Rotary Swing Takeaway

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Published: February 18, 2014

Master the Takeaway

The takeaway can either make or break your golf swing. You either start your golf swing on the right foot or the wrong foot and it is very difficult to recover from a poor takeaway. The good thing, is the golf takeaway can be extremely simple when you understand exactly where to move from.

Most golfers worry about the path the club travels in the takeaway, or the swing plane or even club face angle. When in fact, you should worry about what part of the body you're moving from.


Most of my golf students come to me because they know how well I know the human body when it comes to the golf swing and I dramatically simplify the process of learning a perfect golf swing. With the takeaway, I'm going to show you how you can learn one tiny, simple move that will put the golf club in the perfect position at the completion of the takeaway, on plane and with a perfectly maintained triangle.

golf swing takeaway plane The direction of the arrow indicates the direction of the right shoulder blade to get this high handicap golfer into a low handicap takeaway position. Click image to enlarge it.

If you looked like this at the end of your takeaway, you would be very happy. You may have worked on your golf swing your whole life and never got into this good of a position. But here's the funny thing. I taught my student this takeaway position in less than 10 minutes. Trust me, it didn't look that good when we first started that morning.

golf swing takeaway plane The direction of the arrow indicates the direction of the right shoulder blade to get this high handicap golfer into a low handicap takeaway position. Click image to enlarge it.


Common flaws in the takeaway? This student had most of them! His right arm broke down immediately, his shoulder turn was flat and his left leg broke down. A recipe for inconsistent golf.

Fixing these swing flaws one by one as most try to do is like trying to put a band-aid on cancer. Many golf instructors fix the symptoms that I just mentioned. That's not the solution. The fix is to address the cause rather than patch up the symptoms.

Let's take a look at another common takeaway flaw. In this swing, the club has moved well under the plane and too far to the inside. The hands aren't in that bad of a position and the body is ok, but the club is buried deep behind the golfer very early in the swing. All it took to get into this much trouble in the takeaway was one simple mistake. Can you spot it?

golf swing takeaway plane The direction of the arrow indicates the direction of the right shoulder blade to get this high handicap golfer into a low handicap takeaway position. Click image to enlarge it.

All this golfer did was hinge back his right wrist too much too soon. I have a specific video titled the "The Role of the Right Wrist in the Takeaway" that you can look at to understand this further. For now, simply understand that this one takeaway video you're about to see will fix this extremely common problem too.


I could list common takeaway problems all day that we see during our golf lessons, but in the end, all of them can be fixed by simply learning how to do the takeaway with my one secret move that I've taught our thousands of members.

You can learn it right here on the website, you don't even need an in person golf lesson and you don't even need to go to the driving range to practice. No, my golf instruction videos are designed so that you can learn them right in the comfort of your own home. In fact, I've developed my own online video learning series that is built around working on your golf swing indoors and without a club called the "5 Minutes to the Perfect...." series.

Are you tired of struggling with your takeaway? Do you want to understand how to get the club to travel on the perfect swing plane and path with the proper clubface angle? Do you want to learn an extremely simple move to master the golf takeaway once and for all?

Then you're in luck because this takeaway instruction video is COMPLETELY FREE and has helped nearly 100,000 golfers just like you master the takeaway once and for all! Simply sign up for a free membership below and you will be given INSTANT access to this instruction video!




Further Reading

In the takeaway, I am primarily concerned with three things: the plane the club travels back on, the angle of the clubface and how the golfer flows the club back.

The most common things I see with rotary swingers during the takeaway is a club that is very beneath the shaft plane at address, a clubface this is fanned open by the rolling of the wrists and a clubhead that is well inside the hands when the club reaches parallel to the ground caused by an overactive rear hinge of the right wrist and a rolling of the forearms.

These three moves that happen very early in the golf swing throw the club off plane and cause many tendencies.

