Causes and Cures: Arms-Only Golf Swing (Video)
Causes and Cures: Arms-Only Golf Swing (Video)

One of the most frustrated breed of golf as I come across in my day-to-day teaching. The big guys, the strong guys, the guys that play a lot of sport, but they can't had the golf ball very far. They're really frustrated breed of golfer. They stand here on the driving range with their driver. Use $300 golf ball trying to knock the ball 300 yards and all they can do it just whack it 150 every time, and there's a little 14 year old kid next to them over there who's just beautiful and smooth and fluid with his swing and he's knocking out that 250 every time, and the big guy gets more tense. He gets more angry. He gets more shouty because every other sport he's able to play well, but playing golf he's struggling to get the distance.

And is often because they're using their arms to hit the golf ball and they're not using the rest of the body, so we tend to describe it as a right armsie golf arm the golf swing. The golfer stander here lifts his arm and whacks it, and that's an action that might work in another sport, but simply just doesn’t cut in golf. The 14 year old in the bay next to him turning his body nicely, turning through full balanced finish, delivering much more club at speed, much more power, much more distance to the shots. So if you feel that you're a very armsie player and you're not hitting the ball as far as you would like consider how your body and your setup is actually affecting this.

One of the causes of an armsie golf it would be poor posture. You're setting up to the golf and you've got your head pushed in, and your chest pulled around this is kind of the locked position where you can't really turn your body very well so it becomes just a hands and arms action. You set yourself in proper posture where you can rotate and your trunk better, you'll feel immediately how more flexibility to make that bigger term so it’s the straight fine angle when viewed in the mirror. It’s a slightly more stable leg flex rather than the hips took turned to and the chest and chin down. This is a poor position. This is a good position. From here, I can turn a lot more. From here, I'm very restricted.

Also through the golf ball, if you're not sequencing your balancing particularly well, you're not initiating your balancing from your hips and you're not following through on to your front side. Your golf swing could just look like the only movement from the top is just the hands and the arms coming down. The body is not getting involved. A good sequenced golf swing would be the hips moving first, turning to the left side all the body weight finishing on the front foot with the rear foot up into the air. That would involve the body much more and actually involve the hands much less.

One other area for you to consider, but actually it would just do overall body flexibility if you find it difficult to rotate your upper body and you feel that the only thing that you know I'm stuck here. Well, the only thing that can move then would be your arms. Also if you feel like you can't pull your front arm across your chest and pull it here because it gets tight around this area. Again that's going to be one of the reasons why your arms just involved is breaking action rather than this big turning action. So consider the subtleness and the flexibility that you have may bring quite right a few of those stretching exercises into your normal golf warm-up routine.

Then when you get to the golf course, make sure the body turns back. Make sure the body turns through from a good posture position and that should alleviate your armsie golf swing. That should encourage you to get more power and ultimately that will alleviate the frustration of that 14 year old hitting the ball a 100 yards further than you can.

2013-09-13

The golf swing is a whole-body event.

Causes and Cures – Arms Only Golf Swing

It requires your entire body – from your feet up to your head – to work together in order to produce great results. Unfortunately, many golfers are unable to muster that kind of coordination. Instead of getting everything to work together, many players simply swing the club back and through with their arms only. This is a big mistake. You’ll never generate the kind of power you would like to have if you don’t use your body effectively, and you may also find it hard to achieve clean contact.

In this article, we are going to discuss the issue of an arms-only golf swing. Why does it happen? What causes some golfers to stick with this method while others are able to use their bodies correctly? Also, we will look at some of the steps you can take to correct this error. Just because you are making an arms-only swing right down does not mean you need to be stuck with that flawed technique for the rest of your golfing life. As long as you are willing to put in the work during practice, you can learn how to effectively incorporate your body into the swinging action.

As a bit of motivation before we get started, it may help to note that adding body action to your golf swing is one of the most important steps you can take toward better play. The difference between an arms-only swing and a whole-body swing is dramatic. Where your shots may feel weak and inconsistent with an arm swing, they should feel strong and reliable once your body is involved. Make no mistake – the transition may be a tough one, and there are likely to be challenges along the way, but it will be worth it in the end.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

The Likely Causes

The Likely Causes

We can’t say with any degree of certainty what is causing you to swing the club with mostly arm action. You are your own unique individual, and your swing is specific to your game. However, there are some common causes of this issue, so reading through the possibilities in this section should help you get down to the bottom of things. Consider the potential causes we have listed below and try to decide which one you think is most to blame for your struggles.

