“SO, THAT’S WHAT MY backswing looks like.” This is PGA Tour player Kevin Na taking what might have been an admiring look at his backswing on the practice range at TPC River Highlands, the site of the Travelers Championship. Or maybe not. Maybe, instead, Na was thinking, “What is going on here?” Or: “Where’s my swing coach?” Or: “I’m definitely firing that guy.”
Are you a backswing watcher? I’m not talking about watching the backswings of others. No, I’m talking about watching your own backswing. Taking it back slow and studying your shoulders, arms, right elbow, hands, wrists, trajectory. Checking your position at the top. Wondering about your swing plane. All that swing mechanics stuff.
A friend of mine who was a collegiate golfer was a backswing watcher. Russ could really stripe the ball. When he was hitting the ball well with his woods and irons, he would hit it high with a pretty little draw. When he wasn’t hitting it well (for him), that pretty little draw turned into a hook or a pull hook. And as Lee Trevino once said, “You can talk to a fade but a hook won’t listen.” I played as Russ’s partner in tournaments over the years, and he’d check his backswing a lot. I marveled at this, thinking I could never get that focused on my mechanics without it messing with my mind. I had a pretty good idea what Russ was doing. He was trying to get a little more upright on the backswing. If he could get the club in the right slot, the rest would take care of itself. At least that was the plan.
I remember Nick Faldo being a backswing watcher. Sir Nick always seemed like he was fidgeting with his swing between shots. Many other players are backswing watchers. I think some are rehearsing, some are correcting and some are probably completely stumped and trying to figure out how they’re going to get to the clubhouse with that mess of a golf swing.
I’m not a backswing watcher. I don’t want to see it or over-think it because I’m predominately a feel player rather than a technical player. I usually focus on a swing key or two and go from there. When my ball is flying in the wrong direction or I’m not striking it solid, I’m decent—not great, but decent—at self-correcting. Sometimes it’s my takeaway and sometimes it might be something as simple as shortening up my backswing. But I don’t watch it. That would be too scary.
−The Armchair Golfer