The Right Way to Keep Your Left Arm Straight, Golf (Video)
The Right Way to Keep Your Left Arm Straight, Golf (Video)

So many golfers understand that the golf swing should be completed with a straight leading arm in the backswing and through impact. They see the professionals with their straight arm swing on televised golf tournaments. They want to swing like a pro and get their scores down but about 50% of golfers can’t control their mind sufficiently to change their swing from a bent elbow swing. The mind only has a split second to sort out the swing sequence during each swing. The urge to swing with more power takes over the mind and allow the elbow to bend for more power. Of course, that’s the way they learned to swing a baseball bat for more power. So, one thing you’ll often hear lots about in the top of the backswing position that you’re trying to create in a golf swing is keeping your left arm straight. Now, there’s a couple of things we need to look at with this because sometimes, it is a bit cliché of an advice that you want to make sure you get the right advice with your left arm. So, front arm for the right-handed golfer, right arm and the front arm for the left-handed golfer as well.

So, as I take my address position here, the first thing is make sure your left arm is straight setup. If you’ve got a bent left arm here, it is unreasonable to expect it to straighten up in the backswing. So, a nice straight left arm when you start is important. Then, as long as you make a good shoulder rotation, the left arm effectively stays in front of the chest, lift up and it should be nice and straight at the top. The only problem with this is if I don’t rotate my shoulders and I still want to make a big back swing, I'm really going to struggle to get around, unless my left arm starts to bend. This is a very weak and a very inconsistent position at the top of the back swing.

So, to keep your left arm straight, nice big rotation of the shoulders first, then let the right arm here pull the left arm up and back into a nice strike position. You can hear in my voice there is a bit of tension in that position. Now, that tension as long as it is tension through the core and through the chest is actually quite good because that is going to generate a nice powerful spring loaded effect ready to pull back down to the golf ball.

The wrong sort of tension is grip pressure and forearm tension. If by trying to keep your left arm straight you’re strangling the golf club and you’re yanking it back too much., that isn’t going to do you any favors. That would actually reduce the power and the club head speed as the downswing happens. So, a nice big wind up of the upper body, keep the left arm out nice and straight as far as you can. If you tend to go up to the back to about two o’clock in length that would be fine. Anything further than three or four o’clock is probably going to result in this left arm breaking down, and that is no good.

Now, if you feel that while you’re making that movement, you’re unduly tight and you’re not having the flexibility, let’s go back and look at your natural flexibility that you have in your body. A really good exercise for this one is taking your left arm out in front of your chest, pulling the left arm across your chest as far as you can and then grabbing the back of your elbow and pulling that across your chest this way. That would stretch out the shoulder and the triceps of the left arm, which is actually the natural action that you’d need in the top of your backswing motion.

Don’t forget that every good golf swing that you make, pulling this left arm into a good position is actually a little stretching exercise for your arm as well. So, if you’re new to this movement, it might feel tight to start with, but after a couple of weeks of practicing this, a couple of hundred of pulls, this left arm will start to free up. So, keeping your left arm straight at the top of the backswing is good advice as long as you take it carefully and you don’t misunderstand the advice.

2012-05-10

As a right-handed golfer, you will probably want to keep your left arm straight during your swing.

The Right Way to Keep Your Left Arm Straight

We say ‘probably’ because it is not necessarily a requirement to check off this point as part of your standard technique. Some golfers have succeeded with a bent left arm in the backswing, but those players are few and far between. For most of the golfing population, a straight left arm is the way to go.

In this article, we are going to talk about how you can manage to keep your left arm straight in the right way. There is a wrong way and a right way to do it, and our goal with this article is to make sure you understand the difference. That way, when you are out on the range working on your swing, you can be sure to practice in a manner that is going to help you do things the right way. Once you have put in the work and improved your game in this area, you should be able to pretty much forget about this part of your technique, knowing that it is in good condition.

If you aren’t sure how your left arm is behaving during your current swing, ask a friend to record a quick video of you hitting some shots so you can evaluate it for yourself. When you watch the video, pay close attention to how your left arm acts during both the backswing and the downswing. If it remains straight during those two phases, you probably don’t have much to worry about here. On the other hand, if it is significantly bent at any point, you’ll probably want to get down to work on improving that position. Using a straighter left arm during the swing should help you generate more power, it should improve the consistency of your ball striking, and it should also help you perform at a higher level under pressure.

