"You don't hit the ball with your backswing sonny!"

Pretty funny story about a tour pro that was new on the Ben Hogan staff and asked Ben to watch him hit some balls. Ben watched and gave him a tip that had to do with something in the down swing. The player though, asked a question about his backswing….”You don’t hit the ball with your backswing sonny!” was Ben’s reply and then he walked away. I can only speculate that Ben didn’t have a problem with the players backswing but wanted him to focus on a simple downswing thought…and didn’t have time to explain it.

The backswing is important though because it will set in motion a swing that is correct and repetitive or it will hurt the swings chances of creating a correct and repetitive impact and ball flight. When we teach kids to make full swings, we talk in terms of “Ferris Wheels” and “Merry-Go-Rounds” or something in between. When we see a young player having a tough time getting the ball in the air because their swing is too flat or shallow…we’ll ask them for some more Ferris Wheel to give them some more up and down in their swing.
If the player is coming over the top in the downswing and too steep….we will ask for some more Merry-Go-Round in the backswing to give them some more in and out in their swing.

It really boils down to this…the swing has a shape that is both upwards and inwards on the backswing and outward and downwards on the downswing then upwards and inwards again on the follow through. When these elements create somewhat of an in to in swing shape then good shots can happen. If it has too much “in to out” or “out to in” then bad shots will happen. Ideally the swing shape will have an “in to in” shape. Your job is to find out if you need some more Ferris Wheel or more Merry-Go-Round.

You have a 50/50 chance of correcting your backswing mistake on the very next swing. If you are not hitting it well, go the range and hit a few balls with a more upright swing, then a flatter swing. Observe which helped you make solid contact and create a better ball flight.