4 Secrets To A Shorter & More Powerful Backswing

by Kevin Haime, CPGA Teaching Professional, www.kevinhaime.com

Not a day goes by that I don’t work with a golfer whose backswing is too long.  For some reason golfers think that a longer backswing leads to a longer shot.  So every day I watch golfers winding up like Tasmanian Devils in a futile attempt to gain a few extra yards.  While it’s true that a bigger turn and a wider arm swing does lead to more distance, its only true if you’re athletic enough to do it properly and if you’re in the perfect position to still swing forward properly.  Most average players don’t get into that perfect position so a bigger backswing just makes your forward swing awkward, slower, and sometimes even prevents forward motion altogether.  Think about it.  In no other sport do people have a hard time moving forward.  Everyone can throw a Frisbee or a baseball or football, and everyone can swing a baseball bat or a tennis racket.  So, why do so many golfers struggle with weight transfer and finishing their swing?  Why are so many athletic people hitting a golf ball so short?  The answer is that trying to swing the club back too far is actually a golf swing killer in almost all cases.  People are actually preventing themselves from being able to swing and turn forward naturally.

If you want to hit the ball farther (and lets face it, everybody does) then you have to actually shorten your backswing.  The number one goal of your backswing is that it enables forward motion.  At the top of your backswing you need to be in a position to deliver the club to the back of the ball with speed and power.  To me it only makes sense that a simpler backswing with less moving parts is both easier to master and to repeat.  And I’m not talking about a shorter backswing as a ¾ length swing.  I’m talking about an actual full backswing but one that doesn’t have excessive leg and hip action and arms that fold up around your head.  In other words, it will both look and feel shorter compared to what you’re doing now but it will actually be a stronger, more powerful position.  In order to make that better backswing happen there are four essential elements.  Check out the photos below and then copy them and improve your golf.

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The fourth essential element to a shorter looking but more powerful backswing is a proper grip and proper grip pressure.  Many golfers I work with actually release the club at the top of their backswing.  If your hands are out of position at the top of your backswing the club will actually feel loose.  It will overhinge and actually move around in your hands.  If you’re wearing out or scuffing your gloves, you’re probably guilty of this backswing error.  Next time you’re practicing, make sure the last three fingers of your glove hand remain firmly around the club as you reach the top of your backswing

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During your backswing your arms swing up as your shoulders turn.  However, your hips should not turn too much or turn on their own.  The turning of your shoulders should pull them around.  They actually react to the rotation of the upper body.  One of the big mistakes overswingers make is they try to increase their body turn by forcing their hips back.  This is another killer move that devastates an athletic coil.  If you watch a golf pro swing, you’ll notice that their hips stay fairly quiet.  Generally speaking, a belt buckle will only move a couple of inches during a backswing.  This limited hip turn introduces torque into the swing and helps springload the backswing for more downswing energy.

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To hit the ball farther you must maintain your arc size.  In other words, you should try to maintain your lead arm extension.  It may feel like you have a longer swing if your arms bend around behind your head but when you bend your arms excessively you actually devastate the size of your swing.  Don’t keep your lead arm stiff or overly straight but extension is critical.

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Ben Hogan said in his famous 1957 book “Five Lessons-The Modern Fundamentals Of Golf” that the average golfer, when discussing the back leg, should maintain the same position it had at address, the same angle in relation to the ground, throughout the backswing…A golfer should have a stable back leg and the back knee remains pointed in a bit.  This prevents the leg from sagging and swaying out and carrying the body along with it.  Hogan was dead right.  In order to unwind the body to a full finish you must coil or wind up against your back leg.  Many golfers who overswing, actually overswing because their back leg straightens up, sways or collapses in the backswing.  One key to a strong backswing is to keep your back leg flexed and resistant to the turn of the upper body.