Golf Swing Takeaway – How to Start Your Swing Correctly

When you start out playing golf as a seven-year-old, like myself, the takeaway never seems to be all that complicated. The golf club has to swing back, and you just pull it back on the line.

As I grew older and became a student of the game and eventually a golf professional, I started noticing how many people struggle with the golf swing takeaway.

There are lots of excellent golf swing takeaway drills and tips out there; it’s just a matter of understanding the importance of the golf swing takeaway and being able to adjust and learn. 

Different Takeaway Methods

There are, of course, a few different ways to take the golf club back.

All of the methods can be effective as long as you are aware of where the golf club is and that it is setting you up on the proper path for the rest of your golf swing.

The two most common takeawone ay methods are the one piece takeaway and the right side takeaway. 

One Piece Takeaway

one piece takeaway

The one piece takeaway is probably the more commonly accepted option for golfers.

With the one piece takeaway, the golf club will stay almost completely still, and the player will work to turn their left shoulder under their chin.

As the player works to get the shoulder under the chin, the club, hands, and arms will work together to move the golf club back. 

This way of bringing the golf club back helps to promote a great shoulder turn, and it usually allows the body to stay more connected and involved in the swing.

Sometimes golfers have the concept of just bringing the golf club back, but in reality, many steps need to happen during a golf swing; it is not simply just swinging a club back. 

Right Side Takeaway

right side takeaway

The right side takeaway is slightly different from the one piece takeaway in that it is not initiated with the left shoulder.

The swing is instead started by the right hand or the right arm. The right hand starts to bring the club back on its own, and because of that, everything will start to follow. 

The right hand or right side takeaway takes a bit more practice to master as it is not quite as rigid or defined, and players will have to learn how to feel it.

It is absolutely a viable method of taking the golf club back and, if done right, should leave the club in a great position for the rest of the golf swing. 

Starting the Takeaway 

Starting a golf swing is a difficult thing to do. First, you need to focus on making sure that your setup is right, your posture, your grip, your alignment, and that you have the proper mental thought or concept sitting at the front of your brain. 

This is so much for a golfer to take in sometimes that they lock up when it comes time to take the club back. This is a very common and a big reason why golfers need to make sure they have the proper takeaway thoughts in their minds. 

Depending on how you take the club back (one piece or right arm), than you are going to have a bit of a different start to your takeaway. We will break down the things you should feel and understand as you bring the club back in your swing. 

Starting The Takeaway- One Piece

  • Feel as though your left shoulder is going to turn under your chin
  • Imagine the club traveling back along a straight line
  • Keep the golf club low to the ground
  • Allow your body and your spine to start to rotate
  • Don’t feel completely locked in to your position
  • Make sure that you start this process slow; a fast takeaway can lead to issues in other areas of the swing 

Starting The Takeaway- Right Arm 

  • Feel as though you are going to use your right hand to hand the club to a person standing behind you
  • Keep the club low to the ground as you swing back
  • Allow the spine to start to make a turn
  • Don’t pull the club too far inside; the thought of “low and slow” is a good one to get you started 
  • Make sure that your right arm does not separate from your body; it instead starts to rotate around you 

Hand and Arm Positions

golf takaway hand and arm positions

As you move further along with your takeaway, it is important to check your hand and arm positions. The most common mistake that I see golfers make is to lift the golf club.

Yes, as you get to the top of your swing, the golf club will be in the air, but it gets there because of a series of turns and rotations, not because a player lifts it to this position. 

As soon as your arms and hands lift up and away from your body, you will have a very difficult time getting things back on track. Hands, arms, and elbows all need to stay connected both during the takeaway and as you come into the impact position as well. 

One of the best golf tips I have ever received is that once my hands and arms decided to work independently of my body I would have to be an extremely talented athlete to make consistent contact with the ball.

Although I think I have some athletic ability, I wanted to learn not to cause this type of stress on my golf game. As golfers, we need to learn to do things that are repeatable and reliable if we want consistency. 

Keep your hands and arms connected to your body regardless of the type of takeaway you choose to use. 

