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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ever Heard of a One-Piece Takeaway?

One of the many controversial "fundamentals" that has been taught over the years is the one-piece takeaway.

In case you haven't heard of it, some teachers have taught that you want to get maximum extension of the club on the backswing. (You may have heard someone mention getting a "wide arc" in your swing. That's the same thing.) In practice, this usually means you try to keep both elbows reasonably straight on the backswing until your arms are almost parallel to the ground. As a result, the wrists don't cock until the hands and arms are nearing the top of the backswing. (You may also have heard people talk about a "late cock" of the wrists, and this is what they're talking about. And not surprisingly, people who begin the wrist cock almost as soon as they begin their backswing are said to have an "early cock.")

I believe the one-piece takeaway originally developed as players searched for a way to use Principle 1 (The forearms don't rotate during the swing) all the way through their swings, in an effort to keep the swing simple and improve their accuracy. It was intended as a means to an end, but it became an end in itself; over time, players' swings became stiffer instead of more relaxed, and the one-piece takeaway caused many to develop bad habits. As a result, many teachers ceased to teach it.

So why do I mention it?

Well, for one thing, its original purpose was valid. The less the forearms rotate during a full swing, the easier it is to return the clubface squarely to the ball.

But the main reason is that the one-piece takeaway is making a comeback... it's just not being called that now. The term "wide backswing" is being used, not just by teachers but by players as well.

In the October Golf Digest, you'll find a good example of this. Jim McLean is teaching a new technique he calls a V-Gap, and it's essentially an updated version of the one-piece takeaway minus the extreme reaching that players often did in the past.

It's just another example of how everything old is new again. I'm glad to see the one-piece takeaway making a comeback because Principle 1 is still part of a low-maintenance swing. Just be aware that the names have been changed to protect the innocent... from bad habits.

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