Common Questions Answered

Jason Carbone
Director of Instruction
Jim McLean Golf School
Goodyear, AZ

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Standing on the lesson tee for thousands of hours allows me to do my own bit of research. After a while, you start hearing the same questions come out of student’s mouths, and so it seems fitting to begin addressing these questions. While I have a bunch of these we can go through, I would ideally love the questions to come from you, the reader. Today we’ll cover one of the most common questions I get from people trying to learn the game, but each month, I’d love to take the most common questions I get emailed to me, and cover those in Arizona Golfer.

If I only had a nickel each time someone asked me, “What starts the backswing?” The answer may surprise you. It is actually a move forward (toward the target) that starts the backswing. Classic swingers like Gary Player showed a more pronounced body press toward the target than today’s players, but it is still there. When Dynamic Balance System tests Tour players, they always see a small press toward the target before the player rebounds into their backswing. It is a rhythm move that Jim McLean refers to as a micro move forward. This isn’t anything new. Harvey Pennick wrote about throwing the bucket of water years ago. He said if I handed you a bucket of water, you’d rock toward the target before swinging it away, so you’d build up momentum and wouldn’t spill any. This feel is critical for a smooth, rhythmical, in-sync start away from the ball. The move should be virtually undetectable to your playing partners, but something you can definitely feel in your feet. A tiny press with your lower body (picture a miniature version of Sam Snead’s knee press) or by simply raising your right heel ever so slightly and replanting it, you can get your swing off on the right foot. If you are still having trouble feeling the “press”, try Jimmy Ballard’s drill of tossing a shag bag of golf balls. If you had a heavy enough shag bag, you’d automatically incorporate Mr. Ballard’s and Mr. Pennick’s image of starting the swing correctly.

This will be the first part of the series to clear up confusion and hopefully answer as many questions as we can. Please email me directly at, and let’s see if we can help you clear your mind and begin playing the golf you are capable of playing. I am looking forward to hearing from all of you readers, and hope that all of you have a great holiday season.