How Much Does the Clubface Open in the Backswing?
Beginning golfers have a lot to learn to understand the feel of a proper swing. Your grip, posture and backswing can affect how you well you accomplish the primary goal, which is to deliver the club face square to the target line with as much speed as possible into the ball. An early question among novice golfers is how much to rotate the forearms in the backswing. The more rotation, the more open the club face becomes.
Players who over-rotate their forearms at the beginning of their backswing tend to pull the club sharply inside the target line. That opening move normally generates a loop in the swing, which means the downswing puts the clubhead on an outside-to-inside path, which results in a slice, a shot that moves left-to-right for right-handed golfers.
If a player fails to rotate his forearms enough to start the backswing, the club face tends to stay closed. That will normally result in a looped swing that is the reverse of starting with the club face too far open, with the downswing coming inside to outside. If the arms don't rotate the club back to square, the shot will head hard left for a right-handed player.
To check for proper rotation at takeaway, make sure the club face points to the ball as your hands move even with your trailing leg.
Top of Backswing
As you complete your backswing, the club face should be on a parallel plane as your swing plane. That means the club face shouldn't point directly to the sky, and the club head's toe shouldn't point directly at the ground. Another check at the top is to see if your lead hand -- left hand of right-handed players -- can support the club with just the thumb and smallest finger crooked around the shaft. If the club drops, it's not squared.
The best backswing varies by player, and all that matters is delivering the ball in "the slot," known as a slightly inside path as it approaches the ball. Jim Furyk , the 2010 Tour Championship and FedEx Cup winner, has a radical backswing loop that helps him accomplish this, while fellow competitor Matt Kuchar keeps his club on a similar plane throughout the backswing. At impact, they look much the same.
Jeff Rogers has edited and written since 1987 for the Associated Press, United Press International and six newspapers including "The Dallas Morning News," "The Washington Times" and "Dallas Times Herald." A Charlotte native who holds a bachelor's degree in journalism (news-editorial) from the University of South Carolina, Rogers has also worked as a technology analyst, sales executive and professional golf caddy.