The beginning motion of the golf swing - the movement of the golf club away from the golf ball - is termed the 'takeaway'. Find out how to perfect the 'takeaway' movement and produce a connected backswing for a more consistent golf swing with this tip.
A connected backswing is one that is very simple and powered by the shoulders. In it's purest form, there are only two movements that make up a good backswing. These are the turn of the body, predominantly with the shoulders, and a hinge of the wrists towards the end of the backswing. Most golfers add extra movements to the backswing usually by moving the legs and arms. These extra movements produce no extra power but often feel to the golfer like they do. In fact, they make the backswing more complicated by adding more movements. When this happens, there needs to be more movements on the way down to the golf ball which produces inconsistency as sometimes the golfer will recover those extra movements and manoeuvre the golf club back to the ball effectively and sometimes not.
If the golf swing stays simple with little or no movement in the arms and legs during the backswing, the swing back should resemble the golfer's set up position. At the beginning of the golf swing, the golfer should be setting up to the ball with the arms hanging fairly straight and underneath the shoulders. When this set up position is correct, a triangular shape is created between the arms and the shoulders which will be maintained all through the backswing if there is only a turn of the body and hinge of the wrists. This is what is meant by a good connection as the arms do not move independently of the body, which provides a more compact, simpler and therefore more consistent golf swing.
To produce a connected backswing, the takeaway movement is extremely important. If the takeaway movement is simple with a simple body turn and no separate arm or hand movement then the precedent is set for the rest of the swing to be the same. This is termed a 'one piece takeaway'. A 'one piece takeaway' is just that, where the golfer moves the golf club away from the ball at the start of the swing with just one movement. The movement is a straight turn of the body. The hips and shoulders begin to rotate and if the arms and hands stay extremely still, the club head will move slowly and controlled in a straight line away from the golf ball. This sets the tone for the backswing to be simple and slow and therefore consistent and connected.
An exercise to practice a one piece takeaway and a connected backswing is to take the club low and slowly away from the ball. This simple swing thought is powerfully effective as 'low' means keeping the club head low to the ground in the takeaway action meaning that the hands and arms do not lift the club up so that the shoulders and bigger muscles are used instead. 'Slow' means that there are no jerky movements and the swing starts in a very controlled manner. To help with the swing thoughts also use a prop. Put a tee peg in the ground approximately six to eight inches directly behind the golf ball. When taking the club away from the ball, think 'low and slow', turn the body away from ball and gently tap the tee behind the ball with the golf club head. Then complete the backswing and hit the ball.
This exercise will encourage a more connected backswing and mean more consistent golf shots.
Low and Slow for a Connected Backswing
The shots that you hit on the golf course are a culmination of everything that has happened during the swing leading up to impact. There is no one single part of the swing that is the 'most important' – each piece is important, as they all have to add up properly to reach a successful conclusion. If any one part of your swing is not doing its job, the entire thing could easily fall apart. In the content below, we are going to focus on the backswing, which is one of the key ingredients that you need to have in place. Specifically, we are going to look at the early portion of the backswing, also known as the takeaway. When you get the takeaway right, you will be setting yourself up nicely for success later in the swing.
Unfortunately, many amateur golfers get the takeaway almost completely wrong. By getting off to a bad start, these players are unable to recover later in the swing, and they hit poor shots in the end. If you have ever struggled with the slice, for example, there is a good chance that you were making at least one or two mistakes during the takeaway phase of your backswing. By cleaning up the takeaway, you can quickly improve the overall quality of your swing without even making any other changes. Professional golfers regularly work on the takeaway because they understand just how important it is to ball striking as a whole. It might not be terribly exciting to stand on the range and work on your takeaway, but the pay off could be rather significant in the end.
One of the nice things about working on your takeaway is the fact that it can have a positive impact on the rest of your game. When you use a good takeaway in your full swing, that motion will typically help you perform better in the short game. Unlike other parts of the swing, the takeaway doesn't change much from the long game to the short game, so any gains that you make with your full swing in terms of the takeaway should translate nicely into other areas. In this way, you can have a positive effect on your abilities all over the course just by working on this one important fundamental. You always want to get the best possible return on your time when you practice, and investing time and effort in the takeaway is a choice that is very likely to produce results.
As with anything else in golf, you are going to need to bring some patience with you to this process if you want to be successful. Yes, you could potentially see positive results rather quickly when you improve your takeaway, but there are almost certainly going to be some 'growing pains' along the way as well. You have to be willing to hit a few poor shots on the range, and feel a bit uncomfortable in the process, before you can break through and really take strides forward. Stick with it, have a positive attitude, and look forward to the great golf you are going to play in the near future.
