If you want a simple, straightforward and quick read on how to make a backswing in golf, this article should set you on the right path. The mechanics of the golf swing (swing planes, angles, etc.) will not be discussed here. I don’t believe being overly technical is good for most golfers, particularly amateurs who play golf as a hobby; it almost always leads to frustration and some degree of paralysis by analysis, something that works against your natural talent and can only damage your game both in the short and long term.
The primary goal of the backswing is to position the club in such a way that clubhead speed can be generated through the ball in a controlled manner. A backswing typically involves taking the club “back” or away from the target, rotating the shoulders and raising the arms so that the clubhead travels behind and around the head. The principles of the backswing, as you might guess, apply to just about every club in the bag (except, perhaps, the putter).
If you’re not a professional, don’t get technical! Beginner and amateur golfers should just focus on taking the club back naturally in their own way. Rather than trying to emulate the swing of a Tour pro or conform to a style that you “like”, I believe the right approach is to first discover your own swing, then hone it, and eventually master it.
Some key pillars of a good backswing are…
- a straight left arm (for a right-handed golfer) during the backswing. Keeping your left arm relatively straight encourages good consistent form and helps put you in a position to generate controlled power starting into the downswing.
- a good solid grip on the golf club. Everything starts with the grip, and getting it right should always be one of your first priorities. Not everyone grips the club the same, but there are some fundamentals for a good grip that you should be aware of. To that end, I would strongly recommend consulting this page for detailed information on the whats, whys and hows of gripping the golf club.
- a good posture. Posture is also important for enabling an effective rotation of the torso and preventing injuries among other things. Generally you should be in an athletic position with a straight back and slightly bent knees. I talk more about posture in my popular beginner swing tips article on Golfstead.
With these swing fundamentals in mind, all that remains is to make your backswing by turning your pelvis and upper body away from the target. The fullness of your turn should depend on the distance of your intended shot (full turns will result in the most power and distance at impact). The idea isn’t to make the “perfect” backswing, but rather one that comes natural to you while following the guidelines outlined above.
If you’re interested in making a “perfect” backswing anyway, here’s a video from PGA instructors Piers Ward & Andy Proudman that you’ll probably find useful: