If you can get it started right, and understand just a couple of key checkpoints on the way, your swing will repeat itself time and time again.
Like every player out on tour today, I work hard on the basics of grip, set-up and posture. After that, the biggest thing for me is starting the motion in sync, arms and body working together, and making sure that I get behind the ball with a good shoulder turn. So many amateurs fail to do that, the constant danger being a tendency to sit too much on the left side and pick the club up too steeply with the hands and arms.
That was my problem as a kid. I was reluctant to get off my left side and I used the hands a little too much in the backswing. So this is something I work on with my coach, Claude Harmon. We focus on the fundamental elements of making a good swing - making sure that I make a good shoulder turn and transfer my weight. Tied in with that is the rhythm of the backswing. If you are a little static in the body, there is always the danger that you pick the club up and develop a fast, jerky rhythm. To counter that, I like to build up speed with a flowing motion.
I love the rhythm of Ernie Els' swing. I love the power and aggressiveness in Greg Norman's swing. I never really copy any thing from anyone but I take a few things from all of them. The result is the swing you see here, the swing that I will have for my career. I have to find ways to get most out of it. I hope these ideas help you to get the most out of yours.
ARMS & BODY MOVE IN SYNC: get wide early, and keep it wide
One thing I am wary of is taking the club away outside the line in the first part of the backswing. That's a sure way to losing sync. And it's alt tied in to the tendency of lifting with the hands and getting stuck on the left side (i.e. not turning away from the target properly). The danger sign for me is that it feels like my arms want to run away from my body, so I have to remind myself to keep their motion 'connected' to that of my torso as I turn. Claude will push my left shoulder down and across. That forces the left arm and left shoulder to work together and it really gets me turned fully behind the ball at the top of the backswing.
Putting the wrists to work rally is another key to my swing. I'm not one of those players who thinks about setting the wrists. With me, on the backswing I try to keep my wrists out of it. I keep it as wide as possible at all times. I don't like to feel that the hands get too close to my head or hinge late and drop the shaft down, as you see in many amateur players. I keep it as wide as possible, and then try to maintain that in the transition, where I like to feel the club stays as far away from me as possible.
As a drill, I often start the clubhead forward, then simply let it fall and gather its momentum. Try it. That automatically gets the swing flowing, and gives you width. As long as you have a good grip, the wrists will hinge naturally as the hands pass waist high, to swing the club up freely and on plane.
DRILL: Body motion is the core of your swing
The controlling element of my backswing is the turning motion of my torso. I don't like to think too much about the hands or arms. My chief swing thought is to 'TURN'. The key to this working is a good set-up, which is something you just have to practise to get right. Create good angles, get a good grip, and the correct rotary motion of your upper body will more or less get you to a good backswing position.
A couple of drills can help you to simplify your own backswing movement, placing the emphasis on the torso. The first involves simply swinging the club with the right hand only, the left hand placed under the right elbow at the set-up, as you see here. Turning and swinging the clubhead happens automatically, the right elbow working away from the body, as it should, to give you width.
This is a good drill to give you the positive sensation of a wide backswing before you practise.
Another good exercise (particularly I those of you who, like me, are prone to starting the club back outside the line) to grip the club with your left hand only hooking your right hand behind the left elbow and rehearsing your backswing from there. This gives you a terrific sensation of the left arm and left shoulder turning in tandem with the chest. Don't pull too hard with the right hand (you don't want the left arm to be too tight across your chest), but gently work it around so that the clubhead swings correctly on the inside path. You will also find that this gets your left shoulder behind the ball at the top.
To summarise, I don't like to feel that the left arm separates from my torso during the backswing, and neither do I like to see the plane of my left arm being too upright. If the left arm does separate early in the backswing, I end up being too steep, When I check my swing from this angle, looking down the line towards the target, I'm looking to see the left forearm be in tune with the plane of the shoulders, just fractionally above it.
Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine