How to Start the Backswing: Is it the Take-Away or Move-Away? by Matthew M. Rosman

Getting the club moving is often the hardest part for many golfers. In most other sports, we react to a moving ball, but in golf, the ball is stationary and that forces us to act rather than react. The term that has been used for a long period of time to describe this start up of the swing has been "takeaway." Unfortunately, too many golfers have used that word in a very literal sense and this has worked to the detriment of their game. When I observe golfers in a lesson format, they try to get the swing started by applying a takeaway and some even attempt the classic "one piece" takeaway.

The action or movement that I observe is a snatching upward and backward of the club with arms which usually are over extended and tight. There is no rhythm, or graduated synchronization. Rather, the motion is jerky, awkward, tight, and not the result of a body driven pivot or "turn". The result: downward chops and over the top downswings that result in weak impacts and resultant slices. The ball doesn't go very far and much too much effort is put into the swing. Even golfspeak like "takeaway" is often the source of the fault and we need to substitute a more appropriate word or motion-related term. We would be better off calling this motion the "move-away." What's the difference? Well, the club and arms should swing. They move or react to the body motion or pivot. Therefore, the start-up of the swing occurs as the club is "dragged" and not "pushed," "lifted", or "shoved" backward.

The result of a move-away is rhythm, fluidity, and a synchronized on-plane motion of the club to the top or "slot". In my latest lesson with Christine Lynn Harvey, publisher/editor of New Living, we used a specialized auditory training aid that involved using a recorded CD with sound effects to improve her move-away and overall fluidity of her swing. By synchronizing the motion of her club shaft motion with the auditory cues, she was better able to use her core muscles and center of power within the belt-buckle area as the engine of the swing. Using the core allows the swing to be organized, fluid, and powerful, just like the center of a tornado or hurricane! The move-away is from the center outward. It feels as if the belt-buckle actual drags the club back and momentum does the rest! With the auditory tempo training, Christine began to "feel" this connection and learn how to really start the swing and move the club. The feeling is comparable to that of a fan blade and the rotating central hub. The hub moves the blade! The hub or core of the body moves the club away from the ball right into that ideal slot at the top of the swing. It is a drag to the top and not a snatch!

How can you learn to move-away and not take-away? I suggest using the following drill: Take a 5 iron and set-up as normal except place the top of the grip end against your belt-buckle This means that when you hold the club with your normal grip, your hands will be about half-way down the shaft - your hands will be holding the metal or graphite part rather than the rubber grip. Then picture your body as the hub of a wheel with your shaft and hands as the spoke. The club head is the rim.

Next, rotate the hub (belt-buckle area) away from your normal golf ball location as if starting your backswing and feel how the shaft is connected and moves in sync with the rotation or pivot of the core. Keep your feet flat and only move the club from its starting point (twelve o'clock) to two o'clock. Keep feeling your core or hub "moving" the entire shaft away from its starting point. After doing that several times, repeat with your normal set-up and hands on the grip. Feel the relationship and connection between the top end of the grip and your core area. Practice this and you will really be on your way to better swings and scores!

The belt drill exercise (SEE PHOTO ABOVE): Hold a club with the top of the grip against your belt buckle and practice moving away with the club, hands and arms as one unit. This prevents you from just using your arms which causes lost
power and eventual injury.

To schedule a golf lesson or for more information, please contact Matthew Rosman Play Golf, The Training Zone, 1937 Jericho Turnpike, East Northport, NY 11731, (631) 462-5566.