How and Why: Start Golf Swing with Left Arm and Shoulder (Video)
How and Why: Start Golf Swing with Left Arm and Shoulder (Video)

So let's look at the takeaway for your golf swing. What I'd like you to think about doing is making a good, solid one-piece takeaway. Now, a good one-piece takeaway from a nice address position here to start with I feel should be dominated by the left shoulder and the left shoulder should push your way underneath your chin, taking your hand, arm, and shaft all the way in one nice movement.

So the correct way I'd like to see you do this--this is just with a six iron I've got here--is let my left shoulder push away underneath my chin and everything turns away in one solid movement. So the left shoulder to chin takes me nice and wide. There's no lifting motion in the chin there either, so it's a nice turning away. Now, the fault that we often see for people here would be too much wrist action in the backswing, too much scooping or bending or flicking. So, we want the shoulder to dominate the movement. And don't feel like you use too much hand action until you got a little bit higher up in your back swing.

And a great checkpoint from the back angle here would be to get nice and square. And if you've got maybe a mirror or a patio door that's got a window on it so you can actually see your reflection. As you make a nice one piece turn away to this point, I'd like to get to a position where as you've turned your shoulder your hands get level with your hips and the shaft actually points straight back down your target line, kind of level to your toe line as well. But then if you look into the mirror, you should be able to get to a position where the club head sits nicely on top of your hands.

Obviously, you can't actually see your hands because the club head's right in line with them. And if you really want to get nice and advanced here, look for the angle of the club face and see that the angle of the club face mirrors the angle of my spine. The club face would be too open in this position where it's facing up to the sky. It would be too closed in this position, which is facing sort of horizontal down back to the floor. But if I make a nice one-piece turn from a good setup, I should see that my club sits on top of my hands and my face angle is nicely level and parallel to my back angle. So, that is a nice one-piece takeaway; everything moving in one unit and that should allow everything to work really nicely up to the top of the swing.

2012-03-28

Have you ever thought about how your swing starts?

Why and How Start Swing with Left Arm and Shoulder

If not, now is the time. The takeaway is an incredibly important phase of the swing, as it sets the stage for what will happen when impact comes around. Failing to make a proper takeaway will put you in a difficult spot for the rest of the swing. You’ll have to make up for your mistakes at some point along the way and doing so is never easy. More likely than not, you’ll fail to recover from your poor takeaway and the results of your swing will be disappointing.

In this article, we are going to discuss how you may be able to improve your takeaway by starting the swing with your left arm and shoulder. For many golfers, this type of move away from the ball is going to be a dramatic departure from their standard technique. Many players start their swings with hand or wrist action, a mistake that is troublesome for a number of reasons. Later in the article, we’ll discuss why this is a problem and how starting with your left arm and shoulder is a better alternative.

Before we get started, it should be noted that changing your takeaway could cause your swing to feel rather awkward for a period of time. That’s okay. Any change you make to your golf swing is going to cause you to play outside of your comfort zone, at least for a while. That’s how you know you’ve actually made a change. If you are only willing to make swings which feel ‘right’ in the moment, it will be impossible to make any meaningful progress. As time goes by and you accumulate experience with your new takeaway, it should gradually feel more and more natural. Eventually, you won’t need to think about it at all, and the change will be complete.

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.

Why Starting with Hands and Wrists is a Problem

It’s hard to blame golfers – especially new golfers – for thinking that the best way to start the swing is to use the hands and wrists to put the club in motion. After all, your hands are the only part of your body which is connected to the club, so doesn’t it make sense to use them actively in the takeaway? There is something to be said for that logic, but unfortunately, it just doesn’t hold up when you look at how the golf swing is supposed to work.

Why Starting with Hands and Wrists is a Problem

In this section, we are going to highlight three issues that you are likely to encounter if you decide to start your swing with your hands and wrists.

