The Distance Prescription: How to Lengthen your Backswing

Why you should Lengthen your Backswing

A common saying in golf is to “Swing your swing.” Because when you know your swing and don’t try copy anyone else, it gives you more confidence on the golf course.

While I definitely don’t recommend copying a specific swing, I do think there is one part of your swing that can have a big impact on ballstriking.

Backswing length

Golfers can increase their backswing length to create more distance and improve their ball-striking. In this post we’ll cover the importance of the backswing and give you five tips to develop a longer swing.

How to lengthen your backswing 

Before getting into the best ways to lengthen your swing, let’s talk about the ideal position at the top of your swing. Tiger Woods, one of the greatest baseball players of all time, can be seen changing the top of his backswing position.

The driver is almost as parallel to the ground as the club (at least when it was younger and healthier). It might not be quite parallel due to his many golf injuries. For more control, irons and woodens have less parallel than woods.

Tiger discusses the length of his driver backswing in How I Play Golf. “I believe in a big shoulder turn, but I don’t like the club dipping past parallel with the ground. Actually, the shoulder aren’t to blame for the club going back to far. It happens because the left arm bends too much at the elbow or the hands don’t maintain a firm hold on the club.”

Tiger Woods later said, “When the shaft extends beyond parallel, you tend to throw the club from the top rather than letting the turning of the shoulders transport the club into a sound position on the downswing.”

Here’s the thing, the longer your backswing the more likely you are to to lose accuracy. A shorter, compact swing will generally produce a straighter shot with tighter shot dispersion. 

How can you fix a quick backswing?

These are the top five ways to lengthen your backswing.

1. Make a full shoulder turn

Your backswing length can be directly affected by your shoulder turn. 

Your goal is to rotate your shoulders 90 degrees during full swing shots. For driver swings, you might even get more than 90 degrees (if you’re flexible enough). This requires that you keep your head up and at the right angle to allow the shoulder and lead arm to move underneath.

Tiger said that shoulder turn is crucial. “I know I’m making a full shoulder turn when my left shoulder turns under my chin. I try to turn my shoulders at least 90 degrees form their position at address, enough so my left shoulder is well behind the ball at the top.”

This is easy to feel, as the shoulder turn should initiate your backswing. The shoulders are the only guide for your arms and hands. It is your goal to feel your shirt touch your chin when you do the backswing.

Tiger later said, “Butch Harmon tells me that Ben Hogan used to wear out his shirts at the point where the left shoulder moved under the chin.” Although you won’t hit as many balls on the range with your golf clubs as Ben Hogan does, this is a great idea to think about to ensure that you have the proper amount shoulder turn. 

Remember that the hips don’t rotate as much as the shoulders. In fact, your hips should only rotate half as much. Your shoulder rotation is what gives you the most power and length in your backswing, not your hip rotation. 

Shoulder Rotation Drill

The good news is that you can feel this feeling pretty easily, whether you’re at home or on the driving range. Simply grab a stick or club and place it across the chest. Keep rotating the club or stick until it’s pointing down directly at your ball

This should allow you to get your shoulder and lead arm under your chin in order to complete a turn. You’ll likely feel some tension in your back as you have more length in your swing. But I bet you’ll make solid contact once the club reaches impact.

2. Rotate your hips to avoid swapping

Sliding (or swinging) your hips is another common move players make, rather than rotating. The best players in the game don’t move their hips laterally, as you can see. 

Instead, they turn around their lower bodies and load up on trail side. This weight transfer creates momentum that can be unloaded on the downswing. 

When you sway laterally, you’re making it nearly impossible to rotate properly. You must slide back in order to move laterally. 

Instead of swaying for a longer duration, focus on rotating your hips.

3. Lift your left heel off the ground

Have you ever watched a long drive competition? It’s pretty incredible as these guys hit it 80-100+ yards past the average PGA Tour player. Sure, their drivers are a little longer but there’s no denying that they’re insanely long off the tee.

When you watch, it’s easy to spot two things they do differently than most golfers. To generate maximum power, they use a long backswing. They’re well past parallel and sometimes it looks as though the clubhead could almost touch the ground.

The second thing that you might spot is their “happy feet” as they have a ton of motion in their feet. The lead heel is elevated from the ground to maximize their motion and allow for more hip rotation. 

Jack Nicklaus, another famous golfer, used his front foot to move. You can also do this.

According to Tom Watson, in a Golf Digest article, “The longer the backswing—driver versus pitching wedge, for example—the more the heel lifts. Provided you stay in balance and retain the tight coil of the backswing, it can go as high as necessary.”

Try the range to find out how it affects your extension and swing.

4. Check Your Wrist Hinge

Another important component in the quest to create a longer backswing is your wrist hinge. Many golfers ignore this crucial part of their swing and focus instead on hip rotation, left foot, and other parts. Your wrist hinge can have an impact on your lead arm.

What should the wrists do during a golf swing?

Here’s what top golf instructor David Leadbetter said in a Golf Digest interview.

“When I turn back to a point where the shaft is about parallel to the ground, I then hinge my wrists letting the clubshaft work “up,” with the butt end pointing down.”