  • A rushed swing. If everything in your swing is rushed, it’s likely that you will wind up with an arms-only type of swing, rather than a swing which uses your shoulders effectively. The reason is simple – it takes more time to turn your shoulders back and through than it does to swing the club using only your arms. When you feel like you need to rush, often it is because you are nervous about the outcome of the shot at hand. Don’t allow your nerves to get in the way of what may otherwise be a quality golf swing. Take your time, let the swing develop naturally, and be sure to use your shoulders to maximum effect.
  • A poor stance. It’s hard to use your shoulders and the rest of your body correctly in the swing if you are starting out with an improper stance. One of the most common errors made in the golf stance is placing the feet too close together at address. When you use a narrow stance, you’ll always struggle to maintain your balance – especially if you do try to make a big turn. So, instead of falling off balance, most golfers will opt to ditch the turn and just use an arm swing to hit the shot. Rather than settling for a weak arm swing, the better option is to widen the stance and then make a full shoulder turn without any balance worries. In addition to making sure your feet are wide enough apart, you should also work on including enough flex in your knees and maintaining good posture in your back. With a solid stance in place, the rest of the golf swing actually gets quite a bit easier.
  • A lack of training. Quite simply, you may find yourself making an arms-only swing just because no one ever taught you how to swing the club properly. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of – plenty of golfers never get the instruction they need. To take that a step further, very few players get the instruction they need when first getting started in the game. If you have been playing the game for a while and never received any formal training, or never learned from an experienced friend, you may find that you lack the knowledge necessary to correct your own technique. It’s certainly possible to get better without formal help but seeking the assistance of a teaching pro is something you should strongly consider. A good teaching pro could help you make significant progress in a relatively short amount of time.
  • A bad takeaway. If you get your swing off to a poor start, it’s going to be extremely difficult to get back on track later on. Specifically, if you start too quickly away from the ball, you may never be able to get your shoulders involved correctly. Even if the rest of your swing has a much better tempo than the beginning, it’s possible that the damage will already have been done. When taking the club back away from the ball, do your best to move slowly at the start. Think about keeping the club head low to the ground while turning your shoulders away from the target. Many golfers struggle to be patient enough to start their swing this way, but it really is the best option. Spend some time during practice working exclusively on your takeaway and you might be able to improve your entire swing technique as a result of your efforts.
  • As we mentioned above, it’s not possible for us to say exactly why you are swinging with your arms-only. However, there is a good chance that one of the four points above is playing at least a small role, so think those through and compare them to what is going on in your swing currently. Getting to the root of the problem is one of the biggest steps on the path to an improved future on the links.

    The Big Hurdle

    The Big Hurdle

    You have probably put it together by now, but the biggest hurdle standing between you and an improved golf swing is a better shoulder turn. If you can manage to turn your shoulders properly, you’ll be able to get rid of your arms-only swing and trade it in for a whole-body motion that delivers the club powerfully into the back of the golf ball. It’s easier said than done to make this transition, but it certainly is not impossible.

    Of course, you really aren’t going to be able to make a great shoulder turn if you don’t understand what the shoulder turn is about or what it is supposed to look like. With that in mind, the list below is going to highlight the key elements of a great shoulder turn, so you can start working on building one as soon as possible.

