You're Correct!

correct answer As long as possible, provided your fundamentals are correct

The answer may seem like a cop-out, since it doesnt offer a precise, one-size-fits-all prescription. Such is the nature of the golf swing.

The oft-cited ideal backswing finds the club shaft parallel to the ground as the golfer reaches the top. Frankly, thats a pretty arbitrary rule.

Think about the swings of different pros – lets say John Daly and J.B. Holmes, two of the biggest hitters in golf. While Dalys backswing is the longest of any modern champion, Holmes club never comes close to reaching the magical “parallel” position at the top. Yet Daly manages to maintain his balance and hit the ball (relatively) straight, while Holmes routinely cranks out drives of more than 300 yards.

Their differences prove that the length of your backswing is negotiable, but fundamentals are not. For the moment, forget the clubs position and focus on these components of a correct backswing for a full shot. When you reach the top:

  • Your weight should favor your right (back) leg.
  • Your shoulders should have turned approximately twice as much as your hips (e.g., shoulders at a 90° angle to the target line, hips at 45°).
  • Your left (lead) arm should be extended, as though trying to push the clubs handle as far from your body as possible.
  • Both hands should remain in full contact with the clubs grip, with no separation at the palms or fingers.
  • Your spine angle should be the same as it was at address.
  • Stop worrying about the length of your backswing as defined by the club – or conventional wisdom – and focus on these fundamentals. Nail them, and your backswing length will be just right.

Without a solid foundation, its certainly possible to make a backswing thats too long or too short. Check out these tips to tune up your turn:

Seniors: Backswing Length – How Far?

Women: How Much Should You Take the Club Back?

Compact Golf Swing

Should Left Heel Lift on the Backswing?

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It may work for John Daly, but hes a rare case to say the least. Few golfers possess the flexibility, balance and hand-eye coordination to emulate Dalys backswing and make decent contact. A little past parallel is OK, as long as your wrists and/or right arm dont collapse in the process.

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This wouldnt necessarily be a bad thing, but its not something you should strive for. Your swing will naturally be shorter with shorter clubs, and vice versa. Again, the key is to reach the top with your fundamentals intact – and those are the same with every club.

Sorry Try Again! - See Explanation Below

Its certainly possible to generate power from this position, but it takes prodigious strength and talent. The key is to move the left arm in concert with your shoulder turn, stopping the arm at the same time your shoulders complete the backswing. Dont concern yourself with the exact position of the arm at this point.