Should Left Arm Be Straight Or Slightly Bent? | Swing Surgeon - Don Trahan Peak Performance Golf Swing

Should Left Arm Be Straight Or Slightly Bent?

Sat, 04/13/2013 - 12:00 -- Don Trahan

Today's question comes from David Hayes. He's having trouble slicing the ball and feels his left arm position could be the reason. So, he wanted to know if the left arm (for a right handed golfer) should be straight or slightly bent.

Surge,

I have trouble with the slice no matter how I try to correct it. Should the left arm be rigid (straight) or slightly bent?

Thanks,
Dave (Pittsburgh)

The left arm should be relatively straight. Not rigid, but also not bent. Bending implies that at some point in your backswing, the arm gives. If your arms are breaking or relaxing, it will give you all sorts of problems.

Now, on the reverse side of that, you don't want to overextend your arm to the point of it being locked either. That will tighten up all your muscles and won't allow you to swing the club up. 

That's why I like to use the phrase "relatively straight." That means your left arm can have a little bend, but it never breaks. You want to make sure you maintain your finger pressure in the last three fingers. Also, your back arm should never get beyond the point of a right angle. If it does, everything will collapse inward from that point. Just be sure to remember that the left arm can have a little flexation but it cannot break.

As far as the slicing goes, it can be any number of things that are causing it. It could stem from things like bad alignment and even bad equipment that's too long, especially the driver. If your clubs are too long, it makes it harder to square the club up at impact, which causes the face of the club to be open and the ball slides across the face and goes right.

You've got to make sure you are actively engaging your muscles. If you're too loose and relaxed, your arms will collapse and you'll be forced to come over the top. Be firm, just not to the point that it will inhibit your ability to make a good swing.

Keep it vertical!

The Surge

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Comments

bcurry99@cogeco.ca's picture

Submitted by bcurry99@cogeco.ca on

Love your term "relatively straight" as you point out that you have to return to straight arm at impact. Watching the Masters and I can see that all of the pros keep a pretty straight arm.

In your response to the slice concern, I didn't hear you mention the inside to out direction of the club head. I have heard you talk about lag and whipping action and wrist action like skipping a flat stone from the inside to out. You certainly highlighted the problem with over the top and alignment but I was hoping that you would suggest the inside to out motion of the club head as that was the most important change in my swing to get rid of the slice. Possibly it was just the thought that I use when I swing but it sure helps to swing from the inside. Thanks Don

Robert Fleck's picture

Submitted by Robert Fleck on

In general with the PPGS, unless we're intentionally trying to hit a hook, we want the path to come from the inside to the line, then travel along the target line through the hitting area as long as possible, then come back in. We never want to swing outside the line if we're intending to hit a straight, normal shot. If we're outside before impact, we'll come across and impart slice spin. If we're outside after impact, we'll be imparting hook spin. Our goal is to do neither as much as possible.

Tedster's picture

Submitted by Tedster on

This is helpful to read.
I have been keeping the left elbow straight and trying to keep both elbows rather close together. But since January I have been in a lot of pain as if my arthritis has decided to settle there -- settled on the left elbow only. I hope it is just a swing problem and not the arthritis that I have in the left shoulder.

And so I am watching for good wisdom on this. And thanks to all.

Robert Fleck's picture

Submitted by Robert Fleck on

My bet is that if you have your elbows set close together in your setup that you're creating tension in your arms above the elbows. This is something Surge has said in the past that we don't want to do. They'll firm up as we swing, but you should feel the strength from the fingers to the elbows, and not above them.

edge's picture

Submitted by edge on

Purchased vids and already helping. I was working on PPGS by watching the free vids which are great. But ecided to purchase the fundamentals, drills and driver vids (each one over past week or so).

I tried everything for my slice. Even with flat wrists I still had club face open. Than I firmed up my grip tighter than I was prevously taught and used surges 3p grip. Because it was firm my club face returned square. I than tried it with my old grip again at the range. Even though I use to think my wrists were flat but because the grip was not firm my wrists and hands were moving and re gripping in swing, thus leaving my club face open at impact..

Less angles!!!!... Has anyone else help eliminate a slice this way?.... Just curious because conventional wisdom says to have a light grip, which clearly was wrong for me...