  • Poor swing path. Perhaps the biggest issue that you will face when you start your swing with your hands and wrists is the difficulty to swing on a good path. When the club comes back down to impact and swings through the ball, you want to make sure it is moving through the ball on a relatively straight path down the target line. Sure, it’s fine to swing a little bit inside-out or outside-in, but only moderately. If your swing moves too dramatically across the ball at impact in one direction or another, it quickly becomes difficult to produce quality shots. You may be surprised to learn that the way you take the club back from the ball is going to have a major impact on the path you wind up using through the hitting area. Players who use hand and wrist action to start the swing will almost always wind up swinging back on a path which is inside of the target line. As the swing continues, the player winds up feeling ‘crowded’ at the top, since the club is in so close to the body. In order to make room for the downswing, the club is pushed away from the body during the transition. This is commonly known as an ‘over-the-top’ move, and that move is associated closely with one major problem – the slice. If you are a long-time slicer, there is a good chance your takeaway is at least partly to blame. Instead of allowing your hands and wrists to start the swing, you should do your best to simply turn away from the target and use your shoulders to move the club. This type of takeaway will make it easy to keep the club on the right path. In the end, you should be able to swing through impact on a much straighter line as a result of your improved takeaway technique.
  • A rushed tempo. One of the overlooked benefits of using shoulder rotation to start the swing is how it will help you to establish a slow, smooth tempo for the rest of your move. Rhythm is extremely important in golf, and a steady takeaway is a great way to build rhythm into your swing from the beginning. As you might imagine, using your hands to complete the takeaway is not going to have the same positive effect. When your hands are in charge at the start of the swing, the club tends to move quickly – and that quick move is going to make it hard to settle into a rhythm for the rest of the swing. Often, this point works together with the previous point to create quick swings that lead to a slice. You don’t necessarily need to use a slow tempo to play well in this game, but it is a good idea for most players to start with a smooth, gradual takeaway. Even after just a few swings on the range, you are likely to see how helpful a slow takeaway can be from a tempo perspective.
  • Trouble with nerves. When you are nervous on the golf course, it is best to rely on your big muscles to get the job done. The big muscles in your body are less likely to twitch or flinch as a result of pressure. Whether it is a tee shot or a short putt, you’re almost certainly going to be better off if you can trust your big muscles to do the bulk of the work. It’s one thing to learn how to hit some decent shots on the range while using a handsy takeaway – it’s quite another to actually make that swing work on the course. If you are frustrated with your inability to transfer your ball striking from the range to the course, be sure to check on your takeaway as a possible cause of the problem.

Of course, it’s certainly possible that you will run into problems other than the three listed above. These are common issues, however, so watch for them in your game if you fear that your takeaway has become a problem.

The Value of Connection

The Value of Connection

If you spend any time reading golf instruction articles, or even watch any golf on TV, you have probably heard about the importance of ‘staying connected’. This is an expression which is commonly tossed around in golf circles, and it is an important one to be sure. But do you know what it means? Before we can explain why using your left arm and shoulder to start the swing can help you stay connected, we first need to make sure you understand this concept.

To stay connected means to keep your arms and the golf club in front of your chest throughout the swing. When this happens, you should be able to time your swing nicely, delivering the club into the back of the ball at just the right moment to produce a quality shot. Unfortunately, it is quite common for amateur players to lose connection at one point or another during the swing. Usually, this means the arms and club will fall behind the upper body in the race down toward the ball, and a number of bad outcomes are possible as a result. When you learn how to keep the club in front of you throughout the entire swing, the act of hitting a clean golf shot will suddenly seem much easier.

When you decide to work on improving the connection in your swing, it’s a good idea to pay attention to your takeaway. Plenty of golfers lose connection right from the start, allowing their arms and the club to move back too quickly before the shoulders can do their part. If your hands are in charge of the takeaway, the club will move quickly back and it’s almost certain that your shoulders won’t be able to keep up. From this point, it’s quite difficult to recover in time to hit a good shot. Unless you manage to make a mid-swing correction, the club will be trailing behind when you eventually reach impact, and your shot is quite likely to miss to the right of the target.

