The Backswing’s Purpose

The Backswing’s Purpose


The relevance of many movements in a player’s backswing should be largely dependent upon their current downswing movements and ball striking characteristics.  Compared to the downswing, there are many more differences seen in the backswings among tour professionals.  A great deal of uniqueness is seen in the backswings of some of the best golfers to ever play.  The backswing is important, but there is much more room for individualism than in the downswing.  Due to this room for individualism, changes made to a player’s backswing need to be very well thought out, and these changes are often best made with the help of a talented professional.

The movements in a player’s backswing do effect the movements of the player’s downswing, but how much and in what way depends upon the player.  Everyone is different in this respect, and this is a big reason why so many differences are seen among the backswings of tour professionals and top players.  Below is a list of some very successful players that have unique traits in their backswings.


Unique Backswings Traits of Some Successful Tour Professionals

Players with Inside Takeaways                     Players with Outside Takeaways

Raymond Floyd                                                Colin Montgomery

Bruce Lietzke                                                   Lee Trevino

John Daly                                                         Fred Couples

Y.E. Yang                                                        Jay Haas


Players Whose Club is Across-the-Target-Line at the Top of the Backswing

Fred Couples

Davis Love III

Tom Watson

Players Whose Club is Laid-Off from the Target Line at the Top of the Backswing

Bart Bryant

Jerry Kelly

Sergio Garcia

Players with Longer Backswings          Players with Shorter Backswings

Carlos Franco                                                  Sergio Garcia

Rory Sabatinni                                                Retief Goosen

Sam Snead                                                       Tommy Armour III

Walter Hagen                                                   Johnathon Byrd

Players with Flatter Backswings         Players with more Upright Backswings

Chad Campbell                                                Jim Furyk

Zach Johnson                                                   Tom Watson

Ryan Armour                                                  Jack Nicklaus

Ben Hogan                                                       Byron Nelson

Players with Closed Clubfaces             Players with Open Clubfaces

David Duval                                                     Ben Hogan

Lee Trevino                                                     Johnny Miller

Boo Weekly                                                     Daniel Chopra

Players with Cupped Left Wrists at the top of Backswing

Paul Azinger

Ben Hogan

Tim Clark

Players with Bowed Left Wrists at the top of Backswing

Rich Beem

Tom Lehman

Arnold Palmer


These are some examples of a few players on tour that have these characteristics in their backswings.  There are many more with the same characteristics.  These different backswing traits work very well for these tour professionals.  I emphasize that although there are similarities seen in many backswings in tour professionals, there is much more room for difference when compared to the downswing.

Although there are many differences seen in the backswings of the best players, the backswing is still important.  This importance is found in understanding how the movements of a player’s backswing affect their downswings, ball striking, and ability to repeat overtime.  Every player should eventually understand what movements in their backswings are relevant for them and what movements are not.  They need to understand that changing some movements that make their backswings unique might do more harm than good, and that these unique movements may not play a penal role in their swing.  They also need to understand what movements in their backswings have an effect on the troublesome movements in their downswings and upon their ball striking.  If a player comes to learn that some movements in their backswing are negatively affecting their ball striking, they then need to learn the best ways to improve upon them.  This process is often best done with the help of an educated and talented golf professional.

So what is the purpose of the backswing?  The backswing’s purpose is to develop a motion that enables a player to create the best and most repeatable downswing, and helps a player to maximize their physical characteristics for creating power and speed.  This applies differently for many players found throughout the game of golf and is why a similar type of backswing cannot be taught to all players.


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