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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Swings Without Takeaways (Videos)

Some of you will find this post a bit strange, and that's okay. But it's about an interesting way to study how your swing behaves, and many of you might find that these drills will help you fix flaws in your full swing -- especially, they can help you make a steadier change of direction from backswing to downswing.

I'm talking about hitting balls with a swing that doesn't include a takeaway. And I have a couple of videos to demonstrate different methods for doing it.

The first is a recent video from GC's website. The instructor is Jason Birnbaum and he's starting his swing with the shaft parallel to the ground, which is where many instructors will have you check your shaft to make sure you're on a good plane.

The second is an old David Leadbetter video that starts the swing from what I call the "baseball position." That's where you have your lead arm parallel to the ground, as if you were standing at home plate and your wrists cocked, as if waiting for a pitch. Although I couldn't find it, I remember Leadbetter doing an article for one of the golf magazines (I believe it was even before this video was made) where he suggested that the "takeaway-less swing" could be the swing of the future.

What both of these drills have in common is the belief that the takeaway is primarily an excuse for getting your club in a bad position at the top. Both men are setting up normally and using your current setup to measure how far you are from the ball. Then you take the club back to the position they recommend, stop, and start your swing from there.

Either of these can be a useful drill to improve your swing. By getting yourself in a good position that will put the club on plane at the top, you can learn what a correct move to the top feels like. The key movement here is the extremely short backswing you make at the top when you restart your swing, which is the same way a baseball player swings at a pitch. (No, you don't have to step forward with your lead foot. That's a different drill entirely.) These drills allow you to feel that change of direction at the top, which can help your balance and rhythm a lot, as well as helping you learn how your legs and hips work when you don't exaggerate your weight shift.

Some of you may also want to try Leadbetter's original idea. Just set up to the ball and measure your distance -- you can see baseball players do this as well -- and then swing your arms most of the way to the top of your backswing, stop, and try hitting balls from there. Note that your lead arm may actually get a bit higher than parallel to the ground -- you may get more of a three-quarter swing. That's okay for this drill.

Remember: The idea with any of these drills is to learn a proper change of direction while staying steadier over the ball. A little practice on the range can really help you make solid contact more frequently.

Plus it's kinda fun. Trying to hit balls "baseball style" can put you in a different mindset that eliminates some of the apprehension you have about your regular golf swing. Just make sure you put the ball on a tee at first. It might be a bit embarrassing otherwise.


  1. This may not be in exactly the same vein as your two videos, but David Lee of Gravity Golf has a no reference drill that does without the usual backswing. You can see it demonstrated starting at the :48 second point in the below YouTube link.