Fix Your Swing
By Snyper on 6/17/08
By Matt Snyder, oobgolf contributer

It seems like every time that I play with someone new who is an 18 handicap or higher, they all have the same problem. Every single one of them could make a simple change in their swing and become a way more consistent and better golfer. I shouldn't be doing this for free because it's probably the best lesson you are ever going to get, but here goes...SHORTEN YOUR BACKSWING!!!!! Probably not the first time you've heard this suggestion, but it is time to heed this advice.

Golf is about shooting a low score. Shooting a low score is about how bad your "bad" shots are. No matter how high or low your handicap is, a good shot is a good shot. But, the difference between a low and a high handicap is how bad your "bad" shots are. A guy that shoots in the seventies hits a bad drive when he misses the fairway. A guy that is trying to break a hundred hits a bad drive when he hits somebody's car in their driveway instead of just hitting their house! Hitting better "bad" shots is all about consistency, and consistency cannot be achieved, except by John Daly, with a long back swing.

A technician at a local electronics store once told me a truth about electronics that is very relevant to golf, "The more things that move, the more things that can break." Well, the same thing is true for your back swing. When you take a big back swing, your left arm breaks down at your elbow and at your wrists. Strange as it sounds, you also tend to under-rotate your shoulders. Both of these things not only cause you to be wildly inconsistent, but also actually cost you distance. That's right folks, too long of a back swing makes you hit it shorter, not longer. If you maintain a straight left arm, you will rotate your shoulders farther instead of bending your elbow and wrists. Shoulder turn is where the power is. Just watch the pros and see if their left arms ever break down. Their should turn is incredible, but they rarely ever go past parallel. If they don't do it, neither should you.

Shortening your back swing does not take a major amount of ability to do, but it will feel a little strange for a while. The problem for most people is that they do not realize how far back they are taking the club. When I tell people to take the club back to about 75% of their normal back swing, they almost all still take the club back past parallel! Parallel is the absolute maximum distance that your back swing should ever go. It is the MAXIMUM, not the GOAL of a normal back swing. You should only take the club back as far as your shoulders allow you to turn without bending your left arm at all. If that means you only take it back until it is perpendicular to the ground, then so be it. The key to a good back swing is that it puts you in a position to execute a good down swing. The shorter you take it back, the easier it is to be in a good position. It is a simple concept, but it works! In fact, it works really well.

Allow me to make a suggestion to help you transition from your long back swing to a more appropriate one. Slow down the speed of your back swing. The biggest problem you will face when you make this change is maintaining the tempo of your swing. Because your back swing will be shorter than you are used to, you will need to slow it down to avoid a sloppy transition from your back swing to your down swing. This will help you maintain the tempo of your swing and you will see immediate results.

If you are looking for something to work on in your swing to help you with your consistency, start with your back swing. Head over to the range and try to shorten up that takeaway. I am promising you that it will dramatically change your game. In fact, I would not be surprised if you start to feel a little bit guilty about getting such revolutionary advice free of charge. If the guilt is too overwhelming and you feel as though you should send me a check, just shoot me an email and I'll make sure you get my mailing address!

[ comments ]
TaylorFade says:
Very, very sound advice. I can attest to the fact that I hit it further with a shorter backswing. Better tempo, better timing, and on plane. Now if someone can just convince my brother of this... If I could imbed a pic in here you would see a Daly type top position.

I tell people all the time that when my handicap started dropping it was when my "bad" shots got better, not my good ones.
klangdon says:
thanks, i needed to read this...
rxman says:
thanks - i need the help!
jeep5981 says:
Thanks!! I'm consistently in the 80's and 90's and I have been trying to find that little "fix" to get me to break 80 consistently. I'll be sure to try this tomorrow.
GolfingRube says:
Well, I am a golfer that is really struggling to get out of the low 100's. I am going to give this a try and see how it turns out. I will keep you updated.
Beau Hall says:
My roomate will be forced to read this. His backswing makes John Daly cry.
Matt F says:
I started doing this yesterday and the results were like night and day. I can't recommend doing this if only I could line myself up properly.
Snyper says:
Let's hear some more updates guys! Is it workin for anyone besides mw?

mw, glad to hear you're seeing an improvement! just make sure you stay with it. most people find themselves wanting to take it back farther and farther once the start hitting it better.

stay tuned to the lounge for an article on proper alignment.
Matt F says:
I went to the range last night and continued to use a short backswing...I don't think I'm going to use a driver. I was hitting my 3 wood straight and about 220-230, which is not much shorter than my driver. Everything else was great as well.

