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The Swing in Pictures: The Takeaway (Part 2)



Over the next several weeks, Tom Stickney will be presenting a series called, “The Swing In Pictures” on GolfWRX.

Each Monday a different swing position will be coupled with thoughts you (as the player) should pay attention to based on your current handicap level.  I would suggest printing each of these articles out and place them in a binder, as the series will take you from address through the finish from the front and down the line views.

Click here to view Tom’s previous articles.


This article is meant to be used as a general reference for the most common swing model used in today’s game. As with any golf swing, there are personal idiosyncrasies that will alter the look and/or actions of the club shaft and body motions back and through so there will always be exceptions. Please keep this in mind as you read each section. As Homer Kelley identifies in ‘The Golfing Machine,’ there are 446 quad-trillion stroke patterns, or ways to swing the club. You only need to find the one that works best for you.

The Takeaway (Rear View)

Tom Stickney

The Takeaway begins when the body and clubshaft begin to move away from the ball.  It is this position that truly sets up the whole chain of events leading up to the top; if you move either the body or the clubshaft too far off track here you are only waiting for disaster!

For the Beginning Player:

  • The clubshaft will be positioned directly over your toes and in line with the direction of your stance-line at belt high.
  • The forward wrist should be “relatively” flat with no bending or arching of the wrist.
  • The rear arm is beginning to “tuck and fold” into the body as it orbits the rib cage.
  • Maintain the triangle formed between your shoulders and arms into the belt high position.

For the Intermediate Player:

  • You takeaway should be driven by your shoulders, not your hands, take the time to monitor your wrist action to belt high by watching the actions of the watch dial on your forward arm.
  • At belt high the clubshaft should be positioned directly over your toes.
  • The clubface should be moving into a “toe up” position by this point but not all the way.
  • Maintain the flex of your right knee into the backswing.

For the Advanced Player:

  • The amount of forward forearm rotation to the belt high position will control the face angle of the clubhead, as well as if the club is in line with your hands or not.
  • Monitor your grip pressure so that you may begin to set the club into the correct position by chest high.
  • The shoulders should be dominating the hips in their race to belt high. Monitor the actions of the left knee to this point, if it is moving exaggeratedly out toward the ball at this point then your hips are over-rotating.

For the Professional Player:

  • The angle and articulations of the left wrist at this point should match up with the pivot speed of the body so everything is working together by this point.
  • The rotational amount of the forward forearm and the amount of wrist hinge you have to this point will determine if the clubhead travels in front of, on top of, or behind your hands to belt high.
  • The amount of forward bending you set at address will be holding constant into the belt high position.
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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico ( He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email:



  1. tom stickney

    Feb 13, 2013 at 8:48 pm


    As long as the clubshaft is around the stance-line you should be fine. Remember golf is not about hitting all the perfect positions during the swing- it’s about functionality, thus, sometimes you will be in slightly different positions than the ones shown. Enjoy….

  2. Tyler

    Feb 13, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    In Rory’s pic it def looks like the clubhead is outside his hands on the takeaway

  3. Tyler

    Feb 13, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    shouldn’t the club head be outside the hands on the takeaway? In the picture above the clubhead is inside and it looks like that swing could be too inside.

  4. tom stickney

    Feb 9, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    Most people will tend to take the club away using their shoulders to drive the motion of the arms and hands; however, if you have takeaway flaws…such as a propensity to over-roll the left forearm off the start…moving the clubshaft too much to the inside…then you might feel more hand action during the takeaway to eliminate this faulty action as an example.

    • parsonsk

      Feb 12, 2013 at 2:46 pm

      How do you feel about the pre-shot waggle in an attempt to rehearse the 9’oclock take-away? I have always reverted to it if I felt something wrong at the range, but never felt comfortable taking it to the course. It seemed like it left me standing over the ball too long. Just curious what you thought of incorporating that type of waggle into an on the course routine. Thanks,

      • tom stickney

        Feb 13, 2013 at 8:44 pm

        Anything you can do to help position yourself on the way back is a good idea; some people can do this “long waggle” on the golf course while others cannot. It’s up to you.

  5. cody

    Feb 8, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    so youre saying i need to bring the club back using my shoulders not my hands?

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How to eliminate the double cross: Vertical plane, gear effect and impact location



One of the biggest issues teachers see on the lesson tee is an out-to-in golf swing from a player who is trying to fade the ball, only to look up and see the deadly double cross! This gear effect assisted toe hook is one of the most frustrating things about trying to move the ball from left to right for the right-handed golfer. In this article, I want to show you what this looks like with Trackman and give you a few ways in which you can eliminate this from your game.

