No matter what your handicap, your takeaway — the first 20 inches your club head travels — should be perfect. You might not have a perfect, Tiger Woods-like full swing (not many do), but since your club is moving so slowly during your takeaway, you don’t have to be big or strong or a scratch golfer to have it under perfect control.
My point is that you may not be a pro, but you can have a takeaway like one, and that’s a big step in getting better. I see a lot of golfers who roll their hands to start the swing, fanning the club face open and getting the club shaft trapped too far behind them. This will lead to a cut-across downswing that produces pulls and slices.
Equally as bad for your score is lifting the club to the outside as you start away. Your club weighs only a few ounces, so it’s not hard to lift it to the top of your swing — not that hard but not that right, either, unless you want to hit weak slices and a lot of fat and thin shots.
What’s the correct way to get your swing going? It’s a one-piece takeaway in which your golf club, hands, arms, shoulders, and chest all move together. The key concept is that your club, during the takeaway, moves back and away — not around you!
I’ll explain it this way: Power-packed swings produce a lot of width where the club head moves away from your body on your toe line as far as it can while still creating coil.
When your arms swing away from your body, you’ll get the feeling that they’re moving directly back from the ball so that at the top of your swing, your back faces the target with the hands in the middle of your chest. Any independent manipulation of the club with the hands during your takeaway (or at any time during the swing) decreases the width of your arc.
So just keep those hands quiet and let the big muscles in your back, hips and shoulders do their job.
You can monitor the correctness of your takeaway as follows: Take your normal setup to the ball and lay a reference club along your toe line parallel to the target line. Initiate you takeaway until your club is waist-high then stop and examine this position for the following elements:
- Your right arm should be straight.
- Your elbows should be the same distance apart as they were at address.
- Your club shaft should be directly over the shaft on your toe line.
This is the all-important position because it’s your takeaway that sets you up for the correct path of your full swing. So even though your new wide takeaway may feel straight back your club head will work gradually inside and around you as your body turns and coils.
A good way to get the correct feel is to hit some very short shots (about 20 yards) with your wedge, letting your chest and arms start the club back and away from the ball. This will help develop a pro-like takeaway, one that puts the head of your club on a wide, powerful arc to the ball.