There are a number of checkpoints you can use during a golf swing to confirm that you are on the right track.

How to Confirm Your Swing Positions Using Key Checkpoints?

As the golf swing is a rather complicated action when viewed as a whole, it helps to break it down into segments in order to improve over time. If you have ever felt like you were wasting your time on the driving range, swinging away aimlessly without a real plan, breaking the swing down is a great idea.

In this article, we are going to talk specifically about the first half of your backswing. When the club arrives at the halfway point of the backswing – defined as the point when the shaft of the club is parallel to the ground – where should the toe be pointing? We are going to address this question, along with other related points, in the content below. If you’ve never before worked on this specific part of your swing, you may be surprised to find just how helpful it can be to get your club in the right position halfway back.

One of the nice things about working on this part of your swing is that you don’t necessarily need to be at the golf course in order to practice this little bit of technique. You can even work on this at home, as long as you have a space where you can make some partial backswings safely. There is no need to make a full swing, or even to go up to the top of your backswing – you can just move from address to the halfway back position, and then start again. Repeating this motion correctly time after time will go a long way toward helping your performance when you get back onto the golf course.

All of the content below is written from the perspective of a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

A Simple Guide

A Simple Guide

There is no need to be intimidated by the topic at hand in this article. Sure, it might seem a bit confusing at first, especially if you are a relatively new golfer, but it doesn’t need to be that way. Once you read through how this works, and why it is important, you’ll see it isn’t actually complicated at all.

Let’s get right down to a checkpoint that is going to work nicely for most golfers – when the club is halfway through the backswing, the angle of the club head should roughly match with the angle of the spine, when viewed from behind. In other words, the toe is going to be pointed mostly up toward the sky, but not completely. If you are able to match up the angle of the club head with the angle of your spine, you can feel good about the position of the club and your chances of hitting a solid shot.

We understand that the paragraph above may still be a bit murky, so we are going to slow things down and walk through it point by point.

  • The down-the-line angle. Everything we reference when talking about how the toe of the club should be positioned halfway back is based on the down-the-line angle of viewing. The down-the-line angle is just as the name would indicate – it is the view you have when you are looking ‘down the line’, with the ‘line’ in question being the target line for the shot. If you watch golf on TV, the players are often shown using a down-the-line camera angle, though not always. Or, if you have ever taken a golf lesson which included the use of video, there is a good chance the instructor recorded some swings from this position. If you are still struggling to grasp this concept, think about it this way – as you stand over the ball at address, someone watching from the down-the-line angle would be standing to your right.
  • Spine angle. Moving on, it is important that you understand what we mean by the term ‘spine angle’. Again, the name should pretty much tell the whole story. The angle that your spine takes at address relative to the ground is known as your spine angle in the golf world. If you were to stand perfectly straight up and down at address – which would not be a good idea – your spine would be in a vertical position. As you tilt forward from the hips in order to settle into your stance, you create an angle which is very important to the success or failure of your swing. It’s possible to play good golf from a variety of spine angles, but it’s important to repeat yours time after time once you find one that works.
  • Club head angle. This is where we start to talk about the actual point of reference that we are going to be using to evaluate your swing at the halfway back point. The angle of your club head can be evaluated in the same way as your spine angle. In other words, if the club head is perfectly up and down when you get halfway back, it would be in a vertical position. If, on the other end of the spectrum, the club head was parallel to the ground (with the club face pointing down to the ground), it would be in a horizontal position. Most likely, you aren’t going to play good golf from either of these spots. As mentioned above, what we are looking for is a club head angle that matches up with your spine angle when the shaft of the club is parallel to the ground. If you can hit on that goal, you’ll be well on your way toward a quality swing.

Please note that it is not important – or even possible – to worry about being perfect on this checkpoint. For example, if the club face is slightly more upright than your spine at the halfway back position, don’t immediately think that you need to overhaul your entire swing. It might be that some changes are necessary, and it might be that this position actually works nicely for your game. Only when you are way off the mark at the halfway back position should you assume that you need to get down to work on some corrections in short order.

Why It Matters

Why It Matters

Before you bother to work on any specific part of your golf game, it is worthwhile to consider whether or not that part of the game is actually important. After all, you only have so much time available to work on your game, and it would be a mistake to spend some of that time on something that isn’t going to make you a better player in the long run. So, with that in mind, we are going to use this section to explain why this is an important checkpoint and what it means for your swing as a whole.

Take a moment to review the points below and you’ll have a clear picture of why the halfway back position is so crucial to your success.

  • Club face on track for square position at impact. When you get back down to the point of contact, you want to have the club face as square as possible to the target line. If the face is square at this halfway back point, you are well on your way to finding that all-important square position at impact. This is no guarantee of success with the shot, of course, but it is a good sign that your swing is going in the right direction.
  • Avoid corrections later. One of the biggest benefits of finding the right halfway back position is that you’ll be able to avoid the need for corrections later in the swing. It’s extremely difficult to fix your club face position as you swing down toward the ball, since the downswing takes place so quickly. For that reason, it is important to be on track during the backswing, so you don’t have to try to ‘save’ the swing at the last possible moment. Countless amateurs are forced to save their swings late in the action, which is one of the reasons so many golfers are highly inconsistent. By spending practice time working on the early stage of your backswing, you can improve your chances of being in a good position from the start all the way through to the finish.
  • Quiet hands during the swing. Again, this is a point which has a lot to do with the consistency of your performance. If you can keep your hands mostly quiet during the swing, it is likely that your consistency will improve. And, to keep your hands quiet, you need to keep the club face in position as long as possible during the swing. This way, you’ll be able to focus mostly on rotating your body – your upper body in the backswing and your lower body in the downswing – while your hands simply hold onto the club and guide it into impact. You can go ahead and use your hands a bit at the bottom of the swing to fire the club head through the ball, but other than that your hands should largely stay out of the picture.
  • Versatility in your game. Many amateur players overlook the importance of having versatility in their game. Those players think that just having the ability to hit one type of shot consistently will be enough to get around the course. While that certainly is a good start, you never know what you are going to face on the course – so ideally you will have at least a couple different types of shots in your bag. If you aren’t in a fundamentally sound position at the halfway back check, it’s going to be harder to produce different ball flights by making small adjustments. Basically, with your club face in an extreme position – either open or closed – it’s going to be tough to go against your standard ball flight. If you are playing from a more neutral position, on the other hand, you should be able to develop a variety of shots with a little bit of work on the range.

