Starting down in one piece–the swing SEQUENCE of pros

In a previous post, we discussed ‘hitting past the chin’. Not only is this a good swing thought to carry with you to the course, almost EVERY professional player executes this move (see images below).

hitpastyourchin Jack_Impact_Position Tiger_Impact_Position

How do you make this happen?

So – if this IS the holy grail of golf (not really, but it comes pretty close), how exactly do you successfully accomplish this move?

While there is no ONE single way, there are a few elements that all techniques have in common. Three significant elements are discussed in this post:

  1. The backswing should be executed BELOW the chin (below a steady head). The backswing should finish with a FLAT left wrist.
  2. There should be a brief PAUSE at the top of the backswing.
  3. The entire downswing needs to start down in one piece .

These 3 steps constitute a swing SEQUENCE. They occur one after the other. I would wager that there isn’t a professional golfer who doesn’t execute these three steps in their own swing sequence.

Step #1. The backswing should be executed BELOW the chin (below a steady head)

There is not a single golf instruction book (or teacher) that will tell you otherwise. Your LEFT shoulder should end up below your chin – and preferably OVER your RIGHT knee (this is called LOADING the right side). Notice where Rory’s LEFT shoulder ends up in the image below. Notice also how steady his head stays (apart from a slight backward swivel of the chin). Notice the FLAT left wrist on top.  Without a flat wrist on top, you will have trouble visualizing Step #3 – throwing your body below your (stationary) chin.

rory_mcilroy_top_of_backswing flat_left_wrist


Step #2. There should be a brief PAUSE at the top of the backswing

Whether your ACTUALLY pause on the top or not is up for debate. However, you should FEEL that you are pausing on top – even if for only a split second. This again, is of such paramount importance that I challenge you to find one professional golfer – who doesn’t seem to have this slight pause before they transition into their downswing. What this PAUSE accomplishes is that it gives your brain time to visualize what has to happen NEXT. And what has to happen NEXT is that the entire upper body needs to start down in ONE PIECE (a CONNECTED downswing).

Step  #3. The entire downswing needs to start down in one piece (the CONNECTED downswing)

The first two STEPS above – you can get from any coach. This last step here – I have only had one coach describe it clearly to me. However, several pros also advocate it in their interviews.

When you hear of ‘one-piece’, most instructors are talking about a one-piece takeaway. i.e. They are talking about the start of the backswing – NOT the start of the downswing.  This one-piece takeaway is nothing more than ‘keeping your arms in front of your body at all times’ (I got this advice after I tried half a dozen different coaches). Very few instructors (if any) will talk about the ONE-PIECE downswing.

The idea is very simple – you know that you need  to IMPACT past your chin (i.e you need to HIT past your chin). The easiest way to accomplish this is the visualize sending your entire upper body moving under your chin. What does that feel like? It should feel like you are throwing your entire upper body under a stationary chin. This also controls the urge to LUNGE at the ball with the hands – another common fault among amateurs.

This thought (of throwing your body under your stationary chin) in itself will enable you to start down in ONE-PIECE.   It will eliminate the awkward lunge at the ball that characterizes a lot of downswings. Your downswing will appear smooth and unrushed. You will still generate all the hitting power in the impact zone – since that is a function of your wrists releasing through the ball. However, the ONE PIECE downswing will ensure that your clubface is delivered SQUARE to the target line – thereby resulting in a straight (or slight draw) ball flight. Without this one piece downswing, your clubface will twist and turn (since you are essentially all arms and hands at this point) – and it will be near impossible to hit it straight.

Give this ONE PIECE downswing a try – and see if it improves your impact position any.

The Short Game

This one-piece downswing is as important in chipping and putting as it is in the full swing. This ‘lifting’ of the chin (or the head) is a common fault among amateurs. You will never see a pro look up before the entire upper body has moved past the impact zone!   In fact, ‘looking up’ too quickly, is the number one cause of poorly executed chips and putts.


Most instructors are talking about a one-piece takeaway – which is actually much less mysterious than they make it out to be. It took me half a dozen instructors before I realized that all this ‘one-piece’ talk could be REPLACED with ‘Keep your arms in front of your body at all times’. This ensures that you continue to turn your upper body as your arms trace their arc. 

The ONE-PIECE downswing is a SIMPLE way to get to the OPTIMAL impact position.  In fact, it would be near impossible to hit a STRAIGHT shot if you LIFTED your chin while going through impact.

Try out these series of tips – and see if they improve your ball flight any. You should see straighter and longer shots (due to square clubface contact) if you can execute step #3 correctly.

Thoughts? Comments ?

Amateur golfer with no real claim to fame (unless club championships count). Sharing knowledge obtained from (far too many) golf lessons – from far too many pros.

Golf Tips – who has written posts on Anuj Varma, Technology Architect.

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