Here we contrast and compare a short backswing and a long backswing by looking at the backswings of two long hitters, John Daly and J.B. Holmes.

Which one should you be looking at in your quest for more distance?  (Spoiler alert — J.B. wins out over J.D.)

J.B. Holmes’ swing is notable in that he proves that you do not need a long backswing to hit the ball a long way.  This is good news for Occasional Golfers like ourselves, because we would prefer a shorter backswing for consistency and control.

Short vs. Long Backswing

Have a look at the video below.  You will see that Daly’s trademark backswing is freakishly long, and requires tremendous balance and timing to execute properly, not unlike Bubba Watson’s swing.  It’s remarkable that this works at all.  But he is John Daly.  You are not.  You would be looking at serious chiropractic work if you tried to swing like Daly.  Even if you could swing like Daly, why would you?  Occasional Golfers simply do not have the time to baby sit such a high-maintenance swing.  Focus instead on J.B. Holmes.  He is every bit as long as Daly, but with a much shorter and more repeatable backswing:

Be More Like J.B.

So how do you emulate J.B., and shorten your backswing without compromising your distance?

You must provide enough tension and stability in your lower body that the shoulder turn away from the ball is naturally limited.  The proper analogy is stretching a spring–the further your stretch it, the harder it pulls back to the original position.  The key point here is that you are not consciously trying to limit your backswing with your arms.  Rather, you are taking a stance and setup position that naturally limits your backswing due to the coiling of your big leg muscles.

You can easily get the feel for this by executing the no-backswing golf swing from a proper setup position.  Do this a few times and then hit a full shot, again from a proper setup position.  You will be surprised at the huge improvement in your acceleration through the ball.

Finally, check Holmes’ s setup position and contrast with Daly’s.  Holmes’ position is athletic, with a straight back and powerful knee flex.  Daly is a bit upright and hunched over, if anything.  Believe me, you want to look like Holmes’ at setup, not Daly!

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