Correct Takeaway in Golf Swing

By Mike Southern
The arms should be relaxed when making a one-piece takeaway.
The arms should be relaxed when making a one-piece takeaway.

Few golf techniques cause as much controversy as the “one-piece takeaway.” The modern approach is to cock your wrists very early in the swing, before the hands are even waist high, and many golf instructors now teach this “early set” as the correct way to swing. However, many of their students are struggling to get distance, and teachers like Jim McLean have shown that the longest hitters do indeed use a one-piece takeaway. The problem has been that it has often been taught improperly. Once you learn what a proper one-piece takeaway feels like, duplicating the proper motion is easy.

Learn How It Feels

Take your normal address position—knees flexed slightly, leaning forward from the hips and keeping a light grip on the club.

Stand straight up without moving your arms. Doing so will raise your hands to waist level in front of you. Cock your wrists just enough to raise the club shaft parallel to the ground.

Turn your shoulders until they are nearly 90 degrees from their starting position and your chest faces to the right--if you are right-handed--but do not allow your hips to turn very much. In a correct one-piece takeaway, the shoulders turn early in the backswing. The club should point almost straight out to your right, parallel to the ground.

Flex your knees and bend from the waist again, as you were when you originally made your address, but with your chest and arms still facing to the right and the club shaft still pointed to the right and parallel to the ground. This is the position you will be in when you make a correct one-piece takeaway and your hands have reached waist level.

Repeat this drill several times until you are familiar with how this position feels.

Practice the Real Thing

Set up in your normal address position, just as you did in the previous drill.

Start your backswing by turning your upper body to the right. This coiling motion provides much of the power in your swing. Do not sway sideways or use a lot of hip motion; focus on coiling your shoulders. The hands and arms remain fairly quiet, and the takeaway will be long and smooth.

Swing your hands to waist level as you turn your shoulders. Try to feel as if the shoulder joints and upper arms are barely moving at all; keeping them relaxed and “quiet” this way will eliminate excess movement that affects your accuracy. You may even feel as if you are lifting your arms a little, straight up in front of your chest; but because you are turning your shoulders, you are actually swinging them around on plane. This is what creates the feeling of “width” many teachers say you want to achieve in your swing.

Continue your backswing as your hands pass waist high. The club shaft may point slightly above parallel to the ground. This is normal, as you are actually swinging the club now and moving to the top of your backswing, not stopping at waist high. You have now completed most of your upper body coil, and your wrists will cock naturally as they reach shoulder height.

About the Author

North Carolina native Mike Southern has been writing since 1979. He is the author of the instructional golf book "Ruthless Putting" and edited a collection of swashbuckling novels. Southern was trained in electronics at Forsyth Technical Community College and is also an occasional woodworker.

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