Because the swing is a combination of intricate movements between multiple muscles and limbs, it’s sometimes hard to pinpoint which body part is responsible for a certain job. However, identifying certain movements and practicing their execution can lead to significant improvements in technique.
One such area is the takeaway from the ball. During the first stage of the backswing, right handed players should feel the left arm is taking the club away. The left arm acts as the swing ‘guide’ and the right arm supports the club at the top of the backswing. This relationship between the two arms also continues into the down swing when the left arm guides and the right arm helps generate the power. The left arm should also be considered the arm which takes the club away because of the way it needs to extend in the back swing.
As the left arm swings the golf club away there are a number of different check points players can use to ensure a successful backswing. Firstly as the left arm reaches parallel with the ground in the back swing, the club should act as an extension of the arm also parallel with the ground pointing away from the target. From here, the left arm remains extended as the wrists hinge upwards pointing the club shaft at the sky. At the top of the swing, the left arm remains extended, guiding the club into a position where it is again parallel to the ground.
At the top of the swing, players can also use the left arm as a gauge of swing plane. If the left arm sits across the shoulders when viewed down the line then the swing is most likely on plane. Here is a drill you can use to help feel the left arm is taking the club away during the back swing.
1. Take your posture and let the left arm hang down as it would normally at address. Put your right arm behind your back out of the way. This is to help focus the mind on the left hand and arm.
2. Make your left hand into a blade with the back of the hand facing a target down the ball-to-target line.
3. Swing the left arm back to the top of the swing and stop before bringing it back down to the ball and through impact.
4. After repeating this drill a number of times, players will understand better how to control the movements of the left arm.
5. Following the drill without using a club, pick up a high lofted club such as a pitching wedge and repeat the drill using only the left arm to swing the club back and through.
6. You shouldn’t expect to hit the ball a long way but by hinging the wrist correctly a good contact should be possible.
7. This second part of the drill will help improve the motion of the left hand and also the strength of the left arm.
Player looking to practice and perfect the takeaway using the left arm should think of it as a guide and use the drill to help achieve a great back swing.