The first tendency is for the golfer to lose his spine angle at the top of the swing because the momentum and weight of the club traveling so far around and behind the golfer pulls him slightly off balance, so he will raise his spine angle slightly in order maintain a balanced position. From here, golfers can go one of two directions.

master the golf takeaway

The first will be that the golfer will lift his arms high above his head to “complete” his backswing and then tend to come down on the ball very steeply. All sorts of misses are possible from this position, from hard pulls to the left to weak slappy cuts to the right. The second direction I tend to see in the better golfer.

They will tend to keep their spine angle in this position and begin to swing their arms down and more out in front of their bodies. If they clear their lower body aggressively, they will tend to come at the ball more from the inside because of the low club position and hit shots that start to the right and draw back to the target.

The divots will face slightly out to the right of the target. The tendency for this golfer is to miss shots to the left when the release of the hands get flippy and overactive.

The fix for either golfer is to work on taking the club back with more passive arms and hands and keep the club more outside the hands. The first golfer needs to work on swinging their arms more across their body rather than lifting them high above their head. If they cannot do this and continue to end up with a very upright position at the top of the swing, they should develop a shallowing motion to allow for the arms to drop back down on plane during the first half of the downswing.

For the second golfer, this will keep the hands from releasing so aggressively through impact. Because they have a tendency to hold on to the club too tightly, they will tend to bring the club back too far inside early on because the tension in the hands and forearms causes them to be overactive and will only increase as the swing progresses toward impact.

Soft and quiet hands will allow this golfer to swing through the shot with a more passive release from the hands, providing a straighter ball flight and shallower divots.

For a golfer that has more spinal tilt at address, the right arm will tend to need to be a little more active to begin pulling the left arm into the body earlier on in the swing. Because of the exaggerated spinal tilt, the arms will hang further away from the body at address, therefore they will need to be pulled in somewhat actively by the right arm bending up along the side of the body, similar to the action of starting a lawnmower or sawing a log with a hand saw.

For the golfer who does not have as much spine tilt at address, this action is not as dramatic and will feel a bit more natural, but the same motion in miniature can occur. If this “lawnmower action” does not occur and the arms don’t actively lift the club (which is undesirable in a rotary swing), the club will swing back very low and inside and tend to get too far behind the golfer.

Fundamental Keys for the Takeaway


Quiet Hands

The golfer should keep the arms and especially the hands relatively quiet during the first part of the swing. Far and away the most common swing fault I see is someone whose right wrist begins to hinge backward, pulling the club inside and behind the hands very early in the swing.

This becomes a difficult position to recover from on a consistent basis because it requires a timed release of the hands at impact. If the golfer practices imagining their hands are in a cast for the takeaway, this will help them with a mental image of keeping the hands quiet.

Right Elbow
The right elbow should work slightly up and back, similar to starting a lawnmower in this part of the swing or using a hand saw to saw a piece of wood.

Ideally when the club reaches parallel to the ground, you have some bend in the right elbow compared to an upright swing takeaway where the arms would both be straight and extended away from the body. This extension of the arms and club away from the body is what creates extra width in the two plane swing and keeps the club in front of the body.

The Club
When the club reaches parallel to the ground, it should be pointing toward your target and still be just outside or inline with your hands. If it begins to travel behind your hands at this point, try and keep it inside your right hip.

The better golfer can play fine golf from this position, but it will tend to cause shots that work from right to left as the swing path on the way down will be somewhat more in to out. The most common tendency I see during the takeaway is for the golfer to get the club way too far behind their right hip during this point of the swing.

In the side by side shot below, you can see the two extremes. In the picture on the left, the clubhead has traveled back behind the hands but is still inside the right hip when the club is parallel to the ground. This is perfectly acceptable as long as the tendencies are understood and this position can be repeated by the golfer on every swing.

In fact, Ben Hogan and Sam Snead both got the club behind their hands during this stage in the swing as you can see from the pictures below. On the right hand side, you can see a golfer who has taken the club away with a very handsy action and a clockwise rotation of the left forearm that has pulled the club away dramatically to the inside.

