Perfect Golf Swing Takeaway
If you are wanting to perfect your golf takeaway, then this golf instruction video is what you're looking for. This video walks you through key checkpoints of the golf swing takeaway and gives you swing drills that you can do anytime and anywhere to master the takeaway.
One thing you'll notice about the RotarySwing takeaway is that it's incredibly simple. In fact, biomechanically it involves the fewest moving parts possible! So, if you want a simple golf swing and a simple takeaway, pay close attention to how I discuss how the hands work in the backswing.
The golf takeaway is one of those typical conundrums in golf where the less you do the better your takeaway becomes. Most golfers add too many movements to their golf takeaway and this is what actually leads to problems. Typically this comes in the form of overusing the hands and arms. Swinging the arms across the body during the golf takeaway is a recipe for having a very powerless and inconsistent golf swing.
To be consistent in golf, you need to move as little as humanly possible while still producing maximum power. To do this, you want to focus on rotating your body during the golf takeaway rather than swinging your arms. It is your rotating body that moves the golf club, not your arms and hands. Once you understand this key concept, the takeaway becomes much simpler.
The takeaway in golf is one of the easiest parts of the golf swing to get correct. You're starting from a static position and there's very little movement. However, it's probably the thing that I see in the golf swing that's messed up the most by most golfers. So when you're learning the takeaway it's imperative to take the time to learn to do it right, to understand the checkpoints, what you're looking for and why, and how all the things that you do wrong can mess up the rest of the things going on in your swing. So it's super super important that you take the time to do the golf swing takeaway right.
So I'm going to go through all the checkpoints and then give you basically a program at the end that you can follow along with so you can start to feel and check yourself with mirrors and video to make sure you're doing these things correctly.
The first thing I want tot alk about are a couple of the most common tendencies that I see. On probably 80-90% of the golfers that I give lessons to- whether it's at a clinic or in an in person lesson- do one of these two typical faults that I'm going to talk about. The first one I want to talk about is the wrist hinge. Okay? If I'm standing here to address and all I do is hinge the right wrist. So when you talk about wrist movement, if you've seen the Rotary Swing Tour instruction manual you understand moving in this plane is cocking and uncocking, this way is hinging and unhinging to keep things simple. So what you want to feel during the takeaway is that there's maybe a small amount of cocking which is okay but there's no hinge. Okay, and I'm going to explain why.
First of all, when you put the right hand on the golf club it's really easy to move the club along ways just with hinging. This is a dominant move. This wants to happen during the swing, that's the direction you want to move the golf club and the quickest easiest way to move the club in that direction is to hinge your wrist. So that's what a lot of golfers do. So to start the takeaway the first thing they do is hinge that right wrist. So what that does, if you look from down the line, is it shuts the club face. Okay? So now we've immediately started out golf swing requiring some kind of compensation. Whether you're going to have a shut club face at the top, you're going to hold on on the way down or what have you. You have to do something to compensate for a closed club face, period. There's no way around it. So we obviously don't want to be building compensations in during the first six inches of the golf swing. So what you have to learn to do is keep that wrist in neutral.
So there's a couple checkpoints for you to look at. First, when you move from the right wrist and hinge it, your right hand will tend to end up kind of on top of the club and your left hand will be a little under. So what I mean by that is if you do this, you can kind of get the idea that my right hand is slightly on top of the left versus this would be the left on top of the right, this would be neutral, that's the right on top. So now my club face is shut, my hands are underneath. If you look closely you'll actually notice that my left wrist is bowed. This action of hinging the right wrist, the left wrist has to do the opposite. It has to bow and so that's where you end up with this really shut club face and for most golfers they tend to do this and get the club way inside.
Now my body if you watch from face on ... barely moving at all. But simply by hinging my right wrist, look how far I can move the golf club and never have to engage any powerful muscles. So if you wonder, you don't have any power in your golf swing and this is you, well you're not using any big muscles. You're literally just using the muscles in your forearms. Well how big are these? We need about 32 pounds of muscle to generate 100 miles an hour club head speed. Unless you have really big forearms like Popeye, you don't have 32 pounds of muscle so you're not going to be able to generate a lot of speed. Okay? Not to mention that it changes your path and plane and club face angle.
