Golf Tips: Left Arm

By David Green
Keeping the left arm relatively straight during the takeaway is important for right-handed golfers.
Keeping the left arm relatively straight during the takeaway is important for right-handed golfers.

For right-handed golfers, the left arm is one of the most important aspects of the golf swing. The left arm determines the swing arc for a shot and helps release and rotate the wrists and club on the downswing. Understanding the purpose of the left arm in the golf swing and how to properly utilize it are critical factors in shooting low scores.

Straight Left Arm

One common misconception about the left arm is that it must stay completely straight on the takeaway. While the arm should be relatively straight, it’s not advisable to lock the elbow or hyperextend the arm to keep it straight. One drill to practice keeping the arm relatively straight is to grip the club with the left hand, then hold the left wrist with the right hand. Begin the takeaway and extend the left arm to the top of the takeaway. Begin the downswing and physically rotate the left arm with the right hand. This motion will help show how the left arm should fold during the follow-through.

Keep the Pocket

Many drills exist to help simulate the feeling of the way the left arm should work in a golf swing. To get a feel for what the left arm does during the swing, grip an 8-iron with just the left hand. Place the right hand behind the left arm, just above the left elbow. Make a couple of swings with the left arm, guiding the club with the right hand staying behind the left elbow. This should provide an idea of the work the left arm does during the swing. Once golfers become comfortable with this drill, they should be able to tee up a ball and hit shots with just their left arm on the club.

Form a Line

Most of the best players on the PGA Tour have one thing in common: when they make contact with the ball, their club and left arm forms a near-perfect line to the ground. On the driving range, have a friend record a few shots on video, and when you play the shots back, check to see if a straight line can be drawn down your left arm and the club to the ground. If the hands are in front of the club, this likely means you’re hitting shots higher than normal. Focus on timing and try not to release the left arm too quickly or slowly.

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