Is Your Golf Backswing As Long As It Should Be?

Is Your Golf Backswing As Long As It Should Be?

One of the very first processes taught to amateur golfers is the golf backswing sequence. It’s where we all draw our power and accuracy from and is an essential component in every golf swing.

But, despite the fact we all need a consistently good golf swing to strike the golf ball effectively, the backswing remains one of the most wide-ranging elements of all golf swings, in that no two backswings are the same.

A key factor many consider to be the most important in the golf backswing is its length - a boilerplate backswing (like the ones you see in most driver, fairway wood or iron shots) helps you generate as much power as possible, to get you to the green quicker. Whereas a shorter backswing (the kind you may see when using short irons or wedges) is ideal for the distance in question.

If you’re worried your golf backswing isn’t quite hitting the mark, or if you’re concerned it’s too long or too short, here are a few facts and golf backswing tips that may help you out the next time you're playing golf.

Is there a ‘standard’ golf backswing?

Is there a ‘standard’ golf backswing?

In short, no, there is no such thing as a ‘standard’ golf backswing, because everyone is different. However, there are elements of the backswing most golfers or professionals try to teach their students when they’re just starting out, such as maintaining good golf posture and keeping your upper body relatively parallel to the golf ball until you've hit through it.

The ‘right-angle’ tip always crops up - the idea of having your golf club create a right angle or an ‘L’ shape in line with your body, with the club head pointing towards your target at the top of your swing.

While this golf backswing looks very uniform and is a great starting point for a lot of players, it’s not necessarily the be-all-end-all of backswings. For example, golfing powerhouse John Daly had a ridiculously overshot backswing that looked like he was trying to murder the ball, but it helped him produce some of the longest and most impressive drives in history.

The important thing is to learn the basic mechanics of a good golf backswing and to stick with it if you’re happy it works for you. But, if it doesn’t, you can always make minor adjustments until you find one that fits your own playing style.

What causes issues in your golf backswing?

If you, like many players, opt for a more traditional backswing (like the one described above) some factors could cause you to go too long or too short that you should consider.

Gripping the club too tightly

Gripping the club too tightly

At first glance, gripping the club tightly seems like a great idea if you want to have as much control over your swing as possible. But any seasoned pro will tell you that gripping the club too tightly could cause a myriad of issues in your swing. 

Along with tensing up, which could easily throw your club head out of alignment on the downswing, gripping the club too tightly could make you shorten your swing without you knowing.

Our muscles simply don’t have the same flexibility when they’re tightened as they do when they’re left looser, which could result in your backswing stopping a few inches sort of where you want it to be.

But by relaxing your grip slightly and giving the muscles in your arms a little more freedom, your club should reach the top of your backswing with ease, allowing you to get the full range that you want out of your shot.

Bending your elbows too much

Bending your elbows too much

During your backswing, there needs to be some bend in your elbows if you hope to have your club reach that classic ‘L’ shape we spoke about earlier.

However, a lot of players struggle with unknowingly bending their elbows too much, which can result in the clubhead going past your desired top point and looping back around to the side of your face that’s facing the pin.

In turn, this can cause a host of accuracy problems in your golf swing - the added variant of bent elbows could throw your club off-course, or could easily cause you to top or chunk the ball. Either way, you’ve ruined your shot.

Generally speaking, your inside arm (left arm and left elbow if you're a righty) should remain as straight as possible during your backswing (with perhaps a little bend, depending on your flexibility), while your other arm can bend and give your club the angle it needs to follow through the ball effectively with speed and power. Of course, slight flexibility in your wrist at the top of your swing will help you achieve this angle, too, but not too much.

If you want to improve this aspect of your game, practice your golf backswing in front of a mirror. If your inside arm begins to bend wildly, work on rectifying it before you step onto your next tee.

Lifting your front foot

Lifting front foot

While lifting the front foot is a common sight amongst golf enthusiasts and professionals, it’s not always the best move if you don’t have complete control over your backswing.

Many players feel that slightly elevating the heel of their front foot during the backswing can help them generate more power, and the results speak for themselves. Many Tour stars adopt the same tactic. But if you’re not careful, it can cause you to overshoot your backswing by shifting your weight too far onto the backfoot.

So if it feels more natural to lift your foot a little during your golf backswing, there’s nobody stopping you! Just be sure your club hits where you want it to be as it moves back, and not an inch or three further.

Practice your golf backswing at Clarkes Golf

At Clarkes Golf, we’re home to a professional 27-bay driving range where you can develop a great golf backswing in peace and perfect your form, so the next time you head onto the course you’ll play great golf and hit the best game of your life.

You can find us at:

Mill Lane, Rainford

St Helens, WA11 8LN.