  • Back to the target. From a big-picture perspective, your main goal with the shoulder turn is to turn your back to the target at the top of the golf swing. When you transition the club from backswing to downswing, you’d like your back to more-or-less be facing the target. This is not necessarily something that you’ll be able to pull of precisely, as your personal level of flexibility may cause you to come up a bit short. Or, you may simply prefer a slightly shorter swing, especially with some of your shorter clubs. The exact length of your turn isn’t the issue here so much as the general idea or concept. You should be trying to turn your back to the target as your swing develops – if you simply make that attempt, it’s unlikely that an arms-only swing will be the result.
  • Clear your chin. Believe it or not, your chin plays a crucial role in the success of your shoulder turn. If your chin is down into your chest as your swing gets going, there isn’t going to be anywhere for your left shoulder to go. It will run right into your chin as the rotation gets started, and you’ll either have to pick up your head or stop turning your shoulders as a result – and neither of those are good outcomes. To solve this problem, make sure to set up over the ball at address with your chin safely up away from your chest. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you need to keep your chin down just to make sure your eyes stay on the ball. You should have no trouble watching the ball while keeping your chin up in a comfortable spot.
  • Stay down in your stance. For some reason, many golfers tend to lift up as the backswing moves along. They turn away from the target fine at the start, but they start to give up knee flex as they keep turning right. This might not seem like a big deal, but it can cause a number of problems. Most importantly, it will make it difficult for you to strike the ball cleanly at the bottom of the swing, since you have changed the level of your stance. Do your best to hold your knee flex steady as your backswing moves along. There can be a little movement in your lower body – that’s natural – but keep it to a minimum.
  • Take your time! We already touched on this in the previous section, but it needs to be repeated here for effect. You simply must take your time in the backswing if you are going to create the kind of shoulder turn that tends to lead to powerful shots. When you rush, your shoulder turn will be a disappointment, and your shots will be as well. One of the great things about golf is the fact that the ball is sitting on the ground, waiting for you to hit it. There is no need to rush, as there would be in baseball when a fastball is rushing up toward the plate. With the ball sitting still, you can build your backswing slowly and gradually, waiting to let it rip until your shoulders have had all the time they need to coil up and get ready.
  • By definition, a swing which includes a great shoulder turn is not an arms-only swing. If you are turning your back roughly to the target at the top of the swing, you can feel good about the work you are doing – and you can expect to see nice results (as long as the rest of your technique is in good condition). It may take some time, but there is no reason to think you can’t learn how to employ your shoulders correctly during the backswing phase of your golf swing.

    Other Important Steps

    Other Important Steps

    The shoulder turn is the main key here while talking about fixing an arms-only golf swing. However, your shoulders alone cannot do the job. Hitting good golf shots takes cooperation from every part of your body, so we wanted to take this section to discuss some of the other important keys to work on. Blend the points below with a great shoulder turn and there will be little standing in your way on the road to better golf.

  • Use your hips to start the downswing. This is one of the best golf tips you can receive. The role of the hips in golf is greatly underestimated, which is why so many golfers struggle to produce a quality downswing. Once you have used your shoulders nicely to turn away from the ball, it’s time to start down toward impact by rotating your hips toward the target. This is a step that is often missed, as many golfers just try to turn their shoulders back to the left to uncoil the swing. That might work okay from time to time, but it won’t be consistent or powerful. By starting with your lower body from the top of the swing, you can gradually build speed and continue to accelerate the club until you strike the shot. It’s no simple task to learn how to combine a shoulder turn on the way back with hip turn on the way through, but it’s possible given plenty of practice and persistence. If you’ve ever wondered how professional golfers are able to create so much speed while making smooth swings, it’s largely because they use their hips nicely throughout the downswing.
  • Believe in your swing. It’s not easy to trust your swing in this difficult game. You already know how hard it is to play good golf, so it’s natural to be a little bit nervous when getting ready to hit a shot. Unfortunately, those nerves can really stand in your way on the golf course. We mentioned this earlier in the article as it relates to rushing through your swing. Nerves are a big problem for many amateurs, and plenty of professionals as well. It’s important to understand that the goal should not be to eliminate the nerves entirely – that just isn’t going to happen. Rather, you are trying to reduce them to the point where they no longer get in your way. When you feel nerves come on, it’s natural to speed yourself up – not just your golf swing, but the way you walk and talk, as well. Make a conscious effort to fight back against that instinct. Slow yourself down, take your time as you prepare for your shot, and focus your mind on the task at hand. This won’t work perfectly every time, but you should get better and better at blocking out the nerves with practice.
  • Keep your head still. With all of the movement that will be happening in terms of hip and shoulder rotation, you need a stability point that is going to keep your swing balanced and functioning properly. That point should be your head. It should remain in largely the same place throughout the swing, avoiding any kind of dramatic up and down or side to side movement. One of the big advantages to using shoulder rotation to swing the club, instead of just an arm swing, is the fact that you should be more consistent with your ball striking. However, if you let your head move around as you swing, that consistency advantage is going to go out the window. Work on this point in practice so you don’t have to think about it at all when on the course.
  • Making a proper golf swing means incorporating your whole body. That is not something that happens naturally for most players. Rather, it is the result of plenty of hard work over time. Stick with it as you work to get away from your arms-only swing and you should see gradual progress along the way.

    What About the Short Game?

    What About the Short Game?

    With so much talk so far about the full swing, it’s about time that we address the short game and how you should be swinging the club when putting and chipping. Do you still need to use your whole body, or is it okay to just use your arms on these shots? Well, for the most part, you’ll just be using your arms, but that doesn’t mean the rest of your body just gets to go on vacation.

