Ask any good player or teaching professional the most crucial element of the golf swing is, and they’re most likely going to tell you it’s the takeaway. Indeed, a proper golf takeaway is essential to a consistent golf swing. Conversely, even a sound golf swing can be derailed with an improper takeaway.
How to Perfect Your Golf Takeaway
In this article, we will share the best tips we’ve compiled to help your golf takeaway be the best it can be, which will lead to improved shots and lower scores.
#1 Start Everything Together
A proper golf takeaway is all about getting the sequencing right. Improper sequencing can throw off your tempo, alter the swing path, and rob you of distance and consistency. What exactly is the proper sequence? Butch Harmon has been teaching the best players in the world for many years, and his advice on the takeaway is invaluable.
You want to start the backswing with everything moving back together.
That means your hands, arms, shoulders, and a slight turn of your hips. By beginning the takeaway in this fashion, you set yourself up to hit a successful shot more consistently.
Takeaway Drill #1 – Feel your upper limbs move together
A great drill to help engrain the proper sequencing is to feel your left shoulder, left arm, left hip, and the back of your left hand move away simultaneously. If you really want to explore the motion, hold the club with your left hand only (for right-handed golfers) and slowly swing the club back.
You’ll notice how difficult it is to get the club in motion unless you use your entire left side to swing the club back. After 3-5 practice takeaways, hit a few shots, then repeat.
#2 Keep Your Hands Quiet
One of the most significant issues most amateur golfers have with the takeaway is using their hands to initiate the golf swing.
Far too often, the club will swing to the inside, and the clubface will fan open. Now it’s incredibly difficult to get the club on the proper swing plane.
Part of the problem is golfers use far too much grip pressure at address, which will prematurely engage your hands. Too much grip pressure results in an inside swing path and fanned clubface.
Takeaway Drill #2 – Hold the golf club lightly
Instead, you want to feel like your hands are merely holding the club as your shoulders begin to turn. The easiest way to achieve this is by holding the club lightly. The clubface should still point down the target line for at least the first two feet of the takeaway. If it does, then you know you’re on the right track.
#3 Create a Gate for a More Consistent Path
Ideally, the club travels on a slight arc going back. Golfers can get confused though because they see players use an alignment stick to promote a “straight back, straight through” takeaway.
The club will swing slightly to the inside on the takeaway, but you don’t want it to swing too far inside, as discussed in the tip above. When the club starts to swing up off the ground, having a basic guide will help to set the club correctly once the takeaway reaches waist height.
Takeaway Drill #3 – Use alignment sticks for swing path
A great drill to help keep the club on the proper path utilizes two alignment sticks.
The first alignment stick should lay on the ground and point to the target. The second one gets placed in the ground at around the same angle as the club shaft at address. As you practice your golf takeaway, the key is to keep the club on the outside of the alignment stick and on close to the same angle throughout the backswing.
Consistent practice with this drill will help you develop the proper swing plane and takeaway.
#4 The Takeaway Dictates the Shot Shape
Being able to shape the ball from left-to-right or right-to-left is something we all have to do every once in a while. The easiest way to do so is by slightly altering the path of your takeaway.
If you need to hit a draw, focus on taking the golf club somewhat more inside than usual and closing your stance a couple inches. Your club will swing from inside to out relative to the target, which will make it easier to turn the ball from left-to-right.
For a fade, you would open your stance slightly, and your takeaway will barely start outside the target line. The result will be a clubface that swings from the outside, producing a nice fade.
Hitting varied shapes requires nothing more than a slight adjustment in setup and a small change in your takeaway. The best way to practice shaping shots is on the driving range.
Takeaway Drill #4 – Target practice for fades and draws
Find two targets: one where you want the ball to start, and one where you want the ball to finish. Take three golf balls, and try to start the ball on your first target line and see if you can make the ball curve 5, 10, and 15 yards.
You never know when these shots can come in handy.
#5 Rotating Your Hips Properly on the Takeaway
There is often far too much emphasis placed on the hands, arms, shoulders, and club when teaching the proper takeaway. Although they are all important factors to pay attention to, it’s vital to pay attention to the lower body as well.
Far too often, the golfer has a tendency to sway to the right (for right-handers) on the takeaway. Swaying to the right will not only alter the club’s path, it will lead to an improper turn on the backswing. Now the golfer is thrown off balance, making it difficult to get the club back to square at impact.
Takeaway Drill #5 – Use an alignment rod feel if your hips rotate
An easy way to see if you turn your hips correctly in the backswing is by placing an alignment rod into the ground about two inches from your right hip (if you’re a righty). If your hip touches the rod during the backswing, you are sliding your hips instead of turning them. You should feel as though your right hip pocket is moving backward slightly.
Once you achieve a proper hip turn going back, and you’ll be in a great position to turn into impact all the way to the finish.
The first 1-2 feet of the backswing sets the whole tone of the golf swing, and by working diligently on improving it, you’ll see a dramatic change in the quality of your golf shots, no matter if it’s a short chip shot or a 300-yard drive. Let us know what you think about these tips in the comments below.