Is it possible to play good golf without finding a solid position halfway through your backswing? Sure, it’s possible. But that is not the easy way to go, so it is advisable to work on this part of your technique. You’ll be making the game easier on yourself by checking off this point, and anything that will make this difficult game easier is something worth doing.

Get on Track with This Drill

Get on Track with This Drill

Drills are perhaps the best way to bridge the gap between theory and practice. It is one thing to read some golf instruction on the internet – it is another thing entirely to actually put that instruction into use in the real world. In this section, we are going to outline a drill that may help you move the club into an excellent position halfway through the backswing. This is a simple drill and one that you can complete even when you aren’t at the golf course.

The equipment you need for this drill is a single golf club and a single golf ball. We would recommend a seven iron as the club of choice, but any of your middle irons will do the job nicely. You can perform this drill at the driving range, or you can do it at home if you have a safe place to do so. Once you are ready to get started, please follow the steps below.

  • Set the golf ball down on the ground and get ready to take your stance. You are going to build your stance just as you would for any standard iron shot, with one major exception. When you settle in over the ball, place the club head on the ground in front of the ball, rather than behind it. Other than that, you’ll do everything else in your stance exactly as you would any other time.
  • With the club head resting on the ground in front of the ball, you are ready to begin. The idea here is to roll the ball along the ground as you start the takeaway. You are going to attempt to roll the ball straight back on an extension of your target line (you aren’t actually going to hit a shot in this drill, but you should still have a target picked out just for the purposes of building your stance). To roll the ball back successfully, you will need to move slow in the takeaway and you’ll need to keep the club head low to the ground.
  • As you continue to turn back, the club head is eventually going to raise up above the height of the ball, and the ball will roll away while you continue the backswing. You are going to keep going until the club reaches the halfway back position, where the shaft of the club is parallel with the ground. At that point, stop your swing, check out the position of the club head, and repeat as desired.

This is a simple drill, but there is a lot to learn here if you are willing to work through it over and over again. The first thing that you should take away from this drill is the slow pace that you’ll want to use as the swing gets started. If you swing back quickly, the ball is going to jump off the back of your club and it won’t roll away nicely. By slowing down, you’ll be more likely to maintain a smooth rhythm throughout your entire swing (once you get back to making full swings). Countless amateur golfers rush through the takeaway phase of the swing, so learning this lesson is powerful.

The other key lesson here is learning to keep the club head low to the ground. This one is crucial, as it is going to help you keep the club head in a good position when it reaches the halfway back point. It is common for amateur golfers to use too much hand action early in the backswing, which usually raises the level of the club, and it also opens the face relative to the swing path. If you make this mistake, you will end up with the toe pointing directly up to the sky halfway back, and you’ll need to make some sort of adjustment during the rest of the swing in order to return to square. By keeping your hands out of the action during this drill, the club head should stay low and the face should remain in a good position. If you can transfer this lesson into your full swing once you are done doing the drill, your ball striking should take a big step forward.

Possible Pre-Shot Routine

Possible Pre-Shot Routine

Do you use a pre-shot routine when on the course? If not, you should strongly consider adding this element to your game. If you do already include this piece as part of your overall technique, you should know just how powerful it can be. And, if you’d like to give yourself a chance to improve on the way you take the club back away from the ball, consider including a check of your halfway back position as part of your routine.

Basically, the idea here is to include a partial backswing as part of your pre-shot routine before you actually hit the shot. You can do this partial backswing before you walk up to take your stance, or you can perform it while standing over the ball. You’ll simply swing the club back until the shaft is parallel with the ground, stop and check your position, and then bring the club back down to the ball. If you’ve been having trouble finding a good position on the way back when you get out on the course, this element has the potential to help significantly. Not only can it remind you of the right way to start your swing, but it can give you a quick moment to settle your nerves before actually hitting your shot.

There are a couple other things you should keep in mind as far as pre-shot routines are concerned. First, you want to make sure your routine is concise and to the point. The game of golf already has a significant problem with slow play, and you don’t want to contribute to that problem by taking a long period of time to get ready to hit your own shots. You don’t have to rush, but you don’t want to be wasting time unnecessarily, either. Include just the key elements that you need in order to get ready to hit a shot, and leave out the rest.

The other key to keep in mind with regard to pre-shot routines is the fact that they need to be consistent. It isn’t going to work if you just decide to do your routine from time to time. They are called ‘routines’ for a reason – they are supposed to be performed each and every time you get ready to hit a shot. Be consistent with the use of your routine and you should find that it pays dividends over the long run.

We hope you have gained some insight from this article into the importance of the halfway back swing position. While this is not the only position in your swing that you should be monitoring during practice, it is one of the most important. Players who have the club in a good spot when the club shaft reaches parallel to the ground are on the right track toward a solid strike. Take some time during an upcoming practice session to address this part of your technique and you should be a better player for the effort. Good luck!