The First Move Down

The Secret of the Golf Swing is the First Move Down

Now you are ready to start the downswing. You have arrived safely at the top and now you need to return to the bottom in one piece.
  1. When you are ready to start the downswing, the very first move is for the right arm to begin to straighten out and return to the exact same position it started in. The right arm has to start to come unhinged as soon as you begin the downswing. 
Right Arm Begins to Straighten

1a. Right Arm Begins to Straighten

Right Arm Unhinges

1b. Right Arm Unhinges

Right Arm Straight

1c. Right Arm Straight

Many people have written about this topic. As a matter of fact, it seems like every time anyone goes near this subject, the entire golf world throws the four letter word “cast” at you. The terms “cast” or “casting the golf club” were used in the 60’s and have escalated to the point where if you mention any other way of swinging the golf club down other than “pulling on the handle” or creating drag and creating a tight angle with your arms, the golf world is ready to pounce on you.

The good news, bad news is the terms “pulling on the handle” and “creating a tight angle” have kept me very busy for the past 25 years. If you are trying to practice the above mentioned phrases, I feel very confident you’ll end up hitting too many shots to the right. The ability to hit a golf ball squarely with the correct timing has more to do with how many hours you can dedicate to the game than it does with how hard you can pull on the handle of the golf club.

Your ability to create clubhead speed lies in the speed you can swing your hands, arms and golf club not in how fast you can pull the grip end of the golf club. Clubhead speed is created from you generating width in the right arm on its journey back to the golf ball.

Swinging just the hands, arms and golf club back to the golf ball with maximum clubhead speed independent of the lower and upper body is not the answer either. Swinging the golf club back to the golf ball on the correct path with maximum clubhead speed is the combination of the hands, arms and golf club swinging in conjunction with the lower body moving out of the way and the upper body turning back towards the target. The upper and lower body CANNOT swing independent of each other.

As the right arm begins to unhinge:

  1. The left hip moves one or two inches towards the target
Left Hip Moves Towards Target

2. Left Hip Moves Towards Target

  1. Then the left hip should start to turn out of the way so the hands, arms, and golf club can have a place to swing to after impact.
Left Hip Turns Out of the Way

3. Left Hip Turns Out of the Way

How to Start the Golf Club Down

As you begin the downswing there are many parts that you must follow in order for you to swing the clubhead back on the correct path with maximum amount of speed. By now you know the right arm must begin to unfold first and then the left hip moves one or two inches towards the target and then it turns back and out of the way.

  1. As the right arm begins to unfold the left arm must remain long during this entire time.
Left Arm Long

4. Left Arm Long

Your left arm should NOT be rigid and locked, but long and relaxed.

When you moved the golf club back to the top of the backswing it swung back on an arc. The arc was slightly inside a straight line away from the target. The club has to swing inside and up on the arc. When the club passed 9:00 it has to start swinging up.

When you swung it up, the right shoulder turned back and out of the way, now as you swing the golf club back down, the right shoulder has to stay back as long as possible so the club can swing back down on the arc.

  1. The golf club has to swing back down on the same path it went up on.
Arc in Downswing

5. Arc in Downswing

What happens next? For the first couple of feet in the downswing, not much happens- then it all starts to go. As the left hip moves out of the way, the left knee will begin to head back towards its address position.

  1. When the clubhead gets halfway back to the golf ball, the right knee will begin to turn towards the target and your weight will start to move from the right side back to the middle of your stance.
Right Knee Turns Towards Target

6. Right Knee Turns Towards Target

Full Golf Swing Fundamentals Series

1. The Grip
2. Correct Address – Foundation of the Golf Swing

3. Perfect your backswing with the one piece take away

4. The Top of the Backswing

6. The Downswing

7. Golf Swing – Impact and Follow Through

Previous articleCrazy Phil Mickelson No 1?
Next articleAlbinski Claims 2009 WA Amateur Title
Brian is an award winning golf writer and is the founder and editor of Australian Senior Golfer. He is a former Sydney journalist who had little interest in golf till he hit his first ball at the age of 49 (and a half). Since then golf has just about overtaken his life. Brian founded ASG in April 2008 and has since covered every Australian Open, Presidents Cups, World Cups and numerous other big men’s and women’s tournaments, spending days inside the ropes with the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Greg Norman, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Karrie Webb, and many others. He has also played in, and reported on, numerous amateur tournaments, particularly senior and veteran events, around the country. Brian is a member of the Australian Golf Media Association and won the award for Best News Report for 2016 - 2017


  1. Thank you! As someone who has been frustrated for years trying to get it right I was delighted today after playing 18 holes and starting the down swing with the right arm unfolding (The First Move Down) There is a lot of bad instruction out there (Spin the hips, pull the rope, lateral move left) I gained 30 metres with my driver and generally hit the ball straight. Thanks again.

Leave a Reply