This is a difficult position to play from consistently for the average golfer. It will typically require the golfer to have a very handsy, active release through impact to square the clubface, rather than the more desirable and repeatable passive release where the arms and hands do nothing.

Golfers who take the club this far to the inside will tend to either hit very big hooks or blocks, or they will come down steeply from the top and pull cut the ball.


In the picture below, you can see that both Ben Hogan and Sam Snead let the club get behind their hands during the takeaway, Snead more so than Hogan.

ben hogan and sam snead golf swing

To further illustrate this, study the photos below. During this phase of the takeaway, the two golfers are in very similar positions. Both have swept the club away abruptly to the inside and have the club well behind their right hip.

However, from here, they take decidedly different paths to get the club back to the ball and they illustrate perfectly the two most common tendencies from this takeaway position.

To complete the backswing, the golfer on the left will lift his arms high above his head to get in a position that feels powerful. This will, in essence, put him in a classic two plane position at the top with the club directly above the right shoulder and high above his head.

The golfer on the right properly relies on more rotary power rather than lifting his arms and continues to swing the club around his body rather than up. At the top, he ends up in a more one plane position and this is what differentiates their downswing approaches to the ball that you can see in the next set of photos.

takeaway in golf swing

As they start their downswings, the golfer on the left gets the club very steep because of his "high hands" top of the swing position. He is also standing too close to the ball at address which has also affected his entire swing and will cause him to have a very steep swing path to get back to the ball.

The golfer on the right has given himself more room to swing the club around his body and will be able to bring the club in on a shallower path.

golf instruction orlando

There are many ways to take the club back and each different way will cause different tendencies in the swing. My goal in working with a student on his takeaway is to make it very simple and "quiet."

I don't like to see a lot of manipulations during the takeaway, I'd rather see the club working back quietly on its natural path. The takeaway photo below demonstrates what this looks like.

Here, you can see the club is inline with his hands and the clubface is remained more square to the shaft plane it traveled up on, rather than being in a "toe-up" position, which requires the golfer to rotate and manipulate the club with the hands.

proper golf swing takeaway

In the second photo with a driver, you can get a full view of everything working back together. Note that the right elbow is beginning to hinge up and behind him rather than being extended straight.

Even more bend in the right elbow is acceptable here as it will reduce width in the swing and help the club begin to work back more to the inside. The club has stayed in line with the hands and is working to the inside.

I like to see the club somewhat over the instep or balls of the feet with the left arm angled into the body at this point, rather than seeing the club out past the toes as you can see in the picture of Grant Waite to the right.

The left arm should be connected to the chest and swinging across the body rather than out in front. Understanding the takeaway and its importance will help put you on the right path to a sound and repeatable golf swing.

But if you start out on the wrong path, it will put elements into your swing that will require compensatory moves that may make it more difficult for you to have a repetitive swing. The ideal goal in the takeaway should be to keep it as simple, natural and quiet as possible.

halfway back swing in golfgrant waite golf swing



Checkpoints for Practice

  • Beginning golfers should focus on keeping the arms passive and getting some flow in the swing at takeaway
  • More advanced players will work on keeping the arms in to the body at the 9:00 position
  • The left arm should angle in toward the feet and the club face more square to the plane
  • The right elbow starts to work up slightly, but the right wrist should not hinge back
  • The backswing will feel smaller and more compact

Video Transcription: Rotary Golf Swing Takeaway


In a one plane swing, when it comes to the takeaway I think there are many different ways that you'll see golfers take the club away, from professional to amateur, and still make solid contact.

I like to think of the takeaway as kind of a two-phased piece, both taking it from a beginner's perspective and then also, as you get better, from a more advanced golfer's perspective.

The first one I want to talk about is a little bit more towards the beginner's side of the takeaway. As you set up at address the main thing that I'm interested in, in getting a beginning golfer to learn how to play the game and swing the club, is to get some flow in the swing.

