Lift Both Arms Up In The Backswing

Thu, 05/16/2013 - 14:00 -- Don Trahan

Today's question comes from one of our female Surgites. Tina B. is having some trouble getting the club vertical in the backswing, and says the only way that she's able to do so is by cocking her wrists at the top of the swing. As you may or may not know, I advocate no wrist cock in the golf swing. When swinging with the PPGSgood wrist action is no wrist action. 

So, how can you get more vertical without cocking your wrists? In this case, I think all Tina may need is a little more lift in her backswing. But, she'll have to lift with both arms and avoid a flying right elbow. 

I have a question for Don,

1) I have been focusing on not cocking the wrists as per the videos, etc. But I notice that I cannot seem to get the club to 12:00 (from face-on) when the arms are at the 9:00 position (as you instruct in the videos) if I don't "cock" the wrists a bit. If there is no wrist cock (as I perceive it), I am at about the 11:00 position instead of vertical. Is this a problem? Can you expound on this a bit in a daily?

2) I am finally getting my (women's) swing rite down to a 3 and sometimes 2 in practice, but can't seem to convert that power to my swing with a club in my hands.   Suggestions on how to make the transfer? Thanks!

Tina B.

In my opinion, Tina needs to add a fraction more lift. But, remember that you lift only as much as you can without changing your spine angle. Once your spine angle has been compromised, a whole bevy of problems can arise.

I also think that a lot of times people don't lift the right arm. They lift the left, but then they don't lift the right arm along with it. Instead, it just remains against the side of their body. So, make sure that both arms swing up vertically.

As far as the Swing Rite, the length of it is shorter than a typical club so that can make it easier to swing vertically and with acceleration. It's a great training aid to get the feel of acceleration directly at the impact position, but make sure that you take some practice swings with your clubs as well.

As always, check out the video for a more detailed explanation for both of today's topics. I hope everyone is starting to enjoy some warm weather and able to get out to the golf course!

Keep it vertical!

The Surge

If you can't view the YouTube video above try CLICKING HERE. You must allow popups from this site for the link to work.


Robert Fleck's picture

Submitted by Robert Fleck on

Spent this afternoon following DJ at the Byron Nelson. His even par score does not show how well he hit the ball. A lot of first putts just ran by the edges of the hole. Not a bad roll among them. His shot into the green at 16 and tee shot at 17 were both bright spots. Both of those holes have big gallery box areas and they got to cheer DJ's close shots both times. Perfect pitch into 16 catching the slope and rolling right by the hole, leaving him a straight up hill putt for his birdie, then 17 firing right at the flag and raising a big cheer from the assembled crowd as the ball landed within a couple feet.

It was a good day, and I know we're all pulling for DJ to have those first putts falling tomorrow.

Dragonhead's picture

Submitted by Dragonhead on

Right on topic Robert, not off it~! Surgites are doubly blessed to have their own on the spot Surgite to give us the low down. Even par is not so ugly at all. After watching Padraig Harrington making a triple bogey, even is a respectable score.Note Padraig is playing better [IMHO] without his glasses on! Wonder if someone passed him Surge's hint on the not wearing certain types of them? We ARE pulling for DJ and knopw he will do himself and the Surge nation proud.DH

Dave Everitt's picture

Submitted by Dave Everitt on

I spent a little time on the driving range, after a round of golf today, trying to find the cause of some inconsistent driving. I found a swing thought that immediately eliminated the inconsistency. All I had to do was think about getting the left elbow pointing down to the ground, just to the right of the rear foot, at the top of the backward upswing and the pulls that I had been hitting disappeared.

The swing change worked, but I had no idea why.

After watching Surge's video today, I thought that maybe my problem was insufficient lifting of the right elbow. A good check for that, is to put a towel under the right armpit at address and see if it falls, at the top of the swing.

Sure enough, I could not drop the towel when I used my old backswing thought. I wasn't getting the right elbow away from the right side nearly enough to drop the towel.

Suprisingly my new backswing thought of getting the left elbow pointing to the ground outside the rear foot, made the towel drop every time without getting a flying rear elbow.

Thanks to Surge's video, I now have some idea why my new swing thought, works for me. It was a way to extend the left arm better and get the right elbow away from the body, while doing the backward upswing.

Thanks once again Surge, for an excellent video.

