Been playing for 15 years (16 HC)...I have always used the staright left arm on the backswing approach. Just read that many European Golf schools are teaching let the left arm bend naturally during the backswing...this will greatly decrease the amount of tension that is built up when trying to keep the left arm straight. Tried it on the range..what a difference!! Have tried it twice on the golf course. WOW! More distance, great height and straight!! Suggest you keep weight towards the front (60/40) slow back swing, slow forward swing with a light grip throughout. Keep the head up throughout . The amount of lag created is terrific Try it.
Bent Left Arm
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My left arm is straight for 2/3's of my back swing but bends slightly when it gets to the top. I find this to be very effective as well. I see some guys on the range that bend their arms at the top of their back swing and are incredible ball strikers. Every one's swing has different nuances and I think that most golfers are trying to hard to have the perfect mechanical swing instead of going with a more natural motion; creating more consistent ball striking.
SO how do you address the ball previously?
Locked left arm?
And now how are you doing it?
Straight left arm when addressing ball, and then allow it to relax before taking ball back?
Or bent? and how much bent?
And have you seen yourself on video with this approach?
I prefer a tension free approach, neither a lockup or overtly bent ... relaxed, which would mean not locked but not trying to bend it, i.e., straight but not locked.
Of course, I know an 83 yr old man, the Nike Rep in the area, who holds the lowest score from the blue tees at a local private course, probably set it only a few years previously, and his left arm is obviously bent in the backswing...
We're all different, but in general, I think there is a preferred technique, probably dealing with lack of tension.
Previously I would bring the arms back with a stiff left arm...even though I would try and maintain a light grip, on the down swing I would tighten up and end up hitting with a tight grip...There was just a lot of tension that was built up during the swing. Now I step up, give a light waggle to really feel that club head, hold the club lightly, slow back (head very still) and slow forward letting the left arm bend naturall without any resistence...maintaining th elight grip throughout. Have not video tapped the swing...will try this weekend. (have to admit that I don't care what I look like as long as the scores are heading south)
I may try it on the range just to get the plane established on a 1/2 or 3/4 swing, but a full swing? it's gonna bend...
You hit on a good point....you mention keeping the arm rigid. This will introduce tension which is the killer of any golf swing. I think it is a personal thing on how much bend is necessary. All I'm suggesting is that individuals who are stuggling should try and relax their left arm a little bit more. Some may have more bend than others but the point is not to try and make it ramrod straight.
Overall I think golfers overemphasize the importance of whether the left arm bends or not. Some amount is fine, I'd rather see someone with a "soft" lead arm than a ramrod straight one. There are/have been great players with "straight" lead arms and other with some bend.
If the lead arm over-flexes, causing the angle between the shaft and trail shoulder to be very narrow, the culprit isn't really the arm, you gotta figure out what's causing it to bend. Most of the time it's a turning rates issue, hips slide back on the backswing, golfers doesn't rotate enough, early enough. Sometimes it's just a reaction to the trail arm lifting or over-flexing, so feeling the trail arm straighter or that the trail hand is "pushing" the lead hand away can hep.