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How to Keep Your Back to the Target for the Golf Swing

by M.L. Rose
    Tiger Woods turns his back to the target as he tees off during the 2007 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    Tiger Woods turns his back to the target as he tees off during the 2007 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    Pete Fontaine/US PGA TOUR/Getty Images

    In “The Complete Golf Manual,” author Steve Newell emphasizes the importance of turning your back to the target during the latter portion of the backswing. To reach this position, Newell says, the golfer must accomplish a full shoulder turn, which will then “promote a much better weight transfer onto your right side” -- for a right-handed golfer. The technique also helps place the club in the correct position at the top of the backswing.

    Step 1

    Begin with the correct stance, which puts the body in position to make a full shoulder turn, according to LPGA Tour legend Annika Sorenstam. She advises golfers to bend forward from the hips, keep your back straight, distribute your weight “evenly over the middle of your feet” and keep your arms and shoulders loose. PGA teaching pro Jim Suttie suggests taking a mildly closed stance and angling your feet outward slightly when setting up, to help you turn your shoulders properly during the backswing.

    Step 2

    Move your club back “with the big muscles of your shoulders and not your hands,” Suttie advises. Allow the club to flow inside -- closer to your body -- smoothly while taking it back.

    Step 3

    Keep your back leg firmly in place as you shift your weight in that direction during the backswing. If your back leg moves, Suttie warns, “the weight will go to the outside of the right foot and the hips will not turn properly,” thereby precluding a full hip turn and limiting your ability to turn your back to the target.

    Step 4

    Move your head a bit to the right. While conventional wisdom tells you to keep your head on the ball, swing coach Hank Haney notes that keeping your head rigidly in place “leads to the shoulder bouncing off the chin, creating a shoulder tilt instead of a good shoulder turn.”

    Step 5

    Continue turning your hips and shoulders. When the club reaches the top of the swing, your back should be pointed at the target, Suttie says. At that point, Sorenstam notes, you should feel that “your left shoulder is over your right foot while your lower body is stable.”

    Step 6

    Maintain your back's position. Even as you begin your downswing, “hold your back to the target for as long as you can,” Sorenstam advises.

    Tips

    • PGA Tour pro Steve Stricker suggests practicing your backswing in front of a mirror. Take your stance, perform a normal backswing, then stop and look into the mirror to detect any swing flaws, including the position of your back.
    • Golf instructor Rick Smith recommends setting up with a 5-iron when practicing your swing, then bringing the club up to your back shoulder. Leave the club on your shoulder as you turn your back on an imaginary target, then “raise your hands in the air so your left arm is extended. That's exactly where you want to be at the top."

    References

    About the Author

    M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.

    Photo Credits

    • Pete Fontaine/US PGA TOUR/Getty Images