The Takeaway Using the Front Shoulder – Video

There has been some confusion on how to start the golf swing and where the arms and club go.

What we want to do is wind up our golf swing from top down. This creates great potential power vs. just lifting the arms.

To do this, we want to wind our shoulders around our spine. Now comes the problem. Our spine angle changes a little for every club.

The best way I found to wind the shoulders around our spine, is from a book I once read called One Move to Better Golf by Carl Lohren. His concept was to use the front shoulder to start the shoulders winding around the spine. I have taught this for many years and have seen great results with most of my students. We want to push our front shoulder in the direction that would wind up the shoulders based on our spine tilt or angle. I know that sounds complicated. If you were standing straight up and down, you would push back level to the ground, but once you tilt some, your front shoulder pushes around your tilted spine or up the tilt plane … the shoulders wind up 90° to your spine angle.

I found over the years having my students push straight back using their front shoulder, would wind their shoulders around their spine, BUT I have found some golfers push their front shoulder DOWN instead of around their spine. This can lead to problems.

Watch this:
[vimeo 70304302 w=500 h=281]

One way to practice this is to stand upright with your club and arms out in front of you, then start the takeaway using the front shoulder and just turn your shoulders around your spine level. Now, tilt a bit forward and push again using the front shoulder and you should feel the club travel more around your spine and up the tilt plane. The arms will never lift or help.

This is an awesome move once learned… just difficult to explain.

Please contact me if you’re not sure.


26 thoughts on “The Takeaway Using the Front Shoulder – Video”

  1. Ross, I wondered where you got the idea of starting the left shoulder as the first move in the golf swing, and was very interested to hear you reflect on Carl Lorhen’s “One move to better golf” I have followed Carl’s advice for starting the swing for years, but always felt something missing with the downswing routine. Keeping 60% of your weight left , playing the ball off the left hip socket, keeping the club face square , and starting the downswing with the lower body (hips) and turning to face the target just makes sense and completes what Carl left out of his “method” to playing better golf. I wonder if you also were an advocate of Dick Aultman’s “The Square to Square Golf Swing” that introduced the square clubface to the public in the 70’s. It seems like you have taken some of the best ideas in golf instruction and combined them into an effecient and effective swing model . Great instruction. Enjoy your video’s. John

    1. Yes, I have bits and pieces (the pieces that help and simplify the swing), of different instructors, and a lot from my own searching/teaching. Sorry, I’ve never read any of Dick Aultman’s method. I just realized (way back when), that opening and closing the club face made no sense at all. We don’t need any extra variables. We want square at impact, so let’s keep the face square and let the body’s rotation do the work… (one less variable and straight is more fun!)… Ross

  2. Hold, push and hips. No better advice than this. I never think spine angle any more, the holding of the front knee, the pushing of the left shoulder around the spine and thinking knees starting the downswing has simplified my swing so much. I have all but taken my mind off the swing and started thinking course management. Thank you Ross!

    1. That’s Great Tony! I’d like to have a nickle for every lesson I gave telling the student “Hold, Push, Hips”… it works. It really works if you say it in the rhythm and tempo you intend to move at during the swing. Keeps you in the moment. Thank you for your confidence… Ross

  3. I’ve watched a few of your videos based on what we’ve been discussing.

    One move/feeling I’ve never mastered is getting the left shoulder to push back and around. That’s probably because I’ve been a caster all my life and my hands are trained to start the swing. Or maybe I’m just uncoordinated.

    I’m going to start small. I’m going to fold my arms up against my chest and just work on turning back while trying to restrict my hip turn. Maybe 50 of those moves a day. Then I’ll work up to the drill where you hold the club horizontal and turn back.

    When I play/practice I’m just going to try to keep my head still and turn around my spine the best I can.

  4. Thank you for “clarified video”on the shoulder turn.Your videos are brilliant.Any questions i’ve had regarding your swing method have been answered for me by your videos.MUCH APPRECIATED.JAMES.

  5. Your videos have helped me to start making solid contact with my irons again. Starting the downswing from the ground up is a great swing thought. I’m 67 and thought my lack of distance was age related when it was really technique.

    1. That is great to hear Rick. All you need to do is change the speed at which you rotate through impact to produce different results… but, always finish completely! You always want to accelerate through the shot… even slowly 🙂

  6. Ross, I recently found your instructional videos on line and am trying to implement your instruction. I live in North Indiana and have only been able to hit balls outside because of the weather. I am making solid contact but have noticed my divots are left of target as is ball flight. Could this be alignment or is it always not continuing to turn through ?
    Thanks Pete

    1. Hi Pete
      First… divots may point slightly left (right hander), because we are rotating.

      Usually, if you have divots pointing left, your arms/club passed your body. This is because, the body stopped dominating so the arms took over to finish the job, or … the body stopped because the arms took over. My experience is the second reason because most golfers do not use their rotation completely through to the finish… they rotate a bit to get back to the ball then stop and the hands take over and hit at the ball.

