Shortening The Backswing

Shortening The Backswing image of golfer in his backswing

Shortening The Backswing

Frustrated with swing that has felt terrible all spring long (to be honest, it didn’t feel great last fall), I sought professional help.

A lesson with Washtenaw Golf Club Head Professional Zach Szawara, PGA identified the problem within two swings:

My backswing is too long. It goes far past parallel.

“It’s impressive, actually,” Szawara said. “You’re flexible like John Daly.”

I of course had no idea. I knew my backswing felt “off,” but seriously attributed it to not taking enough of a turn. Thus, I had been working on that. I fully expected to be told to turn more.

As it turns out, my attempt to perform golf surgery on myself was just leading to more golf health problems.

The moral of the story is that when something doesn’t feel right — with your health or with your golf — see a professional.

Overly long backswings cause a cascade of issues as the body and mind try to get back to impact in the proper position. I was casting, hitting weak pulls and topping the ball. My lead arm was collapsing.

With the problem immediately identified, most of the remainder of the lesson was spent shortening the backswing. We worked on trying to instill a feel of where the proper position is at the top of the swing.

Get to the proper position, then fire. I was hitting much better shots within a few swings.

Initially, at least, the key for me is to pause a bit at the top to check the position just before firing the hips.

It is perhaps a statement about how far back I was taking the club that it does not feel as though I’m taking the club back at all. Ball flight, however, says otherwise.

The Washtenaw golf pro also identified a “move” I have where — after taking my stance — I tilt my hips forward slightly before going into the backswing.

Szawara said that while that actually isn’t a bad move, it effectively moves my ball back in the stance because my hips are slightly forward of where I started.

The solution there, he said was to move the right foot a little further back when I take my stance. That offsets the hip move.

After the lesson, I went immediately out for a round to work on the new information. I concentrated on just two things: finding that new position on the backswing and setting my feet properly.

I had very good success with the irons, but not as much with the driver and three wood. Since we had worked exclusively with the seven iron during the lesson, I don’t think I have a good feel for where the backswing with the driver and wood should transition.

More lessons will be necessary.

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