Starting the golf swing can make or break the result of the swing. If the takeaway is not swinging up the swing plane with the clubface square, you will need to compensate somewhere in the swing in order to hit a straight shot. The takeaway sets up the momentum of the swing. If the momentum gets started in the proper direction, the probability of a successful outcome is high. The nice thing about working on the takeaway is that you set the club in motion when you’re ready. The goal is just to learn the proper movement away from the ball to get the momentum of the swing going in the right direction.
The takeaway starts with the movement of the shoulders, arms and hands. They move in synch with one another. However, all three body parts have very specific movements to get the takeaway right. The shoulders must turn, the arms are swinging back and the hands are hinging the club up. These three distinct motions have to work in unison and blend together to get the desired result. The shoulders typically are not the problem in the equation. Getting the arms to move back and the hands to hinge the club properly become the main challenge.
As the shoulders turn, the arms should move back with the turning of the shoulders. The arms shouldn’t push out away from the body nor pull in toward the right leg. The turning motion of the shoulders moves the arms in the correct amount. The right arm should feel like it stays on top of the left arm until the club passes the right leg. Then, the right arm will, naturally, start gradually folding.
The hands play a key role in the takeaway. They must hinge properly to allow the club to come up and on to the swing plane. As they hinge, the right hand palm should face toward the target line to control the loft of the club and to keep from the club bending too far inside. Halfway back in the swing, the club will be in line with the feet. The club will be parallel to the target line and to the ground.
Organizing the takeaway motion correctly allows the rest of the swing to fall into place. The momentum of the swing is moving in the proper direction and a successful result is a higher probability. Practice the takeaway in the mirror to get the desired look. Rehearsals are key to develop a feel and look in your mind. Then you can take your new and improved takeaway to the range or course without much thought.
Tim Cusick is the Director of Instruction at the Four Seasons Resort and Club/Dallas at Las Colinas. The Northern Texas PGA named Cusick Teacher of the Year in 2005, 2009 and 2015, as well as the 2014 Horton Smith Award winner for education. He’s the author of ‘The Four Keys to Improve your Swing.’ Follow him on Twitter @timcusickgolf and visit his website: timcusickgolf.com.