The classic low-and-slow takeaway is a seemingly simple technique, but golfers often forget a crucial element – moving the shoulders in tandem with the arms.
Some players focus so intently on maintaining the triangle between the arms, wrists and hands, and on keeping the clubhead hugging the ground, they move only those parts necessary to get the job done (i.e. the triangle).
If the shoulders don’t engage, however, several problems can result. For instance, the club doesn’t rotate properly, forcing the face into a closed position relative to the target line; the shoulders don’t make a complete turn, limiting power and impeding a proper weight shift; and the rotation of the hips is inhibited, yet another power killer.
To make sure your shoulders are in sync with the arms and hands on the takeaway, analyze your swing using these checkpoints:
- Hands at hip height: When the hands reach this point, the shaft should be parallel to the ground and the club’s toe pointed straight up. If it points in front of you, the face has under-rotated, possibly (though not necessarily) because your shoulders aren’t turning.
- Top of the backswing: With the driver, your shoulders should be at or near a 90° angle to the target line. Put another way, your back should face the target itself. If you’ve failed to reach this position – provided you have the flexibility to do so -- you’ve under-rotated the shoulders.
Ensure that your shoulders are free to make a full turn by keeping your chin up at address, which allows the left shoulder to pass underneath it. And always relax the shoulders, arms and hands before starting your swing. Light grip pressure (4-5 on a scale to 10) is a must.