Talking Transition

Why this move is so crucial + 3 keys for you to work on
By Justin Parsons

Transition is what links the end of the backswing to the start of the downswing and of all the stages in the golf swing, this is the one that separates great ball strikers from good to average ones. Certainly we’ve seen with Tiger Woods how his struggles in this department – lacking stability at the top and also losing a great deal of height as he begins the thrust of his downswing – have adversely affected his ball striking in recent years. Put simply, if you want to hit the ball pure and straight, you have to get the sequencing of your transition right. I’ve put together my three key tips for making a solid transitional move and I believe by working on them in practice you will start to see some very positive results.


Over the summer I’ve been working a lot with European Tour player David Howell to improve his transition. We’ve been making sure that he has good stability at the top, ensuring that he completes his backswing properly and giving him some time and room to start things going down. The work David has done has defi nitely given him a lot more accuracy and better ball striking with his long clubs. Here’s what you should work on.


So here are my top three ideas on transition that may help you work on this complex but crucial part of your swing on the range. You can only initiate a good transition from a position of strength, so fi rst up in my view, is to get to the top of the backswing with that club shaft nice and stable. You watch the guys on the PGA Tour and you’ll notice how settled and supported the club looks at the top of their swings. Granted, there’s a lot of work being done by the core and the lower body to make this position appear so quiet, but I think the key point here is that you should allow yourself a moment in time to complete the backswing and let the club settle into a slot before you get things going with the lower body. A lot of golfers tend to rush this part of the swing because they’re eager to generate speed. Work on your tempo and don’t initiate the downswing too quickly.


As the downswing begins, the best players in the world are able to separate their lower body from their upper body and return it back almost to where it was at address. What feel you use to help you do this is largely down to you. Ben Hogan talked about feeling his left hip bump towards the target and begin to rotate; other top players say they focus on feeling pressure through the lead foot. In this instance, I think the important thing to think about for you is getting the correct rhythm and sequence. You want to get your hips and lower body initiating the downswing move without throwing the club at the top.


The third thing we should see in transition is the club shaft gently dropping underneath the plane it went up on as it starts back down. There are many ways to swing a golf club effectively, but when it comes to the best players in the world, I’d estimate that 95 percent of them get that club shaft shallowing out a touch as they begin their downswing. This is the move that helps create a neutral club path, and while it’s essentially a reaction to the correct sequencing of lower and upper body movement, some players like to feel a slight bowing of the left wrist as they pull their arms down, like the revving of a motorbike.

It is vital that you don’t rush your transition into the downswing.

Getting transition right is arguably the most challenging part of the golf swing and it’s something that even the very best players struggle with. But by working on your rhythm and tempo, and giving yourself enough time to sequence the start of your downswing correctly, your ball striking has the potential to improve dramatically.

Justin Parsons is the Director of Instruction at the Butch Harmon School of Golf. For more information, contact +971 (0)4 425 1040 or visit

Photograph by Farooq Salik, Photo Illustrations by Clarkwin Cruz