Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

To Increase Distance, Understand Backswing

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

To Increase Distance, Understand Backswing

Article excerpt

Recently I had a student tell me she was afraid to turn her back fully to the target because she would never get back to the ball to make solid contact. But when she took shorter backswings, she lost all her distance. She then asked, "So what should I do?"

Psychologically, it's just not comfortable to turn away from something we are trying to hit. David Leadbetter, one of the game's top-rated teachers, has had so much difficulty getting players to complete their backswings that he has suggested the future swing will start from backswing position. So, we might ask, would this really work?

Let's understand the purpose of the backswing. Try this: Get into your set-up addressing the golf ball. Now, without a backswing, see how far you can make the ball go -- just sling it out there. Even the most wiry of us can't generate enough club head speed to sling the ball very far without any backswing.

Next, take a 2-foot backswing and see how much farther you can get the ball to go. Then gradually increase the length of the backswing -- focused only on seeing how far you can hit it.

Notice, as your backswing gets longer, you can generate more club head speed. However, also notice that at some point, taking an even longer backswing no longer produces more distance. So what is it, actually, that determines how far back we should swing?

There are really only two purposes for the backswing: a) to find and feel the rhythm of our swing, which is why we can't start our swing from backswing position, and b) to generate more club head speed from ball to target.

Yes, that's right, we want to still be accelerating at impact. Why? Our objective is not to hit the ball, but rather to get our ball from here to there -- to our next target. To do so, we must deliver our whoosh (our club head speed) along the ground, beyond the ball, toward our target, with acceleration.

The backswing is simply a means to achieve more whoosh -- beyond the ball. …

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