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- Rear View

The Set- Rear View

The Set of the backswing is when the hands have reached chest high and the butt of the club in 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:

  • The club shaft should point at or just inside the ball and the hands should be positioned between the rear armpit and the center of the chest.
  • The rear knee should be continuing to maintain the flex you established at address as your hips and shoulders continue to turn.
  • The rear arm is folding as the arms move up to chest high but it does not collapse to this point.
  • The shoulders are still leading the hips to the top but everything will still arrive at the top together.

For the Intermediate Player:

  • The amount of forward bending has remained constant from the set-up position.
  • The shoulders and hips are turning perpendicular to the spine itself, not allowing any excessive bending or tilting as this can cause the arms and club to move off-plane.
  • Allow the rear arm to maintain width in route to the set.
  • The weight is still centralized on the laces of your shoes — not moving toward the heels or toes.

For the Advanced Player:

  • The forward wrist should be relatively flat, not overly bent, cupped, or arched to any great degree allowing the club head to be in a generally square condition.
  • The butt of the club should point slightly inside the golf ball as the wrists hinge.
  • Any drastic change in forward spinal bending will result in an off-plane club shaft motion to the set.

For the Professional Player:

  • The more vertical the club shaft becomes at the set (pointing closer to the toes) the greater the shift required to “drop the club to the inside” during the transition.
  • The more horizontal the club shaft becomes at the set (pointing outside the ball’s target line) the easier it will be become overly flat in route to the top.
  • The body and the club shaft are working together to this point — the body is rotating, while the club shaft is moving upward via the folding of the rear arm controlling the vertical nature of your backstroke.
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