We’ve all heard that you should keep your left arm straight on the backswing, maybe not straight as a board, but as straight as you’re physically able. I think it’s more important to keep it straight on the downswing.
Do you find your swing leaving you from time to time, your shots going both left and right? Just maybe you’re in the middle of a round and you’re pulling your hair out because you need to fix the problem fast before the wheels completely fall off. If that’s you, check your left arm on the downswing.
Sometimes you get so focused on pulling with the left arm that it breaks down. When it does, you lose control of the swing path. When you setup to hit a shot, you are counting on the left arm being straight at contact. Check any photo or video of your favorite pro and you’ll see it has to be so. If the arm breaks at the elbow on the way down, you’ll never get it straight at contact.
When the arm isn’t straight you lose the ability to hit from a ‘strong left side’. In that situation almost anything can happen. The swing arc shortens and the plane changes. By keeping the left arm straight you’re engaging your skeleton to help make solid consistent contact. Keeping the left arm straight on the downswing helps in chipping as well.
You don’t have to hit balls to train your left arm. Just go out in the yard and take a few swings everyday. You’ll soon have built a great habit and your consistency will improve markedly. It’s a great thing to work on this winter while you’re waiting for your favorite course to thaw out.