Golf Tip Importance of a One-Piece Takeaway 1

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.

Importance of a One-Piece Takeaway

Importance of a One-Piece Takeaway

Golf has a reputation for being a slow game, and that reputation is fair is many ways. After all, the average round of golf takes at least four hours to complete, with some rounds taking as long as five or even six hours on a busy summer weekend. When compared with other sports, golf certainly moves at a slow pace. However, despite how much time is spent on the course, the golf swing happens fast. Very fast. Most players use just a couple of seconds to complete their swings from start to finish, meaning there is very little time available to make corrections once the swing gets started. To hit quality shots, you need to be on the right track from the very beginning of the swing – which means making a perfect takeaway time after time.

For most golfers, the 'perfect' takeaway is going to be what is known as a one-piece takeaway. Rather than having multiple moving parts as the club moves back away from the ball, a one-piece takeaway is exactly as it sounds – you move everything together in one piece in order to slide the club away from the address position. Once your swing is underway, you can proceed with the rest of your mechanics in order to deliver the club back to the ball properly.

Sadly, most amateur golfers largely ignore the importance of the takeaway in their golf swing. These players think that it is the transition and the downswing which are most important, so little attention is paid to the process of making a proper takeaway. This is a mistake, of course, as starting your swing in the wrong direction is a recipe for failure. As was explained above, there simply isn't enough time available to correct your swing once it has gone wrong. You might be able to save the occasional shot from time to time by making corrections as you go, but the results of this kind of swing will never be consistent. To play up to your ability level, you need to take the corrections out of your swing so you can deliver the club the same way over and over again.

In this article, we are going to go into great detail on the importance of a one-piece takeaway and how you can add one to your own game. Sure, working on your takeaway during your next trip to the driving range probably won't be very much fun, but it is important work nonetheless. While your playing partners are busy swinging as hard as they can at their drivers on the range, take a different approach and work on simple fundamentals like your one-piece takeaway. You will be rewarded for your patience and discipline when you are the one with the lowest score at the end of the day.

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-Piece Takeaway Benefits

One-Piece Takeaway Benefits

It is hard to overstate the importance of this fundamental when it comes to producing quality golf shots. By making a one-piece takeaway, you will be giving yourself a good chance for success throughout the rest of your swing. The one-piece takeaway certainly isn't going to automatically lead to good results, but it is a big step in the right direction. Once this fundamental is in place, you can build the rest of your technique knowing that you are starting things off properly each time.

So what exactly is it that a one-piece takeaway will do for your game? Check out the list of benefits below –

  • Keep the clubface square to the target line. When you have finished the backswing and downswing, you need to arrive at impact with a square clubface in order to send the ball toward the target. To make that task easier, you should use a one-piece takeaway to keep the face square during the initial stages of the swing. Without any needless hand action to get the club out of position, it will be much easier to deliver an accurate blow swing after swing. Simply put, players with a one-piece takeaway tend to hit the target more frequently than players who have a complicated, busy takeaway move.
  • Start with great tempo. It is important to have a smooth, even tempo in your golf swing. Tempo can be a difficult thing to teach, since it varies from player to player, but it is crucial for each individual golfer to find their own comfortable rhythm. Many players who use their hands too actively in the takeaway start their swings with a sudden action – and it is hard to get back on track with good rhythm from that point. With a one-piece takeaway, however, it should be easy to start with a smooth takeaway. Everything will be working together nicely, meaning starting your swing will feel quite similar to starting your putting stroke. Not only is tempo something that will help you hit the ball cleanly, but it will also do wonders for your consistency when playing under pressure.
  • Promote a big shoulder turn. One of the best ways to improve your golf swing is to improve on your shoulder turn. A big turn of the shoulders in the backswing will set you up nicely for a powerful move down toward the ball. Since your new one-piece takeaway is going to require you to use your shoulders to get things started, you will be going in the proper direction straight away. Those with 'handsy' takeaways usually struggle to complete the shoulder turn, as the club will be rotated into position well before the upper body has done its job. To make sure you give your shoulders the best possible chance to do their work properly, stick with a one-piece takeaway on all of your swings.

