Tag Archives: Derek Hooper

In-Swing Fundamentals – The Backswing II

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 dhooper@troongolf.com.

In-Swing Fundamentals – The Take Away

by Derek Hooper

The first 18 inches of your take away set you up for either a smooth, athletic swing or a swing which is a series of corrections and recoveries in an attempt to get the club back on the ball at impact. We all recognize that the club must move away from the ball to start the backswing and the easiest way to do this is with the hands and forearms. This is the easiest way but not the most efficient when your goal is high club head speed and center of club face contact.

The object of any take away is to get the club moving away wide and on plane. Width will help in the production of club head speed and thus distance. An on plane swing will help to produce consistency in the centeredness of strike. So how can you make a good take away and avoid the pitfalls that so many golfers fall into when starting their backswing?

Drill 1: Club in Stomach

In your golf address position take a 7-iron and place the butt end of the club into your stomach. Take your golf- grip on the club with your arms hanging as they would in your normal address position. This will mean your hands are placed on the shaft of the club. In this position the club will be pointing at the target line.
From this position take the triangle you have created between your arms and chest and turn that all together into your take away. The club should remain on your stomach and perpendicular to your chest. In doing this the club head will stay in front of you and outside your hand line. When doing this drill the club should not reach horizontal and the club should always stay in front of your chest.

This is a great drill in that it gives you the correct feeling of the upper body and club working away together into the take away.


Drill 2: Mirror Drill

Take your set up with a mirror to your non-target side – right side for right hand players. Place a second club on the ground to represent your target line. Now slowly make your takeaway with arms and upper body together while watching your movements in the mirror. Your goal is to ensure the club you are holding is always either pointing at or parallel to the club on the ground. Continue the backswing until the club reaches hip high or horizontal. At this point the club should be parallel to the target line.

You will notice in doing this drill that the wrists cock the club away and the club head stays outside the hand line. This is the correct move in the take away – the upper body rotation moves the club away from the ball and the wrists cock to gradually lift the club up into the backswing.

Once you get the correct take away feeling from these drills, then you are ready to take it to the range and start working on your take away while hitting some balls.

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 dhooper@troongolf.com