Top of Backswing Position & Drills

Once we have a good takeaway golf swing-starting position and proceed to a good halfway back position, we need a good position at the top. How you position your club at the top of the backswing impacts the downswing.

This is especially true for the final phase of the swing as the club launches into the ball. Whereas the backswing should generate great power, it should also add an element of control and consistency to it.

The position at the top needs to be correct. This is so as the swing attains the stability and power necessary for a great shot. To get what the top of the backswing should look like, you must eliminate the mistakes amateurs make and finally hit the ball solid and far.

Numerous drills can improve the striking of the ball. These help a golfer to drive the ball with more power, more accuracy and consistency. Below is a list of steps to help you get the top of the backswing position right.

  1. Turn your shoulders towards a 90-degree position for as far as is still comfortable. All while keeping knee and leg movement to a minimum.
  2. Keep your head at the same height while keeping your left hand strong and not feeling flexed.
  3. Distribute your body weight to be 60% on the instep of your right foot while keeping the left foot still.
  4. Confirm that the length of your swing does not exceed 3 O’clock from a face on position (Use a mirror or video to help you here).
nick foy golf

The four golf swing components to address

#1: The backswing length

The backswing length is most important at the top of the swing, and that is the moment before the club begins its descent into a downswing. This is the short period when the club and golfer’s hands are above the golfer’s head.

The duration of the backswing varies from golfer to golfer and should not matter much. Yet most golfers acknowledge that the backswing stops when the club shaft is parallel to the ground.

This creates just enough clubhead speed while enabling the golfer to maintain their balance. Losing balance or speed, on that note, is an indication that the golfer has gone too far or too short.

#2: The club direction at the top

The direction of the club at the top of the backswing needs attention. The club will typically point in one of three directions when it is parallel to the ground at the top.

It will either point left of the target, right of the target or directly at the target. The ideal position that you should aim for is directly at the target. This ensures your swing uncoils with minimal moving parts while staying on plane and line the whole time.

Resource: Golf Plan to Help You Break 80 for 18 Holes

#3: The hand position at the top

The position that the hands take at the top of the swing can make or break the swing. There are different elements that a golfer can get lost in focusing on. This leaves them paying less attention to the important aspects and lessens the chances of getting the swing right.

The key factor to watch for is ensuring that your front hand is parallel to the clubface (assuming your grip is neutral). Attaining this indicates that the clubface is straight and is in position to make a square impact with the ball.

Recording a down the line video to pose at the top of the swing helps you to monitor this. Practice till you get it right. Once you notice that the clubface is now square, you are good to go.

#4: The arm position at the top

The final element that counts at the top of the swing is the arm position. Each arm must take up its rightful position no matter which hand you prefer.

The front arm (left arm if you are a right-handed golfer) should be relatively straight. This does not mean it should be locked, though. Bending it a little does no harm, as long as it does not bend too much.

Bending it too much creates an additional hinge or movement that does not add any power to the golf swing. The back arm (right arm if you are a right-handed golfer), on the other hand, should be bent at the top of the swing.

This is while staying close to your side. The direction in which the elbow points is a good indication of whether this is right. A downward-pointing elbow indicates that your arm is in the right position.

Top of the backswing mistakes to avoid

#5: A backswing that is too lengthy

This error is common due to a golfer’s desire to hit the ball farther. While a longer backswing helps take the ball farther, it only does so if solid contact is made.

The longer the backswing, especially when it goes past parallel, the more difficult it is to make solid contact. It, in addition, throws a golfer off their balance and timing.

This eventually ruins the reason they made the effort in the first place. Swinging longer to hit farther should thus be avoided. Most golfers will find this difficult to notice since the club usually travels farther in the backswing than they anticipated.

#6: The club pointing in the wrong direction

Most golfers will point the club to the left or the right of the target especially due to their desire to add distance.

The effect is a loss of balance and timing instead of their initial aim. The moving parts make it more difficult for beginners especially, to make more consistent shots.

Free Download: Grab my 15 Best Golf Drills eBook that helped me lower my golf scores!

#7: Not lining the back of the hand with the clubface

The ideal position is where the clubface is square to the back of the front hand at the top of the swing. When you fail to maintain proper swing angles and you are unable to address the ball straight, it leads to one thing.

Failure to square up the clubface. The correct wrist action will resolve this problem and enable you to hit the ball straight.

  • Having the front arm bent; the front arm should not be bent too much even when you desire more distance. Bending the front arm too much inhibits club head speed and solid contact, therefore, the bend should be just right.
  • Raising the back elbow; many golfers raise the back elbow and thus make for a funny sight to competent onlookers. The elbow should stay close to the body and point downwards, not raised and away from the body.

Drills to improve the top of your golf swing

Drill 1: Overexaggerate the short swing to improve backswing length

  1. Record a video of yourself from a face-on-position as you are swinging.
  2. Pause the recorded video at the top of the backswing.
  3. Draw a line that runs from the ground and another over the shaft of your club. The two should either be parallel or the grip side should point more in a downward position.
  4. Overexagerate the short swing to improve the backswing length. Keep recording new videos until the fix has been successfully applied. Your video will often show you that you take your swing farther back than you thought at that moment.

Drill 2: Find the position where the club points straight down the target line

  1. Record a down the line video or use a full-length mirror to help you observe your swing.
  2. Pause the video at the top of the golf swing.
  3. Your hands should block out the clubhead when you observe it.
  4. If you are using a mirror, move your club around at the top of the swing until the club points straight down the target line.
  5. Re-enact this stance until you can remember what the correct position feels like.

Resource: Get the All Access Pass. Learn about our training programs with step by step practice drills, weekly schedules and routines to follow so you can break 90, break 80 or scratch golf.

Drill 3:  Place a glove or towel under your back armpit

  1. Place a glove or towel under your back (which is the right armpit for a right-handed golfer).
  2. Swing fully while observing to see if the glove falls out.
  3. If it does, this indicates that the back arm is lifting beyond what is acceptable.
  4. Keep practicing the swing until the glove no longer falls out.

Drill 4: Practice a slow swing while keeping the front arm straight and backswing limited

This last drill allows you to analyze each part of the golf swing appropriately as you are swinging very slowly. It is a simple drill to practice and involves the following key steps that make for a better overall swing.

  1. Focus on your front arm, keeping it straight.
  2. Tuck your shoulder (the same one) under your chin.
  3. Swing till the halfway mark, hitting the balls slowly

This helps you keep the front arm straight till you are used to and comfortable with it. Reaffirmation will be seeing the ball travel the desired distance without having bent the arm. This way, you will gladly keep your arm straight while still getting the desired result.


Once you get the top of the backswing right, you can begin to realize the potential that your golf swing has. The four aforementioned aspects need to be given the special attention they deserve, all while practicing the suggested drills to get the proper positioning.

When all the aspects are correct, then the top of the swing will become an afterthought. This leaves you to get the results you desire and fulfil the potential that your swing has

Golf Practice Plans with Step by Step Schedules to Follow

Don’t miss out


Breaking 90, 80, 70 Golf Practice Plan

The 15 Best Golf Drills that

Lowered My Golf Scores

Sign up to get this resource + more helpful golf lessons to your inbox