SteveO's picture

Submitted by SteveO on

I go to the range and hit off mats.
What does a buildup of the green stuff (from the mat) on the back of the club head and not the leading edge mean?
I know it sounds stupid, but if you think about it may indicate a swing flaw. Like the club bottoms out on mat just before it hits the ball robbing you of power hitting the ball or ball to far forward or squatting a little before impact --- HELP…

Steve Smith's picture

Submitted by Steve Smith on

Just keeping it real:

Tina asked how to get the shaft to 12:00 o'clock face on when the left arm is at 9:00 without wrist "cock" (which I prefer to call wrist hinge).

Lifting the arms higher to get the shaft to 12:00 o'clock doesn't answer the question at all. It's certainly gets the shaft to 12:00 o'clock but at a point when the left arm is higher than 9:00 o'clock.

Personally I usually don't get the shaft to 12:00 when my left arm is at 9:00 either (especially with short clubs) but I don't worry about it at that point, as long as it gets there higher up and/or on the way down. I can intentionally hinge my wrists a little and get it there or I can leave my wrists where they were at address and not get it there and it doesn't make a lot of difference one way or the other so I usually prefer to not hinge them at all (especially on controlled aproach shots).

Surge is right about the SwingRite. It is so short that we can let it fall vertically all the way from the top through the impact zone. We don't have that luxury with a longer golf club. I can make a SwingRite click on the number 1 setting with no problem and I know people that can hit a driver 40 to 50 yards past me that can't even make it click on the second setting.
Not so coincidentally I can hit short irons MUCH longer than all of those guys.

If the club doesn't lay off enough on the way down to let you get through impact with no manipulation you have no chance of achieving maximum power with a driver or fairway wood without risking hitting behind the ball or raising your spine angle.

Jerry Gaughan's picture

Submitted by Jerry Gaughan on

Personally for me it is keeping the angle between the arms and the club at address during the takeaway and backswing. When I do this and keep the firm left wrist I get the club to 12 easy. Hope you are doing well. I have been hitting it good putting has not come around yet. Played 36 holes 2 wks ago 87 w7 3 putts (pu), 88 with a 10. Looking forward to a great summer. Surge - keep up the good work with the dailies. DJ - need to listen to dad Fairways and Greens. Hope your putter comes around.
Hit em straight everyone.
Jerry - Warren, MI

Steve Smith's picture

Submitted by Steve Smith on

The question wasn't how to get the shaft to 12:00 o'clock. The question was how to get the shaft to 12:00 o'clock when the left arm is at 9:00 o'clock without hinging the wrists.

The answer is simply that you can't.

Left arm at 9:00 o'clock + shaft at 12:00 o'clock = 90 degree angle.
Nobody has the arm/shaft angle at 90 degrees at address...Not even close.
The degree of angle at address is in the high 130s to high 140s depending on the length of club being used and the player.

It's fine to get the 90 degree angle when the left arm is at 9:00 o'clock and it's fine if you don't, but it's just plain wrong to say we can get there without any wrist hinge.

Jerry Gaughan's picture

Submitted by Jerry Gaughan on

I see what your saying - thanks for the reply.
Jerry.'s picture

Submitted by on

Surge's comment on the longer clubs especially driver having an impact on your swing really came into play for me yesterday. First two holes, I was hitting my short irons dead straight, but driver and 5 were going right and I could feel I was getting into impact too slow, even though I felt I was rushing too quickly. I determined that all my swing pieces were in check, but that I was apparently speeding up my bump and my lower body was ahead of the downward swing and blocking impact on the longer clubs. I was doing the same bump timing for the shorter irons as the driver. When I allowed the takeaway to get to the top on the driver and then bump, ie more patient, I started hitting smack in the middle of the fairway and long. It just supports Surge's insight that you need to adjust your swing as the clubs change in length, not dramatically but enough to do the old practice the feel and then swing the feel. Kevin McCarthy

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on


Hopefully Surges daily has helped you. I have a couple of observations that may (or may not:) help you. They are based on my experience with the Swing Rite, some club building and my wife's outstanding progress over the last year or so.
All of that by no means makes me any kind of an expert but you understand that.