So we don't want this. So what do we want? Well if you'll notice at address my wrist has got a slight amount of cupping in it, the left wrist. Because of how your arms naturally hang, when you bring your hand across and take your grip there's a slight amount of cupping in here. You want to keep that. It's that simple. You don't want to flatten it out, which will happen if you hinge from the right wrist or even try to roll your left wrist. And you want to keep that perfectly neutral. So let's look at that. If I'll do that from face on first. When I teach a lot of time I've actually put my thumb on the wrist joint to keep it hinged, and then I'll make them take the club back and hold that angle. So now my wrist is still angled, I still have the same amount of cupping that I had at address. Now let's see what that does to the club face. ... Well it's square. All I'm doing is taking back, keeping the same amount of cupping that my left wrist had at address.
Now my right wrist is flat. Well guess what? When it's at address, it's flat. I'm not increasing this angle. Again, if I hinge my wrist 20 degrees I can move the club a couple feet. So this is really easy so if you're kind of lazy in your swing and you don't rotate, which we're going to talk about shortly, you're just going to do this and you're going to have a really armsy wristy golf swing and no power or control from your body.
So first thing you want to check is to see whether or not the first move that you have is something like this. Your hands should look like they don't move during the takeaway other than if your body's moving. So right now my hands are staying exactly how they were at address. I'm purely rotating. Hopefully you can see that. So my hands are maintaining the exact same relationship that I had at address with my chest. I'm not moving my arms or hands, I'm turning my torso. No movement from here, okay? That's the first problem I see.
Second problem I see is maybe someone who keeps their wrists intact but pushes their left arm across their chest during the takeaway. That's the left arm push. So what that looks like again is no rotation. See I'm not turning my body at all but look how far the club's moving. I can move the club all the way to the completion of the golf takeaway simply by moving from this left shoulder socket and pushing the left arm across my body. So when I do that, club's all the way back but I literally have not made any rotation whatsoever. So again this leads to a flat inside golf swing, not turning. This is detrimental for a number of different reasons. Obviously, I'm going to tend to swing really flat, I'm going to tend to swing the club too far inside, also I'm going to tend to kind of roll my arms and make it even more inside. And so on and so forth. So long story short, you just don't want to do anything with that left side. As you're going to learn as we work on this, you're just going to rotate. And I'm going to give you a couple golf swing drills as we start to do this to feel how to learn that rotation.
So we know what we don't want to do and we know what most golfers do. What do we want to do? Well I use an acronym for the backswing. It's REF: Rotation, elevation, flexion. It's all you really need. There's obviously little details in there but that's your big mantra that you want to think about. You're going to make a big rotation, a big body turn. You're going to elevate your arm slightly and you're going to have flexion at the right arm. Those are all the things- the three keys to having a great backswing and be really simple.
So, the first part we need to understand- Hopefully you've been following the 5 Minute series and you've added body rotation to your golf swing. Now most golfers I see do this really well when they're doing the drills if they followed along that video series, they turn really well. But as soon as they put the golf club in there, this is what happens. They get rid of that rotation and now they think they need to swing the golf club. Obviously we don't want to do that so let's throw the club, take the club out of the equation to start, okay? We're going to learn to rotate, elevate- and flexion we're not going to really talk about because flexion doesn't happen until the takeaway is done. There's actually going to be no flexion during this phase of the learning program. What you're going to learn to do is rotate and we're going to talk about the key checkpoints for that from face on first.
So rotation. All I'm doing is taking my chest, turning like I'm going to talk to somebody to the right. Yes I'm using the shoulder blade glide. You don't need to make it some super complex thing. All you're trying to do is take your ribcage and turn. That's rotation, that's all it is. And you need to do this without facilitating it with a hip turn. This is what a lot of golfers do. I say okay, turn your back to the target, guide your shoulder blade. Whatever I'm using to describe to them. And they do this with their hips. So now, yes I have rotated. However I have no coil and my hips have moved a long ways. Now they're going to have to move a really long ways in the downswing. We don't want to add any of that extra movement. So all we're doing to do is rotate.
