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Keep the Left Arm Straight: Still Good Advice for Golfers

Straight Left Arm in Golf Swing

Some golf advice has stood up to the test of time. It has been passed down through generations. Other golf advice is still being given, but it can hurt your chances of playing great golf.

One piece of advice that is still useful is “An approach to golf swings that works” to keep your left arm straight. This is a great tip that I remember from my early days of playing golf and which I still use 20 years later.

Today, we’ll break down why this piece of golf advice is still a good idea and how it can improve your backswing. To speed up your learning process, we will help you avoid some of the most common mistakes made by beginner golfers. 

Straight Left Arm in Golf Swing (Arm Swing 101)

I’m sure you have a lot of questions like…

  • Do I straighten my arms?
  • Do I need a straight, left arm?
  • What about my right side in the swing?
  • Should I bend my left hand? Should I bend my left arm?
  • How should the right hand move during a golf swing?

Before getting into how to keep the left arm straight (for right-handed players), let’s discuss why this can help you become a more consistent ball striker and improve swing plane.

Promotes a Full turn 

To promote a full shoulder turn, you will first want to keep your left hand straight in the backswing.

Remember, you want the shoulders to rotate 90 degrees on the backswing – basically your left shoulder should be under your chin. While professional golfer Dustin Johnson rotates closer to 100 – 110 degrees!

A greater shoulder turn means more speed, which correlates to more distance for every shot.

According to Trackman GolfThe average amateur male golfer hits their driver only 214 yards at a 93.4 MPH swing velocity. It is obvious that everyone can benefit by adding more distance to their game. 

Also, if you’re interested in gaining more speed make sure to check out the SuperSpeed golf sticks too. 

Backswing creates Width 

If the left arm is straight, it helps create The backswing should be wide.

By creating width, you can generate speed (aka more distance), but also improve accuracy. While distance is important, accuracy remains crucial when it comes to hitting more greens within regulation.

It’s easier to return to the same position after impact if your left arm is straight through the swing. This allows you to square the club face and make the ball hit more powerfully. It’s when the arms bend too much that accuracy is compromised. 

How to Keep Left Arm Straight in Golf (Proper Left Arm Positioning)

Now that you know some of the biggest benefits to this left arm position, let’s talk about a few downsides of bending the arm. Your spacing and swing arc will change if your left arm is weakened.

This can lead to less distance, less club control and poor timing of your swing. It’s possible to have serious injuries if your left arm fails.

Here’s how to keep it straight throughout your swing. 

Step 1: Begin with the Address Position 

To keep your left arm straight it’s important to start with the proper position at address. Too many golfers don’t have a straight left arm to begin with which means they’d need to extend it during the backswing. 

Step one is to ensure that both arms are fully extended, but not relaxed.

While a small amount of bend is okay (you don’t want to lock your arms and elbows) the goal is to keep it as minimal as possible. Next, make sure that your arms are positioned more below your body so that your forearms point towards the sky. You can also rounden your shoulders if your arms extend more toward the sky.

Your goal is to keep your arms in a connected position throughout the swing. 

Step 2: Verify P2

To make sure you’re creating plenty of width in the backswing you want to evaluate your golf swing at P2. Position two (also known as P2) is when your shaft is parallel to the ground. This position is where the takeaway occurs. However, there are many things you can learn from it.

You want your left arm to be stable at the beginning of your swing. If your left arm breaks down too early, it will cause you problems at the top. At this point, feel your left arm close to you. 

If you struggle with feeling “connected” in your swing you need a training aid like the Smart Ball Tour Striker. This training aid is extremely useful because it rests comfortably between the forearms during the swing. If you don’t keep your left arm straight, it’ll provide instant feedback. 

Step 3: Avoid Tension

Keeping the left arm straight is a great swing thought but it’s easier said than done. Sometimes trying to “feel” the arm stay straight can lead to excess tension. 

