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A lovely stretched out lead arm is the key to creating power and distance in your shots, it creates width and in turn, speed. The following video and article reveals everything you need to know and how to get a straight left arm in your golf swing.
In an ideal position, at the top of the backswing, your lead arm should be straight and your wrists should be hinged. Your wrist hinge in the golf swing is one of the key components in creating and storing power. If you add another hinge, by allowing your lead arm to collapse at the elbow, you'll be throwing away the power you should be storing.
One important thing to say however is that while the arm is straight, it isn't utterly rigid - rigidity restricts the flow that you need in your swing. So whilst your left arm should be straight, there shouldn't be too much tension running through it.
The first thing is to identify WHY your lead arm is collapsing in the first place. A few possibilities… Your grip may be too much in the palms therefore the wrists aren’t hinging or setting the club properly in the first place. This causes forces you into bending that lead elbow to complete your backswing. From there you are forced into casting the golf club by releasing the angle in the lead arm during the downswing. This can cause a few issues including cutting across the ball. If this is an issue for you, it makes sense to understand how to grip the golf club correctly - it should make a big difference.
Often poor mobility can be the cause. If you aren’t the most mobile you will undoubtedly collapse the arm in a bid to reach the top of your backswing. Often you are better keeping the swing more compact in a bid to maintain your wrist hinge. Once that consistency is achieved then you can look to lengthen the backswing again, sometimes less is indeed more.
Straight Left Arm Drill
By far the most effective drill to really feel that wonderful width is the split grip drill. Split your hands on the club and keep a gap between them. Rotate your body and feel that stretch. You can even hit a few balls off a short tee doing this. If you collapse that arm you’ll almost miss the ball.
If you’ve spent years addressing the ball like Frankenstein in a bid to maintain this poker straight arm, then start to shake off some of that tension by simply swinging your arms around your body. Let’s loosen things up a bit. Feel your lead arm naturally maintain that straighter line utilising the power of momentum.
As I mentioned earlier, if you are limited physically and your mobility isn't up to scratch then perhaps accept that your swing isn't going to be super long (for now). Take that 3/4 swing and own it. Practice hitting balls on the range working the club back to create an L out of your lead arm and the club shaft, then rotate through to another L. Build up to a full follow through with this and you'll be really surprised as to how far the balls go.
Ultimately you do need to have that extended lead arm throughout your back swing but don’t over do the effort on this one. Keep tension down and let it flow.
E-Learning Tutorial - Shoot Lower Scores!
Are you interested in making lasting improvements to your golf game? Shoot Lower Scores (opens in new tab) is an online course from Golf Monthly designed to help you find power in your swing and hole more putts as well as how to avoid falling foul of the more challenging rules of golf. Whether you want to brush up your knowledge or learn something new; this tutorial (opens in new tab) is perfect.
Katie is an Advanced PGA professional with over 20 years of coaching experience. She helps golfers of every age and ability to be the best versions of themselves. In January 2022 she was named as one of Golf Monthly's Top 50 Coaches.
Katie coaches the individual and uses her vast experience in technique, psychology and golf fitness to fix problems in a logical manner that is effective - she makes golf simple.
She has coached tour pros on both LET tour and the Challenge Tour as well as introduced many a beginner to the game. An experienced club coach, she developed GardenGOLF and now freelances, operating via pop-up clinics and travelling to clients homes to help them use their space to improve.
Katie has been writing instructional content for magazines for 20 years. Her creative approach to writing is fuelled by her sideline as an artist.