Backswings and Personal style

I’m often asked why I don’t talk a lot about the backswing… the reason?
It’s not nearly as important as the downswing, particularly from P3 to P4… when we get that right…
it’s amazing how our backswing will start to evolve into something very dynamic and highly functional.

A golfer has several options for the backswing loading

You can set the hands early,
set them gradually
set them late,
or even set them on the way down
these are talked about in TGM as sweep, snap, float and so forth…

Late loads will offer a more shut looking clubface on the way back
an early set should appear to the golfer as an open face going back.

The bottom line is I have seen all kinds of backswings play excellent golf, it’s not one of my big worries, I think where you have the clubshaft at the top is much more important than how it arrived there…

My personal preference is an early set for hitters and a late set for swingers… the reason would be as a hitter I limit my centripetal force
and drive load the shaft, where as a swinger should welcome more centripetal force, and this is helpful in the transfer to centrifugal (outward) force that is so paramount for the swinger using a longitudinal snapping delivery.

The backswing is not going to be the same visually on the downswing because of the compression of the shaft inward toward the body on the downswing via centripetal force (acceleration toward the center) so a golfer should feel some kind of looping motion, and this should also be seen visually to some varying degree.

I really see advantages of both looping actions.

The inside takeaway looping over to an on plane downswing
will give the player a better visual clubhead path leading to the inside quadrant of the ball. Because of the two circles drawn on top of the plane that we seen peripherally, the downswing circle is a tighter circle. So with an exaggerated inside takeaway one can “mimic” that visual delivery line. It is not good science, but it is good illusion.
If it helps the golfer trace his descent path there is an argument for it… Bobby Jones, Raymond Floyd, Moe Norman.

The outside to inside that you see with most good players aids in the natural plane shift to a flatter plane on the downswing. This can also be a source of power, because a laid off shaft on the downswing actually gives power accumulator #3 more room to rotate, or time to travel back to (on plane). Kind of like a spring, there can be a compression sensation with a laid off or over rotated forearm position.
As the hands reach the 3rd parallel, the shaft needs to be on plane, but if it is coming from an off plane situation (laid off) the hands and forearms can use this as a little bit of a springboard to generate a bit more speed.

I suppose this move might work better for the non automatic or “deliberate” hitters release, rather than the automatic centrifugal swingers release.

It also can add an extra “sense of rhythm in that you do have to kind of wait for the extra load… it is something you can really feel with a set of educated hands. This is one of Hogan’s many secrets…
You can see this alive and well at work in back views of Hogan’s downswing.

If the hands are lazy, and don’t rotate the shaft back on plane, expect fat shots or big uncontrolled hooks that “won’t listen” to your barks from the tee.

Kevin Sutherland who has won millions on the PGA Tour was a team mate of mine at University, and he couldn’t get a driver airborne, so he played most of his college golf driving with a three wood. He did well
shot under par and won tournaments. He had an extremely strong grip, pulled it way inside and hooded the club on the way back, then just came down and would trap-punch his shots… worked with wedges but not a driver!

This like this can work, but I would say this is a perfect example of a player who really benefited from the modern gear.
Although Kevin is a fine player, I don’t think he would have found quite the success he has had, if he played his career in the persimmon age. I could be wrong…

I found it interesting to read Lag’s thoughts about the backswing and personal style to get the club up somewhere/anywhere just so we can deliver it back to the ball as per our module 1 mold.
Maybe lag can elaborate more on these 2 different styles of takeaway, but totally different styles back, yet again, remarkably similar into and through the hitting area.
John Mahaffey and Hubert Green.
Thought they were great examples to try and show the differences between players and show what can still be achieved.


Hubert loved the feeling of setting his hands early so that they wouldn’t have to do much until P3… the early set keeps things really solid at transition, and you can see how he flattens the shaft coming down, and is actually very flat through impact, with the shaft nicely perpendicular to his pivot just like Hogan and many other great strikers. It only looked complicated
because of the low hands at address and the early wrist set. This is just his swing DNA… nothing wrong with it at all. There is so much good stuff going on in his golf swing. He liked to set his hands low at address because that just pre sets the wrist cock. Makes sense to me. The one thing I like best about Hubert is the great vertical ground pressures he creates… textbook
module #2 stuff.


