Golf Swing Takeaway – How to Make a One Piece Takeaway

“How to make the Golf Swing Takeaway” or “How to make a one piece takeaway” are two of the most commonly asked questions I get on my YouTube channel and here on my website. After grip and setup, the golf swing takeaway is one of the foundational elements of the swing that can ruin the rest of the motion if not executed correctly. Most amateur golfers will make some major mistake in the golf swing takeaway that leads to further swing plane errors in the backswing. This just cascades on into downswing and impact problems. In fact there are still a few misconceptions still taught today that we’ll cover in the remainder of this article. Watch the video here and then check the article below for more detailed instruction on how to make the golf swing takeaway and be sure to leave your comments below.

The Golf Swing Takeaway: Why “Low and Slow” is a Bad Idea

A recurring swing problem we still see that started in the “good ole days” of golf instruction is the mantra, “Sweep it back low and slow.”  Unfortunately this style of takeaway sends the golf club “inside” and beneath the correct swing plane almost instantly. Once the club is too low and too far inside, then the player must recover by lifting the arms and club straight up to get elevation and hopefully get somewhere back near the ideal plane. However, this generally leads to further problems as the player crashes through the plane vertically on the way up and starts a type of “figure 8” loop that then comes over the top on the way back down.

Should the toe be up in the One Piece Takeaway?

Another popular misconception about the backswing and particularly the one piece takeaway, is the clubface position half way back. It has been taught for years that the “toe” should be straight up at the waist-high position in the takeaway. There is no simple way to say it … this is just plain WRONG! Watch the accompanying video on this page as I demonstrate how a proper one piece takeaway with no hand, wrist or forearm manipulation will send the club moving straight back onplane with the face tilted slightly downward at the waist-high position. The clubface in a proper one piece takeaway will appear slightly “closed” with a 10-15 degree tilt downward.

If the toe is straight up you have technically begun to “fan the face open” which is a manipulation of the hands,wrists, forearms and could be the sole source of your swing plane, clubface, casting and slicing issues. Scary, isn’t it? Who would have thought that many problems could result from one little takeaway error.

Other Golf Swing Takeaway Mistakes to be Avoided

  • Picking the club up to the “outside” – this sends the club above plane and likely “laid off” at top of backswing
  • Early wrist set – this can be achieved but is dangerously difficult to keep the club on plane
  • Bowing the lead wrist – this will close the face prematurely and often send the clubhead too far inside while the hands themselves move outside

What are the keys to look for in a good takeaway?

So the secret to developing efficiency and repeatability in the swing is to start the golf swing takeaway online, going straight back and in one piece. The arms and club move as a single unit. Think of the arms as a solid triangle and with the club attached to that unit in the center of the stance, the arm/club unit now forms a large capital letter “Y.” The goal is to swing the “Y” back without anything bending or rolling until the club is parallel to the ground and the shaft is in a straight line roughly over the players toes.

A few final points of distinction to make are that the lead wrist (left wrist for right-handed golfer) will be “cupped” in the setup and takeaway and that the wrist does not hinge into a “flat” position until the latter part of the backswing. This surprises many golfers as it is well known that we advocate a “flat left wrist” in the golf swing. Note however that we swing into that position; we don’t start there. So the lead wrist is cupped at the start, still cupped at waist-high, and then as the swing rises above the waist-high position the flat left wrist will then come into play. Watch the YouTube Video on this page for all the key moves in the Golf Swing Takeaway and learn how to make the perfect one piece takeaway for your best golf ever.

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  1. Hi Mr. Williams~
    I am a golf coach here in South Dakota and the make up of my high school golf team is basically new golfers. I watched your video that you did giving Lawrence his first golf lesson and have been using your approach with my beginner golfers and was wondering what you was the next step you did with Lawrence as far as introducing him to the full golf swing?

    Thank you

    • Heath, the next step after the “one-lever” “triangle” version of the swing is to introduce backswing wrist hinge while still at that low, waist high level. At this stage we tell them the hinge points the butt of the club at the ball. This is a generalization, but gets them to start visualizing swing plane while also getting some leverage for more distance. We still hold this finish extended to target to instill the idea of extension through the shot. Most new golfers start “chicken-winging” through impact very quickly if you don’t instill that discipline early. The difficulty doubles in a hurry though as wrist hinge is introduced. Next phase takes that half-swing with wrist hinge up over the shoulder in backswing and into full finish.

  2. This was EXACTLY what I needed! I have struggled for months trying to fix my takeaway. The thought of pushing with the left hand put me in a great position. Thank you so much! I will be doing hundreds of reps trying to engrain that feeling.