All of the content below is based on a right handed golfer. If you happen to play left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
One of the best ways to improve your golf game is to gain a firm understanding of how most swings go wrong. When you understand what it is that causes the average golf swing to fall short, you can then go about forming your swing in a way that will be productive. It is extremely helpful to understand as much as you can about the golf swing, and it is often best to start with the 'bad stuff' before learning proper technique.
To that end, the following points are the common ways in which a takeaway can go wrong. Countless amateurs make the mistakes below, and they pay the price in the way of poor performance. If you can avoid including any of these points in the early part of your backswing, you will be well on your way toward better ball striking.
- Using too much hand action. This is easily the biggest problem that is experienced by amateur golfers during the takeaway. When you use your hand too actively in the takeaway, there are a number of problems which can quickly arise. For one thing, you will likely force the club to the inside of the proper path, meaning you will have to move 'over the top' during the transition at the top of the swing – a classic move which leads to a slice. Also, using excess hand action will speed the club up too abruptly, causing problems with the rhythm and tempo of your swing.
- Moving other parts of your body. The takeaway should be a 'quiet' part of the swing, with only your shoulders and arms getting in on the action at this point. Unfortunately, many players allow other parts of their body to move early on as well, including the lower body and the head. Moving your body around during the takeaway is going to make it rather difficult to strike the ball cleanly when you return to impact. When it comes to the takeaway, 'quieter' is almost always better.
- Waiting too long to start. This isn't a problem with the takeaway itself, but rather the moments leading up to the start of the swing. When you get into your stance over the ball, there shouldn't be much of a delay between taking your address position and starting the swing. Some players get 'stuck' at this point – a mistake that is going to lead to plenty of trouble down the line. It is important to think about the golf swing as an athletic motion that needs tempo from start to finish. If you freeze up at the start, it will be extremely difficult to create a nice rhythm once you do get going. Keep everything moving along and only pause briefly in your stance before initiating the takeaway.
- Rushing the takeaway. Once the club does get moving, you want to make sure that you aren't in a hurry to finish the backswing. You should feel like you can take your time to get through the takeaway and the rest of the backswing in order to arrive at the top of the swing in good shape. While using too much hand action is one common way of rushing through the takeaway, you can also make this mistake even if your physical mechanics are in good working order.
By steering clear of the pitfalls listed above you will be in good shape to create a solid takeaway that you can rely on from the first hole all the way through to the last. Having a good takeaway in your golf swing is one of the best ways to add consistency to your game, so don't take this key fundamental for granted. The best golfers in the world all have rock-solid takeaways built in to their swings, and you should strive for something along the same lines.
Low and Slow is the Key
As the title of this article indicates, the concept of 'low and slow' is one that you need to understand if you are going to make a great takeaway to start your swing. You may have heard this tip at some point in your golf experience, as it is a fairly common point that is often recited among players. However, despite the fact that most golfers have heard of the idea of 'low and slow', very few actually execute it correctly. If you are able to perform your takeaway in a 'low and slow' manner, you will be left with a quality takeaway that sets you up nicely to strike the ball cleanly later in the swing.
To help you understand how this tip is supposed to work, the two components of 'low and slow' break down as follows –
- Low. This refers to the way the club head moves along the ground as the swing develops. Rather than lifting the club head immediately away from the ball, it is to stay down low to the turf throughout the takeaway. This point matches up nicely with the point that was made earlier regarding the hands needing to be quiet in the early stages of the swing. If you use a lot of hand action to start the swing, it will be almost impossible to keep the club head low to the grass. On the other hand, if you put your shoulder rotation in charge of moving the club while your hands stay quiet, this point will be no problem at all. Take a look at your current takeaway to determine whether or not you are keeping the club head low in the first foot or so of the swing. If not, you will know immediately that there is work to be done.
- Slow. The other half of this takeaway mantra refers, naturally, to the tempo that you are going to use to move the club away from the ball. It is essential that you start the swing off slowly, even if you are going to use a quicker tempo to swing through the rest of the way. You need to start slowly because you have to allow your body time to keep up with the club head during the takeaway. If you were to 'jerk' the club back from the ball quickly, your upper body would have no chance of keeping up with the pace of the swing. From there, the club would be stuck behind you the rest of the way, and a push out to the right (or a quick hook) would be the likely result. Focus on starting out your swing in a very deliberate manner before speeding up to the pace that you would like to use for the rest of the motion.
Most likely, your current takeaway is falling short on at least one of these points, if not both. Most players struggle with the takeaway, and it is usually because they either are going too fast, or they are lifting the club too quickly off of the ground. If you are able to improve your performance in both of these areas to the point that you can confidently say you are swinging both low and slow early on in the backswing, you will be amazed at how dramatically your ball striking can improve. It might not seem like this early phase of the swing could have such a profound impact on the results of your shots, but it most certainly does. Set aside some time to teach yourself how to swing back low and slow and the results will be as obvious as they are impressive.
