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 Set

Tom Stickney

The Set of the backswing is when the hands have reached chest high and the butt of the club is pointing downward toward the ball. It is at this point where the actions of the body and club shaft are reaching a critical point as everything is beginning to speed up in anticipation of the downswing transition into the ball.

For the Beginning Player:

  • At this point, you should have about 70 percent of your weight on your rear foot.
  • The rear knee must still be solid, keeping the weight on the inside portion of your rear foot to the set.
  • There is no slide of the rear hip into the backswing — this is a controlled rotational motion, not a lateral one to the set.
  • The knees are separated by a beach ball-type of width to this point giving you foundational control and balance as your weight moves into your rear foot.

For the Intermediate Player:

  • Monitor the amount of lean over the rear leg to this point, your head should be around the inside of the rear foot to the top.
  • The actions of the left foot and knee should be quiet only reacting to the soft actions of the hips to the set — there is still spacing between the knees at this point.
  • The right leg should be a vertical post at this point, not angling inward toward the center of your body.

For the Advanced Player:

  • The more the hips have held their rotation to this point, the greater the amount of loading of the upperbody to the top.
  • It is here you are striving for minimal hip actions and maximum shoulder rotations with extension of the arms to the top.
  • Your foundational control to this point should not be affected at all by the actions of the shoulders or club shaft.
  • If the rear arm rides high in an effort to achieve maximum arc width, then you will tend to shut the club face slightly.

For the Professional Player:

  • The rear arm should be bent slightly but still maintaining as much width as possible to control the amount of arm swing to the top.
  • It is here you are striving for minimal hip actions, maximum shoulder rotations and maximum arc width in order to achieve the most power possible.
  • In a more centered swing you will begin to notice a slight angling inward of the rear thigh as the rear knee begins to straighten.
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