While some players do hinge their wrist before the club is parallel to the ground, it’s not as common. He then spoke about the second part and how to complete his backswing.

“If you’ve properly cocked your wrists during the early stage of the backswing–the “hinge”–then all you have to do is “turn” by rotating your trunk away from the target as much as you can. Flexibility will determine how far you can turn.”

5. Train with deWiz – #1 Tool to Lengthen Backswing 

While we’ve covered four ways and drills to lengthen a golf swing, we didn’t talk much about numbers. Instead, we emphasized what the naked eye sees in terms of backswing length.

There is a new gadget that can help you measure your backswing length, and give you valuable insight into other areas of your game. The deWiz is a wearable device that provides you with so many data about your swing. It will give you information about your backswing length, speed, swing plane, and many other things.

For your backswing, it will give you a precise number for each swing; whether you’re hitting a driver or wedge. This will enable you to instantly see how your backswing affects ball flight and total distance. Also, this will help you to establish a benchmark for your future swings in order to have the most productive practice sessions. 

Here’s how this device can quickly help you lengthen your swing:

  • After warming up, do five full swings together with your driver. Pay attention to the backswing measurement. 
  • Once you have a baseline number, take 5-10 additional swings and extend your backswing 2 to 4 inches. 
  • Next, take 5-10 more swings to get the club as far back as possible. 
  • Once you get comfortable with a longer swing, learn even faster wit hthe “Learning Stimuli” feature. This feature is a neuroscience hack which will speed up your learning 

Make sure to work your way up to the Learning Stimuli feature as it’s a bit of an adjustment. As they stated on their website: “Every time you make a swing that is shorter than the minimum distance you have set deWiz will send a slight impulse. This will help re-wire your motor skills faster as the direct feedback occurs instantaneously.”

This feature is a great way to speed up learning, and I can attest to its effectiveness. 

Click here to see our complete review of the deWiz Golf Watch.

How to Lengthen your Backswing

FAQs about a Longer Backswing

Are you looking for answers to more questions about how to make your backswing more powerful and more distance with every bag of clubs? These frequently asked questions and answers may help.

Why is my backswing so slow?

There are many reasons that a backswing may be short. Not getting enough shoulder rotation during the backswing is a common reason. Remember, your goal is to make a 90° shoulder turn so that your hands are high on the backswing.

Another reason that a backswing is too short is lack of flexibility. If your back, shoulders, and upper body is tight, it’s hard to make a full backswing. This can cause you to rush the downswing and lose power. 

What stretches can make your backswing more extended?

Flexibility is key to playing the best golf. Since the swing is quite taxing on the body, it’s a great idea to keep improving your flexibility for long term success.

Click here for our complete guide to golf flexibility.

While stretching is helpful, don’t forget about other ways to increase your flexibility. Other hacks include:

  • Massage: A tight body can be caused by regular exercise, golf, or daily activities. Massage can help relieve tension and stress, and increase flexibility. You should get a massage more often if your game is more frequent than you play. 
  • Massage gun: If you don’t feel like splurging for a massage, at least buy a massage gun and use at home. When you’re relaxing after a round, use the device to target tight areas or big muscles to get loose. You can also try it before your round. 
  • Classes in yoga or pilates: Sign up for a class if you need extra guidance and help from a professional. I’ve even found some gyms that offer golf specific exercise and stretching classes. 
  • Foam rolling Before or after your round, make sure to foam roll too. Even a short time can improve your flexibility and allow you to stretch for a longer backswing. 
  • Chiropractic workLastly, regular visits to a chiropractor are a great way to improve your flexibility and align your body. This is especially important for golfers, who only swing one way, which can cause serious imbalances. Regular chiropractic care is a great way for you to prevent injuries and keep your body healthy. 

How can I increase my distance with my short backswing swing? 

A few ways – increasing swing speed and strengthening your lower body.

When you increase your swing speed with speed training, it’ll naturally increase your total distance. Don’t forget, speed equals distance. The farther you hit the golf ball, the faster you can go.

The book contains the following: Tour TempoThe authors also found that speed is a key factor in a consistent, faster swing. They found that most golfers can only swing for a few seconds, while professionals and elite amateurs can swing in one second or less. 

SimilarReview of SuperSpeed Training Sticks

This will not only make it easier to hit the ball longer, but also more consistent. You can speed up your swing and transform your game by improving your ball-striking.

You should also work on your lower back, as that is where your power is generated. To help you get stronger and more powerful on the golf course, we have compiled a list. 

Stronger core and lower body muscles will allow you to generate more power and maximize your distance off of the tee. 

Final Thoughts on Lengthening the Golf Backswing

Your backswing should be lengthened could be a great way to gain more distance and power, especially off the tee. But it’s important to make sure that you don’t overswing the golf club as it will hurt your ballstriking and negatively impact distance. Also, a longer swing will require you to learn a new swing sequence.

A longer backswing can actually help your game if you make the correct changes. Also, please remember that you don’t need a super long backswing with every club in the bag. The general rule of thumb is that the longer the club, then the backswing.

While I’m confident these tips can help you out, don’t forget to swing your swing! If your swing is short of parallel and are hitting it the way you want, don’t feel like you “need” to lengthen it. 

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