Hello all, it’s been a while since I posted something specific to golf swing technique; however, it is something that I have been working on personally for the last number of years. I am happy to say that I have gotten myself to an index just south of 5 for the first time in my life and have actually gone from a 9 to a 4.8 in the last 2 years. One of the keys to this improvement has been my focus on the golf takeaway.
What is the Golf Takeaway?
The takeaway is the very start of your swing. It is the first few inches of your backswing as you start to take the club head away from the ball. Simple right…Well, in fact, the takeaway can be done in numerous incorrect ways, and more importantly, the takeaway sets the stage for the rest of the swing. So, if you do not start the club on the proper plane during the takeaway, odds are the club will not be on the proper plane in the downswing. Similarly, if the club face angle is thrown off in the takeaway, due to wrist action, odds are the clubface will end up either too open or too closed at impact. Basically, the take away about the takeaway (hahah) is that it may only be a few inches of the swing but it is essential to set the stage for the rest of the swing.
A Proper Golf Takeaway
While the takeaway only occurs over a very short distance, lots can go wrong including wrist hinge, wrist cupping, wrist rotation, moving the arms without the shoulders, moving shoulders without the arms (much more difficult to do), excess lower body motion, etc., all causing some serious issues for the rest of the swing. In order to make the rest of the swing easier on you, it is key to have a proper takeaway, this is typically done through what is called a one piece takeaway.
The One Piece Takeaway
In actuality, this may be one of the simplest things in the swing to master, aside from maybe set up. When you set up over the ball, your shoulders and arms make a triangle. During a proper one piece takeaway, this triangle does NOT change. Once the club gets to parallel to the ground (at hip height), the triangle will begin to change, but that is no longer the takeaway. In order to keep the triangle in place there are a couple things to think about:
- ONLY the shoulders move: start by turning your left shoulder (or right if you are a lefty) towards your chin. Obviously the other shoulder will move along with it.
- No wrist action: your wrists and hands should stay in the exact position they were in your set-up position. DO NOT hinge or rotate them in any way whatsoever! You will notice that once you get the club to parallel to the ground, the toe of the club will NOT be pointing straight in the air, it will be on an angle similar to that of your spine (somewhere around 45 degrees or a bit higher). This means you have the clubface at the correct angle, not too open and not too closed.
- Don’t turn the hips: This will be different for each golfer based on flexibility. The idea is to limit your hip turn for as long as you can. If flexibility allows, try not to move the hips until the club gets to parallel.
- Personal Note: when I do the one piece takeaway correctly it feels to me like the club is travelling a bit more inside than I am used to. This is a good thing.
One Piece Golf Takeaway Drills
To start with, here are couple of videos explaining what a proper one piece takeaway should look like. These are basically a visual of what I explained above.
Now for a couple of drills to work on. This video shows you a drill to help you get the feel of only moving your shoulders, and what the club path should feel like.
When I started working on the takeaway, I was moving my wrists slightly first. I couldn’t find a video of the drill that helped me so I will verbally explain it.
- Put a small piece of wood, or something with a little bit of weight directly behind your club at set-up (essentially touching the back of your club)
- Note: the object you place behind your club should have enough weight that it would be very difficult to move it with the head of your club by just hinging your wrists.
- With the object in place, start your one piece takeaway. If you are turning with the shoulders and core and not hinging your wrists, you should be able to more easily move the object. This will give you the feel for the initiating the takeaway while also activating the core for the remainder of the swing.
By using the above drills you should be able to get the feel for initiating and completing a proper one piece golf takeaway and engaging the correct muscles along the way.
I truly hope the above is helpful and leads to improvements in your game. Play well!
The Barefoot Golfer