Toe Line Checkpoint Test for Backswing | Swing Surgeon - Don Trahan Peak Performance Golf Swing

Toe Line Checkpoint Test for Backswing

Fri, 06/14/2013 - 12:00 -- Don Trahan

If you're a true vertical swinger, your backswing should follow the path of in the mitt and up the tree. If you aren't sure if you're in the right positions, I've got a checkpoint test for you to use. It should really help you understand the relationship between the toe line and your backswing.

Bill Salmon actually wrote in about this technique because he saw some local pros using it while practicing. He wanted to know if it's a good way to practice the takeaway.


I have been utilizing the PPGS for two years. Until recently I wasn't consistent taking the club back up the tree. When I took it up the tree in the correct upright plane the shot usually came off with a successful outcome at my target.

Recently I saw a man and a lady touring pro practicing, starting the backswing and stopping when the club was just by their right foot making sure their respective hands and club were on plane, then they continued their swing and flushed the shot every time. This same technique works well with people who are having trouble with the PPGS swing. I'm sure you have seen this technique before, it's helping me be more consistent. Correct alignment is a must for the shot to fly toward the target!

Just a thought, you might demonstrate and pass on if you agree.
Bill Salmon
Chardon, Ohio

I absolutely agree with this tip. Bill also hit it right on the head when he said, "correct alignment is a must for the shot to fly toward the target!" As long as your toe line is parallel left of your aiming line (as it always should be), you will hit your target more often than not. With this checkpoint test, you'll also know if you're swinging too deep.

Give it a try and keep it vertical!

The Surge

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Dave Everitt's picture

Submitted by Dave Everitt on

We are playing on a very wet course and all of the other members of my foursome have been struggling with hitting a lot of their approach shots heavy. I have been using your very simple but effective tip, to hit a lot of clean, high and very staight approach shots, using everything from a sand wedge to a 4 hybrid with equal success. Your visualization of airing the right armpit, while doing the backward upswing, combined with a neutral weight distribution at address and a controlled weight shift, activated by a rolling in of the right ankle to start the forward upswing works for me. My 4 hybrid is good for about 160 yards, so I have lots of clubs that I can use full swings with in the scoring zone. Being able to hit them all laser straight from any lie with consistent distances and no chunking is great stuff.

Dragonhead's picture

Submitted by Dragonhead on

I liked your explanation on your swing. Went outside for the first time in many days and swung on the driving range mat on the deck. I liked the results. It made me look again at my set up and swing. In the quick session finished just prior to lunch, I had just walked inside and the heavens opened again. More torrential rain and no end in sight. Jokingly said in an email to one of my daughters, that I was again thinking of building an ARK! hahaha. Still enjoyed the US Open. Some surprises indeed. The best man won on the day.

Dave Everitt's picture

Submitted by Dave Everitt on

I hope your golf course has better drainage than mine. At least we don't get torrential rain in Alberta.

I've had very good luck using this swing for approach shots inside 160 yards from wet lies, sidehill, uphill and downhill lies. My miss used to be pulls that went left and long and got me in a lot of trouble, or fat shots. It's a big improvement to see slightly fat shots from wet lies only lose a small fraction of their distance instead of barely getting out of my shadow.
This may be too controlled a swing to use with the longer clubs, where distance is more important than direction and a more aggressive move through the ball is required. I have other swing thoughts, that work for me, with the long clubs.

The things that I do with this variation of the Surge swing, are a little different but work for me.

1. My setup is neutral to slightly preloaded heavy right.

2. I maintain my levels by thinking about keeping my tailbone in about the same place until the top of the backswing. This is a feeling similar to the butt against the wall drill and when combined with braced knees ensures a very centred swing with no sway.

3. The backswing starts with the feeling of the lower body rotating slowly around that stationary tailbone and this is followed by an almost simultaneous lifting of the arms with the focus on the right armpit seeing air.

4. The bump is a very controlled one which is activated by a slow ( smooth ) rolling of the right heel inward. There is no deliberate effort to come up on the toe of the rear foot quickly. After that the swing is all about swinging up to the T-finish.

The overall feeling of the swing is that the backward upswing and the start of the bump have all the time in the world to happen and this means that the transition is smooth and it is easy to maintain levels until impact. This lack of aggression hasn't cost me any distance overall and my finish is very upright with a more full follow through.

Dragonhead's picture

Submitted by Dragonhead on I like your explanation of how you deal with stabilizing your lower body during the BUS.
Most parts of our course are reasonably well drained. The hilly parts at least. It is negotiating the steep slopes when it is sodden which is a problem for me. I can climb like a mountain goat normally and am sure footed. All that changes with torrential downpours etc : - ) So Alberta, Canada doesn't get torrential rain? We pay the price here with a smile normally, as year round golf is possible year round most years. In Otago in the South Island here, they are having the worst floods for 4O years, poor souls. The last time I remember this much rain was in Auckland back in 1989!
While serving with a joint British/Canadian Army unit in the mid 1960's the Canadians tried to get me to transfer, just about the time the Canadians combined their three services into one. The Canadian Armed Forces. How cold does it get in Alberta in the Winter?
Still think I made the right choice ; - )
I like the part where you mention 'Lack of aggression'. One of my old habits of trying to 'skin the ball' hahaha. It emphasizes that quicker is not always longer.
Keep hitting them consistently straight in Alberta.
An article today says Golfers have the best memories in all sports. From the 1966 I can still remember a Canadian Army Indian and his reservation number, 2558!Now therein lies several stories ; - ) DH
Now back to swinging's picture

Submitted by on

Don, check your backswing at about the 8 minute mark. Looks inside the toe line by a fair margin to me.

Am I missing something?


Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

Yes you are missing something. What you may not know is that it is the upper arm from the elbow to the shoulder that Surge is speaking of when he says not to be behind the toe line. He has spoken extensively on this but very briefly elludes to it at the 2:04-2:08 mark. Have a look. He refers to it as "this" as he gestures to his upper arm. That is what needs to be along the toe line. Of course he also encourages us to keep the shaft of the club relatively vertical and out of the SBG.Of course the forarm through hands and club will go behind the toe line at certain points of the swing, particularly in the forward swing as the club is slightly laid off and we are coming slightly from the inside and into the slot with some lag just before release. Surge has said many times that if the club head is even at 11 o'clock in the back swing at the top it is still with in the parameters recommended. Then too if we are trying to draw or hook the ball (work it from right to left - for a righty) then for sure our hands and club head are going to be some what laid off on purpose. I have to ask you and am always curious when anyone has this kind of observations or questions,
Have you purchased, studied and practiced the fundamentals of this swing?
Normally it is only those who stop by and enjoy these snippets of the swing that will have such questions. Your questions and observations are welcome just helpful to know your background with this swing.

Hope this helps.

goducks7's picture

Submitted by goducks7 on

Great explanation of Swing Alley, “keep club and arms within swing alley to point A to finish at point B recoil and relax, no over thinking. This really helps me.

mnugent3543's picture

Submitted by mnugent3543 on

Am I correct that the mitt is like an inch or two inside the target line for both the backswing and forward upswing?