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 Top (Down the Line) 

The Top (Part 2)

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 exaggerated manipulations in a perfect world.

For the Beginning Player:

  • The rear knee has held its flex that was established at address into the top position.
  • There is a triangle formed between the forward and rear arm at the top. This triangle should cover the rear shoulder.
  • As you look at the feet, you will notice that the weight is balanced on the laces of the shoes, not exaggeratedly on the toes or heels.

For the Intermediate Player:

  • The rear elbow is in front of the body and tucked in close but not rigidly glued to the body.
  • The forward wrist is mostly flat — not excessively cupped or bent — and it maintains a square clubface at the top.
  • The clubshaft should be parallel to your ball’s target line at the top .

For the Advanced Player:

  • The shoulders and hips have turned perpendicular to the axis of the spine; this ensures a small transitional shift into the downswing.
  • The clubface position at the top will be determined by the motions of your forward arm and wrist.

For the Professional Player:

  • Keeping the rear knee flexed into the backswing will allow the hips to turn perpendicular to the spine to the top; this will enable your transition to move to the inside much quicker.
  • The wider the arc created by the rear arm extension at the top, the easier it will be for the arms and body to work together on the downswing.
  • You can play from an open, square, or closed clubface position at the top depending on what type of shot pattern and feel through the ball you desire.
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