Getting Ready for the Big Match

TJ Tomasi

The No-Backswing Backswing  –  How to Get Ready for the Big Match

By Dr. TJ Tomasi, College of Golf Senior Faculty and Director of Research

Your big match is right around the corner, and the pressure is already starting to mount. Your swing is normally silky smooth, but the fear of “folding under the pressure” can create a self-fulfilling prophesy where you’re so jumpy that your forward press is longer than your backswing.

Even the pros, as good as they are, are not immune to pressure, but unlike most other players, they have a go-to swing – a Plan B to get them to the house when their swing goes south.

“Everybody has two swings,” said old-timer Toney Penna, “the one s/he uses during the last three holes of a tournament and the one s/he uses the rest of the time.”

To avoid the choke, Lee Trevino went to his popcorn fade, Faldo his chicken wing irons and Tiger, before his bad back, his stinger.

So what is the best Plan B swing for you? I believe it’s the No-Backswing Backswing (NBS). In 2007, my colleague Dr. Jim Suttie and I presented our research at a conference at MIT.

The results, recorded by TrackMan radar, showed that a golfer really doesn’t need a backswing, and since 75% of swing error occurs during the backswing, the NBS is more reliable than a normal swing – just the ticket for those pressure situations where everyone but you is throwing a shoe.

So, why do we need a backswing? Nobody has ever proven that we do. Maybe it’s the “appendix of the golf swing” – a vestigial organ that is not needed; one that quite easily can become infected and poison the rest of the body.

How many lousy golfers do you see with great backswings – very few? But change the backswing to great, and you have to work to make a mistake. So, maybe you just eliminate it – in other words, make the backswing part of the set up.

Here’s how to incorporate the NBS in your tool kit: set yourself in a static position just before the top of the backswing, like the hitter in baseball. Think of this pose at the top as your new address position.

Then start the downswing with a small pump of the arms away from the ball.

The absence of a normal backswing simplifies your swing and the slight pump that occurs at the top triggers the stretch/shorten muscle cycle that produces an effective combination of both accuracy and distance – a dynamic two-fer.

A few years ago Butch Harmon introduced Fred Couples to his version of the NBS, and Couples said he hit the ball great but would never use “it in public” because it looked too unusual – most golfers are not the “Fosberry Flop” type.

Practice your NBS for at least a week before the big event and try it out on the golf course as well. You might find out that it’s like Lasker’s Sword. Emile Lasker was chess champion of the world for 27 years [1894 to 1921] and he kept a long, smelly cigar in his jacket pocket ready to light up when times got tough across the board.

On retirement, he admitted that just having this intervention as a back-up calmed him so much that he seldom had to use it.

In the same way, the comfort of the NBS as a back-up may well become your Lasker’s Sword – because you have it, you never have to use it!

Here’s how the NBS works:

Assume your normal address position then go directly to the top and pose. When set – pump it and pop it!

Downswing

Photo A – From your normal address set your arms [lead arm at ~10:30] with wrist cock

No backswing

Photo B – Pump to arrow to start the downswing