    One question though…the rolling of the left arm to get to the top doesn’t feel or look correct. I am very confused about how to get from the takeaway to the top. It would seem more natural and on plane to hinge the right wrist and bend the right elbow which will elevate the arms to the “tray”. Thoughts?

    • Mike, you will find that the right arm action you described will cause your left arm to rise and rotate as I discussed in the video for takeaway The idea here was to help players avoid the pattern of getting back to waist-high and then falsely assuming they simply hinge up to the top. It is not literally a vertical hinge.

  3. Herman, I have been playing golf for a long time, taken many, many lessons and have never seen as clear an explanation of the takeaway as you have provided in this video. It’s fantastic. I have passed it along to number of my golfing buddies.

    Can’t thank you enough! You are a great teaching pro! I am subscribed to your YouTube channel and working through the rest of your videos. Would love to get a lesson in the future. All the best, Michael

  4. Watched the take away video and after so many years of trying to keep a flat wrist at the top of my back swing, your tip about rotating the left arm has saved my golf swing. I can swing further back now by flattening my swing plane a little and rotating the left arm. its unbelievable how much that has helped . thanks so much.

  5. I am not completely agreed with you Taylor, to teach yourself one can make him or her stronger with their swing but the golfers who is at the beginning of the learning stage will always look at the tips of others so that he/she can polish his swings. I am now learning golf lessons from TheGolferswebsite and their tips and videos is making my golf playing stronger. However, I have also appreciating the tips and tricks mentioned here.

  6. For years I have been trying to get my left wrist flat a address (I’m left handed) and always wondered why trying to do always put me out of balance at address and during the swing.

    Herman, you explanation of the cupped wrist at address and how it only flattens by swinging into that position has finally relieved me of years of grief !

    Thank you so much

  7. I just found your website. I’ve been on it for hours. You are a true asset for all golfers. Thank you for what you do.

  8. Good luck all you neutral grippers!! You gotta be kiddin me. Stick with the basics. Preshot routine.Strong grip. Ball played back. Proper alignment. Calm takeaway. Teach yourself.

  9. Herman-

    Great video! Nicely done in pointing out the correct takeway. Most instructors just “gloss” over the takeaway but your way of teaching is very precise and accurate without being overly technical. Keep up the great work!!

  10. Herman this is a great backswing illustration.I was confused as to the
    proper technique as to how to move
    from club parallel at waist level to then
    move the club up to the the top of the
    backswing.Rotating the left arm and
    hinging the wrist and moving up to the
    Top of backswing is the step that I have
    been missing!


  11. Great Video! I’ll agree with that dorsiflexion comment- I’ve incorporated it and it works great as long as the elbows don’t separate at the top of the swing (elbows together seem to keep that left wrist nice and flat as well as keeping the hands away from the head and wide). Some golf magazine had a tip a while back that said that the leading edge of the clubface at waist high should be the same angle as the spine (tilted toward the ball as you advocate), but that much seems a bit too much for me and it feels a bit awkward, almost like Joe Dante’s “backward wrist break” (author of the Four Magic Moves of the Golf Swing).

    • Hey Rob, good to hear from you and great observations. Yes, in an earlier comment from Greg we were talking about keeping the elbows closer together at the top of backswing to prevent “cupping” and open face. Keep those birdie’s going if you aren’t buried in snow. 🙂

  12. Herman, your takeaway video was a really good one. I liked the part where you showed how this gets the hands, arms and body turned back into ‘on plane’ position for the downswing. It’s been a long time since I saw that way of getting the message across. That short part of the lesson really got the message across on what ‘on plane at the top’ is. Too bad it is so often missed or passed over as to why it is so important in getting the forward awing going.
    Good Hermanizing Mr. Williams.

  13. Great video I intend to show this to my niece when I teach her golf this spring . Would love to see your vidio of Hogan concept of the downswing action as an infielder using an underhand pitch…well you know the rest . Anyhow keep up the good work

  14. Great video, Herman! Thanks! I set my wrists early by hinging my right wrist back on itself to start my swing & turn my chest simultaneously. Any thing else I should do? Sometimes my wrist is “Too cupped” at the top. Any ideas to correct this & still keep the early wrist set? Thanks !

    • Hi Greg, the early set is fine as long as you can stay on plane going back. As for the cupped wrist, it is possible to be slightly cupped and still have a square clubface at the top. So it’s hard for me to give perfect answers without seeing what somebody is doing. If your grip is perfectly neutral, then I advocate a flat wrist. If your grip is strong, then cupped may be ok. With your early set, just be sure you really are getting that right wrist bent back (dorsiflexion) as this pulls the left wrist into a flat position. Then you need to keep those angles locked in all the way to the top … most guys will early set a flat wrist and then lose it right at the top. Feeling like you keep your left elbow pointed at the ground and keeping both elbows closer together usually helps.