Feel the flowSwing the club to get a feel for the flow around your body

I'm hardly concerned with positions and static areas in the swing whatsoever, because a golfer who's new to the game or still shooting in the 90s, etc., needs to learn how to get flow into the game, not so that they're so caught up in getting all these positions. The golf swing is not about positions, whatsoever. It's about this dynamic action and this flow that's required to make solid contact.

What I like to see, with a beginning golfer, is they've learned how to simply let the club flow around their body. What happens, as they do this, the club is going to naturally rotate somewhat open and rotate somewhat closed.

As long as the arms stay passive throughout the swing they're going to have a nice amount of flow in the swing and they'll be able to learn how to play the game quickly and make it simple.

Club parallel to groundArms are in when the club is parallel to the ground

Even as an advanced golfer, in truth you don't really need to make it any more complicated than simply letting the club flow back and flow through.

However, if you start wanting to take your game to the next level and you're starting to want to minimize misses; especially for better golfers who use a one plane swing, these misses tend to be left - flips to the left or hooks or draws to the left. There are some things that you can do to minimize it.

Again, going back to the first one, if I was looking at the takeaway for a golfer new to the swing, all I'd want to see is that they take the club back. There's just a little bit of flow in the whole body. Everything's just working the club back.

As I get the club parallel to the ground, I'd like to see the arms into the body. We don't want the arms out here. The arms into the body, the club starting to work back and up on plane, and the club is slightly into the instep, or into the right thigh.

At the toe up part, the position where the club is parallel to the ground, the club can be somewhat more toe up. Now as we get to the advanced golfer I'd like to see it a little bit more square, and I'll explain why, but as a golfer is learning to let everything flow the toe can be a little bit more up here. You can swing it back and just get the arms flowing through and make a simple golf swing.

Club face is quietClub face is quiet, right arm works up

It's no more complicated than that and many great golfers, Ben Hogan included, would have the toe in a little bit more upright position here. There's a lot of things to discuss there, but as you get to the better golfers what you'll tend to see most, if everything else is neutral - Ben Hogan, for instance, had a very weak grip and then rotated his wrists aggressively through impact - those are things that I believe are a challenge for many golfers to learn how to time all this stuff very consistently.

Again, the beginning golfer, getting into this position here. As we get into the more advanced golfer working on the takeaway there's a couple of things I would like to see.

One, as they're taking the club back I like to see this right arm start to work up slightly. Rather than just taking the club around like this, and my arms are straight - I don't really like to see that - you see the club starting to work a little bit more up, and the club face, rather than being open and rotated open with the wrists and hands, I like to see it a little bit more quiet.

What I mean by that is if I stuck this club in my belly and I just turned, the club's not going to fan open like this. As I stick it in my belly and I just turn my body, you can see that the club is still square to the plane that I took it back on.

Club head at right thighClub head at right thigh

The only way I can get it in this toe up position is for me to rotate it, and I don't want to see that because a better golfer who's learned how to get everything timed a little bit better knows how to sequence everything, their misses will start to be left.

What will happen is, as they get the club a little bit too far inside - as the club works back, the head of the club, looking down the line, is more into this right thigh. What's causing that is a little bit too much rotation early in the swing.

It's taking the club back and rotating it, almost fanning it open, and then this right wrist will start to hinge back.

What can happen is - I see this a lot, of golfers getting too flat and too under the plane - they'll take it way back inside like this. This right wrist is hinged and rolled. They're getting the club way back like this and they're going to have to lift to get their club back in a decent position, and they're going to swing over the top and it's impossible to make consistent contact.

You don't want to get back in this position. Even for a beginner, I don't like to see the club working back much past the thigh here and getting too far into the inside.

Left arm angles inLeft arm angles in

The better golfer is going to bring it back, get this right elbow start to come up just a little bit, get this club a little bit more into the thigh - a little bit over the instep of the foot - and you'll notice as you look down the line this left arm, rather than being out at this angle is slightly angled in to the body, or pointing more towards the foot.

