Top of Backswing – The Proper Way to Execute Golf’s Iconic Pose

One common struggle of golfers has always been the top of the backswing position. How you do this part determines the club-head speed, the downswing, and the ball impact.

Plus, doing it right makes you look like a worthy cover in the golf magazine. Let’s help you perfect your top of the swing stance!

What’s the Top of the Swing Position?

When we say golf, we bet the first thing that comes into mind is this position. It looks athletic, like a page out of the golf digest.


The top of the backswing position is the golf swing middle point. It’s the endpoint of a back swing and the starting point of the downswing.

The moment is essentially more than a pose, as the swing momentum will be the overall outcome. How you position your elbow, leg, wrist, and grip will dictate how far the golf ball goes.

How to Do the Correct Position

Perfecting the top of the backswing position requires attention to specific details:

  • Positioning of the Body
  • Positioning of the Golf Club Shaft
  • Length of Backswing

Positioning of the Body

Always use your upper body and keep the lower parts steady. It may help to imagine yourself as a spring with a stable lower body and your shoulders and arms being fluid and bouncy.


The general rule to follow when it comes to your arms is: your right elbow must follow your left forearm. Visualize the hand position in this photo below.


Starting with the most critical factor, both the left and right arms have a prescribed position. Note that we will base our pointers on the perspective of a right-handed player. If you’re left-handed, reverse the instructions.

Your lead or front arm (left arm) must be straight but not locked. It means that although straight, it shouldn’t be stiff. Else, you’ll lose the downswing momentum.

A tense arm will result in a hinge, which we want to avoid. But keep in mind that this arm shouldn’t bend into an L shape.

On the other hand (literally), the back arm (right arm) should be bent. At this time, the L-shape bend is recommended.

Bring it closer to you and ensure that your right elbow (back elbow) is pointing to the ground. But don’t force it, as it is still dependent on the position you’re in.

For instance, if the left forearm is above the right shoulder, you shouldn’t tuck your right elbow. It should “fly” to complement the left arm.

You should see your right shoulder between your forearms when you raise your left arm.

Hands, Grip, and Wrists

For the hands, we’re talking more about the grip on the golf club. The most recommended one is a neutral grip. It means that your backhand must be parallel to the club face.

You want a square club face to ensure that the impact is correct as you hit the ball straight. Your left wrist must be flat or cupped in a neutral grip at the top.

But there is no one prescribed grip, and it still depends on which one you’re comfortable using. Some use a weak grip; others prefer a strong grip.

The commonality is that the left wrist must be flat, and the goal is a square clubface. It doesn’t matter which you do as long as you do the steps correctly.

  • Weak Grip: left wrist bowed (right wrist for lefties); club face flushed to the plane (square clubface)
  • Strong Grip: left wrist cupped at the top; club face flushed to the plane

As you can see, your wrist position will depend on the grip you use. A wrist hinge is encouraged to create flexible movement, but don’t pressure yourself to achieve it.

Don’t get confused, though! The arm hinge is a no, but the wrist hinge is a yes.


As mentioned, your lower body must support the movement of the upper body. Along with this, the hip turn is vital to a good golf swing.

Your back leg (right leg) should be flexed, with more weight shifted on the inside of the right foot.

Positioning of the Golf Club

The club positions come into play now that you have the right body stance. Many golfers tend to point the club face to the extreme left or right of the target line, leading to imbalance and failed timing.

The power of downswing isn’t dependent on how far left or right the point of your club is, but on more speed and more force of your swing. Keep it steady, simple, and short!

It’s okay to tilt right or left, but again, not extreme. The most ideal would be to point directly to your target line.

The club should be parallel to the ground (but not extreme left). Don’t pressure yourself to fully achieve it, though, as the look will differ depending on the club you use, but you get the gist.

Note that the clubface doesn’t rotate open. It complements the movement of your forearm while your left wrist remains steady.

Length of Backswing

Last but not least, poor backswing positions contribute to bad shots. It’s the point when you’re preparing for the downswing. The right length will give more power and speed.

Getting the hang of this will help you maintain a great top of the swing stance and a powerful shot.

When we discussed the golf club positions, we mentioned the parallelism between the club and the ground. It is the exact moment when you should stop your backswing.

It’s not a cookie-cutter technique for all golfers. The backswing length still depends on the flexibility of the golfer.

But it’s the general rule for an average player as it’s the point where you can derive a good club head speed without losing balance.

To make it easier, here are what you shouldn’t do instead:

  • Avoid excessive hip rotation and shoulder turn.
  • Don’t straighten your back leg too much.
  • Don’t shift your weight to the back leg.

Backswing Mistakes to Watch Out For

Whether amateur or pro, most golfers are prone to making backswing mistakes. A good position comes with a lot of practice, so don’t worry too much if you’re having a hard time perfecting your backswing.

Backswing Timing

First of all, timing is one of the most challenging skills to master in golf. But it can also make or break your swing.

When you take too long to hit your backswing, you will lose your balance, and then you will lose the power momentum to hit the ball straight.

Don’t get us wrong.

The long backswing is a thing. It’s a golf swing technique to hit the ball farther, but this ONLY WORKS if you intended to do this and if the club head makes a clean contact and impact against your ball.

It takes practice to control this. Since a golfer can’t see the backswing, you may not realize that your timing is off. It helps to record your swing video and review it until you get it.

Club Face Direction for Swing

We think this golf instruction is worth mentioning again. Many golfers who aim for distance tend to tilt the club at the top of the swing too far. Point your club right at the target!

