The Backswing: Wound Up and Ready To Deliver

w/ Kevin Haime, PGA of Canada Class A Professional, Kevin Haime Golf Centre

Like many of you I managed to get away this winter for a little golf. My travels included time working with PING in Phoenix where I experienced some terrific golf with some amazing vistas. This photo was taken on the final hole of my southwest visit as the sun literally set on my winter golf getaway.

I really like this photo for it’s amazing desert scape and one of the most beautiful skies I’ve ever seen. But I also like the photo because I’m in a darn good position at the top of my backswing.

Every position is important in golf, but your top of backswing position is particularly important because a solid top of backswing enables you to deliver the club back to the ball properly more easily. In my teaching, I sometimes describe this position as a delivery position or a second set up. If you want to play your best golf, you must get yourself into a sound top of backswing position.

Let’s have a look at 6 key elements to a balanced, athletic top of backswing.

1. Quiet Footwork: Your feet are your connection to the ground and should stay that way. Some pros will tell you to allow your front heel to release from the ground as an indicator that you’re making a full turn. That’s a decent thought for some golfers, but for most players the thought of quiet feet is a better key. For consistency and for balance reasons your feet should not be major movers as you wind your upper body over your lower body. Notice how stable I look at the top of my backswing. That has a lot to do with quality, quiet footwork.

2. Flexed, Stable Legs: During your backswing your legs should stay flexed and relatively stable as you turn your torso and swing your arms up. Sure, it’s important to allow your hips to turn as your upper body winds up but your legs must, to a certain degree, resist against that wind up. Your legs are your foundation and must stabilize you and keep you in balance. When it comes to your legs, try to keep flex consistent and limit too much extra movement.

3. Back To The Target (full torso turn): I can’t stress enough how important it is to fully turn your torso against a stable lower body to establish torque and power in the golf swing. Winding up your upper body fully so that your back faces the target at the top of your backswing is a real secret to longer shots. As noted above, just make sure that your lower body resists against that full upper body turn. If your weight gets to the outside of your back foot at the top of your swing, you’re in big trouble

4. Consistent Posture Position: The biggest posture mistake I see with high handicappers is they tend to lift up out of posture during their back swing. Pros, on the other hand, tend to turn their bodies in posture as they swing their arms over their back shoulder. That level turning of the body by the better golfer leads, not only to more consistency, but to an athletic wind up. 

5. Great Arm Position: So many golfers I work with try to add a little distance to their shots by lifting their arms and separating their elbows at the top of their backswing. I understand the instinct to swing bigger or longer but its a killer move. If your arms swing back too far and end up behind your head, they’ll get disconnected from all the big muscles in your back and torso. The best way to hit powerful shots is to keep your elbows together, pointed down and, most importantly, in front of your chest.

 6. A Square Club Face: I really like the club face position that can be seen so clearly against the setting sun in this photo. Keeping your club square, relative to a neutral grip, as you swing it around your body is another key for consistent, solid impact. Next time you’re practising, take a top of backswing photo like this one and look at your club face. If it points to the sky, the club is in a closed position. If the club head hangs straight down, the club face is in an open position. If the club face looks parallel to your lead forearm like it does here, its in a dead square position and you’re much more likely to hit a quality, straight shot.