And most golfers should be able to get at least 45 degrees of shoulder turn without moving their hips really at all. I can get a little bit more, I'm a little bit more flexible. That's all we're looking for. We need a tremendous amount of turn during the takeaway. Far more than you think you need, okay? The reason for that is I showed how little the arms have to move to move the club a long ways, but you need to feel the exact opposite. So a lot of times I'll tell people write this on the bill of their cap, or in the clinics I teach, I want you to kind of remember a mantra. Big body turn, little arm swing. And you can't overdo that. For most golfers. I've never seen anybody overdo it, okay? Especially when they put their club in their hand.
So all you're thinking about, just leave your arms at address. Forget that you have arms, just kind of leave them there and turn as much as you can. Well now I didn't move my arms at all but guess what, my arms moved. If I look down, if you look down the line, if I rotate I'm not trying to move my arms. I'm trying to turn my chest so I can look at the camera. I'm rotating, not moving my arms, not moving my wrists, not moving the golf club. I'm not trying to move the golf club, I'm trying to rotate. That's the first part of the REF. The rotation, elevation, flexion. There's rotation. You need to turn as much as you can. So that's what we're going to be doing, is working on big rotation. Now my arms have no problem staying in front of my body.
The takeaway when you're doing it from the Rotary Swing Tour model is the simplest way that you can possibly take the club back without adding any extra moving parts and building a tremendous amount of power. There's no fewer moving parts that you can build into the golf swing, other than rotating, using your obliques, using your shoulder blade glide to initiate it, and turning your torso. That's it.
So now when we put the golf club in there, I'm going to do rotation. That's all I'm doing. I'm not moving my arms. This is, you've heard the term one piece takeaway. I agree with that concept, I just disagree with how it's typically taught. I'm trying to tell you what specific muscles to use to create a tremendous amount of rotation but a lot of coil, but not be swinging your arms and hands all over the place, okay? That's the first piece that you need to understand. Huge amount of rotation.
Second piece, there is a small about of elevation that takes place during the takeaway. Elevation is simply this, stand straight up, getting good posture, put your arms straight out in front of you, and elevate them without shrugging your shoulders. That's elevating. You're using your shoulder as a hinge socket, it's a hinge joint. Just pretend that it is for this. Your arms do not move this way in the golf swing. That's in a horizontal plane, you want to think of them moving in a vertical plane because what's going to happen is rotation is going to create the horizontal movement, the depth of the golf swing. That's what you're doing to create the club moving around in a circle. The arms don't need to help with that process. The body's perfectly capable of moving the arms deep back behind you. So there's no need for your arms to try and facilitate creating depth in a swing because all you're going to do then is swing really deep and flat. You need to get the concept that your arms are only moving vertically.
So when we add vertical elevation, it's what we call shoulder elevation, technically it's shoulder flexion. What you're really doing is flexing from the shoulder but we just call it shoulder elevation to get the concept the arms are moving in a vertical plane and I combine this with rotation. Now I'm creating a swing plane. That's how you create it. So now when I look down the line, I'm teaching myself elevation elevation, rotation. Now combine the two. Well if you want to keep your arms in front of your body, this is exactly how you do it. Rotate while adding a little bit of elevation. Now when we get to finishing the whole thing, we're going to do elevation, flexion- just hinging from the right arm. We're not going to talk about this a whole lot right now, just give you the full picture. Elevation, flexion, rotation. Now if I do this in my posture. Elevation, flexion, rotation- I just made a golf swing. It's that simple. What we're doing is learning to combine those moves as we do it at speed. It's that simple, and that's what the purpose of this video is.