First, I was checking out of interest difference in the weight of the swing rite and a normal sand wedge which for many is often the heaviest club in our bag. My wifes sw weighs 444 grams and the swing rite 501 with the black training grip. Woman's version my be slightly lighter because of the grip Not sure but suffice it to say that you likely hit your short irons better after the swing rite practice than you do your driver which is normally the lightest club in the bag. For example my wife's driver is 331 total weight compared to the much shorter but much heavier sw or pw which are in the 445 range. So my point is that the shorter/heavier wedges are closer in dynamics to the swing rite so the feel may translate easier.

Question then is, are all the clubs equally challenging for you to swing with "POWER" or is it primarily the longer clubs that are toughest to replicate when going from the Swing rite to a normal club? Generally for most folks the longer clubs are tougher. Lately Cindy's best club has been the driver. We had to play with the formula a bit to get the right fit for her but she is hitting it consistently in the 175 range. Likewise her fairway shots are steadily improving now hitting her 23 degree around 125-135 most of the time. One of the little changes that we made may help you (or not). We noticed that it is difficult for her to be comfortable with her hands forward (slight shaft lean at set up). As a result she has often hit them just a little fat (or thin) with her irons as the bottom of the swing arc happens at the ball rather than just past the ball which would give her better ball first contact. We have moved her ball position back one ball on all irons. Boom! She is now getting crisp contact and adding yards to every iron. If you experiment with this be sure you check all other fundamentals including club face alignment. It can be over done and we are only talking about one ball or one inch toward the back foot. Everything else should remain the same. It again is just to promote better contact and more solid shots. Working like a charm.

On a somewhat related topic, do you know the swing weights of your clubs? Normally the shorter clubs have a higher swing weight which gives them a better feel for many golfers. Typically (and especially off the shelf) women's drivers and fw woods have a very light swing weight. It has been observed by fitters like Wishon and Maltby that if you have a weaker slower deliberate swing that a lighter feel in the head (lower swing weight maybe C-4) is often helpful. On the other hand if you are stronger/athletic and have a faster swing tempo perhaps a higher swing weight (C-8ish) may help. Truth is that although Cindy is fit and athletic she has done better with lower swing weight (like C-0) in her woods and still only C-3 in her wedges. {remember that a higher swing weight in the short irons(and higher total weight) is normal and recommended in most cases}. Still, over all she plays better with lighter clubs and lower swing weight along with shafts that are tip flexible. I did add some tip weight (4 grams) to both her fairways and hybrid and she likes the slightly heavier feel. All of this has resulted in her hitting the ball higher and longer week by week. Right now she's killing it. One recommendation is to consider which club you play the best with and has the best 'feel' and then take it to a qualified fitter and find out it's swing weight. This may be the ideal swing weight for most of your clubs. While you're at it have them check the lie angle too. If you hit this club the straightest most of the time it is likely a correct lie too and they could use it as the basis for adjusting the rest of your lies on your other irons. Make sense?
So point being that in my humble opinion getting fit would make a big improvement possible for you.

As for the not getting it at 12 when at nine, although Cindy is very flexible for the most part (she stretches every day) she has some work related upper back issues that some what restrict her turn in the BUS. She makes no added effort to get to 3/4's, does not hinge her wrists and still gets plenty of zip in her forward swing. She is much more vertical than I am and never gets into the SBG. We do focus on zip and getting to her left side at finish. That has given her increasing distance too. She actually has a really good 3/4, limited turn Surge swing. It's the only swing she's ever known:)

Hope some of that helps you and feel free to ask any questions about her equipment and swing if you like.

Hit 'em straight and long

TinaB's picture

Submitted by TinaB on

Thanks Surge for answering my questions! I haven't been outside yet but just playing around in the study after viewing the video, I think you are right on about the arm lift. Oddly enough, a couple months ago I was using a swing thought of "ballerina arms" in the backswing (the way a ballerina often poses), given to me by an instructor years ago. I was hitting GREAT shots, and after the video today, I realize why - I was getting my right elbow away from my side, and lifting my arms higher! It felt "free-er", somehow. Too bad I didn't keep up with that, but now I definitely will try it again. A different thought than that suggested by dneveritt, but the same result.
Steve, I get what you're saying about the wrist cock. I'll bet the wrist cock stuff is secondary to not getting my right elbow/arm high enough. I was not sure what you mean by "layed off enough in the downswing" though.
Robert: I don't remember the swing weight, but I have a full set of FITTED golf clubs, made for me by a certified Surge club fitter (thank you, John Dranschak)! I needed a light (55 grams in the irons, I think) but slightly stiffer shaft, but He, too had to add weight to the tips for my best "feel." My driver swing speed is 70-75 mph, so I'm cranking it fairly well - and maybe better after today's video! And yes, my shorter clubs are my favorites. I will try tinkering with the ball position a tad as well. I think Dave (Seeman) had to adjust it backward last year when I attended his one-day, and perhaps it's crept forward again.
John, if you're reading, feel free to fill them in on my clubs specs :)

