How to Check for a Bent Swing Arm

By Robert Lee
Keeping the left arm straight or slightly bowed improves your swing.
Keeping the left arm straight or slightly bowed improves your swing.

Bending your arm awkwardly during the golf swing can cause mishits and poor shots. Jim Suttie, the 2000 PGA Teacher of the Year, notes that some right-handed golfers collapse and bend their arms while swinging. This causes their elbows to jut out, creating what Suttie refers to as a “chicken wing impact.” The chicken wing is a common problem that can be fixed with the help of a PGA or LPGA professional. An instructor can teach you the fundamentals of a good golf swing, including posture, stance and weight distribution. You can also identify problems on your own.

Watch for weak shots to the right, if you’re a right-handed golfer. Suttie maintains that many poor golfers hit weak shots to the right because they collapse and bend their left arm at impact. This is caused by trying to hit the ball using only your arms. Poor posture and support from the lower body forces you to try to scoop the ball into the air using your arms and hands.

Examine your divots. Hitting behind the ball or taking a deep divot could be a sign of a swing that is too vertical, according to Suttie. Taking the club straight up rather than swinging it in a arc forces you to bend your arms to prevent crashing the club into the ground on the downswing.

Check your balance. Hold your position after hitting a ball to determine if most of your weight is on your back foot. Failing to shift your weight from your back foot to your front foot causes you to collapse your arms at impact. This leads to topping the ball or thin shots.

Note the position of your chest at impact. Ask a friend to help by watching as you hit some balls. Some players move their chest past the ball before impact. This forces you to collapse your arms to hit the ball and also causes poor shots to the right.

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