So, to get back to elevation here's what we're doing. During the golf takeaway there's going to be a small amount of elevation. My arms are hanging down naturally at address and I'm just going to move them vertically in this vertical plane while rotating. All that does is keeps the club a little bit more up in front of me. If I don't add any elevation from the shoulders, my hands are going to get really low and shallow and they're going to tend to work too far around my body. So you've gotta add some elevation to keep the club in front of the body and working up until we add flexion. It's a small amount. Basically your hands are starting out kind of down around the mid thigh. As you rotate on this inclined plane, they're going to move up to about belt high. Roughly belt high or pocket high during the takeaway. Not going to be way up here during the takeaway in golf. It's a small amount of elevation. So right now you can see they're down close to my knees, as I'm done they're up by my belt. It's that simple, okay?
When we add the golf club, a little bit of elevation with rotation, perfect golf takeaway. That's all we're doing. I'm not moving my hands, you know that we're not hinging, I'm not bowing this wrist. I'm simply turning while adding a little elevation. That's all we're doing in the takeaway. So now let's put this together in a little workout program so we can have some more key checkpoints and learn how to do this very very easily.
Okay. One other piece that we're going to add in this workout program is sitting into that right side just a little bit. It's a small weight shift, but it does need to happen. So I'm going to do elevation, rotation, and I'm going to let my hip shift slightly to the right so I push my right heel in the ground. It's no more than an inch, okay? All we're trying to avoid is this tendency, okay? Trying to load up into that right glute slightly. My head's not really moving but my hip is shifting slightly to the right as I add these two movements. Very small shift. If you can focus and feel that right glute and the right heel as you're pushing that ankle into the ground, that's all we're looking for. It's a small amount of weight shift, okay?
So let's put this all together. We're going to do a little elevation, rotation, slight amount of weight shift in the golf swing, as I go back, big turn. Now on camera that may or may not look like a big turn to you, but you need to feel a tremendous amount of turn because most golfers don't turn nearly enough. They push their left arm across, they hinge from the wrist, they bow the left, they roll the arms. All of this is moving the club a long ways but I'm not using my body at all. We want big body turn. Remember the mantra. Big body turn, tiny little arm swing. Now when we look down the line, my hands will be perfectly in front of my chest because I'm not really moving them. I'm moving my body, shifting my weight slightly, and that's putting my hands exactly where I need them.
So a few checkpoints here. The first thing that you're going to see the most common tendency, if you're watching yourself in the mirror, is for the golfer to disconnect and their hands to end up behind their body. So you'll notice first of all that my fingertips are no longer level, right? Because I've pushed my left arm across my body, my right arm has no choice. If it stays straight- which it must- If it stays straight, my fingertips will no longer be level. What most golfers will do is subconsciously bend their right arm and they're like "well my fingertips are level." Well yeah you've hinged your right arm. Your arms are- the point is your hands are still deep and buried and you're going to notice when you do this you're going to hinge from your elbow, and your wrist will tend to hinge. So now you've added two extra angles into your takeaway that are completely unnecessary. Keep the right arm straight, rotate, don't move your arms or hands at all.
Notice my upper bicep and my upper pec are still touching. This is not touching. And I see this every single day. And people don't realize that they're doing this. Your hands- I'm going to turn to a 45 degree angle here so you can see exactly where my hands would be. They're going to be right directly at you because I am only turning about 45 degrees during the takeaway. So if I make a full turn, my hands should be right in front of the center of my chest, the buttons on my shirt. I shouldn't be back here, I shouldn't be way out here. If I just turn, they're going to be right in front of my chest. That's ideal. There's no hinging in the right arm, there's no pushing the left arm across, there's no hinging in the wrist. Everything stays neutral and I'm just rotating back. Okay? So if you feel this flying away you need to monitor this.
Especially when you add a golf club into the mix because you're going to want to do this because you're going to want to follow the momentum of that club. It's heavy. It's easy to do this with your hands ... with just your hands. As soon as you add the golf club in the mix, well guess what? This is creating momentum and you're going to want to follow it. You've got to learn to control that. You've got to learn to swing, move the club with the body so that the club stays in front of the body. Don't let it start to move you around. You swing the club by turning your body. So this needs to happen pretty slow for most of you, and that's what we're going to do first.
