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Tomputt

Bent Left Arm

19 posts in this topic

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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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It's only in the last few years that you see the younger assembly line pros with that pole straight left arm in the backswing. I think they're taking that "keep your left arm straight" a bit too far. The classic days of golf back in the 60's, 70's, 80's , etc... NOBODY had a pole straight left arm. It may have been firm, but there was ALWAYS a bit of a kink at the top. Trying to keep it rigid always felt unnatural and stiff. It affected my whole swing because of it. 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...
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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.

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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.

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Spieth is a good example of someone who bends the left arm a bit ... much more noticeable than, say Rory's straight arm technique.

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Sorry for resurrecting an old thread but I think the bent left arm is something that could be used to good effect by those who have flexibility issues with regards their shoulder/hip rotation. I've been trying it out and it certainly helps limit the amount of tension I feel in my left lat/arm/shoulder areas. 

So what are the pros of a bent left arm vs a straight one (imho) ?

For bent left arm:

pros

1. Less tension in the left side of the body.

2. Seem to be able to make a fuller turn with hips/shoulders because a bent left arm allows right arm to fold more.

3. Any early shoulder OTT move while the hands/club are closer to your upper swing centre limits the arc distance of any OTT move  vs  if left arm straighter (or does it?). 

4. Can  I visualise the swing plane easier  when being able to see  'upper arm/forearm/back of left wrist/club' closer to my eyes at the end of backswing? Not sure about this but I think so.

5. A bent left forearm can help pull the clubshaft backwards and downwards (from the top of the backswing) down the swing plane without casting (ie, retaining the cocked left wrist and hinged right wrist). Therefore generating a bit more clubhead speed along that elliptical path into start of release phase.

I've found one still needs to :

a. Have a good centred pivot turn even with a bent left arm

b. Stay balanced and supported throughout the golf swing (to at least impact) by using the body/ground forces to support the swinging arms.

c. You still have to let centripetal forces sort of takeover into the release phase of the swing (flail-like even though the golf swing is not exactly like the full motion of a flail).

Now, what are the pros/cons of the straight left arm and what are the cons of a bent left arm? Unsure to be honest.

 

Edited by DownAndOut
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Before I respond, I'll go on record as I have in the past in saying that if the goal was to build a swing to hit the ball really far, you'd almost absolutely bend the left arm. It creates another lever.

But it can lead to inconsistency (you're altering the radius of the swing).

13 minutes ago, DownAndOut said:

For bent left arm:

pros

1. Less tension in the left side of the body.

I don't agree with that one at all. Your left arm can be extended without tension, too.

13 minutes ago, DownAndOut said:

2. Seem to be able to make a fuller turn with hips/shoulders because a bent left arm allows right arm to fold more.

No. The cub will travel farther, and the hands will travel farther, but simply bending the left arm has nothing to do with the hips and shoulders. In fact people who under-turn with the shoulders or torso or hips tend to be the ones who bend the left arm, because it at least gets them to a point where they feel they've made a full backswing because the hands and club travel a bit farther than they would with a "straight" left arm.

13 minutes ago, DownAndOut said:

3. Any early shoulder OTT move while the hands/club are closer to your upper swing centre limits the arc distance of any OTT move  vs  if left arm straighter (or does it?).

No. Because the arm will almost always eventually extend back to straight, so it's just a "trick" if it looks like it's in a different spot, in that sense.

13 minutes ago, DownAndOut said:

4. Can  I visualise the swing plane easier  when being able to see  'upper arm/forearm/back of left wrist/club' closer to my eyes at the end of backswing? Not sure about this but I think so.

No idea what that means.

13 minutes ago, DownAndOut said:

5. A bent left forearm can help pull the clubshaft backwards and downwards (from the top of the backswing) down the swing plane without casting (ie, retaining the cocked left wrist and hinged right wrist). Therefore generating a bit more clubhead speed along that elliptical path into start of release phase.

People who bend the left elbow tend to cast the most, in part because they've "overdone" the wrist and left elbow bending, so they have to start "getting rid of it" (the angles) quickly.

13 minutes ago, DownAndOut said:

I've found one still needs to :

a. Have a good centred pivot turn even with a bent left arm

b. Stay balanced and supported throughout the golf swing (to at least impact) by using the body/ground forces to support the swinging arms.

c. You still have to let centripetal forces sort of takeover into the release phase of the swing (flail-like even though the golf swing is not exactly like the full motion of a flail).

