basketball Drill. Take your normal address posture and hold a basketball in both hands in front of you. Keeping your elbows close to the body, turn to the right, for a right hand player, pretending to hand the ball to someone. Once there, lift the arms up in front of the body, being sure to maintain good posture. This is a great example of how the backswing works. The upper body rotation takes the arms and basketball away and then the arms lift in front of the body to get the ball above shoulder height.
Shoulder Arms Drill - From your normal address position keep your body angles and cock the wrists to bring the club up in front of you. Then lift your arms in front of the body to set the club over your trail shoulder before finally turning the upper body as you would in your backswing. This is where you should be at the top of your backswing and this drill is a very simple way of learning that position.
Derek Hooper is the Director of Instruction at Lake of Isles Golf Academy. Derek has a college degree in teaching and over 14 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.