Thanks to all! Can't wait to get out to the range! :) Tina B

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

Was visualizing your ballerina pose and it gave me a visual of Fred Flinstone. Don't know if you remember how when bowling it would show Fred like twinkle toes before tossing the rock down the lane! What ever helps you get those hands and arms in position, eh:)
I should have known you were properly fit. Of course. Yes, see if the ball position thing helps and let us know. Game of fractions it is. Glad to hear about your progress and I hope you have a summer with pars and birdies.
"Have a yabba dabba do time, adabba do time, you'll have a gay old time!"

Here's Fred and Barney's picture

Submitted by on

greetings all;

Time for another installment of "Tales of the Ancient Golfer" - -I just you couldn't wait! LOL

Lately I have been playing 3 times a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday - and noting from my stats that one round is average (86 to 90), one is low (82 to 86), but one is very high - around 95. The difference seems to lie in 2 critical stats -- Fairways hit and number of putts used. Low rounds are generally 12 or more fairways hit and 28 or fewer putts. High scores are usually 9 or 10 fairways and 30 or more putts.

This week was following that pattern on Monday and Wednesday -- 87 and 95 respectively. Then came today - I scored an 80 the "hard way" -- only hit 9 of 14 fairways, but the short game was "on-On- ON" - 4 GIR (2 above my average) , 5 bunkers hit, but 2 "Sandies" and 1 "Super Sandy" (hole out from the bunker) -- WAY above my average! - resulted in 13 putts used on the front nine and 11 putts on the back nine for 24 total putts used on the greens. Longest made putts were 8, 7 and 2 at 6 feet -- all the rest were in 6 inch to 3 foot range. It was a day of superb chipping and wedges -- you don't have to be a "putting wizard" when you are mostly looking a 6 to 18 inch putts all day long!!
Also resulted in my 2nd best ever back nine - -a one over par 37 -- 8 pars and a lone bogie.

Now to see if I can keep "the feel upon me" next week!!

Keep hitting them LONG and STRAIGHT


Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

Chip and putt master you are some times. Way to go Amos, especially on that back nine! Glad you are still able to throw a good game on the green stuff. Three days a week? Ah, living the dream you are pal:)
Yes, "may the feel be upon you".'s picture

Submitted by on


Thanks for your kind words Sir.
Ultimately, scoring well is a direct function of the short game - "laser guided" wedges, near chips, and "sneaking in" an occasional long putt does wonders for the score. Unfortunately, there are a few days when " the wheels fall off and the frame breaks also" --- Arrgh!!

Keep hitting them STRAIGHT and LONG


Terry Medley's picture

Submitted by Terry Medley on

Amos, Good to hear from you again. Congrats on your 2nd best for 9 holes.

My season thus far has been similar to yours. I am playing 3 to 4 times per week and am covering a full range of scores anywhere from low 50's to low 40's per nine. I played a nice course on Wen where the first 9 was 52 and the second a 44, which is becoming typical. Thur was very similar 51 and 45.

I've been trying to focus on my short game a little more and am making some progress in fewer putts and better/closer chips. I need some additional practice sessions, but just seem to be too busy most golfing days.

I am glad to here of your good scores and your enjoyment of this wonderful game. Congrats again.'s picture

Submitted by on


Thank you sir for your kind words. I find as a general rule, the long and medium game take care of themselves with little maintaince required -- but the short and very game is always a "work in progress"

When I am really on, I may play 3 or 4 rounds with 0 three putts -- but then comes the day of reckoning -- and 3 or 4 three putts in one round. .OUCH!!

Keep hitting them STRAIGHT and LONG


Larry B.'s picture

Submitted by Larry B. on

Could you explain how to use the vertical swing out of the sand? I spend the winter in Florida and it takes me a month to figure out how to get out of the sand; then when I come back to Canada it's another month to relearn how to get out of the sand here.