Golf Pro Calvin Peete: Bent Left Arm – Problem or Cure?- Video
Now here’s a real signature move that you’ll see from a lot of the world’s best players. And it’s going to be straight left arm. For most of the best players, they have a good address position with the straight left arm, a nice big turn to the top, and a left arm in a good position here. And if you’ve ever had a golf lesson, the chances are the golf professional would have told you to keep the left arm nice and straight. It’s a real good sort of staple fundamental part of good technique.
But if you’ve ever heard of Calvin Peete, now Calvin Peete, a player back in the ‘80s, he led the long driving stats year, after year, after year. And he absolutely only hit the ball, this is unbelievable, I’ve only just read this, and this is unbelievable. He hit the ball out of bounds, once in 26 seasons. I hit the ball once last weekend out of bounds, I mean I couldn’t go an entire month without hitting the ball out of bounds, no matter which golf course you’ve played now, but 26 years and only hitting the ball out of bounds once.
Now, more unbelievable than that, Calvin Peete’s left arm was permanently bent after a childhood tree climbing accident left it in a very bent position. So his left arm was never straightened on the back swing. It’s always stayed bent, and then he’s only been able to finish in the right position because again that’s allowable to have a bent left arm there. So if he can bend his left arm in the backswing and hit through the golf ball, and drive the ball as straight as he did, only out of bounds once in 26 seasons on the tour, then maybe there’s something in this bending left arm position.
But I would still work on the theory that a straight left arm for most club golfers if you can straighten it is much better. I have an idea that when I’m teaching people, I often don’t teach them model or a theory, I teach what works for the person. And I probably have maybe 10%, 20% maybe of the clients that I teach, I will allow them to bend their left arm. But it’s mainly down to a physical impairment similar to Calvin Peete who couldn’t straighten his arm. If you’re physically finding uncomfortable to keep your left arm straight as you turn to the top of your back swing, maybe a bad back, a bad hip rotation problem, bad shoulder or elbow problem, particularly on your left side, we could allow you to bend the arm to the top and flex it slightly.
But if you’re young and physically able and you don’t have any back or arm problems, I would encourage you to try and keep that left arm as straight as possible. The problem being is, bending your left arm can alter the length of your golf swing, and to the synchronicity, sorry, alter the synchronicity of your golf swing so you don’t synchronize your hands and your arms on the down swing correctly. It could also change the height of the arc of your swing. So if your left arm is straight setup and it’s encouraged to be straight again at impact, the height of your swing will be similar.
If it’s straight setup and then bending at impact, we get what we call the old chicken wings hitting the top of the ball and struggling to get the ball up in the air. So I would much rather, if you can physically do so, turn your swing to the top, keeping your left arm straight, feel that when your shoulder stop turning, your arms stops moving as well. We wouldn’t like to see the shoulders stop and the arm continue. That’s when we lose the synchronization in your downswing. So as you wind up to the top, shoulders and arms stop at the same position. It would be a good 90 degree shoulder rotation, and the straight left arm that would pretty much decide the top of your backswing. Then drive that down to the golf ball, keep the left arm straight again, extend through the ball with the left arm straight and nicely round to the big finish position, allowing your left arm to bend right at the end.
But if you’re struggling to keep your left arm straight through a physical impairment similar to Calvin Peete, go ahead and let your left arm bend a little bit but just be careful you try and keep it as straight as you can through impact so that you have a nice consistent address position and impact position if that’s all you can manage. And hopefully, that little tip similar to Calvin Peete’s good straight driving will improve your driving as well.