If your arms don’t remain in front of your chest during the backswing it likely means that you’re not rotating your body sufficiently. A lack of body rotation means, at the very least, that your hands won’t be as high as they should be at the top of your backswing. This defect alone will rob your swing of power. By keeping your arms in front of your chest you help ensure that your body moves in the most efficient manner and generates maximum power.
Tiger Woods recommends taking the club back along the target line. This path, as opposed to pulling the club inside the target line, requires a modest hip turn to keep your arms in front of your chest. Woods says that many times he has caught himself pulling the club inside the target line, which then requires compensations that he terms “makeup moves” to re-align himself.
Midway through your backswing the club should be horizontal and parallel to the target line, Woods says. This setup puts you in proper position to conclude a full hip turn in the second part of your backswing. It will be almost impossible to raise your hands further without either rotating your hips or severely bending your left elbow.
It’s a golf axiom that your left arm (for a right-handed golfer) should remain straight throughout the backswing. But golf instructor Jim McLean advises golfers not to take the rule 100 percent literally. He says “a little give at the elbow” is permissible and promotes “a more connected swing” in which arms and body turn together smoothly, which is the key to keeping your arms in front of your chest.
Golfers who have difficultly keeping their arms in front of their bodies may wish to try PGA teaching pro Shawn Clement’s drill. Get into your address position, then bring the club up and lay it across your back shoulder, while the rest of your body maintains its normal stance. Rotate your hips so your back faces the target, then extend the club straight out from your shoulder. This is the position you should try to achieve on your backswing. Clement also recommends that golfers focus on keeping their elbows close together throughout the backswing. As long as your elbows don’t fly apart, your body will be forced to rotate to lift the club much higher than your waist.