Master the Takeaway for Better Shots

The Takeaway

Watch any elite player and notice how effortlessly they swing the club. This results from an efficient swing and smooth tempo. The takeaway is considered the beginning of the backswing. Therefore, the swing starts with the correct set up and every movement that follows.

Start the club head back “low and slow.” Low and slow is a very common phrase used to describe the takeaway. Jack Nicklaus is famous for stating the takeaway is the most important 18 inches of the golf swing while Bobby Jones said, “It is not possible to take the club back too slow.” Begin the takeaway by keeping the club head as low as possible for as long as possible. Many amateurs severely complicate their swing through excessive movements before the club reaches waist high. A common mistake occurs by picking the club up too quickly.

Allow the swing to begin with the left shoulder and arm pushing the club back while avoiding any movements with the hands and wrists to start the backswing. Also, keep the lower body, specifically the left leg and foot, stationary until the hands and club reach waist high. There should be very little movement at the beginning of the swing. The body will create rotational movements once the club extends past waist high.


Start the swing “low and slow” by keeping the club head as low as possible for as long as possible.

Tempo is also a major concern for a repeatable swing. A slow and smooth start helps keep the correct sequence of movements. A quick takeaway can potentially pull the club and entire body out of position. Since you never hit the ball going back maintain a slow start and promote setting the club in a good position at the top of the backswing. This increases the likelihood of the club head returning to impact in a good position.

Several drills allow you to practice the correct takeaway either at the golf course or in the comfort of your own home. Without a club, begin by taking a normal set up position and allow your arms to hang down. Extend your left arm and hand back as if you are about to shake hands. The left thumb should point up toward the sky while the outside of the left hand points in front of you. The lower body should remain stable and not move throughout the drill. The drill positions the left arm and hand in the correct position approximately waist high and parallel to the ground.

Practice the “low and slow” takeaway by a tee approximately 20 inches behind a ball. Set up in a normal position to the golf ball and swing the club back, focusing on striking the tee by extending the club head back low and slow. The goal is to swing the club back as low as possible for as long as possible. The club head should hit the tee to assure you are starting the backswing correctly. In addition, if the club head misses the tee to the right or left then the swing path is incorrect. If the club head swings over the tee then you picked the club head up too quickly. Focus on swinging the club head straight back the target line low enough to hit the tee.

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.