I don't ever want to see the club working out like this. That's a two plane swing takeaway, where you're taking it out, extending it out, getting it up in front of your body. The club's going to work more to the inside and your arms are going to work more around your body.

As you're taking it back you get a little bit more into this position. Getting that right elbow to hinge up just a little bit will help bring the club up on plane, get your arms working back behind your body, and your swing will be much more compact.

Even better golfers that I work with, who can play at a professional level, I see them taking the club very shallow on the way back, getting way around, getting very deep, and their misses tend to be that they're coming a little bit too much from the inside and the wrists are going to start to rehinge in the opposite direction because they hinged a little bit too much this way on the way back.

Again, if you're a beginning golfer don't worry about getting everything working up this way. It's a challenging move for someone who hasn't learned how to get a lot of flow in the body, and how to get everything working together.

Flow to the topBeginning golfers let it flow up to the top

To get this move of everything sequencing back correctly and getting this right elbow to start to work up and back, you've heard me talk about the Lawnmower Drill a little bit. In essence, this is the beginning piece of that, where that right arm is starting to work up, getting the club to work up.

The club is square to the plane still. I haven't manipulated it here. It's up here, and just working back and back through.

What you'll find is if you're a better golfer or a beginning golfer who's started to really take the club around and you think that the one plane swing is simply an excuse to swing really flat and around your body, it's not.

What you'll find as you start to work the club more up and around, is that your backswing will feel like it takes half as much time to complete. It's a much smaller, more compact move to get into this position rather than making this massive turn and rotation and rotating everything around.

You'll start to get into a position at the top where you feel a little bit more compact and a little bit more solid and prepared to go the other way. It's going to feel like it takes half as much time to complete, so you're not going all the way around.

To reiterate, the beginning golfers, you're new to the swing, let the club flow. Let your body start to get used to swinging around and getting some flow and everything working back. Let the club come back just a little bit. Get into this position here and release it through; a very simple move.

More advanced, work the elbow up moreAdvanced golfers, work the right elbow back more

As you get a little bit better - even a beginning golfer wanting to progress into taking their game to the next level - you want to start working that club back just a little bit more up with the right elbow, getting a little bit more up into this position where it's pulling the arm into the body just a little bit.

The elbow is working just a little bit up and back, and the club is going to start to work up on plane a lot earlier in the swing, rather than going very deep and around.

Work on these couple of things in your takeaway. Work on getting the club to work a little bit more inside, a little bit back, arms into your body, and just getting a little bit more here and back and through, and see if it doesn't tighten up your backswing and make things a little bit simpler, and help mitigate some of these misses to the left because you're not getting this right wrist to hinge and suck the club way back behind you.

You're completely off plane here. You're going to have to release that on the way through, so if you're going back this way on the way back you're going to have to do this way on the way back through.

The takeaway should be pretty quiet. You're getting here, you're going to be working everything back up. There's not this massive rotation on the way back. It's simply just turning everything and getting the elbow to work up, taking it back here.

Don't hinge the right wristDon't hinge the right wrist

Just make sure that as you're taking the club back, the advanced golfer, you're keeping the club more outside of the hands. You don't want to be getting it way back behind your hands here. That's a lot of hands movement.

If you struggle with this, as you're learning this, to exaggerate it just a little bit, imagine that your arms, the hands, and the club head for this first part of the swing - again, this is an exaggeration, so don't take this literally - but imagine that this part of your body is kind of in a cast at the beginning so that you're not doing this with the club on the way back.

If you imagine this is a little bit more quiet and you get everything working back a little bit more quiet, if you don't have this right wrist wanting to hinge back, it's easier to get the club to work a little bit more outside your hands and get into this better position on the way back.

If you find yourself starting to do this, just go back to getting the wrists a little bit more quiet. Everything's a little bit more quiet on the backswing, getting into this position here, and it'll tighten up your backswing significantly.


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