Mahaffey liked to feel a very pivot driven swing. The pull it inside takeaway helped him get the club around the body.
With a strong grip and the face very shut at the top, he left a lot on the table minimizing his power accumulator #3 (forearm and clubface rotation into impact). Since he didn’t use his hands much through impact, his pivot had to do all the work to make up for it, so we see it getting a bit ahead of itself… but without a lot of hand rotation, something has to keep the club moving, so there you have it. Not a long hitter, but he understood the advantages of a flat delivery… and hitting the ball in the fairway. He was one of tours straightest hitters.

I don’t think you would be wrong with your observation at all, Lag. His swing is still eerily similar. have to give him credit for not changing his style, but I would think, if it was a persimmon in his hand and a blade (he uses PING’s and always has), he may have been selling balls in the pro shop instead of winning the Accenture matchplay

I have always thought that any kind of cavity back club is going to help you when you are swinging poorly, and hurt you
when you are really striking it pure.

Great swings EVOLVE from great equipment… they teach you, they give you feedback … true positive feedback.

If you are really interested in winning… not just making cuts… you’ll make the right choice…
One of the problems with the PGA Tour in my opinion is that with so much money out there… you don’t have to win to
make millions, it doesn’t bring out the best in the players…

In 1987, David Graham told me, if your not winning, you’re not making it… and at that time, he was correct.
It should have stayed that way, if not for the simple fact we would all see better golf, and better golf swings…
and that should be a good thing. … L&index=13

You have probably seen this swing Lag… thought it very interesting going with the philosophy of the heading of “Backswings and Personal Style”
Seems there was a Jim Furyk before there was actually a Jim Furyk!
Great at impact- which is what counts

I might change my name to Jim or Jimmy if impact like that comes along with it! How about the glove with the fingers cut off and the hole in the heelpad of the glove. Just a fluid hit and through the ball

Jimmy Bruen demonstrates exactly what I promote here at “Advanced Ball Striking Class”

His swing was often written off as poor technique, or that he just had some kind of remarkable ability to
play with a flawed golf swing. I defend his technique right here, because this is textbook for what we are
striving for. Again, there are no mysteries, and I am not teaching anything new. His backswing was very
unusual, and again proves my point that backswing path is very over rated.

Thought Furyk could be posted anywhere on the forum as his intentions of his swing are fantatstic- but thought this would be best as his backswing and downswing are very distinct and different- and yet wonderfully crafted when you know what to look for

I never saw this thread Lag, but it’s a great one and something I would highly recommend young golfers to read.

Two of the best ballstrikers I knew growing up as a junior were 2 guys that that were about 15 and 20 years older than me. One of them played golf at U. of Miami and was roommates of Woody Austin (there’s a Leadbetter story here, but I’ll save that for another time). Both of them got very vertical in the backswing and then looped it in almost perfectly on the downswing and could hit 16 GIR with ease and fire at flags all day long. The older guy (didn’t play college golf) was the best iron player I had ever seen and if he was so money from 9-iron in it was incredible to watch. The only thing stopping these guys from doing something is that they are easily the worst putting good players I had ever seen as well. Both had severe yips and I honestly believe I could make more putts than they could if I putted left handed with my eyes closed. But again, not the stylish backswings that look really pretty, but it didn’t matter because they certainly got the job done on the downswing.

Anyway, at the course I play there is a large contingent of junior golfers and a few of them have asked for my advice since I played D-1 golf. One of the things I stress to them is to always hold your focus on your downswing. Sometimes flaws in the backswing cause problems later on in the downswing, but to me if you are always working on the backswing you are more or less trying to make your swing look ‘pretty’ instead of making your swing effective. I can speak of this because growing up my focus was almost solely on the backswing and now it’s created a swing that is pretty good going back, but very flawed going down.


lag mentioning centrifugal and centripetal forces reminded me of a sort of artistic illustration I had made up for a post years ago on another forum. I don’t remember the specific discussion anymore but it had likely to do with the opposing action of the hands. The left hand being virtually doomed to be sucked into a blackhole whilst the right hand desperately trying to save the left trying all it can to help escape with an outgoing force.

