Getting the club to parallel

Nasty, Putrid, Gross, Foul, Rancid and Infested.

This (and it’s synonyms) is definitely one of the top 5 swing/game destroyers.

When did getting the shaft to parallel become the standard for where to get your back swing? I can’t think of a more arbitrary and horrid standard to aspire to.

Let me be frank. I would say 75% of golfers (and that’s probably a low estimate) are not flexible, coordinated or strong enough to take a back swing all the way to parallel and return the club at maximum speed to the ball.

Let me be even more frank…taking mid and short irons to parallel is not the most efficient way to get solid and consistent strikes either…or have maximum distance control.

In addition. Those who are flexible, coordinated and strong enough to take the club to parallel, are likely to get even more speed and distance by going past parallel.

So now I have pretty much eliminated parallel for over 95% of golfers and golf shots, so why is this even a relevant topic?


Generally speaking, if you are looking for distance control with irons, the shorter the swing, the better.

Also, generally speaking, if you can’t hit the ball at least 250 yards on the fly…the shorter the swing, the better with driver.

To be more clear, for maximum distance you are looking for maximum shoulder turn and minimum arm swing.

Put a shaft in front of your shoulders and hold it with your hands. Address the ball, turn your shoulders as far as they will go, grab the club and extend your arms away from your chest and that is the maximum length of your back swing. When you actually make a swing you will go past this point, but most of you will find your most efficient back swing is well short of parallel.




  1. wuz

    Another piece of bad advice is to widen your stance for stability. This advice does nothing for me except getting myself way too inside and hopelessly stuck. A wide stance is not for everybody, just like the same type of woman is not for every man. It’s funny how golf is a lot like life.


  2. Bob

    My worst fault by a long shot is going past parallel. I find that preventing the overswing is the most difficult to achieve. I truly understand what you are saying, Monte. Great advice and your videos are simple in explanation. When I take a practice swing I always stop my arms when my shoulders stop but when I put a ball down it is like an outer body experience. The person who can get me past this will get my vote for instructor of the year. Cheers!

  3. meateater

    Good post, Monte. I think a lot of this can be laid at the feet of people like Peter Kostis. They blab about someone’s great “extension” and how “long” their swing is, and people think that is the way to do it.

    Speaking of which, I think the concept of extension has wrecked more swings than trying to copy Ben Hogan. A lot of the great ball strikers in history pretty much took the club straight inside on the takeaway. I don’t know if extension became an obsession with Nicklaus or when, but it is as useless as its flipside, hitting “down the line” or “chasing it” as Miller says. The club head goes left right after contact or you are losing clubhead speed. It’s that simple. Anyone tells you to chase it down the line, find another instructor.

  4. Mike from Canada

    I definitely agree with today’s post Monte.The effect of turning farther than your body will let you is the reverse pivot which is a killer!!

  5. Calvin D

    To me it’s a good idea to attempt to reach parallel and even beyond that with any club as a means of stretching and increasing your flexibility while warming up and practicing. On the course you should be able to recognize the true limit of your flexibility. I am saying that if you are inflexible you don’t have to accept that as your permanent fate.



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