Below is the address position of a golfer I teach here in Punta Mita; his handicap ranges between scratch and 2, depending on how much he’s playing, but his miss is a double cross when he’s struggling.

Now let’s examine his impact position:


  • You see a pull-hooking ball flight
  • The hands are significantly higher at impact than they were at address
  • If you look at the clubhead closely you can see it is wide open post impact due to a toe hit (which we’ll see more of in a second)
  • The face to path is 0.5 which means with a perfectly centered hit, this ball would have moved very slightly from the left to the right
  • However, we see a shot that has a very high negative spin axis -13.7 showing a shot that is moving right to left

Now let’s look at impact location via Trackman:

As we can see here, the impact of the shot above was obviously on the toe and this is the reason why the double-cross occurred. Now the question remains is “why did he hit the ball off of the toe?”

This is what I see from people who swing a touch too much from out-to-in and try to hit fades: a standing up of the body and a lifting of the hands raising the Vertical Swing Plane and Dynamic Lie of the club at impact. From address, let’s assume his lie angle was 45 degrees (for simplicity) and now at impact you can see his Dynamic Lie is 51 degrees. Simply put, he’s standing up the shaft during impact…when this happens you will tend to pull the heel off the ground at impact and this exposes the toe of the club, hence the toe hits and the gear effect toe hook.

Now that we know the problem, what’s the solution? In my opinion it’s a three stage process:

  1. Don’t swing as much from out-to-in so you won’t stand up as much during impact
  2. A better swing plane will help you to remain in your posture and lower the hands a touch more through impact
  3. Move the weights in your driver to promote a slight fade bias

Obviously the key here is to make better swings, but remember to use technology to your advantage and understand why these type of things happen!

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Master your takeaway with force and torques



Most golf swings last less than 2 seconds, so it’s difficult to recover from any errors in the takeaway. Time is obviously limited. What most golfers fail to realize is that the force and torque they apply to the club in the initial stages of the swing can have major effects on how they are able to leverage the club with their arms and wrists.

Our research has shown that it is best to see the golfer as a series of connected links with the most consistent golfers transferring motion smoothly from one link to another and finally to the club. Approximately 19-25 percent of all the energy created in a golf swing actually makes its way into the motion of the club. That means the remaining 75-80 percent is used up in moving the body segments. This emphasizes the fact that a smooth takeaway is your best chance sequence the body links and become more efficient with your energy transfers.

In the video above, I give a very important lesson on how the forces and torques applied by the golfer in the takeaway shape the rest of the swing. There will be more to come on the subject in future articles.

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Learn from the Legends: Introduction



There is a better way to swing the golf club. I’d prefer to write that there is a correct way to swing the club, but I know that really freaks people out. People love to talk about how everyone’s swing is different. “There are lots of ways to get it done,” they say. “Look at Jim Furyk’s swing – it’s not what you’d teach, but it works for him.”

To some extent, they’re right. Elite swings do have different looks. Some take it back inside (Ray Floyd). Some cross the line (Tom Watson). Some swings are long (Bubba Watson). Some are short (young Tiger). But these differences are superficial and largely irrelevant. When it comes to the engine – the core of the swing – the greatest players throughout the history of the game are all very similar.

Don’t believe me? Well, let me prove it to you. In this series of articles, I will do my best to show you – with pictures and videos and data – that the legends all move a specific way. Focusing on these elements (while ignoring others) and practicing a certain way is the surest path to improving your golf swing and lowering your scores.

So, let’s get into it. There are a number of important elements that all the legends have, but the biggest and most important of these elements is rotation. Every great player throughout the history of the game has had elite rotation. It’s the most important thing they do, and it’s easy to see. When you’re looking down the line at all the great players at impact, you’ll see hips and torso open.

This is what the legends look like at impact:

1Hips open
2Torso open
3Both butt cheeks visible
4Left leg extended and visible

And here’s what some very good players with less good rotation look like at impact:

These are very successful players (one of them is a major champion!), but they don’t move like the legends of the game.
1Hips and shoulders not open
2Left leg not totally visible
3Can’t see both butt cheeks

Now, there are plenty of nuances to how great players rotate. They do it while keeping spine flexion, for example, and they do it with very little (or no) lateral movement toward the target (lateral movement impedes rotation). I will discuss these things in detail. My hope is that at the end of this series you will have a much better understanding of what separates the legends from the very good… and from the rest of us.

You will understand their “engine,” and hopefully this understanding will help you begin to create your own legendary swing!

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19th Hole