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kfowler

A shorter backswing

22 posts in this topic

Since I started taking golf seriously four years ago, I really worked on shortening my backswing. I used to go past parallel at the top of my backswing. Since then I've been a firm believer that nothing good happens past parallel. My backswing now is much shorter.

I've recently been working on correcting a nasty habit. When I get close to the top of my backswing, I have the tendency to move closer to the ball. So if you watch from the DL position and draw a line at address off my rear and my forehead, I drift to the right (DL view) at the right. From this, I tend to hit a lot of shots closer to the heel with the occasional shank every now and then. It's been a tough one to break.

Last night I practicing using my computer and camera to monitor my backswing. What I noticed was that I looked great up until my chin touches my left shoulder. From that point on is where I tend to drift towards the ball. If I stop right when my chin touches my shoulder, I'm in much better position to start my downswing. The position is only a tad bit shorter than what I had been doing.

So my long winded question is at what point does a shorter backswing start to affect distance? Hitting the ball on the sweet spot in premium so that's a big consideration. If you look at the pro's, you'll see a wide range. John Daly and Bubba Watson have very long backswings. Way past parallel. Contrast that to JB Holmes or Camilo Villegas, who have much shorter backswings. No one has ever called JB short distance wise. It actually seems like many pros have moved to a shorter backswing. While watching Ross McGowan beat Steve Stricker last night, I noticed the Ross has a really short backswing. Does a club head at some point reach a terminal velocity where it's indifferent on how far back you made your swing?

So what's your thoughts on a shorter backswing
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Since I started taking golf seriously four years ago, I really worked on shortening my backswing. I used to go past parallel at the top of my backswing. Since then I've been a firm believer that nothing good happens past parallel. My backswing now is much shorter.

IF done correctly and using the levers in the correct manner a "longer" backswing can create more distance. That said...the amount is small and not relative in my opinion. Bottom line...there is really no correlation b/w backswing length and distance. I would actually make the argument that the correct backswing length (essentially the place where your arms begin to lift off your body and leave the arc) is the best way to achieve the highest smash factor (i.e. distance).

Dave
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I think you guys think way too much. Physics? Backswing? Terminal velocity??? The only terminal velocity I want to see is the ball in the cup. Clear your mind and stop trying to hit it further, just try to hit it straight. Distance will come from center-hits.
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IF done correctly and using the levers in the correct manner a "longer" backswing can create more distance. That said...the amount is small and not relative in my opinion. Bottom line...there is really no correlation b/w backswing length and distance. I would actually make the argument that the correct backswing length (essentially the place where your arms begin to lift off your body and leave the arc) is the best way to achieve the highest smash factor (i.e. distance).

What do you advice as a good backswing length? I know this vary from player to player, even pro to pro. With the irons, if I go further than 45º from perpendicular, club pointing 45º into the sky, arms slightly past parallell, it is much harder to get it back down in the proper way. The long hitters on tour range from the club past parallell at the top, to slightly past perpendicular, they still drive it 300+ yards consistently. You mention "the place where your arms begin to lift off your body and leave the arc, where is this? You have seen my swing, so I'm sure you agree I'm swinging too far.

How much distance would a scratch handicapper gain by swinging to the club reach parallell compared to at a 45º angle? With, of course, the rest of the swing being equally good.
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I think you guys think way too much. Physics? Backswing? Terminal velocity??? The only terminal velocity I want to see is the ball in the cup. Clear your mind and stop trying to hit it further, just try to hit it straight. Distance will come from center-hits.

And what if you're not making center hits? As I stated in my post, the movement of my head and rear is directly related to how far back I swing the club. Therefore, shorter backswing equals more consistent center-hit shot. My question was how much of a trade off is there?

So what you're saying is, all you have to do to hit it straight is to just try and hit it straight? If only that's how it worked. Zeph - I'm going to take a shot and say it's at the point you lose consistency and control of the club head. One way to do this is use impact tape and try taking the club back to different points. See where you hit the center most consistently. It's going to help to video or have someone watching you. My experience has been that where I think I'm at and where I'm actually at are two different things. That's my guess anyway.
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I can not feel how far I am. I overswing all the time. Video or a mirror is needed so I've got a reference to use. It feels like I'm taking a very short backswing, but that is the whole point, to find a new feeling.

I want to find the shortest possible backswing where I can hit my irons a good distance. I know I can keep it way shorter than I do today, it's a matter of practice, over and over again.
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I can not feel how far I am. I overswing all the time.

I know that when I think I'm at 9 o'clock, I'm actually at 11 o'clock. So I feel your pain.

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For me, a shorter backswing equals more distance not less. At the end of the season I was making a conscious effort to shorten my backswing and I was absolutely slamming the ball. I even drove a 354 yd.par 4. - yes there was donwhill and hard ground involved but I usually forget that part.

When my swing gets too long, I notice right away. My timing goes haywire and contact is all over the place. Occasionally, I will stumble into a great strike with the long swing but not very often. When I keep it short, I stay "connected" throughout the swing and I can feel the torque I've generated, and, probably more importantly, I can get my hands back in front of the ball at impact.

