Golf tip: Shorten backswing for more control

...shorter thumb grip will help at the top of your swing, too

Golf tip: Shorten backswing for more control
Golf tip: Shorten backswing for more controlGolf tip: Shorten backswing for more control
Spot the difference: Short thumb grip (left) offers better control at the top of the swing than the traditional long thumb grip (right).

For players looking for a swing that will last longer as well as giving them more control, learning to reduce their backswing is proving the most productive. Even triple major champion Padraig Harrington has devcided that a shorter swing will serve him better under pressure.

A shorter, controlled backswing is more efficient than a long backswing because there's a tendency to lose control of the club at the top of the backswing. With a small alteration to the left thumb position a you can keep a good firm grip of the club at the top for greater control and subsequently straighter shots.

When Ben Hogan re-designed his swing, one of the major alterations he made was to the way he gripped the club. Instead of using a long left thumb he pulled the thumb up the club into a more compact position. This allowed the thumb to contain the torque at the top of the backswing much better and in turn that led to a tighter more controlled backswing.

If you feel out of control at the top, and your glove is wearing out quickly (often caused by the hand slipping on the club at the top of the backswing), check your thumb position. Alter it to match the photograph demonstrating the ideal left thumb grip.

John Hoskison is attached to the Newbury Golf Centre and plays on the European Seniors Tour, having earned a conditional card after finishing 10th at Qualifying School at the Pestana. He returned to the UK to rebuild his career in tournament golf after spending time in China, where he was instrumental in the building a driving range for underprivileged children Fuzhou. He won the 2005 Jamega Tour Order of Merit with six victories from 12 starts. For further information visit John's website at

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