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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.) won’t 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 damage your game both in the short and long term.
Goal Of The Backswing
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).
Go By Feel
If you’re not a professional, don’t get overly technical. Beginner and amateur golfers should just focus on taking the club back naturally in their own way while keeping in mind the fundamentals of a good backswing.
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.
The 3 Pillars Of A Good Backswing
1. A straight lead arm.
During the backswing, you should keep your lead arm as straight as possible. For a right-handed golfer, this is the left arm.
Keeping your lead arm relatively straight provides several benefits:
- it encourages proper rotation of your shoulders, torso, and hips
- it encourages good consistent form that engages your whole body instead of just your arms
- it helps put you in a position to generate controlled power starting into the downswing
Of course, your lead arm doesn’t have to be locked and straight as an arrow, and unless you have outstanding flexibility, you won’t be able to achieve this anyway. Some degree of bend is perfectly fine.
However, one of the biggest signals of a poor or inexperienced golfer is when they take the club back and fold their lead arm like a wet noodle. Don’t be that golfer, and you’ll be off to a great start.
2. A good grip.
Keep a 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 recommend consulting this page for detailed information on the whats, whys and hows of gripping the golf club.
In short, you should choose one of three grip types: the ten-finger grip, overlap grip, or interlocking grip. You should also be mindful of the rotational position of your hands on the shaft corresponding to weak, neutral and strong grips.
3. A good posture.
Posture is also important for enabling an effective rotation of the torso and preventing injuries among other things. I talk about posture in more detail in my popular beginner swing tips article on Golfstead.
Generally, you should be in an athletic position that is also comfortable, with a straight back and slightly bent knees.
If you’re struggling to achieve good posture, I recommend starting out by gripping the club and holding it straight out with the butt end about a foot from your navel (belly button). Then, tilt forward at the hips until the clubhead rests on the ground, all while keeping your back straight and slightly flexing your knees.
With these swing fundamentals in mind, you just need 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 Perfect Backswing
In actuality, the “perfect” backswing differs from golfer to golfer. This is the backswing that comes natural to you and is effective at the same time.
Having said that, there are certain fundamentals that are common in every good backswing. So if you want to learn how to do it properly, have a look at this video from PGA instructors Piers Ward & Andy Proudman:
A good backswing is essential to a good golf swing that makes solid contact with the ball.
Keeping the above backswing pillars in mind, all that remains is to get out there, work on your swing, and put in the time.
Also remember that having quality equipment (clubs, training aids, etc.) will help lift up your entire game including your backswing.
Thanks for reading this article. Are you having any issues with your backswing? Feel free to ask questions and share your thoughts in the comments below.