The shoulder backswing vs. the arm backswing

Today’s post is short, but it is very important for you to understand. I have written about the importance of the backswing ending when the shoulder turn ends. This brings me to today’s point.

There is a type of backswing that looks good and takes the club on plane, but can be problematic.

You need to decide if your shoulder turn lifts the arms or lifting arms turn the shoulders. If your shoulder turn lifts your arms, you are definitely on the right track.

If you lift your arms to turn your shoudlers, not only will it be difficult to stop the backswing when the shoulders stop turning, you are susceptible to dropping hands, over the top, active and passive casting, the upper and lower body being out of sync and some other troubling issues.

This is an important issue, because arm lifters who have worked hard to hit good positions will have the illusion of a great swing and will have most people tell them how great their swing is.

It’s a trap you need to get out of to make the next setup in your improvement.

Link to




  1. Cal

    Ah, but how do I know?

  2. gwlee7

    This is exactly what I am working on with Monte my our lesson.

  3. efnef

    I agree. I used to use the right forearm takeaway. For me it was a recipe for inconsistent ball striking and power leaks.

  4. bobinpa

    I hear you loud and clear Monte but other than having a trained eye look at me how can I tell? What sensation should I have? The arms are connected to the shoulders and it makes it hard for me to know what is leading. Is there something I can do “incorrectly” that gives me the wrong feeling so I can know I’m on the right path or correct it?

    • gwlee7

      For me, the best thing to do is focus on the shoulder turn. Monte gave me good key: Feel as though the shoulders are turning club up.

  5. shoot54today

    General Lee,

    This is scary. We have come full circle. We of the flat shoulder turns of yesteryear.

    • gwlee7

      As Bob34 said recently, it’s deja vu all over again.

  6. Paul

    It’s so true. Shoulders lift the arms or bring the left arm back on the backswing. I struggle sometimes with arm and hand runoff and if I feel my upper left arm connect to my left pec at the top of the BS, it stops my motion and reduces runoff. I have a flat swing, which probably also helps. Anyone find this feel helps keep everything connected?

  7. Colby


    I was killing the ball after first embracing Monte’s approach, then began to have a picture perfect swing with a crap result. I rewatched Monte’s videos and realized I was swinging with my arms and hands. Since realizing that, I’ve had trouble getting the shoulders turning first, but think I may have had a breakthrough with a thought/feel. Basically, make sure I have an easy grip, then when I turn my shoulders, when the club is hip high, feel the weight of the clubhead pulling down on the fingers of my left hand while my right hand is merely along for the ride. Maybe the feel you’re looking for is if you held the club in your left hand only and put it straight out to the front or side, with the shaft parallel to the ground, with your grip easy enough that the clubhead wants dip down toward the ground from it’s own weight and you’re easy grip. That’s the feeling I look for in my left hand when I’m properly turning with my shoulders… the club is heavy in my hand.

    Disclaimer: I could be terribly wrong, but it seemed to work for me.

  8. ric

    I just watched a video debate between Jim Flick and Jimmy Ballard from 1998 PGA summit on Arms and Hands vs Body oriented swings and it was a total bitch slapping from Ballard. He basically spoke of rythem and pivot to guide a very athletic move. I really had never seen him present before but everything I thought he taught I was wrong about. The shoulder and body taking the club back was a big part of it.

    • stephenf

      I’m way after the fact here, I know–but I’m just wondering, how did you get a copy of the Flick-Ballard debate? I’ve been wanting to see that for some time.

  9. Falcondriver

    Monte, correct me if I’m wrong, but I find that when I start the backswing with the back of my right shoulder/lat, then the club doesn’t get sucked to the inside with the arms/hands. For whatever reason, this aids me greatly in using the shoulders to drive the arms. I also notice the clubhead appears to work very slightly to the outside of the line, not inside/under it. If anyone has ever struggled with arm run away and being WAY across the line at the top, it used to be me. But now this one simple thought keeps me from getting out of sync and “long”. Thoughts?

    • Monte Scheinblum

      Everyone can learn from Falcondriver.

      It doesn’t matter what feel you use to create the move the frees you up. Finding the feel that helps you create that move is your job. Helping you to understand how to free you up is your instructors job. It’s a team effort

  10. Bogeydog

    I used to take lessons from a guy named Bill Buttner (former PGA Tour pro). Monte may remember him. He helped me with this feeling by telling me to turn until the emblem on my left pec was over my right foot and pointed away from the target.

    I know Monte hates training aids, but he had me use one of those figure 8 straps to keep my arms together so I couldn’t keep lifting them. A little goes a long way with it though.

  11. Rich

    To sync up your backswing you should keep the V with your arms swinging them back first without turning your shoulders. Most golfers misapply the one piece takeaway by turning their shoulders and do not do anything with their arms. This leads to a complete shoulder turn and the arms are at best parallel with the ground. This leads to a bad move of having to lift the arms after your shoulder turn has completed its turn and your power and consistency is lost. Start with your arms moving back (with no wrist hinge) and keep the shoulders pointed at your target until you cannot go back with your arms any longer. Then complete your shoulder turn and STOP as soon as your shoulder turn has completed. Now you will be sync’ up with your upper body. I guarantee this will help! Instructors are ruining swings by not instructing students to do this. By the way you will find your lower body will naturally move more athletically. You have to master the shoulder turn correctly as it is as important as having a good grip, balance, etc.


Leave a Reply

Share This