One other note we need to make before getting started is that your left arm is naturally going to fold up during the follow-through and into the finish position. You certainly don’t want to try to keep your left arm straight as you work into the finish. Let it fold up as you wrap the club around your back and watch the ball fly through the air.

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.

Right vs Wrong

Right vs Wrong

It would be great if simply keeping your left arm straight during the swing was good enough to have success. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. If you go about this in the wrong way, you’ll wind up doing more harm than good to your golf swing. You need to make sure your arm stays straight for the right reasons if you are going to wind up being happy with the outcome. That might seem a little confusing at the moment, but it should all make sense by the end of this section.

Let’s start by talking about the wrong way to keep your left arm straight. What you want to avoid is forcing your left arm to remain straight by locking it out at address and then holding it there firmly as the swing develops. In other words, you don’t want to deliberately straighten out your arm and exert energy to make sure it holds straight as you swing. It tempting to do it this way, of course, but you aren’t likely to find many positive benefits from this method. Your swing will feel restricted, stiff, and awkward if you force that arm to remain straight at all costs.

So, how are you supposed to keep your arm straight if consciously trying to straighten it out is the wrong way to go? The answer can be found in the other mechanics you use to swing the club back and through. If you can build a fundamentally-sound golf swing from top to bottom, you won’t need to think much about keeping your left arm straight – it will just happen naturally. Let’s take a look at some of the main fundamentals you’ll need to have in place if you want to keep your left arm straight.

  • A big shoulder turn. This is really at the heart of what you will need to work on in order to improve your left arm position. If you can manage to turn your shoulders beautifully in the backswing, you won’t have much of a need to let your left arm bend. Most of the time, players who do allow their left arm to bend on the way back do so because they don’t have a good enough shoulder turn to get into position. Without a sufficient shoulder turn, the player may be left with no choice other than to bend the left arm in order to get the club up to the top. It’s hard to overstate just how beneficial a quality shoulder turn can be for your game. Not only will a great shoulder turn make it easier to keep your left arm straight, but it will also provide you with the potential to generate more power than ever before – and your tempo may even improve, as well. It should be noted that you don’t have to make the biggest shoulder turn to have this be a strong part of your technique, you simply need to make a quality turn and repeat that turn over and over again. Some players are naturally more flexible than others, meaning those players will be able to produce a larger turn. That’s okay – if you come in on the lower end of the spectrum, don’t worry about it. Instead, worry about living up to your own potential with the turn, and make sure you are getting everything out of what you can do.
  • A stable lower body. It seems that many golfers overlook the importance of the lower body in the golf swing. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that only what you do with your upper body is going to matter, but that simply isn’t the case. If you are going to move the club properly with your upper body, you need to provide support in the form of a stable and sturdy lower body. There are a couple of things you can do specifically to make sure your lower body is playing its role properly. First, you need to have flex in your knees, both at address and during the swing. Also, you’ll want to make sure that you aren’t sliding side to side with your lower body as the swing develops. The golf swing should be a rotational action with very little side to side movement taking place. Use your legs to hold yourself in a balanced position while your upper body turns away from the target and gets ready for an aggressive downswing. If you fail to use your lower body as effectively as you should, it’s going to be tempting to let your left arm bend to make up for some of the issues that pop up. Spend some time working specifically on the performance of your lower body and you’ll be a big step closer to a straight left arm and a quality golf swing overall.
  • An even tempo. In golf, tempo is a tough thing to teach. In fact, some golf teachers pretty much stay away from this topic, knowing it’s hard to measure and hard to teach to new players. Instead, golf instructors will often stick with topics that are more straightforward and easier to observe, like grip, stance, and balance. However, if you want to keep your left arm straight, and if you want to hit good shots, you need to focus on making sure your tempo is playing a positive role in the swing. The most common mistake amateur golfers make with regard to tempo is rushing, especially at the top of the swing. The average golfer tends to feel some nerves during the swing, and those nervous feelings cause the player to hurry through the transition from backswing to downswing. If you rush at the top, you’ll be providing another opportunity for your left arm to bend. This is because a rushed tempo usually leads to a shortened backswing, as the shoulders simply haven’t had enough time to make their journey. By giving yourself more time, you should get a better turn out of your shoulders, and the need to bend your left arm should disappear.
    • Don’t head out to the driving range with the goal of simply holding your left arm straight while you swing the club. Thinking about this fundamental in that manner is only going to lead you into trouble. Instead, think about improving your swing by bettering the rest of your fundamentals. When you go that route, it’s very likely that the left arm issue will simply take care of itself.

