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Front to back: The backswing is the start of a good golf swing

Mel SoleBy Mel Sole,

Noted golf instructor and columnist, Mel Sole offers golf tips for GolfInstruction.com readers on all aspects of the game.

Having taught many golfers for many years, the one question I'm asked more than any other is "Once I'm in my address position, where do I go?"

Well, the answer is more complex than the solution, but I'll do my best to keep it as simple as possible.

Much has been written about the takeaway:

• Take it back with the left side

• Take it back with the right side

• Take it back with the arms

• Take it back with the big muscles

• Take it back with the hands

Quite honestly, I don't think there is one particular way to take the club back in terms of how it feels-only in terms of where the club should be at particular times during the swing. Although we may all have the same bone and muscle structure, we have different perceptions on how things feel. I indicate where the club should be at each point in the swing and then let the student experience what that position feels like and determine how best to achieve it. In other words all I do is tell the student when the club is in the right position. I don't tell my students how to get it there - I let them feel that for themselves.

When I teach about the address position, I talk about a target line and a body line. The target line is a line drawn through the ball to the target, and the body line is a line drawn parallel to that line through the feet

At the start of the takeaway, you want the hands to move straight back along the body line, with no manipulation or rotation of the hands or arms. In other words, the hands are passive and the torso rotates. Halfway up the backswing the club position should then look like this:

As you can see, the clubhead is still slightly outside the body line. Please make sure you do not confuse this statement to mean the clubhead is outside the target line (if the clubbed moved straight back the arms would pull away from the body). Most of the good players of today have the club in this position, including Nicklaus, Couples, Stewart, Norman, etc. What you do not want is the club to get behind you or too much on the inside-this causes the wrists to rotate and lay the clubface open and ultimately lay the club off at the top of the backswing, a sure way of starting the downswing "over the top."

If the grip pressure is nice and light then at this point the wrists will start to "cock" naturally with the momentum of the clubhead and the club will start to break upwards. At this stage the hands are approximately in the middle of the chest and the club will feel very light in your hands.

Continue with a full shoulder turn to the top of the backswing.

Other points to note during the backswing are:

1. The right knee does not move from its original position -all the way to the top of the swing. This "stable" position ensures that the proper "torque" is created in the body.

2. The left arm stays reasonably straight-not rigid-throughout the backswing, especially at the top of the swing, a definite problem area for a lot of golfers. Again, if the left arm breaks down you will lose that necessary "torque" that is the power producer on the downswing.

3. The weight moves over to the right side at the top of the backswing with the sternum directly over the right foot. This prevents a "reverse pivot" and ensures the proper weight shift and will make the start of the downswing a lot easier and more powerful.

Mel Sole is Director of Instruction at the Phil Ritson-Mel Sole Golf School. He has more than three decades of teaching experience in South Africa, Canada and the United States. His unique approach to the mental side of golf has produced amazing results for golfers who have struggled for years. Mel's diversified roster of clients includes stars in professional sports, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and many more golfers of all ages and skill levels. GOLF Magazine consistently ranks Mell as one of the top teachers in North America. He is a teaching editor with Golf Tips Magazine and is the author of Golf Step-by-Step. Mel's lessons have been featured in Golf Digest and GOLF Magazine. For more information, call (800) 624-4653, e-mail info@ritson-sole.com or click here.

Mel Sole is Director of Instruction and owner of the Ritson-Sole Golf Schools. He has been named a "Top Teacher in North America" by Golf Magazine and is one of only four top teachers selected in South Carolina. His lessons have also appeared in Golf Digest, Golf Magazine and Golf Illustrated.

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