Jack Nicklaus believes the first 18 inches of the golf swing are crucial to success, and that is as true for women as it is for men. The takeaway, the initial move of the club away from the ball, starts your body in motion, sets your club on its backswing path and establishes the tempo of your swing. There are exercises to teach the basics of this motion that can help improve you entire swing.
Low and Slow Drill
A low, slow takeaway for the first 12 to 18 inches gets the hands, arms and shoulders moving together in a fashion known as a one-piece takeaway. A one-piece move is especially important for any women whose hands get too active in the backswing. As a practice drill, start swings with a golf ball behind your clubhead. Focus on pushing the ball away for the first foot your swing. You should gradually build a small amount of speed in the takeaway and as the clubhead starts to rise naturally, the ball should continue to roll back a few feet along the target line.
Getting the club and body moving together isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Some women start their arms and hands back before the club moves and that forces them to sync up later. Other women set their wrists too early, which makes it harder to get the body moving. Instructor Butch Harmon recommends picturing a triangle formed by the arms and shoulders at address. In a proper takeaway, the triangle and club move at the same time. Practice this move anywhere you can stash a club, at home or in the office, several times a day.
To link your body and club, grip down on the club so you can put the handle in your belly button with your arms straight. Keeping the club in that spot for the first few feet of the swing will build the link between your torso, arms and club. Practice this move multiple times. When you take your normal grip with the club behind the ball, replicate the linked feel.
To check that you are taking the club away on the right path this, lay a couple of golf clubs or other alignment markers on the ground, one at your feet and the other along the target line. At the time of publication, several manufacturers sold alignment sticks your could buy for the purpose. Start the club back low and slow and continue until handle reaches hip height At this point the club shaft should be parallel to the ground and parallel to the alignment markers and the toe of the club should point to the sky.
You can perform the arc drill form the same set up you used for the path drill. This time hold a tee between the last three fingers of your left hand and the grip. When you pause, let go of the tee and it should land six to eight inches outside your right foot, which shows your are extending the club on a comfortable arc rather than swinging back with your arms too tight to your body or stretching your arms out too far from your shoulder sockets.
A smooth takeaway is neither too slow nor too fast. To build smooth tempo in your takeaway, take your address position with you clubhead hovering over the ball. Push the clubhead forward about six inches, then recoil into your takeaway. Complete your backswing, pause, then swing through. Go ahead and hit balls this way, focusing on a smooth takeaway that transitions into a smooth swing.
David Raudenbush has more than 20 years of experience as a literacy teacher, staff developer and literacy coach. He has written for newspapers, magazines and online publications, and served as the editor of "Golfstyles New Jersey Magazine." Raudenbush holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and a master's degree in education.