You have a lot to gain from using a one-piece takeaway in your game. The list above includes some important benefits, and there are likely even more than you will experience once you put this technique into action. Few amateur golfers successfully implement a one-piece takeaway – largely because few ever even work on this point to begin with. Whether you play in local tournaments or just against your friends on Saturday mornings, incorporating a one-piece takeaway is going to give you an edge over the competition.

The Right Mechanics

The Right Mechanics

Now that you understand why a one-piece takeaway is important, let's get down to work on making it happen. The good news here is this – making a one-piece takeaway is actually a pretty simple process. Sure, it is going to take some practice before it becomes second nature, but you shouldn't have to spend too much time on this point before you consider it a built-in part of your swing. As compared to some of the other things you can try to learn in this difficult game, the task of mastering the one-piece takeaway is relatively minor.

When you are ready to get to work on this point, keep the following tips in mind.

  • Maintain a relaxed grip pressure. One of the hidden keys to the one-piece takeaway is maintaining a relaxed grip both at address and after the swing has started. This is a 'hidden' point because you can't see grip pressure when watching someone else swing – but it is extremely important nonetheless. When your grip is tight, your hands and wrists will be much more likely to get involved in the swing, which is exactly what we are trying to avoid. As you stand over the ball preparing to swing, take one last look at the target and use that moment to remind yourself to relax your grip. Without tension in your hands, you will be free to start the swing properly.
  • Start with the left shoulder. It is important to give yourself specific directions at the start of the swing. If you think in general terms of just 'moving the club back away from the ball', you will struggle to get started because you won't really know what to do first. What part of your body is in charge of the move? How do you know when to start? It is easy to fall into the trap of overthinking this process. For that reason, try focusing specifically on your left shoulder. As the first move which starts your swing, turn your left shoulder away from the target. While your left shoulder is getting started, make sure your hands are staying out of the picture and your eyes are watching the ball. Once your shoulder is in motion, the rest of the backswing should proceed naturally from there.
  • Keep your left wrist flat. If you would like to think about only one part of your body, but you don't find the left shoulder tip to work properly for your swing, try thinking about the left wrist instead. When the swing starts, do your best to keep the left wrist in the same position that it occupied at address. By maintaining that left wrist position, you can be sure that the takeaway is occurring in one piece, and your swing will be off to a good start as a result.

If you rush right out to the range to hit full shots while trying your new takeaway, you may be disappointed in the results. Instead, try using your new takeaway to hit some pitch and chip shots in the short game practice area. Not only will this be good work to put in for your short game, but it will also help you to get comfortable with how the takeaway works. As you gain confidence, you can gradually move up to longer and longer clubs while making bigger swings. Pretty soon, you will be on the range hitting your driver and the takeaway will be no problem at all. It takes patience to practice this way, but your patience will be rewarded.

You will know you have successfully adapted a one-piece takeaway when you are able to use this technique without having to think about it consciously. Rather than worrying about each little detail of the takeaway, you should be able to get to a point where you can automatically perform this move while thinking about something else – like the target for your shot. It should go without saying that this kind of comfort level isn't going to be achieved right away, but you can get there with hard work and attention to detail. Once you are at that point, it should take nothing more than minor maintenance from time to time in order to keep your takeaway working nicely.

Watching for Trouble

Watching for Trouble

Even the best golfers can get off-track with their takeaway from time to time, so it is important to know what you should be watching for in terms of trouble. How will you know when your takeaway is going wrong? If you have a good idea of how to spot mistakes when they come into your takeaway, you should be far better prepared to correct them quickly while on the course.

The following list includes a few signs of potential trouble within your takeaway.