I'm playing in my league tonight, so I'm itching to see how I go there.
brokeinorlando says:
Great advice at a great price! Sharpen your chipping game and you will break 80 when your putter is on.
scocady says:
Great advice...having gone from the 90's to the 70's and 80's with a shorter backswing...I totally agree with the author.
GolfingRube says:
Well I took the advice of the author and I have to say it worked like a charm. I not only hit 85% of my fairways, but I had the highes GIR% ever. I shot a 95 which is a major improvement from my average of 107. My golfing partners wanted to know how I improved so quickly. I just smiled and said I learned of a new secret weapon. Thanks for the tip!!
Snyper says:
Awesome guys! Love to hear it! Hey Rube, I hope you put a plug for oobgolf in there somewhere!!!
PapaJoe says:
Matt, you SHOULD be a millionaire in lesson fees from your excellent, free, advice! After several surgeries on my back, rotator cuff, and cervical mid neck area during the past 15 years, I was FORCED to shorten my backswing. Problem was, with the shorter backswing I was then trying to swing too hard to make up for lost distance. "Non sequitor!" That didn't work! But I was a firm believer in the shorter backswing after watching a lot of tour seniors hit it great with about a three/quarter backswing. Now I SWEAR to the benefits of the shorter backswing after I finally found a device to MAKE me swing shorter and slower. The good old "Medicus". I purchased the 5-iron "Medicus" four years ago and now, the rhythm of that training aid and shorter backswing has put me in the category of hitting 95% of fairways from the tee, and much, much, closer to the green than ever before! 'oobGolf' readers: Heed Matt's advice. And if you need further help, buy or rent a "Medicus" and practice Matt's advice. IT WORKS!
sindigo says:
Yep...a shorter backswing definitely works. Having just started playing golf a few months ago, I still have a ton of stuff that gets in the way (alignment, grip strength, chin staying up, etc., etc. etc.). But, if I think 60% for my backswing it ends up being about 75%. On a recent round where I really thought about the shorter backswing, I pared two holes and bogey'd the other seven. I can definitely live with that for now.
sifuwk says:
Thanks, I cant wait to try it. I am sure to be back to hear more tips in the future
SilkySmoothFlatStick says:
I think this approach to the golf swing combined with the Stack and Tilt method of pre-setting you weight on your left side will make immediate improvements to anyones golf swing....oh yeh...and don't forget TEMPO.
M.Nugent says:
I was so used to over swinging that when I started doing this I had to watch my club to make sure it was just short of parallel and I have been striking the ball more consistantly...please come up with a tip that helps as much for putting
TERRY S says:
Just read this..I have got to try this! I avg lower 100's. I'm a big guy, and I still have such a hugh back swing my club head is 2-3 feet below my hands at top of the swing! I will post results as soon as the rain lets up...
TERRY S says: are the results! The previous 3 times out I avg 47.6% of fairways hit. Today I applied what I read, gave about 1/2-2/3 back swing, and accelerated thru the ball. I hit 85.7% of the fairways! Most were straight as a pin! The ones I did miss were due to alignment. I shot a 47 today on 9 holes, not my normal 50+! My buddies were amazed at the overnight change! The biggest amazement was I was still driving as far as I did with the hugh back swing...maybe a little farther!
Thanks for the great advice!
Raghu says: is one incredible piece of workable advice I have ever receeived in 8 yrs of playing active golf !! Infact I realized my earlier follies in tee shots, and then played 9 holes last Sat with a killer of a lower back pain !! I had only 1 thought in my mind when I was taking all my shots, espec off the tee box: "keep the left arm STRAIGHT" & that automatically led me to shorten my backswing. I was truly amazed at the immediate results, all the 9 tee shots were like an arrow, straight down the fairway consistently and I was gaining distance as well. I just couldn't believe my eyes - playing like this in my 1st round of this '08 season !! I shot 6-over par on a par 36. This article further validates my firm belief - keep a shorter backswing and enjoy the fruits of consistent 'good' shots !! Pls keep such lessoned articles continuing.
