One of the most common swing-wrecking faults of the high-handicap golfer is his tendency to pick the club up at the start of the backswing. The moment he makes that faulty move, the golfer has virtually surrendered all chances of playing a good shot. His hands and his arms are just where they shouldn't be, and they remain hopelessly wrong throughout the remainder of the backswing and the downswing. He usually cannot help chopping at the ball. In his muscular entanglement, it is the only course of action open to him.
The idea, of course, is to swing the club back. If you do, the odds are that you will then swing down and through the shot correctly. I have one tip for starting the backswing properly that has worked wonders with my pupils. I instruct them to push their elbows closer together just before they start to take the club back. When you do this, you will find that it is almost impossible to pick the club up. Furthermore, it helps you to take the club back in a smooth sweeping arc. I might add that among the pros—Ben Hogan is perhaps the most obvious exponent—this habit of pushing their elbows toward each other is almost second nature.
from JIM BROWNING, Weston Golf Club, Weston, Massachusetts