  • Quick movement. With very few exceptions, a quick takeaway is a bad takeaway. If you are rushing through the early part of your swing, you are almost certainly getting off on the wrong foot. It is far better to be slow than to be fast early in the swing, as rushing will quickly tear your technique apart. Take your time when performing the takeaway, and let the swing gradually pick up speed as you go. In addition to setting you up with a nice rhythm, going slow early in the swing will help you avoid unnecessary hand and wrist action.
  • Feeling your body shift. You don't want to feel your body weight moving during the early stages of the backswing. The core of your body should be centered and still while you begin the task of rotating to the right. Many golfers shift onto their right side quickly after starting the swing – a mistake that is nearly impossible to make up for later on. Make sure you are well-balanced as the swing begins and then stay that way by rotating rather than sliding. In the end, a swing which is focused on rotation instead of lateral movement will be more powerful and consistent than the alternative.
  • Stop and start. Once the club starts in motion, it should be on a steady path which will result in making contact with the ball after the downswing has been completed. If you are stopping and starting the club early in the backswing, there is some hesitation in your move which needs to be fixed. This will often happen when a player is unsure of his or her technique. Iron out any issues you may have on the range so you can start the swing with confidence on the course.

The best golfers are those who can fix their swings on the fly. It is great to work with a golf teacher, and a good teacher can help you tremendously with your swing, but that teacher isn't going to follow you around on the course at all times. By learning how to fix your own technique as you go, your game will be more consistent and you will be better able to avoid terrible days on the links. Even during rounds when you don't have your best stuff, you should be able to get back on track well enough to salvage a decent score.

If you do struggle to start a round, the takeaway is one of the first places you should look. It is rare that the mechanics within the middle of your golf swing will change much from day to day, so they probably aren't the problem. Rather, you are probably being hurt by poor technique either in your setup or during the takeaway. Take a close look at your address position and your takeaway if your round gets off on the wrong foot and you may be able to find the answers you need. With the error located and corrected, you can get back to focusing on targets while making confident swings.

The One-Piece Takeaway in the Short Game

The One-Piece Takeaway in the Short Game

Earlier in this article, we mentioned that it would be a good idea to use the short game as a launching pad for learning the one-piece takeaway. That certainly is a good idea, but not just because it can help you make a good full swing. You can also benefit because using the one-piece takeaway is just as important on and around the greens as it is with a driver in your hands.

Let's start first by talking about the putter. When on the greens, you are certainly going to use a one-piece takeaway. In fact, you are going to use a one-piece motion from start to finish. The only thing that moves in your putting stroke is your shoulders, with the rest of your body staying perfectly still. There should be no hand or wrist action at all in your stroke. If you can rock the putter back and through without using any extra motion, you should be able to hit your target more times than not.

Countless amateur golfers go wrong by starting the putting motion with their hands. There is simply no need to use your hands, since you are only going to be rolling the ball a short distance. Set your hands on the grip of a putter in such a way that they can remain steady and stable while you use your shoulders to rock the putter. It will take very little effort to hit the ball hard enough to cover the distance to the hole (in most cases). Practicing using a one-piece stroke and this reliable style of putting will become comfortable sooner rather than later.

When it comes to chipping and pitching, things get a bit more complicated. Yes, you are still going to use your one-piece takeaway, but you also have to incorporate a bit of hand action if you are going to pop the ball cleanly out of the rough. The best way to think about this technique is to focus on adding hand action during the transition from backswing to forward swing. As you stop the club, allow your right wrist to hinge slightly in order to set the angle for the downswing. From there, swing down into the ball and pop it out of the grass. When executed correctly, this is a reliable chipping technique which can be used in a variety of situations.

Perhaps surprisingly, there is one situation where you will not want to use a one-piece takeaway – greenside bunker shots. When you need to blast the ball out of a bunker, you will want to ditch the one-piece technique. Instead, hinge your wrists right from the start of your backswing. You need to set a steep angle for the downswing when hitting an explosion shot, and the best way to do that is by hinging your wrists. Sand shots are significantly different from any other kind of shot on the course, so this is the one time when you will not want to use your one-piece takeaway.

Learning the one-piece takeaway should be considered one of the fundamental building blocks of solid golf technique. Since this takeaway method is used on so many shots throughout the course, you will benefit greatly from learning how to execute it properly. And, unlike many of the other skills you will try to add to your game throughout your time on the course, this one is relatively simple to learn. It shouldn't take too much time or effort to master the one-piece takeaway action. Put the advice included in this article to use and you can be on the right track in no time at all. Good luck!