Golf Extras
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Turning to the top

by Donald Crawley

Contributing Golf Writer and Director of Instruction for The Boulders Club Voted as a TOP 100 Teacher in Golf Magazine, and Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy, Carefree, AZ.

Donald Crawley Hatboro, PA (Sports Network) - In the last article, which you can review in the archives of past articles by GolfSimplified - Donald Crawley, titled "Turn, Swish, Turn," I covered the simplest form of this challenging and sometimes complex movement called the golf swing.

The upper body turns back, you swish the club through the ball, as you turn your lower body through. Turn swish turn, fluidly, in motion.

This time we are going to look at the first turn and how to help you get both the body and the club in a good position at the top of your backswing

Let's look at yours truly in the correct backswing position, at least from the face-on view below. You can run to a window or mirror and compare your position at the backswing top to the photo with yours truly about to "swish and turn."


The distance between my heels is the width of my shoulders. The left foot is flared out 30 degree's which allows my hips to more easily unwind in the downswing. Whoops, that's the second turn. I got ahead of myself so a step back, no pun intended, and let4's focus on the first turn. The right foot is close to being 90 degree to my stance line. Right foot square, left foot turned out a little. Weight distributed 50/50 at the start of the swing, and an evenly balanced stance as the result.

This foot foundation is important...close to critical. The stable base is essential to be able to turn, or coil, the upper body against the resistance of the legs. All the top players have strong legs. The majority of Tour players run daily in addition to the 18-hole walking when playing, as opposed to your adventure in a cart. I know Tiger runs (no jokes or comments, please), and Sergio still likes to play soccer while attributing some of his leg strength to his very powerful swing.

Ball position should be opposite or just inside, the left heel for a driver.


Donald Crawley
Notice the knees are level and parallel to the ground. The left knee and hip are now in line with the ball...the position you must strive to achieve. More hip turn can bring the knee and hip behind the ball but, often, you lose the coil effect. The right knee remains flexed and in the same position it was at address. Listen up, this is a very important point. When you turn your upper body, you are turning around two fixed points. One is the head and the other a firm but flexed right leg. That right knee should hold you in place. Don't let it wobble or buckle beneath you!

You've heard this before but note how the hips have turned about 45 degree's. The older you get and the stiffer your hip flexors, you will have to allow your hips to freely turn. The X factor (hips stay still and shoulders turn 120 degree's) belongs to a junior gumby. See how the belt looks horizontal. The hips have turned level. Self critiquing here, I wouldn't mind a smidge of a tilt to those hips. The left hip could be a little lower. Since that photo I have taken up yoga and it has done wonders for my hips. They are turning better and providing more power in the downswing.

This brings up flexibility. For men in particular I would encourage you all to daily stretch your hamstrings, lower back and hip flexors. If you don't know where you will find them but go see a trainer at your local gym and get on a golf stretch routine, especially in these winter months if you are less active at this time of year. Surf the web to find the many good golf fitness information sites that are out there to locate that which you can do at home or the local workout center.

That detailed description of the lower body turn and hold can only be achieved if your feet grip the floor. My left heel is down but not essential. Ask Jack Nicklaus the next time you see him.


See how the shoulders have turned twice as far as the hips. That is a better way to look at the X factor. The left shoulder has turned to, or behind, the ball. My back is facing down the fairway. My chest is 90 degree's from the address position. This is something you should work towards. Listen up regarding point two! The shoulders have rotated around my spine. The left shoulder is under the chin (right where yours is as you continue to read). Right shoulder is higher than the left. Shoulders DO NOT turn level and horizontal to the ground. I like to think of the chest and back rotating around my spine, maintaining the same angle as the address, the tip at the hips that I preach about in all my instructon.

The head is centered, directly over my sternum, where it belongs. Look where yours is as you read! This torso rotation, i.e., the turn; has naturally transferred your weight, or 80% of it, to the inside of the right leg. Draw an arrow straight down from the center of my chest/sternum and that point is directly over the inside of my right thigh.

Short review: turn your upper body into and over the inside right leg. Feel wound up like a spring. Your right hip should be bursting with stored energy.

It is well recognized that this is the conventional thinker for the vast majority of golfers, tour champions and amateurs alike. All stack and tilt followers would not be reading this far. They will have tilted their left shoulder down at the ball and 80% weight would be loaded over their left foot.

We can't ignore, although this is a different article, the importance and role the arms play in winding up in such a beautiful top of the backswing position. The rams are relaxed. A picture doesn't convey this but they should be relaxed, not ram rod rigid, which so many poor golfers believe to be necessary. Even though the left arm is 'straightish,' I like the little bend at the elbow. This implies flexibility. The right arm is folded but notice the hands have some space from the head. Yes, keep your right arm folded down but away from your side. The hands are higher than the head, wrists fully cocked and the glove logo pointing at the camera. This shows a square club face at the top. The picture shows some 'extension' and 'width' of the hands and arms at the top. We can't see it from this angle but the hands and club are directly above and over my right shoulder.

Our focus was on the turn, so run out to the practise range, and try and get as close as you can to the above picture. Turn to the top and your game will take a turn for the better.

Donald Crawley
Donald Crawley

Donald Crawley, Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy at the Boulders Resort & Golden Door? Spa in Carefree, Ariz. Crawley, a veteran of 35 years of teaching experience, is the newest contributor to The Sports Network with regular features that range from tips on improving your game to etiquette at the course. He has established 40 golf school sites in the United States since 1980,previously as vice president and director of instruction at John Jacobs' Golf Schools.

Crawley is recognized among the "Top 100 Teachers in America" by Golf Magazine and one of the "Best Teachers in Arizona" by Golf Digest. As both a Class A U.S. PGA member and a British PGA member, Crawley has been recognized for his outstanding teaching abilities. In 2002 & 2005, he won the Southwest Section PGA's Teacher of the Year Award. He also received the Horton Smith Award for education in 2000. In addition to teaching over 60,000 students, Crawley has co-authored video instruction tapes with John Jacobs and BBC/ABC golf telecaster Peter Alliss.

Comments? Contact Donald Crawley at

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