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A Closer Look at Harris English’s Backswing Can Help Your Game

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

Harris English hits a tee shot during Tuesday’s practice round of the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.

When United States Ryder Cup team member Harris English swings the golf club, we all see tremendous power and consistency. Even though he’s built like a modern athlete, we all can copy the signature structure to his backswing. To get started, we have to copy his takeaway. This is the point where the swing begins, and Harris sets up for his success. So many golfers start their backswing with their hands and wrists. These small fast-twitch muscles cannot provide the level of consistency it takes to play great golf.
His initial move begins with turning his lead shoulder. By turning the lead shoulder toward the ball (down and away from the target), they are initiating a body turn in their swing rather than an all arms move.  
  • Get in your address position. Before you move anything else, start the takeaway with your lead shoulder. At first, you might move other parts. If you do, stop, and start over. It’s vital we initiate the body first in the backswing.
Once the shoulder drives the club back initially, keep sending that lead arm straight back parallel to the target line. Extend and reach away from the target creating as much width and arc as you can without swaying or sliding.  
  • Lay an alignment rod on the ground halfway between the ball and your toes. It should be pointing at the target. Follow this line back with your lead arm to get the correct feeling in space.
When the shoulders stop turning, fold the trail arm. This will bring the club up and around your head. Take quick notice, the club finds the perfect position based upon your arm length and height.
  • Try this move in front of a mirror. Make sure you stand with the mirror to your trail side. Watch as you build a backswing structure like English’s. It should appear that your lead arm is bisecting your trail shoulder. Also take notice of the fact we needed very limited wrist and hand movement to get in this position.
Initially, you will feel as if your backswing is shorter. The club might also be pointing more up toward the sky than you are used to. This is all okay. Unless we are built and train like Harris, we cannot completely swing the club just like he and others do on tour. These simple movements will create reliable relationships just like Harris. Corresponding motions produce consistent and powerful impact positions.
Watching Harris English’s effortless power this weekend at the 43rd Ryder Cup will be fun. When you see him, or another member of the United States squad swing, pay close attention to these similar movements. Get up and copy them during the commercials while the images are fresh in your mind. Even if we can’t play while we watch the matches, we can certainly still benefit our game from them.

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