Another pro that comes to mind would be Padraig Harrington. During one of the Fed Ex Cup tourneys last year, they broke down his swing. He was hitting a fairway wood and the shaft was pointing at about a 45 degree angle at the completion of his backswing. Never got anywhere close to parallel, and he hit it pretty far too.

There are certainly others on the forum more qualified to help with swing issues but this works for me.
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With a long backswing, the arms have to drop to catch up with the upper body. When I swing long, I'm not patient enough to wait for the club to drop, so I turn too fast and come over the top. Distance is primarily a result of good ball striking, descending strike, and good transfer. Doesn't matter if you swing it like John Daly if most of it is spent before reaching the ball.
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The length of the backswing should be as far back as you can go and still hit the ball squarely. I used to swing well past parallel, nearly till the club was pointing back down at my left foot. I felt as if I was merely swinging back to parallel. I couldn't break the habit for years, until I finally learned that feel and reality are two totally different things. I finally decided to try a 1/8 swing, and that was parallel! My swing thought was to point the clubhead at my right foot, then swing through. What felt like a tiny chip was a full swing.

My on center hit percentage was phenomenal, and I hit it farther than ever. Proir to that day, I had never really hit a good 3 wood in my life from the turf. I hit one that day on the range that went nearly 270! (I've never replicated that!) It became an easy game after that, the extremely difficult swing that I had used for so long forced me to be so accurate, that now a regular length swing is almost too easy. I go back to around 2 O'clock now (3 O'clock being parallel). The swing still gets long sometimes, but I do regular checks to make sure I keep it in check.
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Something worth noting: PGA players with longer backswings (John Daly, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Colin Montgomerie etc) tend to be "swingers" of the golf club as opposed to players with shorter backswings (J.B. Holmes, Camilo Villegas, Steve Stricker etc) tend to be "hitters".
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The length of the backswing should be as far back as you can go and still hit the ball squarely. ..

What I have to remember is "don't overswing." I used to have a very high, upright takeaway, but tended to keep reaching forever. I would start looping the club about hole No. 6, and have patches of double bogies as I drifted in and out of overswing.

I have flatter, more compact backswing now. Basic rule from my last two pros: Don't go past the ear. I have average athletic ability, and know now to stay away from any swing plans which require superb timing. To repeat the wise words of shanks:
The length of the backswing should be as far back as you can go and still hit the ball squarely. ..

(I'm excited about this year, as I will get to play with my revised club mix for a full season.)

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Something worth noting: PGA players with longer backswings (John Daly, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Colin Montgomerie etc) tend to be "swingers" of the golf club as opposed to players with shorter backswings (J.B. Holmes, Camilo Villegas, Steve Stricker etc) tend to be "hitters".

+1, My backswing is until I feel slight resistance during back swing. I have a problem when I am trying to hit, even though I'm a swinger. My routine is couple of practice swing just to refresh my rhythm and repeat that swing with no sensation of hitting.

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I hit the most solid and far shots when I "Feel" I am only doing a 3/4 swing.
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I hit the most solid and far shots when I "Feel" I am only doing a 3/4 swing.

And rightfully so, most peple will "feel" the length of the swing differently. To you, it's 3/4, to me, it's 1/8. This is important information to understand, you need to find the longest swing that you can regularly hit the ball with, and retrain yourself to make that your "full" backswing. It's hard, but it pays dividends.

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What do you advice as a good backswing length? I know this vary from player to player, even pro to pro. With the irons, if I go further than 45º from perpendicular, club pointing 45º into the sky, arms slightly past parallell, it is much harder to get it back down in the proper way. The long hitters on tour range from the club past parallell at the top, to slightly past perpendicular, they still drive it 300+ yards consistently. You mention "the place where your arms begin to lift off your body and leave the arc, where is this? You have seen my swing, so I'm sure you agree I'm swinging too far.

Your backswing does get just a little long (not a major thing with you) as your right elbow releases off the torso (keeps pulling behind in your case) and bends a bit past 90 degrees. Which leads me to my answer to your question. The most basic way to get the backswing length right is really twofold. Be in the process of transitioning to downswing when ...1) you feel the under side of the trail bicep start to lift off the torso and/or 2) the trail arm starts to bend/fold past 90 degrees. There are, of course some other variables but this would be the simplest answer to monitor length of backswing. For a lot of people with this problem the thought of hitting with a pretty straight right arm works great (straight but DEEP of course

) and maintains the proper radius at the same time. Dave
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I love the idea of a short backswing but my swing is timed so that I have to get to at least parallel with the ground to keep myself from pulling that ball. Back in high school I had a shorter backswing and I hit far more GIR's then than now. I definitely loose distance with a shorter backswing compared to what I am taking now, but it's probably just me since so many people have commented that it doesn't happen to them.
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Very helpfull post..... My backswing is way to long it makes life difficult... It mainly causes me problems with blocking and basicly haveing a controlled swing....
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