Left Arm in Golf Swing – Straight or Relaxed?

crescent moon drill Left Arm in Golf Swing   Straight or Relaxed?

Anytime I hear the “straight left arm” in the golf swing I cringe. Just the visual of it will put your mind in an un-dynamic position. It’s like a shortstop waiting for a ground ball with straight legs – kinda hard to be agile from that position.

I think there’s a lot of mis-understanding about keeping the right arm straight in the backswing and downswing. My GolfDash partner, John, even mentioned it in a recent article titled Golf Resolutions for 2010 mentioning:

“Keep the left arm straight from takeaway to well past impact. If I bend the arm I lose consistent contact because the width of the arc of the swing changes. This is equally important for chips as well as full shots”

Now I’m not picking on John or anyone else about this. After all, there are degrees of this. What feels and looks “straight” to you might feel “hyperextended” to the next chap – no matter, this is just something to experiment and test in practice and play for the betterment of your game.

I started to think a lot about this when I read the great golf instruction book, The 7 Laws of the Golf Swing Left Arm in Golf Swing   Straight or Relaxed?by Nick Bradley. (it was even one of my “Top 10 Best Golf Books”)

At the time I first read the book and hit the 4th “Law” in the book “Synchronicity”, then looked at the picture of the left arm “relaxed” versus straight something clicked for me. And, really, it was all because of the “crescent moon” image shown above.

Here’s what Mr. Bradley says about it in the book:

“One of the most common faults in the backswing stems from the belief that you must keep your left arm rigid and straight during the swing in order to create width, precision, and power. Unfortunately, this normally has exactly the opposite effect.

While it may feel powerful, attempting to keep your left arm as straight as possible as you sweep the club straight back away from the ball on a wide arc will actually limit the amount of power you can create in the swing.

The result of keeping your left arm rigid and tense is two-fold. First, the clubbed will travel on an unnaturally wide arc on the backswing and will probably cause the clubface to remain closed or hooded during the takeaway.

During the change of direction between backswing and downswing, the forces exerted on your left arm will cause your wrists to flex excessively, leading to narrow, steep arc that creates a whole array of ball-striking problems.

The second problem is that forcing your left arm to remain straight causes your body to turn too early in the backswing.

If your upper-body coil is already complete when your arms have not even reached their halfway-back position, your arms will inevitably have to complete the rest of their journey to the top on their own, resulting in poor strikes and directional problems”

You can quickly test this out on your own with your left arm. Just extend your left arm straight in front of horizontally across your chest (like you are taking a backswing) and notice how that “feels” Now just bend the elbow slightly (so it feels like a “crescent moon”) and notice how that feels.

It should feel much more soft, alive and “whip-like.” That is really the feeling your after – light, soft, free-flowing and ready to snap the club into the back of the ball.

By the way, Nick also includes a few great “crescent moon” drills to ingrain this feeling even further. But you’ll have to get the book to check them out. Pretend you paid $5000 for the book. That’s how you should treat the instruction in it. It’s that good.

I have experimented with this A LOT – in practice, during competitive tournaments and it has made tremendous amount of difference in my ball-striking and ultimately scoring.

Buy the book at Amazon – The 7 Laws of the Golf Swing Left Arm in Golf Swing   Straight or Relaxed?

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