I am now a converted surgite!!!!!

Cheers,

C

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

C in a word, yes,

Having the right grip and keeping it firm along with firm wrists up to the elbows helps me to not only avoid the slice but even get a more piercing flight that goes either straight or has a slight draw. I have all but eliminated the right side and the short weak fade I use to have. I almost feel like my grip is anti-cock during the back swing (locked down) and even through the forward swing. In reality I there is actually a releasing my wrists through impact but much, much less handsy than before learning the PPGS- usually just the right amount. This ends up having my hands, shaft and club head higher on both the back swing and forward swing while only going back 3/4's. Along with a stable lower body and this helps me get the club face back square and not open or sliding across the ball (no slice spin) As you said, counter intuitively (or by conventional wisdom) this seems that it would be the opposite of the "light grip" advice often given by most but it gives me more distance and control than I ever consistently had with the old way.
Basically with the Surge way we rely less on the timing that a flippy wrist swing does. Our mechanics are more solid, literally.

Sounds like you are yielding the benefits of the PPGS swing after wisely buying the videos rather than simply trying to learn by the free dailies only. smart move C and good golfing to you.

https://www.swingsurgeon.com/daily-video-tips/keep-wrists-firm-backswing

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

Typing this as Tiger just finishes on 18 and Cabrera and Scott are tied with a couple to go.
Observation on Tiger. First, if not for the debacle on 15 Friday adding three shots to Tigers score (taking him from -5 to -2) he would be looking at a possible playoff now. Any way he just missed too many putts on the front 9 today. Actually missed too many yesterday too. Today almost every miss was left to right, short and below. Couldn't get the speeds right. 17 putts on the front nine.
Right to left putting is normally tougher to judge for righties but of course we always expect more from Tiger. Gave it a run on the back but without any eagles on the par 5 13th and 15th hopes faded.

Steve Smith's picture

Submitted by Steve Smith on

None of the guys at the top adjusted to the greens once they got wet.
Lots of putts barely short and the ones that got there didn't break as much as normal and they missed on the high side.

Tip for all of us: When the greens get wet you not only have to hit the putt harder but play less break.

Approach shots that would usually take a slope down to near the hole stopped rolling before they got there.

The lack of rollout off of the slope made the shot Cabrerra hit to 18 very impressive because he went right at the flag.

Playoff just starting now.

Congrats to Adam Scott. Great putts on 18 and 10. Funny thing was they were basically the same putt. Cabrerra hit a putt that could easily have gone in as well.

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

What fun. Congratulations to Adam Scott. It's so rare for any of these elite players to win a major. Masters did not disappoint this year. Awesome to see someone make great shots and sink key putts to win. Such a nice gentleman too Adam is. After coming so close so many times over the years an Aussie finally wins the Masters.

Cheers to all of our golfing buddies down under!
Move over Greg, there is a new favorite son in Australia.

NeilofOZ's picture

Submitted by NeilofOZ on

Robert, thanks for your kind words about Scottie, to have 3 Aussies on the leader board in the last few holes was amazing. I was hoping that Adam would bring it home, but actually had my money on Cabrera as I think this guy is
"Mr Cool" and so unflappable, I saw him in 2009 i think when he won it last.

edge's picture

Submitted by edge on

On Ya, Adam!!! All us Aussies finally have a Masters Champ!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks Robert for your reply to my slice comment... the release clicked for me on Saturday. The surge always talks about the number one domino being the wrists and my flimsy grip meant I was still cocking/hinging slightly without knowing, and it was not getting back to the position in time. I would be whipping the wrist which is a big no no. So when the palmsget back to 6 O'clock with a straight wrist they will be squared!.... and the surge grip has nailed it for me!

I use to get lessons where the instructor would make me cock my wrist and it was so hard for me to stop it. But Surges 3P grip has my wrists feel firm and locked in place (not a death lock but firm)

I wish we had a PPGS instructor down under... I plan on getting the the short game and situation shots vids, once I am comfortable with the full swing.

To anyone who is thinkning about purchasing the vids here.. do it!!!!! The dailys are great but you really need the whole series IMO. Than the dailies can be used in conjunction with the fundementals.

