Each week Old Warson Country Club Director of Instruction Rick Ewing gives a tip of the week. This week, he guides golfers through the proper backswing.
The more compact your backswing, the easier it is to hit solid irons. When you begin the takeaway with your shoulder turn, the club should be pointing away from the target when it is parallel to the ground (about half way back). Controlling the clubface at this point is also important. When your club is parallel to the ground, the clubface should look slightly closed (it will look closed but will actually be square to your swing plane). To eliminate wasted motion, work on moving your hands on a circular path (45 degrees) to the top of the backswing. There is a simple checklist for the position at the top of the backswing (this is opposite for a left-handed player):
A) Flat left wrist (the hinge in the left wrist occurs in the bottom of the wrist, not by cupping it). B) Angle in the right wrist (feel like you are holding a serving platter in the front of your right wrist). C) Right elbow pointing at the ground (no chicken wing). D) Keep your left forearm and shaft of the club on the same plane (45 degree angle).
Using a mirror at home or at a golf facility will allow you to get feedback on your backswing positions. Don't over think the backswing...you are not hitting the ball backwards.
One crucial element for good iron play is to maintain a constant spine angle throughout the swing. This enables you to hit down at impact, correctly taking a divot after the ball. Many amateurs tend to rise up as they swing the club down in a mistaken attempt to help lift the ball into the air. Lifting leads to poor contact such as fat or thin shots.
To correct this tendency, swing to a finish position and then hold it for a moment. Then bring the club back down as if someone hit the rewind button. You should be able to get right back into your address position. That's maintaining your spine angle.
Want to ask Rick Ewing about a golf tip. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.