Now, what are the pros/cons of the straight left arm and what are the cons of a bent left arm? Unsure to be honest.

It's pretty simple if all else is equal:

Pros: can add another lever and thus a little more speed to the swing.

Cons: can make it more difficult to hit the ball solidly as you have to time the extension well.

In practice, the cons also include: "can lead to shorter backswings as measured by the left upper arm travel, torso/shoulder turn, etc." "tends to be present in casters/flippers" and "rarely seen among good ballstrikers."

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I've been doing some thinking about this over the last couple months.  I used to have a bend in my lead arm at the top but that was because I was swinging beyond my flexibility.  Like . .my body stopped turning but my arms kept going back . .so the left arm bent.  

So I tried for a while to keep it straight . probably a little too straight.  What happened was:

1.  My quality of strike improved dramatically.

 2.  My consistency of strike (% of good contact) increased dramatically

3.  I injured my left elbow rather severely and lost all feeling in my ring and pinky fingers as well as the inside of my palm.  Doh!

Now that I've regained about 95% of the feeling back in my fingers, I'm practicing again.  This time . I'm still keeping my left arm straight but I've shortened my backswing and increased my rotation . .as much as I can . .so that I'm not working *against* my body.  

So . .I want to keep it straight . .but I'm no longer trying to forcibly keep it straight . .but when it starts to bend, that's the top of my backswing.  By most peoples standards I can really only make about a 3/4 swing . .maybe a little less . .  before I run out of turn and start having odd things happen.  

 

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I recently read a comment on here that one of the worst tips ever given to them was to keep the left arm straight. I have had lessons from two pro's who have insisted I do just that. On the positive side I have found this helps with consistency of swing, and reduces slice/fade. On the downside I have had tennis elbow for 14 months, and believe this is the reason why. I am now attempting to create a swing with a more relaxed and slightly bent left arm, albeit I am struggling. I have found that more concentration on hip movement has helped me reduce the slice that this has created, but my golf shots have become a lot more erratic

Your thoughts please 

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I keep my left arm fairly straight but not rigid. Its one less part that needs to sync up at impact. 

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I don't think about it at all. On the backswing I'm focused on my hands, I have no idea whether my arm is straight or not. If I had to guess, I'd say it's straight-ish. 

On the downswing (where it matters), I'm all about my pivot. If I pivot correctly, my arms will do what they need to do. Video confirms that I generally have a flat left wrist through impact. Now, if I could just get some consistency with the club face.......


Here's a great tip from Manuel de la Torre to help keep a straight left arm in the backswing:

DON'T think about keeping a straight left arm, you'll only tense up and get sore elbows! Make your swing thought keeping your HANDS as far away from your head as possible. This will promote the extension without introducing the rigid tension. 

YMMV but it worked wonders for me when I was working on this. 

 

At the end of the day, you aren't hitting the ball with your backswing. If a collapsing left elbow is causing an issue with the downswing and impact, then it needs to be addressed, but it's not (on its own) a must. 

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I think I read somewhere the tour average was a bent lead arm at impact of somewhere around 3-4 degrees? Don't quote me on that, the takeaway for me is that it's not as close to 0 as you'd think, even throwing out outliers like Lee Westwood.

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5 hours ago, nevets88 said:

I think I read somewhere the tour average was a bent lead arm at impact of somewhere around 3-4 degrees? Don't quote me on that, the takeaway for me is that it's not as close to 0 as you'd think, even throwing out outliers like Lee Westwood.

3-4° is pretty much zero. Most people can't hyperextend their elbows, and sometimes the placement of the dots they use in 3D applications leads to a few degrees of error, sometimes because the software assumes that the dots are in a straight line even though most people's elbows "stick out" a little bit relative to the dots used to measure the distal end of the arm.

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On 12/31/2016 at 8:38 AM, chilepepper said:

I keep my left arm fairly straight but not rigid. Its one less part that needs to sync up at impact. 

This is the best advice.

Having said that, nobody plays as strictly as the practice.

If you practice with a "straight but not rigid" arm, you are likely to play with a bent arm.

For me, over-emphasizing keeping the arm straight in practice, helped me have a "straight but not rigid" arm on the course. 

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