Head Position During Takeaway

There is quite a bit of debate in the game of golf as to where the head should be at any given time.

There are some advocates that will say making sure the head stays in line with the ball the entire swing is the key to golf. Others suggest that the head can move several inches behind the ball to create more power. 

Whichever school of thought you subscribe to, there is one common thought for the head during the takeaway, and it should be taken quite seriously. Do not move your head during the takeaway. 

When you move your head, it will cause other things to change, your shoulder turn could be affected, the club position will absolutely be affected, you can remove yourself from the target line, and a whole host of other problems will happen. 

You need to trust us on this one and keep your head still during the takeaway. This includes both lateral and horizontal movements. 

If you are a golfer that likes some lateral head movement in their swing, that can all happen as you transition from the takeaway into the wrist hinge portion of your swing. 

Speed of Takeaway 

If you haven’t heard of the concept of a low and slow golf swing takeaway, then you have been missing out.

The low and slow concept is a universal golf swing thought and theory that works for almost every golfer. This is a rare thing in the golf world, but low and slow is absolutely worth investing in. 

When a golfer takes the club back slow, they are able to see the position of the club and think about what is happening with their body. It will allow a golfer to make the proper shoulder and hip turn and keep the spine on the appropriate angle. 

When the club is taken back too fast, the club head will almost immediately change position, and instead of taking the club straight back, it will usually end up inside or outside the target line.

These are all difficult mistakes to recover from, and they could be avoided completely if the golfer learns to take the club back just a bit slower. 

The exact speed of your golf swing takeaway is hard to calculate; it will be different for some players.

Even when you watch the professional golfers play, you will see that some take the club back faster than others. You will need to find the proper speed for you and make sure that the club stays in a position that you can manage. 

Take some videos of your golf swing and watch the speed of the takeaway. If it seems a bit jerky like you are pulling the club back too fast and too hard, then it may be worth trying to slow things down a bit. 

Common Mistakes

There are lots of mistakes that golfers tend to make when they are in the process of the golf swing takeaway.

Here are a few of the most important ones to look out for. 

Too Much Wrist Involvement

The wrists are an important part of the golf swing. They help us to gain power and create more angles that will give us better distance. The problem is when the wrist hinge happens too soon; the results are not ideal. 

Some players that don’t understand a proper golf swing takeaway will use their wrists to start their golf swing. The problem with this is that your wrists are smaller muscles. In golf, you must use bigger muscles like your shoulders to remain consistent. 

It is too easy for smaller muscles to get off track and start to do their own thing. Big muscles can lead the swing and keep the club on path and your body turning as it should.

Starting your golf swing with your wrists and not your shoulders, arms, or a spine turn is a bad idea that will lead to lots of inconsistency in your golf swing. 

Club Getting Off Line

For the initial part of your golf swing takeaway, you should be taking the club straight back. The straight back concept is what allows the club to return to this position as the golf swing progresses.

he most common mistake on a takeaway is for a player to take the club too far outside. 

Many times the concept of straight back gets exaggerated, and the golfer just pushes the club back on the line too far.

Your golf swing takeaway will end at some point, and the club will have to hinge and rotate around you. 

Club Getting Too Far Off The Ground

When the golf club gets too far off the ground during the takeaway, it is hard to recover from that point. When the club is taken back several inches off the ground, it usually means that the hands and wrists got involved in the takeaway; it also means the club is very likely off the plane.

The best thought for the takeaway is to take the club back low and slow. This will engage the larger muscles and ensure that the club gets on that slightly more shallow plane.

If you notice your club is lifting straight off the ground on the takeaway, it could be causing much larger issues in your swing. Most people will notice a slice and inconsistent contact with the face of the club.

Drills For A Better Takeaway 

One of the best ways to improve your takeaway is golf takeaway drills. If you look hard enough, you can find drills to help you with almost every part of your golf swing.

Here are a few of our favorite drills for a great takeaway. 

Basketball Drill

For this drill, you can use a basketball or even an empty bucket of range balls. You will address the golf ball and replace the ball with your club.

