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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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Davies: The pitfalls of trying to generate lag in your golf swing



Alistair Davies shares with you how to get lag in the golf swing the right way. Many players go about it the wrong way causing other issues in the golf swing. All will be explained in the video.

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What should your hips do in the golf swing?



If you want to become more consistent, a better ball striker and hit longer golf shots then this is the video for you. This video will show you exactly what your hips pelvis should be doing during your backswing, downswing and through impact. Having great control of your pelvis and it’s movement will help you have greater control over your golf swing.

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Playing in your mind vs. playing out of your mind



Comparing the recreational beginner to the elite player

As a player, I know there are rounds of golf where I feel like I worked extremely hard to achieve the results and there are also rounds that are effortless and just plain easy. Why do we go through these peaks and valleys in golf?

As an instructor and player, I want to explore a deeper understanding of what it means to be playing out of your mind vs. playing in your mind.

I want to address both beginners and elite players on their quest for better play. All beginners and elite players must understand that, as players, we are all experiencing ups and downs. The bottom line is that some handle them better than others.

Why is this a feeling golfers have: “playing out of your mind”?

Well, it is pure relaxation. It is fluid, seamless, continuous motion. No hang-ups. No hiccups.

The next big question, how do we achieve this regularly?

We get to this without forcing it, by believing in our makeup. It is locked in our subconscious. It is a controllable, uncontrollable. Subconsciously, your nervous system is in the green light. You are just doing. This is peak performance. This is the zone. This is playing autonomously, out of your mind.

I believe that over time, a golfer’s game is compiled in his/her built-up expectations of the player they truly believe they are. Expecting to make a putt vs. just so happening to make it feeds two different minds. When you place an expectation on an action tension is created. Tension creeps into our nervous system and our brains either respond or they don’t. This is called pressure. This is what I call playing in your mind. You are in your head, your thoughts are far too many and there is just a whole lot floating around up there.

The more players play/practice, the more they will expect out of themselves, and in result, create that pressure. (ie. Why progress is difficult to achieve the closer you get to shooting par or better). The best players are better at responding to that pressure. Their systems are auto-immune to pressure. (ie. Think of practice like medicine and think of a pre-shot routine like the Advil to help calm the spiking nerves.)

  • Playing in your mind = high tension golf… you might need an Advil.
  • Playing out of your mind = low tension golf… you are in a good headspace and are doing all the right things before your round even started.

The key to understanding here is that we can play in both minds and achieve success in either situation. It is all about managing yourself and your re-act game.

Subconscious playing is beyond enjoyable. It is more recreational in style. I believe beginners are playing more subconsciously, more recreationally. I believe elite players can learn from the beginner because they are achieving superior moments and sensations more subconsciously, more often. All players at all levels have off days. It is important to remember we all have this in common.

The goal is always to play your best. When I play my best, there are no preconceived thoughts of action. It’s simply action. Playing out of your mind is an unwritten script, unrehearsed, and unrepeatable on a day to day basis, you’re living it.

Say you have that one round, that out of your mind, crazy good day. The next few days, what do you do? Do you try to mimic everything you did to achieve that low number? As good players, we take these great days and try to piece it together into a script of playing. We know we can get it down to almost damn near perfect. The more a player rehearses the better they get. Edits are made…knowing that things are always shifting. Visualization is key.

No doubt, it’s a huge cycle. Players are in a continuous race to achieve results in numbers. Players looking to reach great success should generate a journal/log and compile a record and playback method and revisit it repeatedly.

There is no secret or magic…it takes mastering the minds to achieve the best results more often. Most important, as players, we must recognize that during our amazing rounds…

  1. We are relaxed
  2. We are having fun
  3. We are just doing

In this game, the deeper we go, the more we propose to be there. It will always bring us back to the basics. One complete full circle, back to the beginner in all of us. So, the next time an experienced player sees a beginner on the first tee…take a moment and appreciate that player!

Remember to enjoy the walk and believe that hard work always works!

Please reach out to me at to learn more about the zone and how to become accustomed to playing autonomously.


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