Using your left arm and shoulder to guide the takeaway is going to make it much easier to stay connected at the start of the swing – which means is far more likely you’ll remain connected throughout the rest of the swing. This type of takeaway is going to feel a little slow at first, since you may be used to whipping the club back with your hands and wrists. You need to be patient enough to work through the learning period until you get comfortable with this kind of takeaway. Remember, you don’t have to swing slowly all the way up to the top of the backswing. Allow the takeaway to start slowly, in order to keep the club in front of you nicely. If you’d like to use a quicker tempo for the rest of the swing after the takeaway, that’s fine. Start things off slow to put yourself in a good position and then work on finding your rhythm from there.

There is one other point we would like to make regarding staying connected, even though it doesn’t actually relate to the takeaway. If you do manage to make it through the takeaway in a connected position, don’t make the mistake of thinking you are out of the woods just yet. You can still lose connection later on, most likely during the transition from backswing to downswing. If you rush the transition with your lower body – spinning too quickly toward the target – you may leave your arms and the club behind. They probably won’t have a chance to catch up on the way down, and you hit that same shot out to the right that we mentioned above. While it is a good thing to start the downswing with your lower body, and you do want a bit of a lag with your upper body as your turn builds speed, don’t let the club fall too far behind. If you rush things at the top, you can ruin all the good work you did during the takeaway.

A Powerful Drill

A Powerful Drill

Even when you understand just how important it is to start your swing with your left arm and shoulder, it can still be difficult to execute this move. That is especially true for golfers who have been playing the game for years with a faulty takeaway. Knowing what you need to change about your takeaway is one thing – actually making that change happen is something else altogether.

This is where using a drill can be a big help. Golf drills are a great addition to your practice sessions because they can help you make progress on very specific points in your technique. No matter what it is that you are trying to improve in your swing, there is very likely a drill that can help you make it happen. In this section, we are going to suggest a drill that you may be able to use to improve your takeaway. This is a simple drill, and you won’t need any specialized equipment to put it to use. If you’d like to give it a try, please follow the steps below.

  • For the drill itself, you aren’t going to be hitting any shots. That means you don’t technically need to be at the driving range to put this into use – you could be anywhere that you can safely make some practice swings. However, it would be a good idea to be at the range when you perform the drill, so you can transition into hitting some shots once the drill is complete.
  • As mentioned above, you aren’t going to be hitting any shots when performing the drill itself. That means you don’t even need to have golf balls available. All you will need for this basic drill is a golf club and a place to safely make some swings. That’s it.
  • To get started, pick out a target in the distance and take your stance as if you were going to hit a standard shot. Even though you aren’t going to be a ball, it’s still a good idea to pick a target as a way to orient your stance. Golf is a target-based game, so you should take every chance you get to work on the skill of aligning your body properly.
  • Once your stance is set and you are comfortable in your address position, you are ready to go – right? Not quite. There is one last thing you need to do before making your swing. You are going to take your right hand off the club and place it either in your pocket or behind your back. With only the left hand on the golf club, you’ll be all set to get started.
  • To perform the drill, you are going to make a swing with only your left hand on the club. This is a great way to work on your takeaway because it will be much easier to start the swing with your left arm and shoulder when your right hand is taken out of the picture. It is usually the right hand which causes trouble during the takeaway, so you should find that your issues are quickly resolved while performing this drill. Of course, since you only have one hand on the club during this drill instead of two, be sure to maintain a good grip to avoid having the club fly out of your hand. It’s not necessary to swing hard in order to get a benefit from this drill.
  • Feel free to perform as many repetitions of this drill as you would like. Be sure to focus on the quality of your takeaway as the main goal of the drill, and don’t worry if the rest of the swing feels a little off (it probably will, as you are swinging with just one hand).
  • If you are at the driving range, go back to hitting some shots once you’ve finished with this drill. Place your right hand back on the club and keep focusing on your takeaway while hitting these shots. With any luck, your takeaway will be improved thanks to the drill, and the quality of your shots will be elevated, as well.