So, to get our reps in here's what I want you to follow along with. Get into your setup. We're going to start out standing straight up. You can have a normal golf stance width, that's perfectly fine. All I want you to do is practice elevation and do this 10 times, okay? All you're doing is teaching your brain the movement for the plane that your arms are going to move in. Okay? Now we're going to add 10 times rotation. Not pushing your head, not pushing from the left side. Just pulling your right shoulder behind your head, turning your ribcage away from the target. Turning your chest away from the target with minimal hip movement. So it's not this, and it's not this, it's just rotation, okay? Now let's combine these two moves, rotation and elevation while standing straight up. Minimal hip turn, while adding rotation- excuse me- with a little bit of elevation. This is all you're trying to do in the golf swing. I'm not moving my head, I'm not tilting back. I'm going to add a little bit of weight shift in here with my elevation. And I should be, if I do it from down the line, my hands should still be right in front of my chest.
Now let's do the same thing in our golf posture. So hinge, let your arms hang down naturally. Don't hold them way out here, that's cheating, that's not where you're going to hold the golf club, and you've already elevated too much. So let your arms hang down naturally where they're going to be when you grip the club, hands one inch apart. Rotation, elevation. Now first you can start to segment this. So make sure you get the rotation right and then add a little elevation to teach yourself where your hands need to end up during this first move. So you don't have to try and blend then together just yet. Okay, so just do rotation first, keeping your hands one inch apart. Remember we're not drifting away. Just rotation and then start to add a little elevation. Look at yourself down the line in front of a mirror, your hands should be about belt high.
A good golf swing drill when we add the golf club into this, which we're going to do now, is stick it in your bell button. Take the club, hinge over, stick the club in your belly button and choke down on it. Try to get where you'd be at address. Your arms might be outstretched a little bit, that's okay. What you want to find is that first of all, if you look from face on, that club forms a perpendicular angle to my torso, to my chest. So in other words if I move it pushing from the left, it's no longer perpendicular to my body. Can you see that? So if I'm doing this, this is no bueno. Okay that's all pushing and just swinging arms, there's no body movement in there at all, and my arms are gonna swing deep behind me. So I want to keep this at 90 degrees while keeping my right arm straight. So I'm not doing this, that's going to show that I'm pushing my left arm across my body. My right arm stays straight. Now if I add a little elevation it comes away form my belly button. That's the key. Rotation, elevation.
So now the club is still pointing at my chest at the completion of the golf swing takeaway, okay? If we look from down the line. So I'm going to go rotation, a little elevation. The club is still in front of my body, still 90 degrees. However I elevate a little bit, it moves away form my belly button. It's a great drill to learn how much you need to elevate while still keeping your arms in front of your body. Okay? So you can do that drill starting out just with the club and then add weight shift to that. Let your weight go slightly and push that right heel in the ground, stabilize those hips, a little bit of rotation, a little bit of elevation. I should reverse that, a lot of rotation, a little bit of elevation, no horizontal arm swing. Okay?
Now once we master that with the club in our belly button, we can take our normal address position okay? So now we're going to hinge, let my arms hang down naturally, and now I'm going to keep everything exactly how it is. I'm going to do rotation, big big body turn, tiny little arm swing. A lot of times I get question asked, "well when should I hinge my wrist?" By the time your hands are about pocket high, the club should be parallel to the ground. Somewhere between belt and pocket high. That will typically require a little bit of wrist hinge. Or excuse me, the term I want to use here though, is it should feel that it's wrist cocking, not wrist hinge, okay? Now technically your wrist is hinging because of the angle that it's sitting on the golf club. However you don't want to encourage this motion. This is death for every golfer because all it does, again, is shut the face and moves the club deep behind you.
