This week, I'd like to discuss the proper role of hands and arms in an effective golf swing.
My main concept to convey is "connection," where control and the energy emanate from the torso or body core. Some golfers misunderstand this idea and try not to use their hands and arms at all.
What these players should know is that the arms are attached to the body and the space or distance of the arms, once established at address, must be maintained.
However, the hands and arms supply feel and rhythm that the best golfers use in conjunction with the body. Let me share some ideas that will help you "blend" good use of both.
The importance of arm freedom is easy to understand when you consider arm function in other sports: baseball pitchers rely on relaxed arms to generate speed and control throughout the pitching motion. Basketball players need relaxed hands and arms to respond to the bounce of the ball and deliver accurate shots to the hoop. When we connect the arms to the body, we still want the sense of freedom in the arms, but we need to keep them a constant distance from the torso so that a path can be maintained all the way through the swing.
The left arm is the supporting force of the swing, while the right arm delivers the speed (the faster the right arm passes through the ball, the more the connection of the left arm is needed to support the right).
That's what you see when Vijay Singh places a glove under his left armpit in practice to re-enforce the left side to take the blow of the right. Keeping the left arm close to the body prevents the club path from getting "outside" a good line into and through the ball.
The most common mistake golfers make is to keep the right elbow close to the body on the downswing, leaving the clubface wide open and off the correct swing path.
As I've said many times, the left arm is the "short" or inside arm in the golf swing and the right arm is the "long" or outside arm.
In my opinion, this misunderstanding of the proper function of each arm is at the root of lack of power and direction in the games of the average player. Almost all "over the top" problems come from allowing the left arm to get away from the body on the downswing.
The great Calvin Peete had a left arm to envy. Due to a childhood injury, he couldn't straighten or twist it. This made his left arm a fixed hinge that controlled his path, while his healthy right arm could supply the power.
History has recorded that Calvin was one of the most consistent and accurate players to tee it up.
Keeping the arms both connected and relaxed will permit you to deliver your best effort into and through the ball.
Give these concepts a good try the next time you practice or play and watch it fly long and straight.
Yours for better golf.
Del Starks is a PGA teaching professional at Abacoa Golf Club in Jupiter. Contact him at (561) 262-0708, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.delstarks.com.