As a golfer, it is a good idea to have a few drills in your back pocket when you need to make some type of improvement in your technique. In this case, when your takeaway is causing trouble in your swing, try using the drill outlined above in an effort to quiet the takeaway and keep things in position.

The Takeaway in the Short Game

The Takeaway in the Short Game

It would be a mistake to wrap up this article without touching on the importance of the takeaway in the short game. You don’t need to worry so much about staying connected when hitting short shots, but you still need to pay attention to how your start your swings. If you use your hands too actively in the takeaway when putting and chipping, you can run into just as much trouble as when hitting full shots.

When putting, you’ll want to focus on keeping everything quiet above all else. Simplicity is your friend on the greens, so do your best to just rock your shoulders back and through in order to move the club and send the ball on its way. As you practice your putting, try to keep your hands and wrists completely out of the action. Since you don’t need to produce much speed in order to roll the ball across the putting surface, there is no reason to involve your hands and wrists in the stroke. If you can make it all the way through the stroke while only allowing your shoulders to do the work of moving the club, you’ll be in good shape for a positive outcome.

We are going to stick with much the same plan when chipping the golf ball, except there is a slight difference to note in certain situations. For a standard chip shot played from short grass, the takeaway is going to look the same as it does on a full swing. You are going to use your left arm and left shoulder, and you are going to keep your hands quiet. However, when you need to hit a chip shot from deeper grass, feel free to use your right hand a bit during the takeaway to elevate the club off the ground. With the club head a bit higher off the ground than usual, you will be able to hit down through impact and avoid some of the grass waiting behind the ball.

In the end, we hope you have gained a newfound respect for the importance of the takeaway from this article. If you can master a quiet, simple takeaway which keeps your hands and wrists mostly out of the picture, your swing will be greatly improved. Remember, nothing comes easy in golf, so stick with it until you start to see the results you desire. Good luck!

So let's look at the takeaway for your golf swing. What I'd like you to think about doing is making a good, solid one-piece takeaway. Now, a good one-piece takeaway from a nice address position here to start with I feel should be dominated by the left shoulder and the left shoulder should push your way underneath your chin, taking your hand, arm, and shaft all the way in one nice movement.

So the correct way I'd like to see you do this–this is just with a six iron I've got here–is let my left shoulder push away underneath my chin and everything turns away in one solid movement. So the left shoulder to chin takes me nice and wide. There's no lifting motion in the chin there either, so it's a nice turning away. Now, the fault that we often see for people here would be too much wrist action in the backswing, too much scooping or bending or flicking. So, we want the shoulder to dominate the movement. And don't feel like you use too much hand action until you got a little bit higher up in your back swing.

And a great checkpoint from the back angle here would be to get nice and square. And if you've got maybe a mirror or a patio door that's got a window on it so you can actually see your reflection. As you make a nice one piece turn away to this point, I'd like to get to a position where as you've turned your shoulder your hands get level with your hips and the shaft actually points straight back down your target line, kind of level to your toe line as well. But then if you look into the mirror, you should be able to get to a position where the club head sits nicely on top of your hands.

Obviously, you can't actually see your hands because the club head's right in line with them. And if you really want to get nice and advanced here, look for the angle of the club face and see that the angle of the club face mirrors the angle of my spine. The club face would be too open in this position where it's facing up to the sky. It would be too closed in this position, which is facing sort of horizontal down back to the floor. But if I make a nice one-piece turn from a good setup, I should see that my club sits on top of my hands and my face angle is nicely level and parallel to my back angle. So, that is a nice one-piece takeaway; everything moving in one unit and that should allow everything to work really nicely up to the top of the swing.