How to Lengthen Your Backswing

By M.L. Rose
Ernie Els executes a full backswing during the 2007 CA Championship.
Ernie Els executes a full backswing during the 2007 CA Championship.

Taking a long backswing is a key to generating maximum power, whether you’re on the tee or the fairway. For a casual player, your hands should at least reach the level of your head before you begin the downswing. If your hands aren’t reaching that level, you’re cutting your backswing short and sacrificing power.

Relieve Stress

Excessive tension may prevent some players from executing a proper backswing, according to PGA pro Eric Hogge. When you’re tense your muscles tighten up and inhibit your flexibility, which can cut your backswing short. Hogge suggests performing some type of relaxation technique during your pre-shot routine, which may be as simple as taking a deep breath, and making sure that you’re not squeezing the club too tightly when you address the ball.

Adjust for a Lack of Flexibility

Some players may lack the flexibility to rotate their hips and shoulders sufficiently to take a full backswing. Such players may benefit from a stretching routine before each round. Additionally, Hogge advises players to match their stance with their flexibility level. Taking a narrower stance will typically help you rotate farther and lengthen your backswing. Golf writer Steve Newell suggests that players who lack flexibility lift the left heel near the top of their backswing, which should allow for more rotation and a longer backswing.

Towel Off

Some players may be capable of taking a longer backswing, but are overly eager to begin the downswing, so they cut the backswing short. The Golf Channel’s Michael Breed suggests taking a towel to the practice tee and placing it under your right armpit (for a right-handed golfer). Take your normal backswing, then continue to raise your hands until the towel falls out naturally. Then begin your downswing. If the towel doesn’t fall during the backswing, you haven’t take the club back far enough.

Raise Your Club

Teaching pro Rick Smith offers another way to test the length of your backswing. Address the ball with a 5-iron, then raise the club directly up and lay it across your right shoulder, as if you were resting a baseball bat across your shoulder. Raise your hands up until your left arm is fully extended as far as is comfortably possible. That’s the position you want to achieve on your backswing before you transition to the downswing.

About the Author

M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.

Photo Credits

  • Sam Greenwood/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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