You want to feel that this is the only motion happening. Again because your wrist is on the club in a turned position, there's a little bit of hinging there. Almost at a 45 degree angle between true hinging and cocking okay? But I want you to focus on feeling that the wrist cocks up. Down the line this will start to make a lot of sense. If I feel that I hinge my wrist, I barely felt I moved. I'll show you how much I moved my wrist. It's that much. You can imagine, it doesn't take a lot of muscular effort to do that, especially when I've got this heavy club swinging around me in space, creating a lot of inertia, there's a lot of momentum. So this is really easy to do, and now I'm stuck and it's all compensations from here. Learning to keep that wrist straight and feel like I cock up, now the club is moving in a vertical plane and the club doesn't get behind me. It's that simple. That's why so many golfers, so many amateurs end up here. It's from these simple little movies. Rolling the left wrist, hinging the right. Okay?
So to answer the question when do we cock our wrist? Well when the swing is about ... this is about halfway done roughly. When you're here, or when it's a quarter of the way done, you still have about half or a quarter of the way of the wrist cock. So in other words, you're going to have- if this is 25% of the swing, you're going to have 25% of your wrist cock. That's a simple way to think about it. So I'm going to add- if I didn't cock my wrists at all and I made a great turn, notice I made a good turn, the club is just not quite parallel to the ground. Add a little bit of wrist cock. That keeps the club moving vertically in front of you, rather than swinging around behind you.
So just add a little bit of wrist cock. Notice my left wrist is staying neutral. If I hinge, my wrist is now flat and bowed. And you can see what that does tot he club. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to realize that's a bad position to be in. If I feel that I cock my wrist up while making a big turn, now the club stays in front. That's all we're trying to do. So you want to add a little bit of wrist cock that's gradual throughout the whole swing but as you're checking for your takeaway, all we're going to check, parallel to the ground, club is about pocket high, I've made a tremendous amount of core body rotation, my hands and arms have barely moved at all they've stayed right in front of my chest.
You want to do that as many times as you can so if you're going to work on your swing each day, if you can get 100 reps in, once you've mastered the other little pieces of doing it without a club, working on elevation separately, working on rotation separately, getting the checkpoints that I mentioned in the article as well as in this video so far, that's going to help.
Now the last thing I'm going to do is give you one more little drill. I call this the shark fin drill. I just made it up because, I call it that because you kind of look like a shark. You're going to put your hand right in the center of your chest. Your right hand only, pull your left hand behind you, and start to rotate. The reason I use this drill is because so many golfers dominate the backswing with their left arm trying to create a swing plane, trying to move the club. That's a very dominant move that you have to learn to break. When you take your left hand out of it and move from the right side and keep that right hand right in front of your chest like a little shark fin, well now you're starting to feel how you rotate and pull your shoulder back, minimal hip turn, and nothing from the left side.
Same thing we did in the rotation drills when we put both hands on here and you started feeling whether or not you were pushing from that left side. Same thing when we add the golf club into it. We want to just feel big turn, tiny little arm swing. So we take the left arm out, which is typically a culprit of pushing. Now when we add the golf club, we can kind of do an extension of the shark fin drill which is just doing the club, taking the club back, right arm only, keep the left arm out of the picture. Now this si the golf swing. I'm rotating back, my arms are barely moving. From down the line, I'm making a great golf swing takeaway and my right wrist has not changed. Nothing's changed, I'm just turning while adding a little bit of shift, a little bit of elevation.
That's all we're trying to do in the takeaway in the golf swing. If you can master this simple little part, the rest of the golf swing is so much easier. But if you screw this up, which you can easily do within the first 12 inches of the takeaway, the rest of it's all compensation. So we want to work really hard on the takeaway to make sure we get this simple little move, watch all the checkpoints. You don't want to be hiking your shoulder up, swinging your arm across, you don't want your head moving way off the ball, all these things. If you can master this, take the time to do the reps, the rest of your golf swing will be a piece of cake.
-Dr. Jeffrey Broker, Assoc. Prof. in Biomechanics at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and Former Senior Biomechanist for U.S. Olympics Committee
-Hub Orr - Happy PREMIUM MEMBER of RotarySwing.com
-Sam Jarman, PGA Golf Instructor in the UK