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Swing in Pictures: The Top

by   |   February 25, 2013
backswing

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 placing 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.

PLEASE NOTE:

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 Top (Front View)

Stickney

The top of the backswing is where the backswing stops and the forward motion of the body and clubshaft begins.  This is the position that will allow the downswing to begin without any radical manipulation.

For the Beginning Player:

  • The shoulders have turned about twice as much as the hips.
  • There is a noticeable separation between the legs as if you were holding a beach ball between your knees.
  • The arms are extended away from the head with a left arm that is relatively straight but not rigid.
  • The rear knee is solid and has not swayed laterally; thus, the weight is centralized on the inside of the rear foot and the forward foot is on the ground or very close.
  • The head should remain relatively stable on the way to the top, it can move slightly laterally towards the rear foot.

For the Intermediate Player:

  • Focusing on lower body control is a must — the knees must remain separated and the forward foot must not be allowed to leave the ground haphazardly.
  • The head should be directly over the rear foot so you can be “behind the ball” or “loaded up” at the top — this is a necessity for power and control.
  • Maintain the “L” created by the rear arm at the top for added width — do not let it collapse beyond 90 degrees.
  • Rear knee control will create a more controlled hip turn to the top and a better foundation for the transition.

For the Advanced Player:

  • Halting the swing “from the feet” is advisable whereas your feet do not leave the ground and the weight stays on the inside of the rear foot at the top.
  • There is a noticeable “lean over the rear leg” at the top which was created by the lateral side bending at address; if your lower body is out of control or over-rotates then you will lose this angle.
  • It is here we desire a medium hip turn, a maximum shoulder turn, and a slight “lean over the rear leg.

For the Professional Player:

  • Notice the high X-Factor — the torque created between the differing upper and lower body turns.  The shoulders will be turned around 90 degrees and the hips around 45, this torque allows the hips to lead and power the downswing without thought and in the proper sequence.
  • The angle of the rear biceps and rear forearm must be as wide as possible to create a short arms swing coupled with a big shoulder turn.

About

Director of Golf Instruction
Bighorn Golf Club, Palm Desert, Calif. (Nov-May)
The Promontory Club, Park City, Utah (June-Oct)
Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher
Golf Digest Best Young Teachers Under 40 (2006-2011)
Golf Tips Top 25 Instructor
The Golfing Machine, GSED
www.tomstickneygolf.com and www.youtube.com/tomstickneygolf
tom@tomstickneygolf.com
**Guest Students Welcome**


7 Comments

  1. David

    March 8, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Excited to see the transition!

  2. tom stickney

    March 3, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Semantics can me misconstrued; thanks for the note…

    • David

      March 8, 2013 at 9:25 am

      Tom i’ve been reading all of these posts. They are awesome.

  3. Walt

    March 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    That wasn’t that great of an answer to the fact your instruction says explicitly to get the head directly over the right foot.

    I think what you mean to say here is just to position your head comfortably atop your shoulders.

    Pointing out head over right foot is too generic as some people might take that to mean oh I need to lean my head backwards, or I need to lean my upper body backwards more to get my head over my shoe.

    It might be better to say move your left shoulder somewhat in line with your right instep. Flexibility of the individual dictates how much they can accomplish this action.

    Head directly over shoulder is just inviting a bad backwards sway into the swing.

  4. tom stickney

    February 27, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Simon–Remember that in the beginning levels there are many things that they need to worry about that the better players do not…secondly, the amount of lateral spinal bending at address controls the amount of lean over the right leg and subsequent head position at the top. If you read the first part of each of my articles in this series you would also see that these tips and photos are very general…there are great players in all types of positions at the top. Try to look beyond what you see as “exact” in the photos and you will find ideas that just might help you improve. There is no one way to swing…

  5. simon

    February 26, 2013 at 4:56 am

    “The head should be directly over the rear foot so you can be “behind the ball” or “loaded up” at the top — this is a necessity for power and control”…. not really… contradicts the point about how the head can move laterally a little bit in the beginners section as well….

    how many good players do you see move their head directly over the rear foot?

  6. William Wilson

    February 25, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    I love the b/w image at the top of the article – almost looks like Hogan. What is definitely noticeable is the weight on the inside of the ‘golf shoes’ – a classic ‘Hogan Fundamental’… Nice one!

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