Are you a golfer who doesn’t consistently hit the ball with the power and distance you feel you are physically capable of producing? Perhaps you aren’t creating the correct angles with the club, hands and arms at the top of your backswing. An incorrect position at the top can be a major power leak.
It is difficult to get into the proper position at impact when the power angles in your right and left arms aren’t intact. You need to set the stage for a delivery of power to the golf ball at the top of your backswing.
Many golfers experience a lack of power because their arms collapse into their body at the top of the swing. When the arms are pulled into the body at the top, the angles of power necessary for an explosive golf shot are destroyed. You know your left arm position at the top is incorrect if it is bent at the elbow, subsequently bringing the hands too close to the head. The right arm is out of position when the elbow flies up and points behind the golfer instead of the ground.
If the downswing is started from a point where the arms are bent incorrectly at the top of the backswing, the tendency is for the arms to straighten out prematurely in the downswing in an effort to generate power instead of letting it happen. This over-swinging unfortunately creates maximum club head speed prior to impact.
The proper arm and club position at the top of the backswing creates leverage — a law of physics that produces club head speed and one which cannot be compromised. The first lever is created when the wrists cock and form a 90-degree angle between the shaft and the left arm at the top. The second lever is also a 90-degree angle created when the right arm is folded at the elbow so the elbow points to the ground while the right palm points toward the sky.
The correct position at the top of the backswing has the arms and hands extended away from the body producing the right arc, length and height necessary for power. In my teaching, I’ve witnessed the following swing faults which cause a collapse at the top of the swing:
Lack of upper body turn.
When you fail to turn your chest away from the ball in your backswing and use only the arms to take the club to the top, the arms tend to buckle at the elbows and the hands finish too close to the head. Poor posture is often the culprit when a good body turn is hard to achieve.
When you grip the club too much in the palm of the left hand, it inhibits the proper wrist hinge. Some golfers compensate for this poor grip by improperly hinging at the elbows on the way to the top of the backswing instead of hinging the wrists. This destroys the “two-lever” system and an early cast of the club head in the downswing is sure to result.
Club swings too much around the golfer.
Because we stand to the side of the golf ball, it is easy for golfers to get the club traveling too much to the inside and around them on the backswing. This gets the hands too low at the top with the right arm tucked to the side and right elbow stuck behind the body. With lack of extension on the takeaway, you lose the width that is necessary to create a wide swing arc — a key ingredient in powerful golf shots. From this poor top-of-the-backswing position you can produce pulls or slices.
Over-swinging to create speed and power.
Many golfers over-swing their hands, arms and club because of a false concept that maximum distance will result from an extra long backswing. The arms travel so far that they are no longer extended away from the body and are pulled inward with the hands reaching a point behind the head. As a result, the golfer casts the club head at the start of the downswing releasing all club head speed well before impact. You should take the approach that less is more when it comes to the length of the backswing.
To generate the power angles necessary for longer golf shots, try a drill in which you swing feeling as though your arms and the club swing three-quarters of the way back and make a complete forward swing into a balanced finish. This “shorter” backswing will help you create the correct position with your right and left arms where they are extended away from the body and contain the correct angles. The three-quarter backswing will most likely be the correct and full backswing for most golfers.
Starting the downswing from an efficient backswing position will allow you to experience more powerful contact with the ball and longer golf shots.