I was messaged these questions yesterday by a member, I checked and made sure it was ok to share.
I wonder if you could share your experiences with me on why straight arms are an important part of this pattern?
- Are keeping the elbows close together basically another way of saying keep the arms straight?
- When we talk about arms straight, do we mean both backswing and downswing, or one specific part of the swing?
- Finally, what do straight arms do for the swing? Or, stated in the negative, what bad things happen with bent arms?
I think this is a piece of the pattern I've neglected and it's probably because I don't understand its importance.
First off when we talk about straight arms, we don't mean rigid, just extended. And "straight" for the rear arms means the right elbow not flexing past 90* at the top of the backswing.
1. The simple answer is yes. Of course we could flex the arms and keep the elbows close together, but that would make the backswing really short, so it's not realistic. And it depends on what connects with the player, some like elbows squeezing together to lengthen the arms, other will feel like they never flex the right arm.
2. Again depends on the player but usually means throughout the entire swing. Top of the backswing, right elbow is bent about 90* and on the downswing straightening down and forward. Some players, can be due to where the lower center is moving, straighten the arm too fast and not down and forward enough.
3. Arms straight maintains the radius of the swing. We set-up with the arms/hands a certain distance from the ball. If that distance changes(elbows separating too much, arms flexing) we'll need to make compensations, usually lengthening out wrist angle (casting) in order to hit the ball. Arms straight also helps the golfer load our wrist angles (2nd power accumulator).
Here's another piece to how the extension of the rear hip and spin effect the arms. James Hirshfield put this together.