Steve Wozeniak PGA says:
Great stuff EXCEPT for the left arm. Some of the best players that have ever picked up a club have had a little bend in the left arm. Annika Sorenstam, Nick Price and Sam Snead are just a few I will throw out there. Keep it short and tension free!!!!!!!
Bostonjer says:
A short backswing with a 100% follow-thru, helped lower my scores. I agree with the left arm being straight, and that with less moving or breaking down parts, one can achieve more consistant contact and results, especially with shots inside 165.
Nomad says:
The concept works but sometimes the mind is unable to accept the truth. The physics of a shorter relaxed swing produces strong consistent impact, leading to a balanced follow through. Whatever your age, the real challenge in golf is the stress, images and expectations in your mind. Have fun and don't be surprised by your improved scores.
Jorge Calle says:
I will try this, thank you.
JWHpurist says:
This is very valid, accurate information and was well done! This is the same technique taught to me by an "Old English Pro", in 1967, in a series of lessons I took from him. It provided dramatic improvement in my game and knowledge to eliminate "bad habits" that arise from time to time when I "Overswing" with the "Foolish Grip & Rip It" uncontrolled swing. This technique will produce accurate shots at known distance, and feel good with all the clubs in your bag and post low scores on your card! Just like putting all rounds in the "V Ring" at 600 meters. AKA "A Possible". That's more fun than a hole in one! JWHpurist
Lerxst says:
OMG! Thank you so much for this! The best tip I've had in a long time. I hit most of my fairways today, and the ones that didn't were just off and very playable. No hooks or slices and two pars! This advice took six strokes off my game today - I love you man ;)
Clint24 says:
I had a lesson Wednesday and my PGA pro father and teacher have been trying to get me to do this. I have a very hard time trying to tell where my hands are in my swing. Thanks for posting this.
TWUES17 says:
Like Clint, I had a lesson a few weeks ago and this was the main point of it. My right elbow was flying out because I was going over parallel. A shorter, quicker (I know it goes agains the advice of this article, but it worked for me) backswing made all the difference for me. I would also say, if you were/are having the problem with the flying right elbow while also going past parallel, you should practice hitting shots with a towel under your right armpit. Keeping this elbow locked to your side won't allow you to go past parallel. Completely changed my life!
Bryan K says:
I'm a high handicap golfer...and believe it or not, this is contrarian wisdom that I always adhered to even if I didn't know why. When I take a full swing with an iron, the objective is to try to poing the blade of the club at the hole at the peak of my backswing. This usually results in my going about 45 degrees between perpindicular to the ground and parallel to the ground. Now, with my driver, I've been fully conscious for a while now that my backswing has been going back too far. It's absolutely crazy. I took about 50 practice swings with my driver (before even reading this) tonight before teeing up, and sure enough, they were almost all perfect. However, once I got to my first drive, I subconsciously went wild with my backswing. On tomorrow's round, I think I'm going to try to concentrate specifically on shooting my driver like my irons. Three weeks ago, I was hitting 270 and straight off the tee. The last couple of weeks, I've felt like Bam-Bam.
Lerxst says:
I think I need to state this: If you have problems off the tee like me, LISTEN TO THIS ARTICLE AND TRY IT!