      1. Thanks Ross, I will continue working on turning all the way through to finish and work on not letting arms take over. Like I said Indiana is a challlenge. 3-5 inches of snow forecast today.

  7. Ross, thanks for the clarrfication above. I was pushing back and up. I just finished playing 27 holes and struck the ball well. Every time I rotated around spine letting shoudlers control arms and turned through my shots were solid and pure. Great instruction, much appreciated. Divots were also on line not going left.

    1. Great news Pete! Focusing on shoulders, helps keep the hands/arms from taking over on the backswing for more consistent power and repeatability. Thanks for the nice comment.

  8. Great Site, Ross! Thanks! If I remember Carl Lohren’s Book, He tells us to move the left shoulder straight “Outward” as the first move in the backswing. Is this correct? I’ve always struggled with a shoulder move to start the backswing since I’ve used an early wrist set to start the swing for 25 years now, but I’m tired of the inconsistencies in my swing.

    1. Thanks Greg
      You want to rotate your shoulders around your spine. If front shoulder “Outward” does that great. You can also pull the back shoulder behind you. The big key is to keep the hands/arms from helping.

      Since we rotate to trap the ball, as long as the shaft is in line with the front arm at impact, you’ll have a solid shot. The less you hinge your wrist the better. There is no benefit…you only get problems with flipping and inconsistent face angles when you hinge.

  9. Thanks Ross, one thing I’ve noticed with the shoulder leading the takeaway is the tendency for the club to get too inside too quickly. The shoulder takeaway feels so natural and repeatable I don’t ever want to give that up, but doesn’t it lead to an inside takeaway and then too inside on the strike (or for higher handicap players an opposite over the top move to atone for the inside takeaway)?


    1. As long as you use the shoulders to move the arms/club you’re fine. If the arms continue on their own or drape across your chest you can get into trouble. Also, active hands can cause problems. The arms/club has to travel some to the inside as you turn your shoulders. You just want to keep your arms/club essentially “between” the shoulders on the backswing.

      1. Great tip. The thing I have to concentrate on in conjunction with the turning of the shoulders around the spine, is to make sure my hands and arms are SOFT and passive. Otherwise I will throw my hands and arms at the ball and will pull hook or push my shots. If I am totally relaxed and just think about turning my shoulders with passive arms that go straight back, I hit great shots.

        1. Great… some golfers have to hang on to the setup shape to not flip. Key… is to have that front wrist flat… dragging the shaft via the body unwinding. If you can do this with soft and passive… great.

  10. Absolutely brilliant and spot on. I’ve hit more balls than anyone over the past 12 months. I’m talking 400 balls on some days. I’ve gone from 28 handicap to 14 this season ams I owe it all to this. I just stumbled across this site and said “Hey!!! That’s what I just figures out after 12 months of exhausting trial and error”. I have shot 88.86,84,81 in that order in my last 4 rounds. My biggest problem with this is I tend to get too upright and don’t rotate enough around the spine thus creating an OTT move every now and then. Another problem is getting too handy and turning over monster hooks. But my BIGGEST BIGGEST problem is now I have t redial in my distances. I compressed a beautiful 60* lob 120 yards my last outting. That used to be 85 yards max for me so as you could imagine I was quite a bit of ways over the green. Im hitting a PW (standard *47 Razr Muscle Back) from 135-143 which before for me was an 8 and maybe even a 9. I went from being that guy that could out one out there 300 once a round to doing it a few times a round while averaging roughly 260 off the box. The key for me is to keep my knuckles at the ground leading the clubhead thru the ball. My wedge play has been magical and I feel as if I finally have a consistent foundation of a swing instead of trying something different each and every time I go out to play or practice. This is a great article and I can’t stress enough how much this can help those who struggle.

  11. Hi Ross, I’m from Ireland! This is the motion my coach has been teaching me. I can turn on a shoulder plane perfectly without a club but sometimes with the club I get quite flat. Do you have any drills to help with this? Also, how loose should your arms be at setup?

    1. Hi Ross. I understand the concept of the shoulders turning the takeaway, but can you talk a bit about what the arms do during this takeaway. Should they move at all or are they just along for the ride? What sort of feeling should be in the arms?

      1. The arms do nothing. The shoulders move the arms. It may feel a bit shorter to you on the backswing, but that is due to the lack of disconnection … the arms lifting on their own (not repeatable)… or the hands helping lift (not repeatable or helpful). Let the shoulders do the work on the backswing… and the body do the work on the downswing… all the way to the finish

    2. Hello Seamus. If you’re turning correctly, your shoulder(s) turn around your spine 90°… so, you may (I doubt) be too upright or something else is going on (what I suspect). Many times it is the hinging of the wrists (in your case laying the club off) that gets the club flat. Also, the arms are not lose (ever). They maintain the radius and must be controlled. The best bet for you is to visit my Forums where we’ve discussed both these topics in depth and you can learn more about my method.

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