Forgetting Square Club Face

A square face is needed to hit the ball flight straight. In doing this, your backhand must align with the club face. Here, the proper position of the back elbow, back arm, and the left wrist is essential.

A raised back elbow position also contributes to this. Remember to keep it down and pointed to the ground, but still maintain flexibility.

Bending the Wrong Parts for Swing

A golfer may confuse what should and shouldn’t hinge during a backswing. Remember that your lead arm (left for a right-handed player) should NOT bend, but your wrist must bend.

Interchanging these two will result in the wrong swing and a weak ball shot.

Complicating the Backswing Position

Many golfers we see practicing in the driving range, or the golf course makes one similar mistake, complicating the backswing position too much.

It leads to the common mistakes discussed, like a long backswing, tilting too much, and missing the timing. Keeping it short and straightforward is the secret to the correct position and good play.

Since golf is a sport heavily reliant on balance and timing, overthinking every position will only throw you off guard!

How to Improve Your Golf Backswing

Whether you’re a beginner, average, or an expert golfer, there’s always room for improvement! Practicing the golf swing tips and golf instruction is a start, and you can do this by performing drills.

Glove-Under-Armpit Drill for Better Backswing


A known drill for practicing any golf swing (not just backswing) is to put a glove or socks under your left armpit. Watch the golfer Top Speed Golf – Clay Ballard video to see the whole drill play.

The goal is to keep it squeezed while you swing. If it falls off while you’re doing the top of the swing position, then it means your arm placement is wrong.

Follow Backswing Drills on Youtube


The internet also made it possible for one golfer to help another through Youtube videos! There are several contents online about golf backswing drills and tips that you can practice on your own.

One suggestion is this golf backswing drill by ChrisRyanGolf. He has an elaborate video introducing a drill set targeting the golf swing stance, particularly backswing.

Use Swing Videos and Mirrors to Check Golf Backswing Position

If you’re practicing by yourself, it’s hard to correct your backswing without seeing it. Try taking a video of yourself or setting up a mirror as you practice the golf swing stances.

By doing this, you can quickly review your mistakes. Utilizing both (swing video + mirror) is also good since you can watch it in real-time and as a review.

While you’re at it, you can also do the slow-swing drill. The drill requires you to perform a slow swing to assess every point you need to correct and change.

Top of Backswing Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

Let’s answer some FAQs that consistently come up when we talk about backswing!

What Causes An Over the Top Golf Swing? What Is It?

An over-the-top backswing is when the golfer excessively moves the upper body. The club becomes “too outside” of the intended angle and plane. It leads to the club hitting the ball from the outside, throwing it off-course.

To control this, the player should learn how to shift the lower weight properly so the upper part won’t compensate for it.

Should I Pause at the Top of the Backswing?

Pausing for a while is okay, but not too long. The act of pausing creates the rhythm and technique. But as we said in the above heads, a long backswing will only lead to imbalance and improper timing.

Which Part to Initiate First in a Backswing?

Everything happens fast with one swing, so we’d like to say that all parts should work together simultaneously to create the right angle and shots.

But if we’re approaching this in a slow-motion view, we’d say that it’s the hip turn that must initiate the backswing angle. The movement will start the stance, so it’s crucial to master.

How Do You Find the Top of the Swing?

The easiest way to tell is through the weight shift if you don’t have a mirror or can’t see yourself, especially if done right.

When you rotate your body and feel your weight inside the right foot, that’s the best indicator that you’ve reached the top of the swing.

We highly suggest getting someone to guide you first or setting up a swing video for a more detailed review for beginners.

How Do I Do a Flat Wrist?


We don’t mean that it’s flat against the club when we say flat. Think of it as something synonymous with “aligned.”

Your left forearm left wrist, and the back of your left hand must be flat or straightly aligned with your wrist bent at an almost 90-degrees angle (not all the day to 90 degrees).

Can a Short Backswing Still Produce Powerful Shots?

Yes! So many pro golfers have short backswings but still give us some of the most powerful shots. If you’ve read through the entire article, we have also explained why we believe in shorter swings.

As we said, power isn’t determined by how long or short or how far left or right your swing is. It all boils down to speed and force.

Top of Backswing Summary [TL;DR]

To recap, the top of the swing position is your backswing and downswing midpoint. Getting it right is a step closer to a powerful golf shot.

Body Position, Golf Club Position, and Backswing Length

  • Left (lead) arm: straight but not locked
  • Right arm: L-shape with the elbow pointing to the ground
  • The right elbow must follow the left forearm.
  • Left wrists: flat
  • Weak Grip: left wrist bowed (right wrist for lefties); club face flushed to the plane (square clubface)
  • Strong Grip: left wrist cupped at the top; club face flushed to the plane
  • Back leg (right leg): flexed, with more weight shifted on the inside of the right feet
  • Club: directly pointed at the target; make it steady and keep club face square

Common Mistakes

  • Wrong backswing timing (often too late)
  • Wrong clubface direction at the top of the swing
  • Forgetting that the clubface must be square
  • Not hinging wrists; bending the wrong arms
  • Overcomplicating swing position

Improvement Tips

  • Glove-under-armpit drills
  • Youtube drills
  • Practice with a video or mirror for self-monitoring


Being the greatest golfer doesn’t happen OVERNIGHT! It takes lots of practice to master the skills, especially when it comes to the backswing.

Even the professionals commit mistakes, so don’t pressure yourself to improve all at once. Good luck, golfer!

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