Should You Pause at the Top of the Golf Backswing?

If you have been reading my reports for a while then you know I am a fan of Nick Watney and his golf swing. He won again recently at the Cimb Classic in Maylasia, holding off Tiger Woods down the stretch.

Nick (left) and European Ryder Cup star Justin Rose have something in common in their backswings. They both “pause” at the top of the backswing before starting the downswng. In fact, it is rather pronounced when you see it, especially in person.

Other past and present golfers with pronounced pauses at the top include legendary Byron Nelson, Nancy Lopez, Bob Murphy, and Larry Mize to name just a few.

These golfers “place(d) the club” at the top of the backswing which allows it to ease to a stop. It allows the golfer an extra fraction of a second to gather and stabilize the arms, hands, and shaft before starting down.

On the other hand, guys like Ben Hogan, Tiger Woods, Mark Wilson, Ricky Fowler, Sergio Garcia have no distinguishable pause at the top. The top of the backswing flows seamlessly into the downswing.

For these players, there is a more dynamic move, typically with the lower body starting forward before the club reaches the top of the backswing. This causes a whip effect with early club shaft loading (shaft bend) as the downswing starts. Look at Mark Wilson to the right.

Now, with either type of move the club must come to a stop before it changes direction! But visually to the observer and physically to the golfer, the pause or no pause techniques are very different. In one group, the change of direction is lightning fast, in the other it is more deliberate.

So which is Better? The answer is which is better for you. I prefer and use a slight pause at the top these days (though early in my career I used more of a non-pause transition). I find the pause makes the downswing transition easier and more precise. It removes excessive slop from the transition to the downswing.

You may be doing either in your game right now. Monitor it a bit and decide what you feel at the top. The trick is to be consistent with one method or another!

Done properly, either transition style sets the stage for “The Key To A Repeating Golf Swing” which is performed by every great player in the downswing, through impact, and on to the finish position.

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