Ever feel like you could win Masters but that something isn’t quite working right?
Golf is a lot of fun, but also frustrating because there are so many moving parts. The positioning, balance, and force associated with every swing is nothing short of a headache. It’s no surprise that becoming a professional golfer is extremely difficult. Tour players have mastered virtually every aspect of the game; at any given moment in time on the course they are hyper-aware of what their right arm, left arm, head, wrist, fingers–and virtually every other conceivable part of their body is doing.
Today, we’ll give you a run down of the role of the right arm in golf and how just a few adjustments can take your striking from good to great.
What does the right arm do in golf anyway?
Odds are, if you’ve played catch with a football or a baseball before, you use your dominant arm. For a right handed golfer, the right arm acts as a throwing arm for the club. While throwing a ball with a club may feel different from throwing a football, the motion is more similar than you’d think. When you swing, your right arm loads, and releases on the downswing. Many coaches have their students throw a ball at a target using the same motion to reinforce these mechanics.
Gears touts the most powerful, precise, golf swing motion capture system in the world and our users are frequently awestruck by the clarity and practicality of our analytics. With our system you can not only compare your motions with a pro’s (such as what your right arm is doing), but you can enjoy a glorious 3D rendering of every angle and speed of your body movement so you know exactly where you should be improving. Want to try it out? We’d love to show you around!
How does the right arm change in each phase of the golf swing?
The more you golf, the more you’ll realize that the setup is everything. Correct positioning, balance, even where you look has a significant impact on your swing. Get the setup right, and you’ll play with confidence and consistency. Overlook it, and you’ll have some issues!
Arms at the Setup
Notice the image above. When you tee up to shoot, your left arm should be fully extended. The right arm will be slightly bent. Have a friend stand behind your shot line. The important thing here is that your right arm is slightly below your left. Stand up straight and open up your chest. This will help your arms to extend and improve your swing connectivity.
Elbows at the Setup
Keep your elbows tucked in. Your right elbow should point to your left hip, and your left to your right hip. This will help maintain connectivity between your body and your arms. During the backswing, the right elbow should stay still, pointed at the ground.
Remember to Relax!
Wiggle your arms out before you even set up. It sounds odd, but this will help you to relax. If your swing feels forceful at all, you probably have too much tension. Tension will force your elbows farther apart, messing up your swing path, contact angle, etc. Look to strike a balance between spaghetti arms and choking the club to death.
This is where the right arm is crucial. The order of the backswing goes like this: hands, arms, shoulders, hips. As you rotate back, make sure your right arm doesn’t fold early. It should move in conjunction with the rest of the body. If you do fold it early, it will set you on an inside swing path that commonly causes a slice.
The most important part of the downswing is that you lid with the hips. 80% of swing power comes from the lower body. Many amateur golfers attempt to start with the upper body; this is problematic because when you disconnect the two you lose a lot of power and risk throwing your arms in random directions.
As you swing, gradually bring your elbow towards the body. Some golfers say the right arm makes a sort of dropping sensation during this phase. This is created by the rotation of the hips through the ball.
At impact, your arms should form a triangle that points to the ball. Your right arm should be in line with the point of impact. Don’t straighten the right arm before impact. As you hit the ball, bring your arms together with the momentum from your hips.
Why This Works
The steps above have one thing in common: they’re almost entirely hip driven. To say the whole of your golf swing is dependent on the hips wouldn’t be totally accurate, but it’s not far from the truth. Your hips drive power to the ball. That power is either maintained or compromised based on your arm positioning.
You can create additional power in your swing by lagging your hands just a bit. This creates a whip like motion, leading to greater clubhead speed.
3 Drills to Help You Master The Right Arm
Practice is useful for amateurs and more experienced golfers alike. Try out a few of these drills next time you’re at the range:
Drill #1: Cast Drill
- Move your arms back without turning your shoulders
- Cast the club to hit the ball (like you’re fishing)
Drill #2: Throw a Golf Ball At The Golf Ball
- Set a golf ball on the ground
- Hold another golf ball with your right hand
- Take a backswing without a club, but with the ball in your right hand
- Throw the ball at the ball
Drill #3: Train Your Right Hand/Arm
- Setup and hit simple chips with your right hand
- Focus on your impact position. Train your right hand and arm to get to the correct spot
- Work your way up to half swings. Add the left arm
- Focus on getting your right hand and arm into position at impact
Like anything else, the right arm plays a pivotal role in your swing. Learning to use it properly and to your advantage will increase your golf ability and ultimately enjoyment on the course!
Special thanks to Piers Ward and Me and My Golf for golf swing images.