The golf swing is a delicate operation. So delicate, in fact, that the whole thing can go off the rails in the first 12 inches.
The start of the backswing, called the takeaway, is critical to positioning the club properly on plane, and to enabling a full turn of the shoulders and hips. A number of things can go wrong in this small space. You can break or hinge the wrists too early, causing the clubface to open and ensuring a slice. You can move only the arms while keeping the shoulders locked in place, resulting in a weak turn and a loss of power. On and on it goes.
Here’s the good news: Mastering a correct, one-piece takeaway is among the simplest tasks in golf. Here’s how it’s done:
- At setup, your left arm (for a right-handed player) should form a relatively straight line with the club shaft from shoulder to ground.
- As you pull the club back from the ball, focus on “maintaining the triangle” formed by your arms and shoulders.
- By the time you’ve moved the clubhead a foot away from the ball, the triangle should remain intact; the wrists should not have begun hinging, though they should start rotating to your right. Likewise, the shoulders should be turning in unison with the arms. The clubface should be slightly open as well.
If you can get the first foot of the swing correct, it’s much easier to reach the top of the backswing in good shape. Any time you’re struggling with your swing, the takeaway is a key fundamental to check.