The one piece takeaway. Staying connected. Starting the turn. Creating depth. You will hear a number of ways great golfers talk about their takeaway. The most common is the “one piece takeaway”. So, what exactly is a one piece takeaway?
Almost all amateur golfers take the golf club back with their hands and/or arms and all professionals take the club back with their core and body. As I have been told repeatedly for the last two years, the more you can use your core to generate power, the better you are going to be at golf. So, what does this mean?
When starting the golf swing, every single professional golfer has a one piece takeaway in which the butt of the grip stays pointed at their belly button. Another way to think about it is the club face should stay as close to the middle of your chest as long as possible in the backswing. If you can keep the club face in the middle of your chest at the top of your backswing, you can be an incredible golfer. It takes extremely flexibility, lots of patience and an understanding that the core creates the backswing and it starts with the takeaway.
So, how can you do the one piece takeaway?
To take the club back properly, you should feel the back side of your left obliques (if you are a right hander) driving towards your right toes. While this sounds simple enough, it takes hours and hours of practice as you are likely used to triggering your golf swing by starting with your hands or arms.
If you are an above average amateur golfer, you may start the swing with your shoulders or lats. If you are a true scratch that has the ability to shoot under par, you start the swing with your core/obliques.
An exercise that I like to do is to get in my setup position. Hips rolled forward, chest high, arms relaxed and feel the back side of my left obliques driving towards the ball of my right foot. If I do this correctly, the club will start to move every so slightly.
Note that for the one piece takeaway to look like a professional golfer, your arms should be completely relaxed and your elbows should feel like they are pointing towards your belly button. The best golfers in the world feel as if there is slight tension on the inside of their triceps throughout the entire swing. There is no pulling back with the right arm or right elbow.
You can actually use a putting aid called the Putting Perfecter to get the feel for the elbows being inside the shoulders with slight tension on the insides of the triceps. The Putting Perfecter is also perfect to practice your one piece take away. Put it on your chest, get in the proper setup and start the takeaway with your lower left side, preferably your lower left obliques.
When starting the one piece takeaway you are probably going to notice that your right side collapses. This is ok; it is part of the process. Once you get the feel for your left side starting the swing, you can resist with your lower right obliques which will create the tun of the core you will need to allow your upper thoracic to turn to get to the top of the backswing.
There is no possible way to properly get to the top of the backswing if you do not have a solid takeaway.
Something many amateur golfers will notice is the takeaway looks “long” or “wide” for professional golfers. If you have ever watched Xander Schauffele, it looks like he is forcing his arms to stay long and away from his body on his takeaway. In fact, he looks like he is practicing exactly that before swings. What he is really doing is getting the feel of his core starting the takeaway.
One last important part of the one piece takeaway is the club face staying “outside” your hands. The biggest problem amateurs have is they use their hands to start the swing and immediately pull the club face inside their hands. When someone is standing directly behind you looking at the target, when you take the club away, the club should stay outside your hands. If you start the golf swing with your core and not your hands or arms, this should not be a problem.
You have probably been on the range and someone places a tee about a yard or two behind your teed up driver and says, “keep the club outside this tee going back”. While this is what should happen, every single amateur will use their hands to try to keep the club outside that tee, they will lift with their arms and come over the top during the transition. While this drill makes sense, it only works if you use your lower left side to start the club moving back. After the one piece takeaway, allow the left obliques to keep the club moving back until the left lat can drive under and get the club to the top of the backswing.