Extension During the Club’s Backswing: The Key Factor We Can All Improve

I'm sure there are very few golfers who wouldn't like to achieve more distance. I am also sure that, when you think about gaining more distance, the first thing you try to change is the speed of your swing... Well, the lesson I present in this issue will deal with that topic.

The swing extension, also known as the swing arc, has a lot to do with obtaining more distance. It also influences other key factors such as the quality of impact and consistency in the number of metres you make with each club.

The swing factor, for me, is one of the most important aspects of golf. When new students come to my classes – sometimes beginners and other times very experienced players and even professionals – I not only try to work with them to make their swing more effective, but I also place a great deal of importance on the aesthetics of the movement. A swing with a good extension and spin is not only more effective and more consistent, but it is also more aesthetically attractive. This helps a lot to achieve better results and also to avoid back injuries, something very common in golfers with technical problems.

Errors Due to Backswing Extension 

First of all we have to differentiate between:

-Extension of the backswing

-Extension of the follow-through

Clearly, and as I will always tell you, errors that you make in the backswing will have to be compensated by other errors in the downswing to create a good stroke. Needless to say, I am totally against this practice. It is very common, but in compensating for mistakes a player will never be consistent in their game (you have to be absolutely clear about that).

I have to say, however, that having a good extension on the backswing does not guarantee it will be the same after you hit the ball, and therefore we are going to deal with those aspects separately.

We will start by learning about the two most common faults in the backswing, and I will give you some exercises that I am sure will help you to improve.

Error Number 1

Starting the club’s backswing with the hands only…

What causes this common mistake?

  1. Natural blocking of the upper body: no swing speed is generated – in many cases it is tilted (the body and the club move in opposite directions).
  2. Vertical angle of attack – causing shots to directly hit the ground and also to top the ball.
  3. Lack of height and direct shots to the left.

Correction exercises for players with an extension fault…

In the first and second photos you can view the example of a backswing with lack of extension, where the swing starts with the hands creating a lack of arc at the end of the backswing.

Exercise Number 1 for Lack of Extension (without ball) 

Here we work on the stance.

  1. Position yourself without a ball with the palm of your right hand pointed towards the target.
  2. Bring your right elbow as close to your body as you can – that way your arm will be relaxed.
  3. Only the right hand pointing to the target – you will have to raise your club by turning it bit by bit until you reach the top of the ascent. At that point you will have your right hand in a flat position – you could place a tray there without dropping it.

Exercise Number 2 for Lack of Extension (with ball)

I recommend you to do this in two steps.

  1. Place the ball in the centre of your stance.
  2. About two metres away from your ball, place a club on the ground.
  3. Just behind your ball at about 30 centimetres and on the swing line place another ball.
  4. Push that second ball on the way up with the intention of leaving it close to the club on the ground. 

Second Part of the Exercise

If you manage to leave the ball close to the club on the ground, stop to check it. This means you will have started the swing in the right way, and then you will be able to continue the upswing and hit the ball. The extension will have improved.

Error Number 2

Beginning the upswing by starting with the body…

What causes this error – also very common?

  1. Lateral displacement of the body, bringing too much weight to the right side.
  2. Upswing with a very flat angle, generating too much difficulty for players to be able to take a divot.
  3. This might make it easier to hit shots with a high tee, but everything else is detrimental.
  4. As with the previous mistake, by not having a balanced swing or a correct arc, the lack of distance is exacerbated.

This error is caused in most cases when launching the swing by moving the body before starting to move the arms. Here are some exercises to help you work on the shot in the correct way.

Correction exercises for players with a very wide extension…

In the first and second photos you can see the example of a very wide extension on the upswing, where it starts with the body creating an arc far away from the ball and a very flat angle at the end of the upswing.

Exercise Number 1 for Very Wide Extension (without ball)

  1. Stand in a stance position with a 6 or 7-iron, with your left foot against a wall.
  2. Raise the club by slightly turning your shoulders.
  3. Lift slowly and stop when the clubhead touches the wall.
  4. At that point, you will need to have your shoulders turned. Make sure that the distance between hip-wall and shoulders-wall is the same, between five and 10 centimetres maximum.

Exercise Number 2 for Very Wide Extension (with ball)

  1. Work with two shafts. Place one shaft as a guide next to your left foot. 
  2. Try to raise the club keeping your left hip close to the guiding shaft.
  3. Stop the ascent when you feel the shoulder rotation stop.
  4. Second shaft on the ball, to see if you move the axis laterally instead of turning.
  5. The weight at the end must always be on the left side.

I hope these exercises will help you to keep improving your golf game. I remain at your disposal for any questions you might have at: dggolfacademy@outlook. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all readers for your interest in these golf lessons, and to the magazine for allowing me, through these articles, to transmit to you my knowledge about the correct swing techniques pertaining to this wonderful sport.