Cheers,

C

Robert Fleck's picture

Submitted by Robert Fleck on

Adam Scott finally found the roll on 18 and it served him well again on 10. Better, in fact. That last putt was straight in the heart. He earned that win. Everyone had their share of ups and downs on the day and a putt here or there that fell instead of rolling by could have won it for any of them. Also, congratulations to Australia not just for the winner, but for three in the top 5. That's pretty impressive. Am I right that this is the first event in the US this year won by someone not from the US?

raygawlak@cox.net's picture

Submitted by raygawlak@cox.net on

Greetings Surgites--Way to go Adam Scott! Great win for the great nation down under.....it's been a long time coming after many near misses and a true nice guy got the job done. Hope to return to Australia and New Zealand before I become part of divotsville as the folks there were some of the nicest I've ever met in my travels.

Want to share a laugh with Don and all you Surgites. I've been a regular customer of Don's instructional items for many years and usually bring up topics with my golf buds regarding instructional products. I am currently using Enlon grips which were highly recommended by Don and sold through his web site. One of my friends noted that the "jury is out" regarding their effectiveness with my game calling them "kielbasa grips" and said "Ray---you've got to stop buying all this stuff from Trahan just because he sells it. What you need is a "Surge Protector"! Hope you folks appreciate the humor.

I was wondering how any of you who are using these grips feel about them. I
have the exact size hands of Jack Niklaus (the similarity ends there!) which is shorter fingers and I find my right hand slipping off position from time to time. Comments anyone?

One last comment: I'm with Bubba Watson on this: There is NO sport other than golf where an anal retentive busybody can call in and challenge a ruling from a tournament. Bad enough Tiger got screwed when his shot hit the flag and became a submersive---then took the stroke penalty and re-shot a few yards NO CLOSER TO THE HOLE he gets whacked two more. These rules are no doubt a reason many choose other forms of recreational activity....totally anal retentive nit picking.

Best wishes to all fellow Surgites.
Ray

Steve Smith's picture

Submitted by Steve Smith on

My personal opinion is and always has been that allowing somebody sitting on a couch in their mom's basement in the middle of the night watching their DVR to call in a penalty on a golfer is ridiculous, unfair, and almost laughable.

My main argument against the practice is that I believe sports penalties should be administered as evenly as possible for everyone in the field. For obvious reasons the top players that are getting most of the coverage are that much more likely to be penalized for something that half of the players in the field may also have done but weren't on TV.

Without a camera and a microphone nearby to pick up the conversation between Stacy Lewis and her caddy she would have never been assessed her penalty a few weeks ago. Those 50 players that got no TV coverage would have gotten away with the same infraction.

That rule by it's nature would give a player like Tiger Woods MUCH more chance to be scrutinized that ANY of the other players.

It would be like having instant replay in the NFL but only having the camera on one player to see if he did anything wrong.

raygawlak@cox.net's picture

Submitted by raygawlak@cox.net on

Hi Steve--A further thought occurred to me---given the status and visibility of the Masters, not to mention the thousands of spectators present, wasn't there a rules official nearby who could and should have told Tiger that he couldn't drop at the spot he chose? Also, why shouldn't other rules that allow a drop keeping the original hitting spot between the golfer and target (no nearer the hole, of course) apply? The game is tough enough without needing a law degree for rules interpretation---common horse sense never seems to apply.

Robert Fleck's picture

Submitted by Robert Fleck on

Actually, Ray, you're making the same mistake conflating two rules as Tiger made. You can either drop as close as possible to the point where you originally struck the ball or anywhere along a line formed by the flag and THE LAST POINT WHERE THE BALL CROSSED THE MARGIN OF THE HAZARD, not the point from which you struck the ball. Sometimes that point will be on the line (presuming you made a straight shot at the flag and simply came up short in the water, for instance), and sometimes it won't be, as Tiger's ball shot off the flag stick and went sideways. That said, the official who was there following Tiger (as there is an official following each group) saw no problem with what Tiger did, perhaps not realizing that he'd moved back two paces from the original position, and it was only because of what Tiger said in his interview following the tournament that the question arose.

