The arms dictate much of what happens in the golf swing. They influence swing plane, arc, width, path and, well, just about everything in one way or another.
Therefore, it’s important to begin the swing with your arms properly positioned.
Perhaps the most common mistake among amateurs is extending the arms too far from the body, or reaching for the ball. Some players feel this gives them more power, but it can actually drain clubhead speed by altering your posture and causing upper-body tension.
Instead, let the arms hang naturally from the shoulders. This goes hand in hand with developing the correct spine angle and allowing your body to rotate freely back and through.
Be careful not to pull the arms too close to the body, as you’ll restrict the backswing turn and force the club over-the-top on the downswing.
Here’s a tip that’ll help you get into a proper setup position:
Here are a few more tips for arranging your arms just right:
- The left arm should form a straight (or nearly straight) line with the shaft, from shoulder to ball.
- The right arm should be tension-free; a little bend at the elbow is OK.
- Viewed from your right looking toward the target, the left arm should appear slightly higher than the right.
- If the left arm is level with or beneath the right arm, your shoulders are probably open to the target line (aiming left). If the left arm is much higher than the right, your shoulders are closed.
- One oft-cited rule states that the hands should be about one palm’s width from your body (about 4 in – 6 in) when setting up to a short or mid-iron, and a bit farther for long irons, hybrids and woods.
If your shots lack power and accuracy, check your arms along with fundamentals like alignment, grip, posture and ball position. The answer – and the cure – often lies in the setup.
Golf Arms at Address:
The arms are like the rubber band in a slingshot. Pull them back to the correct position and let them fly! First, however, make sure the arms are in position to soar, not suppress. In golf, the address is the most important and controllable part of the swing.
At address the arms should be in a position to allow a bit of arm swing during the takeaway before the shoulders and chest even start to turn. As the arms start to swing, the left arm will create the connection with your chest. To make sure your arms work correctly during the takeaway, do this drill ensure you distance from the ball and posture are not hindering your ability to create arm swing.
- Without a club in your hands, bend over into your golf posture.
- With your hands hanging down separately, swing your left arm across the chest and under the right arm.
- If your chest and arm move back together it’s because your upper left arm is already connected at address, you are too close to the ball or your knees are bent too much.
- If your left arm swings back and doesn’t connect to the chest then you are too far away from the ball or too bent over.
Remember that connection can be created by either the bicep or the triceps connecting with the chest. It depends on your chest size and flexibility which is used. For women many times you are using your triceps to connect because your left arm should start on top of your chest at address.
Your grip will be dependent on how your arms hang. If you start with your left arm on top of your chest then you should have a strong left hand. For the right hand grip, get into your golf address position and take your right hand off of the club. It should be easy to place the right hand back on the club in the position it is hanging from.
If your left arm is starting from the side of your chest, your left hand should be slightly stronger than neutral. Again, let the right arm hang and then grip the club as it hangs. As your left arm connects to your chest on the takeaway, several things happen. First, your right arm will begin to fold. If your right arm is too far behind you as it folds, check your right hand grip to make sure that it is not too strong. An early fold won’t work well for players that have a one-piece takeaway.
Left arm connection also forces the left arm to rotate. If the left arm rotates too quickly and pushes your left arm away from your chest then you might have too much knee bend. This will cause your upper body to be too upright and prevent any kind of arm swing. Next, the hang of your arms and the resulting grip will now need to be matched with your ball position. Your ball position should work in harmony with your grip and arms to allow proper release. If you have a strong left hand grip the ball should be closer to the middle of your stance. A strong grip will cause the club to release sooner.
If your grip is neutral, the ball position should be opposite of the left side of your nose and if you have a one-piece takeaway the ball should be placed opposite your left cheek. Finally, when addressing the ball it is important that your elbows relax down towards your hips. If the elbows point out during the swing it makes a difference in your release. For instance, if your left elbow is too low going back it makes the right elbow point out. During the downswing the left elbow will point out and high. This delays your release and creates what some people call a chicken wing.
Setting up with your arms in the proper positions will have a direct effect on impact and your release point. Take time to examine your golf arms at address and set them up for success in your golf swing!
Golf Arms at Impact Indicate Efficiency of Your Swing
The golf swing is a sequence of events, but more importantly, the golf swing is dynamic. The significance of your arms at impact is important because the golf club is acting as an extension of your arms while the body is in motion.
Here are some things that we already know about the arms and how they should be working at impact:
- 1.The left arm is nearly straight.
- 2.The right arm is slightly bent.
- 3.The elbows are pointed downward.
- 4.The upper arms should be connected to the torso.
These two drills will help you evaluate where your arms are at impact. Both encourage motion in the swing while highlighting your golf arms at impact.