    The reason we say that you will mostly be using your arms is that you don’t need to make a big shoulder turn or hip rotation for the average short game shot (with explosion shots in the bunker being the main exception). When putting, for example, you’ll just be rocking the putter back and through, without any big turn necessary. Sure, your shoulders are going to be rocking back and forth, but that’s not the same thing as a complete shoulder turn when hitting a full shot. It’s the same story when you are chipping. The movement of your shoulders will play a role, but again not in the same way.

    So, what does the rest of your body do if it doesn’t have a major role to play in swinging the club? It’s all about support. You need to use the lower half of your body to build a solid base on which you can execute your short game shots. Basically, that means you are going to flex your knees and create a solid stance which isn’t going to be moving all around while you play the shot. It’s up to you exactly how far apart you want to place your feet when putting and chipping but be sure to give this point some thought and work on it in practice. Also, experiment with different amounts of knee flex until you settle on something that feels comfortable and seems to lead to good results.

    The short game plays a huge role in the scores you are able to shoot, yet many golfers fail to practice it almost entirely. Or, if they do practice it, they only give it a few minutes after they have been hitting balls for an hour. Don’t set your short game off to the side and then think it is going to rise to the occasion on the course. Work on it in practice and make sure it is just as prepared as your full swing.

    If you continue to use an arms-only golf swing, you’ll almost certainly never reach your potential as a player. That would be a shame, so consider working on improving the way your shoulders rotate during your swing. There might be some struggles at first, but that it just how it goes in golf. See it through and you just may love what you come away with in the end. Good luck!

    One of the most frustrated breed of golf as I come across in my day-to-day teaching. The big guys, the strong guys, the guys that play a lot of sport, but they can't had the golf ball very far. They're really frustrated breed of golfer. They stand here on the driving range with their driver. Use $300 golf ball trying to knock the ball 300 yards and all they can do it just whack it 150 every time, and there's a little 14 year old kid next to them over there who's just beautiful and smooth and fluid with his swing and he's knocking out that 250 every time, and the big guy gets more tense. He gets more angry. He gets more shouty because every other sport he's able to play well, but playing golf he's struggling to get the distance.

    And is often because they're using their arms to hit the golf ball and they're not using the rest of the body, so we tend to describe it as a right armsie golf arm the golf swing. The golfer stander here lifts his arm and whacks it, and that's an action that might work in another sport, but simply just doesn’t cut in golf. The 14 year old in the bay next to him turning his body nicely, turning through full balanced finish, delivering much more club at speed, much more power, much more distance to the shots. So if you feel that you're a very armsie player and you're not hitting the ball as far as you would like consider how your body and your setup is actually affecting this.

    One of the causes of an armsie golf it would be poor posture. You're setting up to the golf and you've got your head pushed in, and your chest pulled around this is kind of the locked position where you can't really turn your body very well so it becomes just a hands and arms action. You set yourself in proper posture where you can rotate and your trunk better, you'll feel immediately how more flexibility to make that bigger term so it’s the straight fine angle when viewed in the mirror. It’s a slightly more stable leg flex rather than the hips took turned to and the chest and chin down. This is a poor position. This is a good position. From here, I can turn a lot more. From here, I'm very restricted.

    Also through the golf ball, if you're not sequencing your balancing particularly well, you're not initiating your balancing from your hips and you're not following through on to your front side. Your golf swing could just look like the only movement from the top is just the hands and the arms coming down. The body is not getting involved. A good sequenced golf swing would be the hips moving first, turning to the left side all the body weight finishing on the front foot with the rear foot up into the air. That would involve the body much more and actually involve the hands much less.

    One other area for you to consider, but actually it would just do overall body flexibility if you find it difficult to rotate your upper body and you feel that the only thing that you know I'm stuck here. Well, the only thing that can move then would be your arms. Also if you feel like you can't pull your front arm across your chest and pull it here because it gets tight around this area. Again that's going to be one of the reasons why your arms just involved is breaking action rather than this big turning action. So consider the subtleness and the flexibility that you have may bring quite right a few of those stretching exercises into your normal golf warm-up routine.

    Then when you get to the golf course, make sure the body turns back. Make sure the body turns through from a good posture position and that should alleviate your armsie golf swing. That should encourage you to get more power and ultimately that will alleviate the frustration of that 14 year old hitting the ball a 100 yards further than you can.