Backswing is the most difficult part of the swing sequence. Many golfers struggle to perfect or perform consistently in this phase. But is there a way to know whether you’re doing things incorrectly? Find out what’s wrong with your backswing by using these reliable backswing checkpoints to effectively self-correct and improve your play.
There are many factors that can affect a golf swing and contribute to what makes it go wrong. When it comes to backswing, mistakes commonly happen as you start to pick up the swing. The rest of the phase is reactionary.
Common mistakes happening in backswing:
Lack of shoulder turn
Do you know that your shoulder rotates more than your hips? Lack of shoulder turn will reduce your swing’s power. A great backswing allows you to store energy and gives you enough room for your clubhead to square and pick up speed into impact. However, proper shoulder turn is something many amateur golfers struggle to achieve. A lot of golfers believe that they are doing it right until they start the downswing and realize they have little space to make a solid impact.
Incorrect shoulder turn:
Your hips hardly rotate or remain almost square to the target
Your shoulders don’t away from the target and at 90 degrees angle
Your body doesn’t rotate around the spine but tilts forward
Your shoulder movement doesn’t go down and under but moves up
No muscle tension and power comes from your arms
Swinging over the top
One of the most common backswing mistakes of high handicappers is going over the top. It happens when the upper body over-rotates and throws the club off the swing plane which results in approaching the ball from the outside in. Going over the top significantly lowers your chance of hitting the ball with a square club face and therefore results in slices, hooks, and other common swing issues.
Causes of going over the top
The weight stays on the left leg throughout the backswing
Not getting enough distance to come down for downswing
Turning the shoulders on forwarding swing before the arms fall down in the inside path
The club swings over the swing path and cuts across the target
Backswing is too flat
Opposite the top swing is a shallow swing. When a golf swing is shallow or too flat, you will not be able to square your club face in time and hit the ball with the center of the club. Your impact not only lacks speed and power but also accuracy. When you restrict your hip to rotate, you will not be able to achieve the right angle in the takeaway. You will also miss the right timing and tempo because you don't have enough time to recover your club face before you hit impact.
An incomplete backswing is when the sequence is cut off. Many amateur golfers commit this mistake because of the mindset that they lack flexibility and range of motion. They tend to fake their shoulder turn by bending their left arm or trail arm to compensate for the lack of backswing. This cuts off any power and acceleration that the torque could have stored during the rotation. Thus, leaving you with poor performance.
Qualities of a good backswing:
Both your hips and shoulders are turning up to the right angle
Your shoulders rotate more than your hips
Your shoulders are turning in the proper swing plane
Your rotation is slow and steady to the top of the backswing
How do you check your backswing?
A good backswing is sequenced by tilt, rotation, and bend. These are also the primary backswing checkpoints you need to be aware of to improve your play. There is no more need to get lost and struggle to perfect your swing if you keep these checkpoints in mind. In fact, you will realize that the key is fairly simple.
Backswing checkpoint #1
Hip turn to 44 degrees and no more than 45 degrees
Over-rotating your hips will NOT generate more power. Instead, it will only thrust your hips towards the ball during downswing causing you to sway, go out of posture and miss your timing.
How much hip turn do you need in your swing? During backswing, your hip turn should open ideally to 44 degrees but not exceed 45 degrees. This angle maintains your spine in position and your posture. It also prevents the need for you to stand up or extend early. This will keep you in your swing plane, make weight transfer smoother, and keep your angle and posture in place throughout the swing sequence. The better you turn your hips, the easier it is for you to rotate your shoulders.
Backswing checkpoint #2
Shoulder turn to 89 degrees to 90 degrees
Shoulder turn to 89 degrees to 90 degrees away from the target line is the ideal angle for the backswing. The easiest way to set your body at the top of your backswing is to rotate at 90 degrees with the front shoulder up and around. This allows you to fully rotate your upper body while staying in position and swing plane. You will have enough time to square back your club while gathering acceleration and power for a well-timed impact.
Backswing checkpoint #3
Shoulder tilt at 36 degrees
Shoulder tilt and rotation should not be confused. Shoulder turns or rotation moves in sync with your hips. Meanwhile, the shoulder tilt allows you to maintain your spine in position, keep the upper body movement in sync and reach the top of the backswing at a decent position. As your front shoulder moves up and around at 90 degrees, your left arm should be tilting at 36 degrees. This angle allows your front shoulder to rotate down and under your chin, maintaining the swing plane.
Setting your body to the right backswing position can be challenging, especially for amateur golfers. It can be hard to know what the correct golf swing should feel like. However, with the right practice and using the right golf training aid, you can practice your drill and get the proper feedback on these backswing checkpoints.
SwingPro Plus is a training aid that helps golfers set up the right angle, alignment, and positioning. It's an innovative device that helps you create a stable, consistent, and synced upper body rotation. No other golf trainer can provide you with this training.