I think it fits in well with lag’s ideas of opposing forces through impact,when reversing cause and effect. An outward force is met by an equal inward force. More of one calls for more of the other. Yet it still appears rather static as there is no radial motion involved relative to the swing center. A kind of paradox. The violence of the action is hidden inside the action of two opposing forces, seemingly neutralizing each other.

A down swing does not last very long and the feeling to go outward strongly has to be met almost simultaneously by the idea of containing, of moving energetically inward, to be able to do it all in time for proper action through impact. It takes some doing to learn to execute two opposing action almost simultaneously.

The image of a swing plane has been overcooked with time. It almost takes an engineering degree to distinguish and fathom between all the various concepts and ideas dealing with the great multitude of planes invented. A very intriguing claim by TGMers is to be able to distinguish between a shaft plane and a sweet spot plane. Even a finely tuned sophisticated robot would have a very hard time to accomplish such a remarkable feat.

The concept of plane has been and still is very useful but once very firmly established in the mind of a golfer it also severely limits his freedom of how to swing his club, it becomes a straight jacket. After all golf is essentially about 3D rotations not about maintaining a shaft on one or multiple 2D planes at all cost.

Cool post Mandrin. Cheers…

[size=150]Take the high road up, to take the low road down[/size]

Good motto to remember about the correct approach path needed to strike the ball squarely and consistently

Getting the club into the P3 slot is the key… as I always say, we don’t hit the ball on the backswing… although if you look up and down driving ranges across the globe, you’d certainly think that was the case.

I just finished Trevino’s book and he has some great logic in there about why he feels the out to in move is more sound in principle.
Trevino is really a deep thinker about the golf swing. Wonderful book. I’ll have something up about it soon…

I really like the Jimmy Bruen move and Lag’s comments regarding it exhibiting hitting principles. I do have a question though: This swing almost looks like a sort of "hybrid’ to me. That is, it appears to exhibit both swinging and hitting tendencies. I see a lot of float loading and an inside loop on the backswing (it does not appear to be a rotary movement on the B/S) and - as Lag points out - the arms going “around the corner” on the throughswing in a pivot driven manner. I must not be understanding exactly what’s happening with Jimmy’s swing - please set me straight on this John.

By the way, there’s a great - but hard to find - book on Jimmy Bruen (with a Henry Cotton analysis of his swing) entitled ‘The Bruen Loop’. A very interesting read and well worth the trouble finding a copy.

Bring it on Lag, this will be pure gold. :smiley:

Who couldn’t resist posting Eamon Darcy in this category–

Does he have a weird and wonderful swing?— Yes Does his impact zone look sound?-- Yes

These are still shots…certainly worth a look on video for those that haven’t seen it. Will try dig something up to post video wise


The Darce!!! Fantastic! One word- Agricultural… a thing of beauty for sure. He could strike his irons like not many and he was a winner too. He used those Berillium Ping Eye 2 irons and he made them look like they were heavy clubs- he may very well have set them up heavy. But I remember picking one up for the first time and just being so confused by how light they were vs. how heavy they looked when he used them. I hope you can dig up some more on him. I found an analysis of him that leadbetter did with a side by side with Els, and of course, leadbetter had nothing good to say about Darcy’s action.
Great post…

here’s the video about Darcy that was on The Golf Channel-- it was called ‘The Strangest Swings In Golf’…amazingly considered to have strange swings were Seve, Trevino, Allen Doyle… :smiley: If they only knew


That’s the one, classic Leadbetter. I love how he says that Darcy’s ‘elbow’ is parallel to the ground- I don’t think an elbow can be parallel to anything. Everybody’s new goal should be to make it onto the next golf channel ‘strange swing’ list… we can only hope. Doyle AND Trevino! Amazing…
Darcy had great feet and legs in his swing, so strong and rhythmical. When you look at it in parts it’s got some really great things in it. I suppose it has to to be as good as he was…
Cheers for that…