      Avoiding Tension

      Avoiding Tension

      Tension is a bad thing in the golf swing. If you allow yourself to become tense, it is going to be quite difficult – if not impossible – to produce quality shots on a consistent basis. Even if you are nervous or feeling a bit of pressure, you still need to find a way to relax and make smooth swings. We need to take a moment to emphasize the importance of keeping tension out of your game in this article, as trying to hold your left arm straight is something which can lead to additional tension. The last thing you want to do is make a change to your swing which is going to wind up causing you to feel more tense and uptight as you try to hit shots.

      With that in mind, let’s touch on three quick tips which may be able to help you minimize the tension that is present during your swinging action.

      • Relaxed grip pressure. When talking about tension in golf, this is always where you should start. Whether swinging a driver on the tee or hitting a three-foot putt, you need to focus on using relaxed and comfortable grip pressure while holding the club. It is common for new golfers to squeeze as tightly as possible onto the handle of the club while hitting their shots, thinking that is necessary in order to avoid letting the club fly out of their hands. Sure, you need to keep the club in your hands securely, but you’ll likely find that it requires much less grip pressure than you think to make that happen. Practice using a softer grip with some short shots in order to get comfortable with this concept. Then, as you proceed, move up to longer and longer clubs until you are ready to swing your driver with a relaxed grip. As long as you have enough grip pressure to maintain control of the club, you should be good to go.
      • A deep breath. Don’t overlook the power of a deep breath when trying to maintain a relaxed feeling on the course. If you use a pre-shot routine – and you should – consider adding a deep breath to your routine to make sure your body has a chance to relax while your mind focuses on the task at hand. It is a good idea to make this your last act before you walk up and take your stance. Stand behind the ball, look out at the target, and take a deep breath in and out. This might seem like a simple thing, but it can have a powerful effect.
      • Picking a specific target. You are likely to get more nervous for a shot where you don’t actually have a target in mind. For example, many golfers fail to pick specific targets when they stand up on the tee of a long hole with their driver in hand. Rather than having a target, they just decide to swing hard and aim for the fairway in general. Unfortunately, this type of plan often leads to frustrating or disappointing results. You can take away some of the uncertainty that might be creeping into the back of your mind simply by picking out a very specific target and then making a quality swing. The intention that comes along with selecting a clear target is a powerful thing, and you might be surprised to find just how well this trick can settle your mind before hitting a shot.
        • Keeping your left arm straight is a good thing but adding tension to your swing as a result is not. We hope the quick tips listed above will help you avoid the kind of tension that can ruin an otherwise solid golf swing.

          A Gradual Process

          A Gradual Process

          There is a tendency among golfers to want to fix everything all at once. The average golfer has several things in his or her swing which should be fixed, but that doesn’t mean changing all of those points at the same time is a good idea. More likely, you’ll find better success by working on them one at a time, waiting until you reach your goal in a single point before moving onto the next. It takes patience to improve your game in this manner, but it’s worth it in the long run.

          So, when it comes to trying to improve the position of your left arm during the swing, remember that you don’t want to overhaul your entire technique right from the start. For example, let’s imagine that you decide it will be necessary to improve your address position, your shoulder turn, and your tempo. Making progress on all three of those keys would certainly be great, by taking them on all at once is a recipe for disappointment. Don’t set yourself up for that kind of failure. Instead, slow yourself down and tackle the problem one piece at a time. In this example, the best thing to do would be to start with improving your address position. Once that work is done and you feel good about your progress, you can then move on to making a better shoulder turn. Finally, working on your tempo will help you bring everything together.

          If you were to try working on all of those elements at the same time, disappointment and frustration would be sure to follow. You may make a little progress here and there, but you’d probably wind up falling short of your goals in the end. Tilt the odds in your favor by limiting yourself to one key point at a time. In the long run, you’ll see all of those baby steps add up into a complete transformation of your golf swing.

          Short Game Left Arm Position

          To finish up this article on keeping the left arm straight, we are going to talk about how your left arm should behave in the short game. You short game technique is quite different from the technique you use in the full swing, so this discussion needs its own section. We are going to walk through three different types of short game shots – putts, chips, and bunker shots – below.

