“Keep your left arm straight” is a phrase heard a lot on the golf course. Some golfers swear by it, while some are skeptical of its importance and others simply cannot complete a swing with a straight left arm.
The truth is, while keeping the left arm straight is not absolute imperative, it does help most players hit the ball farther and more solid. That’s because a straight left arm creates width at the top of the swing, which helps golfers create more speed and consistency.
Below, I’ll teach you how to fix the bent left arm and properly keep your left arm straight.
What I usually see in golfers’ backswings
- The left arm is bent.
- The right arm is bent very acutely.
- The hands are very close to the head.
- There is very little width.
What I’d like to see
- The left arm is straight.
- The right arm angle is 90 degrees.
- The hands are “away” from the head.
- The wrists are fully hinged.
- The shoulders are fully turned over the top of a controlled lower body.
- The backswing is parallel, with maximum width at this point.
The things I like to see in a backswing are very difficult to achieve for multiple reasons, the biggest being flexibility. That’s why having a perfectly straight left arm at the top of your backswing is great, but sometimes is unrealistic, and not always necessary.
Heck, Curtis Strange won back-to-back U.S. Open’s with a bent left arm!
Just because you can’t make a full turn with a straight left arm doesn’t mean you cannot create width in your swing, which is why we wanted a straight left arm in the first place. So forget about the left arm!
It’s all about your right arm’s position at the top
Whenever the angle formed between the upper and lower arm becomes very acute (as shown on the left), you will lose width and your left arm will bend. This results in a loose feeling at the top of the backswing, and leads to a sloppy transition.
By keeping this angle wide (as shown by the photo on the right), you’ll find that the left arm will react and you will have more width. To achieve this feeling, think about pushing your hands — especially your right hand — out away from your head during the backswing.
If you want a straighter left arm, focus on your right arm at the top and you’ll create the width you desire!