“Dear, The Golfing Doc; How far should I take the club back in my backswing? Some people tell me to take it to parallel, but I don’t see all the pros doing that. I’m confused. Thanks. Jason A., Bellevue, WA.”
This is a fun question to answer because my wife (www.shawnfarmersese.com) and I deal with this issue every day. Injured golfers come into our clinic with a variety of conditions. First, my colleague and I treat and rehab any injuries and then from there, with Shawn’s expertise, we all start to build a safer and more efficient swing for the golfer. Proper posture, stability, and mobility are key fundamentals– but eventually, we will start to work on the backswing.
If you want to create a safer and more efficient backswing, here are five steps you can take:
- If you have any injuries, aches, or pains before, during, or after playing golf, go see your doctor or contact us. You cannot play any sport safely if something is already injured or broken. A small issue can easily become a big one and then stop you from playing for the next several weeks or months.
- Make sure you are on a golf-specific fitness and conditioning program. This will help keep your body strong and in shape to play golf. If you need a recommendation for a qualified trainer in your area, feel free to contact us.
- Get a golf lesson from a PGA teaching professional. Talk to your instructor about what is the best swing for you and specifically, how far you need to take that club back. If the instructor shows you a side-by-side comparison of your swing next to a professional Tour player and says you need to take it back as far as he or she can, then you may want to reconsider who you are taking lessons from.
- Stop swinging so hard! Work on your tempo, too! You don’t need to hit the ball as hard as you can. Sure; a few players on the PGA Tour try to crush the ball every time, but there are only a few of them who do that. If you ever have the opportunity to watch a Tour player swing a club in person, take note of the tempo and how much effort is put into swinging the club. You would think it is a practice swing because it is slow and effortless, but that is usually what a pro’s swing is like. Next time you go to the range, try hitting a ball at 100% effort, then 95%, 90%, and 85%. You would be surprised at what happens with your distance. If you can hit the ball just as your 100% shot, while only putting in 90%, you are already becoming more efficient with your swing. Less wasted energy in your body movement and more energy is transferred to the ball.
- Take a shorter backswing. Easier said than done, But seriously; try it. Just because you can take the club to parallel, doesn’t mean you have to. Don’t worry about not having enough power or losing distance. Again, next time you go to the range, compare your full swings to your 3/4 and even shorter swings. If you find that you can hit it just as far with a 3/4 swing, then stick to it. You may be surprised that you can hit it just as far or even farther with a shorter swing. That is because your body is more efficient in how it is moving and is not wasting energy. Plus, the stronger your muscles are and the better golf-shape you are in, the more you can use your body to swing, versus using your arms for power.
Here are a few photos of some of the PGA Tour players I work with from this past month. They are great examples of excellent ball strikers with shorter backswing. They include 2010 US Open Champion and multiple-time Tour winner, Graeme McDowell, the 2017 Farmer’s Insurance Open winner, Jon Rahm, and the Valspar Championship winner and latest Mr. 59, Adam Hadwin. Oh, and I snuck a photo of Shawn in there, too!