            Short Game Left Arm Position
          • Putting. When hitting putts, you don’t really need to think about the position of your left arm. Rather, you should be focused on the movement of your shoulders, as they are going to drive the stroke back and through. Some players will wind up using a straight left arm position, while others will be more comfortable with the left arm slightly bent. Either way is fine, and you really shouldn’t spend too much time considering this point. What you do need to make sure of, however, is that the state of your left arm doesn’t change during the stroke. In other words, if it is straight at address, it should remain straight throughout the stroke and into the finish. If you start with it bent, keep it bent. The fewer moving parts you can have in your putting stroke, the better.
          • Chipping. For most golfers, chipping with a straight left arm is going to be the right way to go. While it is certainly possible to chip with your left arm flexed, that is not the method which will lead to the best results for most players. Set up over the ball with your left arm in a straight position and keep it that way throughout the swing. To add a bit of touch to your swing, try using your hands and wrists slightly to set the club on the way back and release it on the way through. While the chipping motion is bound to be a little more complicated than the putting motion, you still want to be keeping things as simple as you can in this category.
          • Bunker shots. On greenside bunker shots, maintaining a straight left arm during the backswing and downswing is critical. To play a proper explosion shot, you need to create plenty of swing speed coming down into the sand behind the ball. Maintaining a straight left arm is going to add width to your swing, giving you a good chance to develop that speed that you require. Along with a straight left arm, make sure to complete a good shoulder turn so that you have plenty of power available as you turn through toward the target. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking bunker shots in practice – try to work on these shots regularly so you have plenty of confidence when the situation comes up on the course.
            • Maintaining a straight left arm might not be an absolutely essential golf fundamental, but it is close. You’ll be making the game easier on yourself when you can hit on this point, and it’s always a good thing when you can make golf a little easier. We hope the instruction in this article helps you get on the right path with this swing key. Good luck!

              So many golfers understand that the golf swing should be completed with a straight leading arm in the backswing and through impact. They see the professionals with their straight arm swing on televised golf tournaments. They want to swing like a pro and get their scores down but about 50% of golfers can’t control their mind sufficiently to change their swing from a bent elbow swing. The mind only has a split second to sort out the swing sequence during each swing. The urge to swing with more power takes over the mind and allow the elbow to bend for more power. Of course, that’s the way they learned to swing a baseball bat for more power. So, one thing you’ll often hear lots about in the top of the backswing position that you’re trying to create in a golf swing is keeping your left arm straight. Now, there’s a couple of things we need to look at with this because sometimes, it is a bit cliché of an advice that you want to make sure you get the right advice with your left arm. So, front arm for the right-handed golfer, right arm and the front arm for the left-handed golfer as well.

              So, as I take my address position here, the first thing is make sure your left arm is straight setup. If you’ve got a bent left arm here, it is unreasonable to expect it to straighten up in the backswing. So, a nice straight left arm when you start is important. Then, as long as you make a good shoulder rotation, the left arm effectively stays in front of the chest, lift up and it should be nice and straight at the top. The only problem with this is if I don’t rotate my shoulders and I still want to make a big back swing, I'm really going to struggle to get around, unless my left arm starts to bend. This is a very weak and a very inconsistent position at the top of the back swing.

              So, to keep your left arm straight, nice big rotation of the shoulders first, then let the right arm here pull the left arm up and back into a nice strike position. You can hear in my voice there is a bit of tension in that position. Now, that tension as long as it is tension through the core and through the chest is actually quite good because that is going to generate a nice powerful spring loaded effect ready to pull back down to the golf ball.

              The wrong sort of tension is grip pressure and forearm tension. If by trying to keep your left arm straight you’re strangling the golf club and you’re yanking it back too much., that isn’t going to do you any favors. That would actually reduce the power and the club head speed as the downswing happens. So, a nice big wind up of the upper body, keep the left arm out nice and straight as far as you can. If you tend to go up to the back to about two o’clock in length that would be fine. Anything further than three or four o’clock is probably going to result in this left arm breaking down, and that is no good.

              Now, if you feel that while you’re making that movement, you’re unduly tight and you’re not having the flexibility, let’s go back and look at your natural flexibility that you have in your body. A really good exercise for this one is taking your left arm out in front of your chest, pulling the left arm across your chest as far as you can and then grabbing the back of your elbow and pulling that across your chest this way. That would stretch out the shoulder and the triceps of the left arm, which is actually the natural action that you’d need in the top of your backswing motion.

              Don’t forget that every good golf swing that you make, pulling this left arm into a good position is actually a little stretching exercise for your arm as well. So, if you’re new to this movement, it might feel tight to start with, but after a couple of weeks of practicing this, a couple of hundred of pulls, this left arm will start to free up. So, keeping your left arm straight at the top of the backswing is good advice as long as you take it carefully and you don’t misunderstand the advice.