Top 3 Tips on Proper Use of Elbows in Golf
Focusing on the elbows in your set up can be the basis of a very compact technique resulting in very consistent ball striking. Two of the purest ball strikers in history, Ben Hogan and Moe Norman, both swore by the position of their elbows, especially in their set up. The natural function of the elbow and arms in the golf swing is a straightening and folding that mirrors one another from backswing to follow through. There’s not much instruction or advice given on the function or position of the elbows in the golf swing.
Much instruction ignores the overall position of the elbows and advice on this can only be found in the most scientific golf books. However, there are some quick tips and positions to look for when it comes to the proper use of the elbows and their alignment.
If you have ever seen Ben Hogan and Moe Norman set up to hit a ball, they share one commonality. Their elbows are pointing directly at the corresponding hip. From the straight on position it looks like the inside of their elbows are rolled open and staring straight at the sky. This was a key set up position for both players as it allowed their right arm to fold correctly and keep it nice and compact to their body. In some cases it seemed as though their elbow was touching their right hip on takeaway. Many times with golfers we see the right elbow flare out and away from the body causing a “chicken wing”. This generally comes from a poor set up relationship where the arms are bowed and elbows are pointing more parallel to the target line. When our elbows get in proper position of pointing at the hips, we’ll see a nice straight V created with our arms. In the end this, will help to keep our takeaway wide and compact with a nice straight left arm (right arm for left handed golfers).
It’s no secret many individuals struggle with alignment. To even bring up the notion that elbows need to be aligned just like your feet, shoulders and club can be a confusing concept. Always remember that your arms and hands create the last link to the club and ball. It becomes even more important that the hands and arms work in unison as a team. We all know about the importance of the grip, however if our arms are out of sync it can result in many errors later in the golf swing. To help create proper arm alignment, it starts with the elbows. If your arms are in perfect alignment, you should be able to drill an imaginary hole through your elbow joints and see directly into the horizon. Many players have one arm higher than the other which is a result of the shoulders being open or closed. If you were to see the sky through this imaginary hole, then your shoulders are likely tilted too much. These positions create a variety of poor shots and inconsistency. If you wish to ensure your shoulders, arms and club are square at address, always keep in mind that your elbows should be equal to one another at address.
If you suffer from the dreaded “chicken wing” either in the backswing or takeaway, a glove under the armpit during practice is a great place to start. Over the years, we’ve seen many players utilize this drill. Vijay Singh was seen hitting balls for hours with a glove or even a head cover under his right arm. His major flaw when hitting a golf shot, was to have his right hand come off the club slightly at impact resulting in a loss of control with his driver. When he placed a glove under the right armpit, it helped to keep his arm close to the body and helped to keep his hand connected to the club longer. To this day he still works with that drill. To try this drill all you need is a golf glove or head cover. If you have a problem with the right arm, place the glove under the right armpit. If you have a problem with the left arm, place the glove under the left armpit. During a practice session hit a series of balls with the glove under your armpit and then hit a series of balls without. Repeating this during a practice session will help you stay better connected and keep your elbow tighter to your body. If you struggle with both arms getting disconnected with the body, use a golf towel. Wrap the towel around your chest and under both armpits. Take a few practice swings and you’ll instantly feel more connected with your arms and body.