David Leadbetter, one of the most respected golf instructors, stated in Golf Digest“Unfortunately, that thought can lead to all sorts of tension. Instead of focusing on your left arm being straight in the backswing, think about keeping your swing wide. 

To do this, push the handle of the club towards your body using your right hand. Your left arm will straighten naturally, without tension.” 

Step 4: Check the Impact Position 

Lastly, make sure to evaluate impact position as it’s the moment that matters most in the golf swing. The moment of truth is everything that happens at address and takeaway. You can see both arms straightened if you pause a video of you swing at address. 

It can lead to all sorts of mishaps if they bend in their arms. For example, if a player has “alligator arms” that means they bent them somewhere in the swing and have shortened. To compensate, a player must move closer to the swing arc that has changed.

This can cause a lot of fat and thin shots when your arc and bottom points change. This is called chicken wingsing in golf.

As My TPI described it, “Chicken Winging is a term used to describe the appearance of the lead arm on players who bend their lead elbow and cup their lead wrist through impact. The name of the lead arm is derived from the shape of the chicken’s wing. Normally, the lead arm is extended through impact to create as much width as possible.”

A chicken wing can increase loft and spin, and it can also lose power! 

chicken wing golf swing

FAQs about Left Elbow and Arm Motion 

Do you have questions about the left arm and elbow in the golf swing. Continue reading to find out more about the left elbow and arm in the golf swing. 

Should the left hand be straight when you are playing golf?

For right-handed golfers, the left arm should remain straight and extended throughout the swing. This allows you create width and a full shoulder turn in your backswing. This allows your upper body to sequence your swing for maximum power, accuracy, and precision. 

How can I straighten my left arm in my golf swing? 

Your left arm should be straight at your address. So many notice their left arm breaks down in the swing but don’t realize that it can happen from a poor setup position. Before you try to fix any problems in your golf swing, make sure to check your arms at the address. 

Which arm gives you the power to swing your golf club? 

If you’re a right-handed golfer, the majority of your power will come from the left arm. To increase power and width, this arm should be straight throughout the swing. To avoid a flying left elbow and to avoid problems with ball striking, the trail arms should bend during the swing. 

What is the best training tool to keep my left hand straight?

Sometimes it’s difficult to feel the left arm maintain a straight angle in the swing. If this is the situation, we recommend that you invest in a training tool to help you feel the right position during the swing. The smart ball is a great option, but there are other options. Weighted Elbow Brace.

This brace goes around your left arm (just past your elbow) or right arm if you’re left-handed to keep your arm straight in the backswing. It weighs in at two pounds and is distributed towards the end of the swing motion. This allows you to rotate your shoulders at least 90 degrees and keeps you connected. 

They said: “Swinging the heavy brace causes an isometric contraction in the left arm muscle group without a change in muscle length. With repeated practice, the contraction and relaxation of the muscle result in increased flexibility and develop strength to hit the ball farther.” 

Hanger golf training aid will help you to properly hinge your wrists.

Why can’t I extend my arm straight? 

If you’re having issues with extending your arm you might want to work on your flexibility. Try out some of these golf stretches or golf workouts to improve your physical conditioning/ add more size to your big muscles and hopefully get more out of your game. 

Final Thoughts on Maintaining a Straight Lead Arm 

A bent left arm isn’t as effective as a straight arm in your swing. If you have good lower body movement and plenty of body rotation, your swing will be reliable.

You should now have a better understanding about the role of the straight left arm in your golf swing. Remember, it’s okay to ditch some golf advice that you learned in the beginning of your golfing journey… but this isn’t one of those. 

It can help you to maintain a straight left arm and allow you to begin your downswing by creating a solid backswing position. This can increase power and stability, which should result in more consistent ball striking.

If you’re still struggling with this position, make sure to try out on the training aids mentioned above. 

Learn more about the right hand. Click here to learn more about the right hand in the golf swing.