A Question About the Arms
I received a question from a reader the other day that had me pondering a bit about how to answer. Jonathan C. asked about the relationship between the arms and suggested that, as a lefty, he needed to work on his left arm through the release at impact. That made me go "Hmmmmmm," but here is my advice, Jonathan — and anyone else who might be thinking about this aspect of the swing.
I am a firm believer that the lead arm (your right arm as a left-handed golfer, Jonathan) must be the leader through impact. A firm lead-arm is the only way to ensure consistent control of the clubhead path, in my opinion. The human body is a remarkable thing in that your inner ear and other magical parts will keep you from falling over. If you get into golf posture and have a friend push against your chest and then the small of your back, you will see that it only takes an inch or so of movement to rock you onto your toes or heels. So, why is that important?
During the swing, this magical quality of balance will keep you from falling over, quite simply. You will swing around a centered, balanced pivot — no matter how fundamentally sound (or not) it might be. So, if you keep your lead arm firm throughout the swing, you have the best chance of returning the club to its starting position — which was at the ball. Does this make sense?
Now, about the trailing arm. Because I have viewed thousands of swing sequence photos and videos, I am also a firm beliver that the trailing arm MUST BE UNDERNEATH THE PLANE OF THE LEAD ARM. If the trailing arm (your left arm has you concerned, Jonathan) gets "on top" of the lead arm, only bad things can happen. The clubface will likely (but not necessarily) be shut and the swing path will be way outside to in, which produces a slice. The path will be too steep, which sucks away swing power. And the relationship between the body core and lead arm will be compromised, which prevents impact consistency.
So, Jonathan, I hope this gives you some perspective on the relationship between the arms. But there is one more thing. If you study Mr. Ben Hogan's book, Five Lessons – The Modern Fundamentals of Golf, you will see his guidance that the forearms should stay somewhat connected throughout the swing. In other words, the spacing between them stays pretty consistent.
Thanks for writing in for some input, Jonathan, and good luck in getting those arms working together and improving your golf!
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Okay, that helps me understand the relationship, thanks. As a lefty golfer, who is right handed in other things, I guess it became a worry of mine. Thinking maybe my left was not to rotating over enough to really release the club. Your 2009 articles on alignment have helped me recently and I'm concentrating on that now. Thanks again, Jonathan C.
Tim Horan says:
I am predominantly left handed but play golf right handed. In my younger days I used to play squash and by far the most powerful stroke was my back hand and although this has assisted with a powerful right handed golf swing it also has it's drawbacks. Due to injury my right shoulder is restricted and more passive than it should be in the transition and the left side takes over. This has the effect of casting through this immobility area until I can get the power back on. I compensate for this with an exaggerated re-routing move to get the club back on plane. IMO the trailing arm needs to balance the stronger leading arm. I do not believe that the leading arm can make or control the transition from backswing to downswing.
Check out Martin Kaymers swing aid. There is a quick story about it on the Golf Digest website this morning. It keeps his arms connected.
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