Hold the ball on either side and start to take your golf swing. As you turn back and start your takeaway, you will want to make sure that the ball has not rotated or turned from its position.

When completing your own takeaway, you will want to make sure that you don’t rotate the golf club. When you do this, the club’s face will open or shut depending on how you rotate, and you will be left having to recover before you get to impact. 

Arms On The Chest

The arms on the chest drill are similar to the basketball drill in that you won’t need your club in your hand to complete the drill.

For this drill, you will want to cross your arms and place them on your chest. Each hand should be touching a shoulder. From this position, you are going to want to start your golf swing. 

You will feel what it takes to initiate the body turn without focusing so much on the golf club. This is a great drill for those that have a tendency to involve the club too much on the takeaway. If you are having a hard time incorporating your bigger muscles in your golf swing, this is a great golf drill. 

Leaf On The Ground 

For this next drill, you can use a leaf or a tee on the ground, and it is intended to help you with a low and slow takeaway. This drill is a great choice for those that get handsy in their takeaway and lift the club straight up instead of taking it along the ground slowly. 

Find a broken tee or a small leaf that you can place about six or eight inches behind your golf ball. The idea is that as you swing the club head back, you cross over the object that you placed behind the ball. You will want the club to make contact with this leaf or broken tee. 

If your club simply passes right over the top of it, chances are you are lifting the club up too quickly and ignoring the low and slow concept that is so important for a great takeaway.

Stop And Check 

Golfers can take the club back part of the way and then stop and check to see where the club is. Stopping and checking on the position of your golf swing is an important way to keep the club moving on the proper lines. Golfers will often find that swinging the club partially back and checking is a great way to work on the drill. 

Start to establish some positions in your swing that you will know you want to reach. Many golfers feel that when the club shaft is parallel to the ground, they have started to turn their hips and shoulders and are making a strong rotation in their golf swing. 

You will also want to look at the club face and ensure that it has not opened or closed in any way. During the takeaway, there is really not much need for manipulation of the club face; this will likely happen naturally as you turn back behind the golf ball. Once you have stopped and checked on your golf swing, you can then start back over at the address and take a full swing. 

Try to keep this routine consistent and try it with a few different golf clubs. It’s just as essential to get a great takeaway with your driver as it is with your wedge or iron. 

What Is The Correct Takeaway In Golf? 

One of the questions that we are asked most often about the takeaway is what the best golf swing takeaway looks like. The good news is that there are several ways that you can take the club back properly; it just must be consistent every time. 

The biggest problem that golfers run into is when they are inconsistently taking the golf club back. As you move your body in different ways, the club face angle is also manipulated, and therefore the golf shots become inconsistent. 

Instead, we highly recommend finding a takeaway that is easy for you to repeat. For the majority of golfers, this is going to be something that takes the club back low and slow. When the club stays lower to the ground, the chance of it changing the face angle or moving independently of your body is much lower. 

Golfers may feel as though there are parts of their swing that can’t be perfected; however, the takeaway is something that most players are able to get confident with at some point.

Golf Swing Takeaway FAQ

Now that you have the procedure down and a few drills to help you practice on the golf course or driving range let’s clear up any other confusion about the takeaway.

Here are a few golf swing takeaway tips that are important to remember. 

Why is Takeaway Important?

The golf takeaway is important because it is what starts the rest of your golf swing. If your golf swing takeaway sequence is perfect, the rest of the golf swing is going to be much easier to accomplish.

Your large muscles will be engaged, your club will be turning back along the target line, and your club shaft should be on plane as well. 

Many golfers feel that if they get the takeaway started properly, they will then be set up to make a perfect golf swing. We completely agree with this concept and believe the takeaway is an area of the swing that is worth it for golfers to focus on. 

What happens after the Takeaway? 

Once the takeaway happens, golfers will be in the perfect position to start a wrist hinge and complete the rest of the backswing. When your takeaway is complete, the club will start to turn up and make it to the top of your golf swing. 