I agree, though, that it needs to be better handled on the course, but that may well mean that there will be a rules official following each player in every tournament. That would take a lot of volunteers who actually know and understand the rules of golf.

Steve Smith's picture

Submitted by Steve Smith on

The biggest problem with that rule is that there is no clear definition of what "As close as possible" means. To me enforcement of the literal definition would be to try to drop it in it's pitch mark. Problem is that NOBODY ( not even the golf purists) are saying that anyone should do that. The purists instead make up their own definition and to them it's a few inches to a foot. It's sort of like making up your own rules as you go along and proclaiming them "correct". I say to them OK, is it 6 inches or a foot? And are we going to have a Major champion penalized some day because he thought is was a foot and some ruling commitee thought it was 6 inches?

I heard Curtis Strange on the radio this morning say that he tried to read the 3 inch thick rulings book one time and he only made it through the first 3 pages.

Everybody complains about golf being slow but being scared to death of taking a drop without calling for a rules official is one of the biggest culprits.

mail@evakemi.dk's picture

Submitted by mail@evakemi.dk on

Surge,
Can you combine single plane golfswing with vertical golfswing. Single swing seeming to be easier than conventional swing. Appreciate your comments.

Lars Ole

mail@evakemi.dk's picture

Submitted by mail@evakemi.dk on

Surge,
Can you combine single plane golfswing with vertical golfswing. Single swing seeming to be easier than conventional swing. Appreciate your comments.

Lars Ole

Robert Fleck's picture

Submitted by Robert Fleck on

The "single plane golf swing" as an image brought to us by Ben Hogan, visualizing a pane of glass resting on his shoulders and the ground at the ball and wanting never to break that glass with his club is not really compatible with a vertical golf swing by its very definition. However, if you imagine a different pane of glass, one rising from your toes through the base of your neck, and you try to keep your hands and arms along that plane as much as possible, you have a vertical swing. This means that you ignore, for the most part, the club itself in your image of the plane. This is really a ferris wheel of the arms around the base of the neck. The club reacts as it has to based on the actions of the arms.

Kevin McGarrahan's picture

Submitted by Kevin McGarrahan on

Great description of what Surge says, Robert. I use this image as close as I can of swinging my hands on the ferris wheel above the toe line. If I maintain the firm left wrist and keep my hands on the vertical plane (providing I have setup properly) everything else goes the way it should.

Master setup position
Preload Heavy Right
Firm left wrist - no wrist action is good wrist action
Single Vertical Plane - hands on the ferris wheel
Limited 70* turn - upper lead arm over toe line
Lift to 3/4 swing - upper lead arm reaches chin
Ring the bell and bump
T-Finish
Recoil
Relax

Craig63's picture

Submitted by Craig63 on

Finally an Aussie has conquered Valhalla, congrats to Adam Scott who with the Rugby League State of Origin (NSW V QLD) warcry of "Queenslander!!!...Queenslander!!!" ringing in his ears from an impassioned Aussie fan as he walked to the playoff tee, he did Australia proud.

His shot making won him this Championship NOT his so called illegal putter, if his putting stats were as good as anyone else in the top ten he would have won outright by at least two shots. The game's legislators should really look at whether there is an issue to police with putter configurations, weighed up against (for the best interest of the game) trying to retain ball strikers like Ad Scott in competition golf.

Commiserations to "El Pato" who probably deserved the win with his allround game but having said that I thought Kenny Perry should have won the playoff a couple of years ago against him (some Kenny Karma shining on Ad perhaps).

I felt sorry for Jason Day who played awesome golf but faded at the end of both weekend rounds, he probably needed to nibble on almonds or something on the inward nine both days.

john.aylott@lineone.net's picture

Submitted by john.aylott@lin... on

I started playing golf at 70. after three years I have tried everything I could to stop the slice, even buying a driver that was suposed to eliminate the slice.
My irons go straight, my hybrid goes straight, so I assumed my swing was not to bad. Then almost clutching at straws, I started from scratch and came to the grip and noted that I was not realy gripping in the fingers. When I concentrated on getting the grip in the fingers, especialy the bottom (right) hand the result was amazing !!!!!. Long straight drives straight down the midle. And now I also know what to do to produce a slice when I need to.

Worth a try !!!!!

John Aylott
England