ATTENTION, READERS in the 28 EUROPEAN VAT COUNTRIES: Because of the new VAT law, you probably can't order books direct from my site now. But that's okay -- just go to my Smashwords author page.
You can order PDFs (as well as all the other ebook formats) from there.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Key to the One-Piece Takeaway

So, if the one-piece takeaway hasn't outlived its usefulness, why has it caused so much controversy... and so many bad swings?

The problem is two-fold. First, some players have assumed that getting a wide backswing means s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g as much as they can in an effort to push the club handle away from their body. They lock their elbows straight out and they extend their wrists in an effort to make the club shaft point straight out, hoping to get the clubhead as far away from them as they can. They look stiff, and they ARE stiff; there's no way to make a good swing from that position.

The arms should be relaxed, but simply relaxing won't eliminate the main culprit: In order to make a useful one-piece takeaway, you simply MUST turn your shoulders. This turn is often called an upper body coil; you've seen that term mentioned in this blog before (here, for example).

This coil is the key to a proper one-piece takeaway. If you don't coil properly, you'll merely lift your shoulders as you attempt the takeaway, causing you to close the clubface on the way back (which you'll almost certainly open on the way down, causing a slice) and to lean your spine toward the target (which could cause an over-the-top swing, again causing a slice).

In the coming week I'll do some posts about how to make a proper coil, but for now I'll leave you with a diagram showing about how long a one-piece takeaway is. And please note one misleading thing about this diagram, which is also true of any picture showing a player making a one-piece takeaway: No matter how much it looks like it's moving up, that right shoulder is actually moving back as the upper body coils.

One-piece takeaway diagram


  1. Thanks for this analysis. I read MacLean's piece in Golf Digest on the "V-gap" and when I was able to employ it the next few times at the range and in my rounds, I was pounding the ball significantly longer and straighter than I ever had in my 4 years of learning the game. That was the good news. The bad news is I some how lost the ability to do this - I'm not sure how - and am back to struggling for distance and accuracy. Cocking too early perhaps? Cocking too late? I'm not sure, but I just lost the ability to "snap" the club like I was doing so easily when I first tried the method.

    At least I will always have those magical 3 weeks or so where I was bombing it close to 300 yds! Ugh!

  2. Yeah, I know that kind of frustration myself. You get a technique to work, and then... oops, where'd it go?

    Obviously I'm guessing here, because I can't see your swing, but I'd guess the problem is at the top of the swing... simply because that's where most players get into trouble. Specifically, you probably aren't "completing the backswing" - one of those technical-sounding phrases you hear teachers use a lot.

    Tell you what - I'll do a post on it Tuesday. Maybe that'll help you get your distance back.

  3. Such is golf!
    Thanks for the response - I look forward to whatever it is you post that might help.

    Also looking for info on short pitches/chips. Went from a great short game to an incessant "blading" problem that I can't figure out. It's been a frustrating season up here in Canada and time is running out to correct things as the winter approaches!

    Thanks again!

  4. You're welcome. I'm already working on the "V-gap" post.

    I'll also be putting up some more stuff on chipping and pitching as the blog goes on, but for now check out the Basic Principles of Good Chipping post. It's listed under the "chipping basics" category on the sidebar, and it may help you stop blading the ball. Blading usually means you're trying to lift the ball rather than hit down on it.

    And, if you don't mind me touting my book, Ruthless Putting has quite a bit about when you can chip with a putting stroke, plus you get a free e-book on using the techniques to build a full-blown chipping game. It downloads automatically with the PDF version of the book, but if you get the paperback, Kindle, or Mobipocket versions, they have instructions on how to get a copy also. You can read more about what's in the book by clicking on the cover image in the sidebar.

    Be sure to check back tomorrow for that "V-gap" post.