IMPACT BAG DRILL
- This aid is basically a heavy bag of towels or rags. The resistance of the bag stops you at impact.
- You can look down and see where your arms are when you hit the bag. This is one of the best teaching aids made for position people. While evaluating your arms you can see your clubface position, hand placement and body location.
IMPACT TRIGGER DRILL
- Use this drill to set up where you aspire to be at impact.
- Set up in your normal address position.
- Turn your hips slightly towards the target while keeping the upper body pointing at the ball.
- Allow the hands to push forward a little bit, so they are ahead of the ball and the shaft is bending back from top to bottom. Take a picture in your mind of how this feels.
- Turn back to your normal address position then swing.
If your ball flight is not as you intended it to be, ask yourselves some questions:
- Where did the ball start and where did it trend to at the end of the ball’s flight?
- Did you hit the ball cleanly or was it a thin or fat shot?
- Did you hit the ball towards the heel or toe of the club face?
If you go back to what we know the arms SHOULD be doing at impact, those things should help you figure out your troubles. For instance, if the shot felt fat or thin, look to see if your arms are bent too much at impact. A thin shot might come from the arms not being extended enough. This can happen if you are trying to prevent the clubface from closing or if your body is moving towards the ground on the downswing. Your mind can sense that you are going to hit the ground too hard and instinctively your arms will bend. A tell-tale sign would be that one of your elbows is pointing out rather than down. If your arms release too soon on the downswing you most likely will hit behind the ball. Your arms should be slightly bent at impact so if they are straight you have already released any power you might have had. You will also be swinging down to the ball in a shallow angle of attack. In another example, if your arms do not follow your shoulder line and do not stay in front of your chest, then most likely you will be looking at off-center hits and exaggerated shots to the left and right. Most likely your impact position would look like you have already released your lower body and your shoulders. The arms would appear to be lagging behind. Impact is only one point in time during the length of a golf swing. It’s a place of measurement and the one position that will give you insight into the entirety of your swing. Use your impact position to aid you dicovering what might be happening during your swing up to that point. Your arms will be good indicators as to how efficient they and the body have been working together.
Golf Arms Connected to the Body
Whenever I think of connection of the arms to the body I think of Top 100 Teacher Jimmy Ballard and the distinctive golf swing that he teaches. Ballard talks about laying the left arm on top of the shoulder girdle and keeping it there the entire swing. He even goes as far as saying that both arms should stay connected at ALL times, which is the feature that makes his student’s swings so remarkable.
Connection effects your plane, clubface position, power and release point.
During the golf swing your arms provide:
- CONNECTION- The upper left arm in contact with the torso.
- ELEVATION- Folding the right arm elevates the golf club.
- COIL-Stretching the left shoulder so that the left arm’s connection helps pull the left shoulder back tightly.
- SUPPORT -The right arm supports the golf club during the swing to prevent the club from experiencing unwanted motion.
- RELEASE- Since the right arm folds in the backswing creating a lever, it can straighten on the downswing creating release.
Connection is what makes elevation, coil, support and release work more smoothly.
After your left arm connects to your chest on the takeaway, several things happen. First, your right arm will begin to fold. As the right arm folds, it begins to support the golf club and rotate the left arm. Ideally if your right arm supports the club correctly it will help you stay on plane. Keeping control of the club and maintaining connection will help produce coil. When tension builds then it also has to release. Coil will assist the arms in straightening down to the ball without feeling you need to throw your hands down.
Right arm connection is good for some on the backswing, but for power our right arm needs to be disconnected from your body on the backswing so that you can have space to drop your arms on the downswing. You can actually be over-connected with the right arm. On the downswing your right arm should drop because while the arms are still finishing the backswing the the hips start the downswing. At that point both arms should be connected to your chest until after impact.
Here are some examples of how your left arm might lose connection:
- Standing too tall or too close to the ball will force the upper left arm off of the chest and the club will swing behind you.
- If the right arm is too low in the backswing, the left arm will be too high and force the left arm off of the chest.
- Over-swinging the arms in the backswing will force the left arm off of the chest.
- If the club falls behind the hands on the downswing the left arm will come up off of the chest.
- If your spine angle dips to the right on the downswing it will make the left arm lift off of the chest.
The right arm can over-connect on backswing anytime the left arms loses connection. If you have a very strong right-hand grip it also can cause the right elbow to pull back and connect too soon. Evaluate your swing to discover if arm connection is working to your advantage. The easiest way to see if you have a connection leak is to place a headcover under your left arm pit and swing. If the head cover stays in place until post-impact position you should be fine. To stop over connection of the right arm place a golf ball under your right arm pit and release the ball on the backswing.