I would have probably had an even lower score however, after the third hole I was so freaked out at consistantly having a second shot that wasn't behind a tree or worse that I didn't know what to do with myself, and that's just it. My long game has always been a tail of "Captain Hook" or "King Kong" (with a proportional bannana), and because of that I really have rarely had a decent second shot.

I really was wondering when it was going to end - it didn't, and I kept my backswing much shorter with all of my clubs. Now, if I can get over have a decent second, I'll be able to move on and improve other parts of my game. This article really made golf even more enjoyable for me. Thanks again!
Hacker Al says:
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.
Knees and Toes.
Head Shoulders, Knees and Toes.
Knees and Toes.
Eyes and Ears and Mouth and Nose.......

(just making fun of how MANY things can effect your game. SO MANY inperfections.
.........okay so maybe not toes lol.)
Bryan K says:

My philosophy is simple. There are way too many things to have to remember all at once while making a typical golf swing. It's just impossible. Therefore, I work on memorizing one aspect at a time until it becomees so ingrained, I don't have to think about it anymore. The problem is, by the time I've made it halfway through the checklist memorizing different aspects of my swing, the memorizing I did at the beginning is already starting to wear off.
chdoyle23 says:
I started doing this early this spring. I'm still working on it. I never have been able to get very long on my backswing without having a little bend in my arm. I have been working a lot on sand wedge play and I have gone from hitting a sand wedge 90-95 yards to 100+ with a shorter backswing. I can truly attest to how well this really works. I don't have the dvd set but I got the idea from the stack and tilt format. I've never been one to really change my swing with any "new" tip that I hear but I did this year and I can say its amazing. Just an example from my home course: A par 3 that measures 138 to the middle of the green; Last year I could barely get a 9 Iron to the front of the green and had to use a full 8 to get to the back; This year I hit a PW to the front-middle portion and a 9 iron to the middle-back portion of the green. What a difference!! Its not just the yardage either; I am hitting my irons with a lot more consistency than last year; speaking of ball striking and GIR%.
mjaber says:
I didn't even realize I was doing this. I went to the range and focused on just keeping my left arm straight. Distance was the same as before, but the ball went straight, and the contact felt alot better. Thanks.
Snyper says:
Love the feedback guys! It's awesome to hear people are able to make changes that allow them to improve and enjoy the game even more than they used to. Few feelings equal that of consistently playing better golf!!
caseyvrc40 says:
I tried this for a round at of golf today and couldn't be more pleased with the results. It took the front nine to get my aim and confidence in the changed stroke, but by the back nine I was hitting greens and fairways like never before. To top it off the course was very challenging for tee shots and approaches, but I was able to navigate them with confidence. I used to really wind up when I wanted a long tee shot and of course 9 of 10 times I would have a drastic hook or slice depending on how I came back into my swing. Now I think of a slow, steady, and short back swing and still hit drives the same distance. I observed the players I was playing with and the gentlemen who went way past horizontal had no consistency in his drives, but the other gentlemen seemed to already have this advice and struck the ball consistently clean and down the middle. I would recommend everyone try this while going back to your basic setup and you will be amazed at the results.
chadmicheal07 says:
im looking forward to going to the range tomorrow and trying this, thanks.
phraynck says:
This would be lessons 1-5 for any beginners. I originally started with a decent swing but developed horrible habits over time. Last June I scrapped everything and started over with a local teacher. It took me a solid month or two to stop the bad habit of overswinging. Its very hard to feel yourself. When I practiced I had a friend hold a shaft outside my right shoulder perpendicular to the target. I would focus on stopping short of that and if I did overswing I knew it. If you have someone to video your swing do it, you'll be shocked how far you take it back compared to how far you feel you are taking it back.
windowsurfer says:
Makes me wonder -- I often see playing partners go past parallel with wild results. I think, "glad I don't do that!". I know I don't with irons, but seeing the huge response of guys here who do, I wonder if I'm not past parallel with driver. I know my left arm breaks down. Lately I've been trying the *push your top hand out/back against your bottom thumb* swing thought to have a straight btm arm and stop at parallel. I need a mirror or an observer on the driving range.
mantajim says:
My Pro has reminded me numerous times, that distance come from the major muscles groups in the legs and hips, not the arms. And a shorter backswing means more consistant hits giving me more accuracy. For me, the shorter/slower backswing helps my tempo and allows my hips to start the downswing.
tennesseeboy says:
Very true. I just started playing a few years ago and I'm 47 years old. At 47, I struggle with flexibility and thought I could not get the club back to parallel. Then I took a video camera to the driving range. With the camera behind me, I could see the club head coming down to within about 6 inches of my waste line at the top (or bottom really) of my back swing. When I corrected this, it made a huge difference in distance and accuracy.
sigmapete1 says:
This is something that I am constantly working on. I am an average golfer but very flexible and can go past parallel without bending my left arm but it is still a death move for my swing.

Best advice I ever got...take your digital camera to the range and film a couple swings. You will be AMAZED at how far what you think a 3/4 swing is. Chances are, your 3/4 swing is farther back than most pro's full driver swings!
mjaber says:
I've gone to the range a couple times and tried to swing like Steve Stricker. The difference in direction is amazing. Stricker's simple back-through motion makes for a great confidence builder. The problem I had with it was the distance I lost. It's a nice fallback swing, though, if you're ever having one of "those" days.
mjaber says:
I remember the first time I read this last year. When I went to the range, I noticed I could actually see the head of my driver out of the corner of my left eye during my back swing. When I made the concious effort to make sure I couldn't see it, I noticed a dramatic improvement in my driving.
Muscle-OchO says:
Makes a ton of sense..... Now I just need it to warm up about 50 degrees and the snow to melt so I can try it out!
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