A major fault of both accomplished and recreational golfers alike is taking the club too far inside on the backswing. This inside position generally leads to the club getting stuck behind the right hip (for right-handed golfers) on the downswing, preventing the desired, down-the-line release. Getting stuck too far inside creates a number of problems, the most serious of which is a compensatory flipping of the hands at impact, a move that creates nothing but glancing blows and non-compressed golf shots.
Swinging the club too far inside on the backswing and flipping at the ball not only affects the quality of impact, but can also greatly affect accuracy. Because the club can’t pass the right hip in the downswing and release down the target line, shots can go both left or right, without predictability or consistency. Playing golf with this type of move isn’t a lot of fun.
The best way to eradicate the inside takeaway for good is to learn to swing the club on-plane and down the target line. To accomplish this, lay a club on the ground in line with your hands and parallel to the target line. Take the club away by moving your hands along the shaft on the ground. Don’t allow them to float to the inside of the shaft. A great way to check yourself is to take some swings and stop at the waist-high position in your backswing. If your hands are inside the club (and your right hip), then your backswing is still traveling too far inside.
Another great practice drill requires the use of two alignment clubs. First, place a club above the ball, parallel to the target line. Then place a second club eight to 10 inches inside this line. You’ll notice the two clubs form a path, which should be your track on which to swing the club. At first, it will probably feel like the club is moving to the outside of the target line, but after a number of repetitions, the proper swing path will begin to feel normal. Practicing this drill will help keep your shoulders, hips and feet in alignment, and promote a more on-plane backswing.
Correcting an inside takeaway is a surefire way to improve both your shotmaking and scoring. The next time you’re at the range, lay two clubs on the ground, one to the outside and forward of the golf ball and another to the inside and behind the impact area. As you take the club away, use the track formed by the two clubs to guide your clubhead along the proper backswing plane. For most amateurs, swinging along this plane may feel as if the club is traveling too far to the outside, but it’s not. It’s on-plane and in perfect position to lead the golfer to a solid position at the top. More importantly, it negates the need to make compensating, difficult-to-time moves on the downswing, i.e., flipping the hands at impact.
PGA professional Paul Hahn is the head golf professional at Newport Beach Country Club in Newport Beach, Calif.