Golf Arms Connected to the Body mean power, efficiency and accuracy. Connect with your swing!
In Golf Right Arm Close to Body Means Power in Your Swing
It has long been stated in golf that a power swing move is to tuck your right arm in on the downswing. However, if there isn’t a lot of width between the elbow and body when you start your downswing, many times the golf club will get stuck behind you.
Your right elbow bends during the backswing. If you want to support the club as you swing back, the elbow will separate itself from the chest. The more separation you can achieve on the backswing, the more space your right arm will have to drop towards the body on the downswing. The easiest way to think of this concept is to think you are swinging your right arm from wide to narrow.
Let’s assume that you have made a good backswing and not only does your right arm have width, it’s in a good position to support the golf club. As the arms complete the backswing, the hips will start moving. There is a moment when the arms, hands and club feel as though they are still moving back while the hips are moving forward. It’s just after this moment you want the right elbow to start narrowing the gap between it and the torso. Bringing the right arm closer to the body on the downswing will help you retain the release of your arms and will assist you in swinging down to the ball more from the inside.
Although many believe that you should hold the angle of your arms and wrists as long as possible on the downswing, the general interpretation of this can lead to some costly mistakes in your swing. By over-connecting the right arm you can easily get the club stuck behind you. Trying to retain angles on the downswing can also lead to blocks and even shanks. The grip end of the golf club needs to eventually point towards the center of your body at impact. If you attempt to hold off releasing by over-tucking your right arm, the grip points outside your left hip, leaving the clubface open.
Try this simple drill to help you feel the right arm close to the body on the downswing:
- Take a normal backswing but hold it at the top of the swing.
- Keeping your back towards the target, tuck your right elbow down and towards the body, then turn your hips slightly towards the target.
- Perform this pumping motion several times.
After you get the feel of the pumping motion make a swing down to the ball, ensuring the arms are swinging down to the ball and that the grip end of the club is working towards the center of your body. Remember, arms work up and down. There should be no around in your arm movements.
While working on getting your right arm closer to the body in the downswing remember to create width
on the backswing and allow the right arm to drop while swinging the arms down to the ball. Your power will be created by keeping the club in front of you and by keeping your arms connected in the downswing. Eliminate the concept of retaining the release and use the full power of your body to gain swing speed.
In golf, right arm close to the body is simply the best way to develop power for your swing.
In Golf Arms Swing in Front of Chest
By swinging with your arms in front of your chest you can eliminate many swing faults associated with controlling your golf club. If your arms get behind you there is a good chance the club will no longer be between your hands and your influence over the golf club will be greatly diminished. To feel the effects of the club not being between the hands and arms grab a golf club, stand straight up and hold it in front of you so that the club is parallel with your spine. Extend your arms. First, slowly let the club fall to the right in your hands. You will feel a little resistance at first, then more as it falls more quickly. The club feels heavier and heavier. Go back to the start and this time, slowly drop your right elbow. Again, the club feels heavy and it even starts to pull down on the left arm. The arms are no longer in front of you and once this happens your timing and sequence will be affected there on out.
It’s much easier to control a light golf club. A lighter golf club can also be swung faster. So, when the club gets heavy it pressures the rest of your body to try to get your arms back in front of you as soon as possible. That’s too much action going on during your golf swing! Sometimes it’s difficult to pinpoint why exactly the club gets behind you in the swing. If this is the case for you, do this very simple drill:
- Hold a 7-iron in one hand and an 8-iron in the other.
- Bend over into your address position and position your left arm so it is laying on top of your chest and the clubhead is on the ground.
- Place the club in your right hand directly behind the one in your left hand.
- Swing both clubs back at the same time. Watch them to see if either arm allows the club to fall so it’s not between the hands and/or the arm falls so they are no longer in front of your chest.
- Whichever arm is giving you issues is the one you need to target for improvements.
Here are some elements you need to evaluate if you are having problems controlling the golf club and keeping your arms in front of you:
GRIP-Your left hand grip should be strong enough that you can set the club swinging back with the left arm only. Otherwise you will most likely bend your arm to set the club. Your right hand grip should be positioned so that it can work underneath the club and support it. A very strong right hand grip will not allow that without the arms getting behind you.
POSTURE- Too much knee bend will cause your upper body to stand erect. The arms will be reaching out and not hanging. If you try to support the club with the right hand from this position
the club will be laid off and the arms will be behind you in the backswing.
LEFT LEG COLLAPSE- Your left leg is a stabilizer so if it bends during the backswing, it will change your posture and force your arms behind you. Those are just a few red flags you might want to consider if you are having trouble controlling the club and losing the ability to keep your arms in front of you. A light club allows for a faster and more efficient golf swing so remember, In Golf Arms Swing in Front of Chest.