A Simple Drill
It is easy to say that you need to use a low and slow takeaway to get your backswing started off right, but it might not be so easy to actually put that move into practice. If you are having trouble successfully making a low and slow takeaway, the drill included in this section should help you get moving in the right direction. Drills are a great way to learn new skills in golf as they force you to perform a new move in the right manner time after time. After even just a few repetitions of this drill you should start to feel the correct way to complete the takeaway.
To perform this drill with the goal of improving your takeaway technique, follow the steps below.
- For this drill, you are going to use one of your mid-irons. Anything from a six iron through an eight iron will work, so pick whichever one you prefer to get started. Also, you will need one golf ball. However, you are not going to be hitting shots with this drill, so it can be completed at home if you wish (assuming you have room to safely make golf swings).
- The setup for this drill is very simple – you are going to take your stance as usual, only the ball is going to be placed behind the club head instead of in front of it. So, as you are looking down from address, the golf ball should be on the right side of the club head rather than the left.
- Once you are set up properly, go ahead and start your swing as usual. The goal in this drill is to roll the ball back on an extension of the target line as you make your takeaway. You should be pushing the ball gently back to the right with the back of your club head as your swing away from address.
- At some point, the club is going to be lifted above the level of the ball and the takeaway will be complete. At this point, you can either continue on and finish the rest of the swing, or stop and start again. The choice is yours.
- Feel free to repeat the drill as many times as you would like. By consistently rolling the ball back on a straight line away from the target, you will be keeping the club head low and it should be moving relatively slowly as well. You get instant feedback from this drill, so it will be easy to tell if you have made a mistake anywhere within the early stages of your swing.
While this drill is pretty simple, it actually manages to address just about every important part of your takeaway. For one thing, it will require you to keep the club head low to the ground throughout the takeaway. If you lift up, your club head will pass right over the top of the ball and you will not be able to roll the ball back along the target line. Also, you will knock the ball backwards rather quickly if your tempo is rushed, so swinging back slowly is imperative. Only when you make a takeaway that is both low and slow will you achieve the desired result within this drill.
Since you don't even have to be at the course to work on this drill (as long as you can find somewhere safe to swing), you can consistently work on your takeaway even for just a minutes at a time whenever you get a chance. By working through this drill as often as possible, you will be able to get more and more comfortable with your improved takeaway. That comfort is going to be important when it comes to executing the swing correctly out on the course, so each repetition that you complete will be one step closer to a satisfactory outcome.
Short Game Concepts
In many ways, the low and slow takeaway applies perfectly to the short game. For instance, when you are putting, you want to move the putter head low and slow away from the ball, just as you have been working on with your full swing. However, there are some short game shots that will require you to adjust away from this technique in order to meet the demands of the shot. Therefore, you need to have a clear understanding of what is required with each different kind of short game shot so you can know when the low and slow takeaway will apply.
The following list includes a number of various short game shots, along with notes that relate to the kind of takeaway you need to use.
- Putting. As was just mentioned, putting is a perfect application for a low and slow takeaway. While you aren't going to be swinging up into a full backswing, you are still going to need to keep the club head low the ground while it moves slowly away from the ball. This is one of the most important fundamental points in putting – if you can get this right, you will be a big step closer to rolling the ball successfully on a regular basis.
- Chipping from a good lie. Again with this kind of shot, you are going to want to use a low and slow takeaway. As long as you have a good lie and there is nothing behind the ball to get in your way, you can keep the club low to the ground throughout the takeaway.
- Chipping from a poor lie. In this case, you are going to need to elevate the club head as it goes away from the ball. Playing from a bad lie means you are going to need to hit down through impact, and you can only hit down if the club is elevated in the backswing. Use your wrists actively to get the club off the ground and then hit down confidently.
- Bunker shot from a good lie. When you draw a good lie in the bunker, you will want to use the low and slow approach to position yourself for a great swipe through the sand. It is ideal to move the club on a shallow path through the sand and under the ball, and your low takeaway will make that an easy goal to accomplish.
- Bunker shot from a deep lie. If the ball is sitting down in the sand, you are going to have to 'gauge' it out of the bunker – meaning you will need a steep downswing. Again, just as was the case with your chip shot from a bad lie, you will want to hinge your wrists and get the club up off the ground. In other words, the low and slow takeaway should go out the window in this situation.
Generally speaking, a low and slow takeaway is going to lead to a lot of good things on the golf course. As it applies to your full swing, you want to make sure you are always moving the club slowly and low to the ground in the first foot or so of the takeaway to get everything started off on the right foot. With your takeaway under control and in position, one big piece of the golf swing puzzle will be firmly in place.