The golf swing is dependent on correctly doing the previous move. Therefore, a solid takeaway promotes setting the club correctly at the top of the backswing, which in turn promotes returning toward impact with the club on the correct plane, path and face angle.
Many players create a poor position at the top of the backswing. While the goal is to set the club correctly at the top of the backswing, many players allow the club to get across the line or laid off at the top. Both positions can lead to undesirable results. The club should point to the target at the top of the backswing.
When the club points to the right of your body and the right of your target the club has come across the line. The prototypical swing positions the club pointing toward the target and parallel to the target line at the top of the backswing. Many players pick the club up too steep during the backswing, resulting in the top position across the line. Blocked shots to the right and hooks are a common result for getting the club across the line at the top of the backswing. The picture to the right demonstrates the club across the line at the top pointing to the right of the target.
Many recreational players allow the club to reach a laid off position at the top of the backswing. The club is laid off when the club points away from the golfer and left of the target line at the top of the backswing.
From a laid off position the hands must rotate quickly through impact. Shanks often result when the hands do not rotate quickly enough. A shank results when the hosel of the club head strikes the ball causing it to squirt off to the right. Additionally, players often pull the shot causing the ball to start to the left of the target.
The following tips are designed to get the club set in the proper position at the top of the backswing.
Set up to the ball correctly. Check your alignment and be sure your body is lined up parallel to the target line. If you set up with your body open to the target line it can encourage a laid off position at the top of the backswing. On the other hand, if your body is lined up to the right of the target line it can encourage an across the line position at the top of the backswing. Position your feet, knees, hips and shoulders square to the target line.
The proper take away also helps position the club correctly at the top of the backswing. A flat and inside take away can lead to a laid off backswing. Try to avoid the club head getting behind the hands during the takeaway. Place an object such as a head cover about a foot behind the ball positioned just inside the target line. Take the club head back low to the ground without touching the object behind the ball. Also, avoid the object on the downswing. This drill will help swing the club on a vertical swing plane, rather than a horizontal swing plane. In addition, it will help position the club correctly at the top of your backswing instead of pointed across the line or laid off to the target line. Be sure the club points to your target at the top of your backswing. Practice with a friend standing behind your or in front of a full length mirror to check for the correct position.
Matt Keller is a PGA Golf Professional with over 15 years of experience. Matt is a graduate of the Penn State PGM Program. Throughout his career he has worked at courses in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Florida and Delaware. Matt has conducted thousands of golf lessons to players of all ages and ability levels. Currently, he is a PGA Professional at Cripple Creek Golf and Country Club located near Bethany Beach, DE.