Although there will be some manual manipulation of the hands and wrists, the position of the club shaft is going to change because of how your body is turning and rotating. This is partly why getting those big muscles involved right from the start is so important. 

Does The Takeaway Change from One Club To Another

Your golf swing takeaway will look a bit different from one golf club to another; however, the basic concept and movement are going to be the same. 

When you have a pitching wedge in your hand, you don’t need your takeaway to be quite as long and extended. This club is not a distance club; it is an accuracy club.

When you switch to the driver, you need lots of extension on your backswing to help you get the distance that you need. This extension will make your takeaway look quite a bit longer with the woods in your hand.

The woods and driver are also physically longer than a pitching wedge, which helps add to the way this takeaway looks.

How Should Golfers Transition from Takeaway To Backswing? 

Once you have your golf swing in the perfect takeaway position, you may want to work on the next section of the backswing. Once your takeaway is completed the club starts to move up. The club can move back on the same plane as your body rotates, or some players like to hinge their wrists at this point. 

The backswing will look different depending on the type of golf swing a player has and their physical limitations and attributes. There are several different golf swings that golfers that can have, and they can all be effective. The key is finding something that allows the golf club to return to the ball on the proper plane. 

Golfers that get started with a proper takeaway will have a much easier time getting the golf club on the right track. 

How Hard Is It To Fix A Bad Takeaway? 

Fixing issues in the golf swing can be a pain. There are times when you will feel as though you just figured out an issue you were having, and then you have to change things up to be able to make progress. It is not impossible to fix a bad takeaway, but it also takes some time and effort. 

The great news about the progress that you will make on your golf swing takeaway is that when all is said and done, the work you do on the takeaway will impact all areas of the game. When your takeaway gets better, you are also going to be better at your short game; you get more distance and have a great chance of hitting consistent golf shots. 

Golf takeaways should be a primary focus for any golfer that is looking to make big changes and improvements in their game. Over time you will learn that the time spent on the fundamentals can make you a much stronger player. 

Should Beginner Golfers Work On Takeaway? 

The most important areas of the golf game for beginners to work on are the setup and the takeaway. When focusing on these areas of the game, it is much easier to see progress and for players to increase their ability to shoot lower scores. 

The problem that many beginners struggle with is the fact that they are not consistent in their golf game. The inconsistency makes it difficult for a player to shoot lower scores and to actually make progress in their game. 

One of the best swing thoughts for a beginner golfer to have is keeping the club low and slow on the takeaway. When the club stays low and along the ground, it makes it easier for players to stay in control and get the muscle memory necessary to play great golf. 

Do Pro Golfers Work On Their Takeaway? 

As an amateur golfer, it can feel as though you will always need to work on your golf swing. There are issues that never seem to go away. However, professional golfers have to work on these areas of their game as well. 

Just because you see professionals on the PGA Tour hitting great shots with consistent swings does not mean they ignore the basics of the swing. Golf swing basics like setup, weight distribution, grip, and takeaway are almost always worked on by professionals. 

Even the slightest change in these areas of the game can greatly impact the results of the swing. Next time you see a player warming up on the driving range prior to a tournament or event, chances are you will notice they are working on a key area of their game like the takeaway.


Hopefully, you now have a much better understanding of how the takeaway will affect and impact your golf swing. One of the best things about the takeaway is that it is a great swing thought for a golfer to have.

Hopefully, you know have a much better understanding of how the takeaway will affect and impact your golf swing. One of the best things about the takeaway is that it is a great swing thought for a golfer to have. 

This swing thought happens as soon as you take the club back, and because of that, it clears your mind for the rest of the swing. Having thoughts for all different positions is going to make things a bit harder when you get out to the golf course. 

Come up with a simple thought of low and slow, or try and hit that spot on the ground six inches behind the ball. Settle on one specific takeaway swing thought, to help perfect your golf swing and get the club started on the right path. 

Scroll to Top

Save up to 49% on Callaway Certified Pre-Owned!

Callaway Golf is running a sale right now so don’t miss a great deal on a certified pre-owned driver or iron set because this is only available as long as stock last!